It's amazing being a Marketing Team of One! You are in charge. You get things done with limited resources. You get your hands dirty and learn every part of marketing. The challenges are tough though. There is never enough time, switching from one thing to another can feel like whiplash, and you can feel all alone. You are the scrappiest of scrappy marketers. Here's to you, Marketing Team of One!
Digital Marketing, Technologist, Gadget Geek, Father
WordPress. It's the original low-code, no-code tool. That combined with Elementor is an amazing suite.
Getting some big-name people on the Digital Marketing Dive podcast.
Don't Worry about the Government by Talking Heads.
Digital Marketing and the Web
Seth's spirit animal is perfect. 😆 I know Seth through the Swipefiles community. Thank you for sharing!
Marketing Teams of One who are working with limited resources have unique challenges. Marketing technology needs to be easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and ready to solve your problems right out of the box without IT support.
The marketing tools also need to play nicely with each other. No app can be on an island. They need to have integration either natively or through tools like Zapier.
Here are tools I would recommend for the martech stack of a marketing team of one.
As a Marketing Team of One, you are the point person for all things marketing. People come to you with tasks to be done and ideas to work on without regard to what is on your plate. You are also required to keep things running, which creates a lot of recurring tasks that need to be done every day. Here's a method to manage your priorities and keep things visible to your boss.
Identify your "north star", score your tasks, and use Trello to manage your day.
Your "North Star" is the one thing that keeps you guided and helps you set the priority on what you work on. For marketers, you are usually aligned with the growth of the company:
Make sure your boss and CEO agree with your North Star.
This will be the home of your dashboard for your marketing tasks.
Tagging a task with the "Must" will indicate it is a mission-critical task.
Add a Trello function "Power-Up" to allow for the creation of Custom Fields. Add these 3 numeric fields:
You can then use Score to help prioritize your tasks. The higher the score, the higher the priority.
Brainstorm all of your tasks and move them to their appropriate list. Use the score to help identify your priorities.
Each day, move tasks from "To Do" to "Done" as you finish them. You can then take the high-scoring "Back Burner" items and move them to "To Do" as you have time.
As new tasks come to you, you can identify the ones that impact your north star and prioritize where it should go in your list.
Not only will this help you proactively decide what to work on, but you can easily communicate to others what you are working on and why.
Trello has the ability to add formulas and workflows. If you want to, you can define workflows that automatically more recurring daily tasks onto your To Do board every day, as well as automatically calculate & sort by your Score field.
Here's what you are saying about being a Marketing Team of One:
💪 Exciting. Being in control. Always learning.
😞 Not enough time. Burn out. Not sure if you're working on the right stuff. Worried about not being an expert in any one thing. Lonely.
That's not telling you anything you didn't know, though.
You can thrive as a solo marketer, but it's not for everyone. Here is a checklist of 11 questions to ask yourself to see if you are in the right situation, and how to remedy problem areas.
The "north star" of marketing should be closely aligned with the company's main goal. It is the one thing that keeps you guided and helps you make decisions. Most importantly, the CEO should agree with you on what your north star is. Typical north star's for marketing leaders are:
Remedy: Have a conversation with your boss to remedy this. If there is no guidance from your boss, present your best guess and get buy-in. Reference your north star when discussing tasks you are working on to tie your priorities together and reinforce it.
You should have goals that are measurable, within your control, and reasonable to attain within a defined time period.
Remedy: If you do not have measurable goals and instead they are fluffy ("be the best") or unreasonable ("grow 1000% with $0 in 1 week") then you need to redefine them so you are not set up for failure.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the metrics used to measure if you are meeting your goals. Typical KPIs for marketing are:
Remedy: Create a dashboard that is available to everyone. The source of the data should be transparent so that there is trust in the KPIs, and trust in the results that you are producing.
If you are a Marketing Team of One in a company, nobody knows more about marketing than you. Do people trust in your expertise or are you being dictated to do things against your better marketing judgment?
Remedy: Take control. It may take some time to build trust. Ensure your north star, goals, and KPIs are defined and visible. As you meet your goals, trust will build. In addition, educate the people you work with on why you are doing what you are doing. Position yourself as the expert.
If Sales points the finger at you and says "your leads suck" and you say "you're burning through my good leads" then there is a problem.
Remedy: It may take time to build the partnership, particularly if there is a difference in power within the company. Ensure your goals and KPIs are defined and visible to sales. Make sure there is an objective definition of a qualified lead so there are no arguments. Shared common goals will align you and put you on the same team.
Tech solutions can help you both with efficiency and better marketing results. Having the flexibility to quickly try new tools and build the martech stack that is right for you is critical to your success.
Remedy: Develop a separate budget into your marketing plan that you can use to build your martech stack.
You are time-starved and every minute you can save matters. Automating manual tasks, setting up email marketing automation, repurposing content, reusing evergreen materials will all free up your time.
Remedy: Track your time for a week and pinpoint tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming. Find the appropriate tools, such as Zapier, to automate.
No one is great at everything. Most marketers can be considered a "T-shaped" marketer - general knowledge across all marketing skills but expert depth in one. But if you have the experience as a Marketing Team of One, you will most likely be a "Comb-shaped" marketer - breadth and depth in many things. Even so, you will need the ability to outsource your weaknesses and double down on your strengths.
Remedy: Develop a separate budget for freelancers or agencies to use when necessary in your planning. Compared to the cost of another full-time employee, it is much cheaper to use on-demand resources. If you get pushback, get permission to dip your toe with a small freelance project.
As the company continues to grow, you may need to start growing your internal marketing team.
Remedy: Pre-plan the role of new team members by tying the timing to company milestones. For example, when revenue hits $x we will hire a new marketing team member.
You are in the trenches every day, but you need to be able to have time and money to learn and develop your own skills. This includes courses, podcasts, events, newsletters, videos, and micro-lessons.
Remedy: Start with 5-minute micro-lessons that you do each day. Find a daily email course. Block out time on your calendar once a month for a longer investment.
It can feel like you are all alone as a Marketing Team of One, but you are not. Having a community of peers to talk about ideas, best practices, and common challenges helps your sanity and helps you grow. Finding an outside mentor, coach, or "sparring partner" brings you expert knowledge that you would normally find on a larger marketing team.
Remedy: Search Twitter & reddit for these communities. I am part of a private discord group for Marketing Teams of One (email me if you want information on an invitation). Also, check out the Swipefiles.com community.
Did you get 11 out of 11? It is rare for any situation to be perfect, but hopefully this gives you a roadmap and remedies to help you thrive in your role of Marketing Team of One.
Raise your solo cup to the solo marketers!
The now-ubiquitous red Solo cup was developed by Robert Hulseman in the 1970's. Robert is the son of Leo Hulseman, who in the 1930's create the "Solo Cup", a paper cone he made at his home and sold to bottled-water companies.
Leo's wife, Dorothy (stage name Dora Hall) was a singer and her records were given away free of charge through Solo promotions. She had her own show in 1979, and played Rose on Broadway with Frank Sinatra Jr.
What a fascinating family story!
You are not alone! In the reddit post "Raise Your Hand if You are a Marketing Team of One", the most popular response was "I thought I was the only one!"
We are in this together. I have been a Marketing Team of One for years, and it is my favorite thing to do. I'd much rather be constantly learning and challenged than be siloed in a big company.
You certainly earn your Scrappy Marketer's badge as a solo marketer.
See you next week. Happy Scrappy Marketing!
P.S. Subscribe to the Scrappy MarTech YouTube channel for the video companion to this newsletter.