If there’s one certainty about marketing today, it’s that marketing will change … again … soon. The constant state of change in marketing makes it difficult to not only build a high-performance team but also measure the performance of the team.
But those challenges can be overcome with a new, more flexible approach to building high-performance marketing teams, according to industry veterans and experts on the Building High-Performance Marketing Teams panel at the 2018 AIM Conference.
“Flexible, nimble, agile — That’s how we promote ourselves,” said Gianna Negretti, director of marketing services for Alliance Residential.
Building an agile team that produces results isn’t an easy task in today’s marketing environment. Multifamily marketing leaders have to consider more than just industry and marketing experience. Filling that role starts with the job description.
“We are definitely still the brand police and act as operational support like the job descriptions mention, but we also tend to be a bridge to asset management as well as operations,” said Cassie Khaing, senior brand manager at Mill Creek Residential. “We share marketing data and explain the customer journey to those teams, and we communicate that strategy and analysis to our partners more often today.”
The analytical requirements placed on marketers have changed the skills, experience and knowledge needed to perform at a high level.
“The need to have a foundational knowledge of digital, social, web development, content design, strategy and an understanding of the big picture and how the pieces fit together,” Negretti said. “A property might be undergoing construction and think they need a simple flyer or an eblast to residents. The account manager has to ask a lot of questions to find out why they think they need a flyer. They might actually need a communication plan that’s full of resident letters and a series of eblasts because this construction is going to be going on for six months and is going to affect how prospects get in the door, parking and more.”
Finding candidates with such a broad skill set can be difficult so it’s important to distinguish between skills that are hired and skills that can be trained, according to Jennifer Anderson, director of B2B marketing for RentPath.
“We juggle multiple projects so having good project management skills is something that can be hired,” said Melanie Flaherty, vice president of marketing for Carmel Partners. “Because we wear multiple hats, we are also multifaceted skill-wise. That’s something we can interview for people who have that unique quality. What we can train for are the details of our industry. We don’t necessarily have to hire someone who has a lot of background in multifamily operations or digital, but it is helpful if you have a background in one of those areas.”
But that doesn’t mean a marketing leader can just hire from outside the multifamily industry. Every team should have a balance of industry knowledge and new ideas from the consumer and tech industries.
“As a team leader, my goal would not to be to have a team that has all industry skills,” Flaherty added. “It’s nice to have some fresh background as part of the team but it’s also important to have some strong industry experience as well.”
Once you get the right people on the marketing team, you need to motivate them. But money and recognition for a job well done simply aren’t good enough for today’s millennial associates. They need to believe they’re working on a team that’s meaningful and doing meaningful work.
“We really need to market marketing,” Flaherty said. “Everybody thinks they’re a marketer and that can be frustrating. We constantly need to figure out how we can market the work our team is doing to increase the visibility of it. Examples of this are taking the time to make booklets or online recaps of the branded work that was done during the year, digital benchmarking and the progress that was made.”
As the marketing talent and the discipline change, multifamily operators will need to change how they hire, structure and manage their teams to keep pace and build a high-performance culture.