Do marketing teams of one really exist?

Superhero marketers not required. Here are 5 things a solo marketer can do to deliver like a marketing team 10 times the size.

Do marketing teams of one really exist?

Marketing, Minified. It's about marketing teams of one, doing it all ... not quite. There's no room for superhero, lone wolf marketers here. No one person can—or should—try to do it all. But with the right process, discipline and focus you can 10x your impact.

Marketing is now so complex that you need highly specialized humans working on the right things at the right time to be successful. The question is how do you 10x your impact without burning out in the process?

It's a cliché to say this, but Marketing, Minified is about working smarter, not harder. It's about negotiating for the resources you need to deliver on your plans.

These are the five things you need to scale your team of one:

  1. You need a plan
  2. You need a planning & execution framework
  3. You need a mechanism to scale human resources
  4. You need to automate repeatable processes
  5. You need to say "no", a lot

Create a scalable marketing plan

If you don't have a marketing plan, stop and write one. It can be as simple or complex as your circumstances dictate. What matters most is that it should be possible for anyone to read it and understand how you intend to be successful.

My personal preference is to execute lifecycle marketing. This isn't a plan per se, but it brings together my favorite tactics—content, email, event, and product marketing—while ensuring I remain 100% focused on my customers. It provides a visual way to articulate what I'm doing and when it's being done in a way that most people intuitively understand.

To build a plan, begin with the end in mind ...

Finding a task management framework, that works for you

Writing a plan isn't difficult (imho, it's more tedious than anything else). What's significantly more difficult is delivering on the plan. Execution beats all. To do that you must use some kind of task management framework. Remember, ideas are easy and execution trumps all.

There are many goal setting and planning frameworks. SMART, HARD, WOOP, OKRs, among others. Choose one.

Personally, I love OKRs! Read Measure What Matters by John Doeer if you need a primer. Objectives and Key Results are a simple, straightforward way to get to the truth. Its only demand is that you clearly state your objective, when it will be done, and how it will be measured (the key results part).

Scale yourself with outsourced humans

Now for the fun part. Scaling yourself. Since cloning is likely out of the question, you need contractors. I find talent through personal networks, colleagues, LinkedIn connections (i.e. non-personal networks) and especially sites such as Upwork.

Don't be fooled into thinking that contractors are somehow easier to manage than employees. Yes, you can spin contractors up and down like an EC2 instance, but managing quality and delivery can be much (much) harder than with employees. Contractors do deliver flexibility, and if you find great ones they can deliver the benefits of an employee without the overhead.

Employees on the other hand are great for long-term projects where stability, retained knowledge and in-the-trenches-camaraderie matters. If you're doing that kind of work, you need employees.

Either way, managing humans is hard.

Automate, automate, automate ...

By now you have a plan, a framework to deliver the plan, and a horde of great Upworker Rabbits making everything you need to achieve your grand vision. Life is starting to feel good. Except for the new backlog of leads you've created in the process.

It's now that you need marketing automation. This is, candidly, how you really scale yourself and your marketing. Marketo, Hubspot, Pardot, Autopilot, one of the marketing clouds, or disparate systems glued together by Zapier, it matters less what you use than having the tech in place.

Marketing automation does more than help you build email campaigns. You can grade prospects (leads) for sales suitability and score them for purchase intent. You can run reports to understand whether your campaigns are working or not. Advanced automation platforms provide attribution modeling, email A/B testing, client rendering, dynamic content, and deliverability checking, plus deep integration with your CRM to help measure campaign ROI.

Learn to say no, with a yes

It's absolutely critical that you remain 100% focused on your quarterly objectives. This is why you need a plan and a measuring framework. You will frequently use it to explain why you can't "quickly spin up a campaign" for your CEO's idea of the moment.

You should expect to say "no," a lot.

You already have innumerable demands for your time and attention. You don't need more and the only way to retain focus is to say no to the little tasks that on aggregate take the shape of an elephant.

Your job here is in fact to help your colleagues understand that no doesn't mean never. It simply means, not now.

Life involves compromise. If your CEO insists that you deliver a task outside scope, then something previously agreed to either won't be delivered or will require additional resourcing to get over the line. That's ultimately her call. It's a good thing that you have a process for scaling your contractor resources.

Begin with the end in mind

To recap. You need a plan, a planning & execution framework, a mechanism to scale human resources, a way to automate repeatable processes, and you need to say "no".

Always start with the end state you envision and work your way back from there. Doing this will allow you to determine the tactics and resources you need to be successful. Wishing you every success!