Marketing strategies and tactics are so diverse and ever-changing, it’s imperative for companies to ensure their marketing team is consistently trained on the newest options out there. Strategies for training your marketing team can be one of the most important investments you can make in employee professional development, so understanding the best way to execute this training becomes critical.

According to respondents included in The 2014 Marketing Score Report, many organizations lack confidence in their internal marketing teams, which are particularly weak in key digital marketing skills. For many employers, finding the right employees with these talents is difficult enough, but training existing employees for these skills is even more challenging.  However, with a simple continuing education training plan in place for your marketing team, you can grow an effective team over time.

Know your marketing resources

The first step is to have a solid understanding of what your marketing personnel resources are at the moment, and what skill sets each person has. Even if your onboarding process for new marketing employees is consistent, over time, each individual has likely either grown their knowledge or let it lapse.  Now is a good time to take stock of each person’s knowledge base.  From there, you’re faced with a couple choices:

  1. Leverage the knowledge of one existing employee and ask them to take on the task of training others.
  2. Bring in an outside resource to train your existing staff.
  3. Hire a new employee that brings with them updated knowledge of marketing strategies and tactics.

The solution may be a combination of all three.  Let’s look at each approach separately.

Let’s say you have a staff of three on your marketing team.  One person is in charge of the overall marketing strategy, marketing budgets and forecasts, with little knowledge of day to day execution (perhaps a manager or director of the department).  The second team member is knowledgeable in all aspects of print marketing, such as postcards, magazines, newspaper ads and the like.  Your third employee is well-versed in social media and email marketing, but lacks other digital marketing training, and relies on the IT person to implement any website changes.  What do you do with the team you have and how can you fill the gaps to elevate your team?

The first step would be to ensure everyone has a clear understanding of the overall marketing strategy of the business:  what are the goals? The target audience? Your competitors? How are efforts being measured? What’s working and well and what isn’t?  The person responsible for this should be sharing this information with their marketing team so everyone has an understanding and ownership of the strategy.  Same goes for the marketing budget. Everyone should have an understanding of how marketing effort ROI.

Now let’s look at the remaining team members’ knowledge.  One team member has strong print and traditional knowledge: that’s fantastic!  Sharing that knowledge with the team so everyone understands how traditional marketing is benefitting the team (and how) can lend itself to the knowledge of the team member with social media knowledge.  Why?  Because all marketing messaging should be consistent across all channels.  The message you put in print should be reflected on your website, as well as in social media.  Have your traditional marketing specialist hold a lunch and learn, write a quick guide, or share industry articles on a weekly basis regarding how traditional and digital strategies work together and support one another.

Your social media specialist can also share their knowledge; the power of social media, how different content belongs on different channels, and how it’s all measured. They can help guide the traditional marketing person to create pieces that are shareable as appropriate on different channels.  They can measure engagement by content piece.  Like the other team member, this can be done through weekly or monthly lunch and learns, sharing of industry articles, or writing a quick document on how social media helps small businesses.

Look outside your company for marketing expertise

Need outside assistance for training your marketing team?  There are several companies that can assist with training small business marketing departments on the latest tactics in marketing. You can also invite industry experts to come in once a month for lunch and learn training of the staff, or do a presentation during a company meeting. These lunch and learn or more informal training sessions by industry experts are typically free, but more in-depth training of staff may require an investment.

At the end of the day, you may find that the most effective way to add knowledge to your current marketing team is to hire a new resource.  Going back to your original knowledge assessment of your team, you may determine you need a digital marketing specialist who has knowledge of all aspects of online marketing including SEO, content marketing, paid search or video marketing. Even with a new hire, the team should continue to grow their knowledge in order to stay informed on all aspects of marketing.  Below are a few great resources for training your marketing team:

Google Analytics


Social Media Examiner


Content Marketing Institute

American Marketing Association

Keeping your marketing team well trained is important to an organization overall. Investing in this effort is a critical strategy for your company’s success.

Patty Hughes
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