Marketing has always had a lot of moving parts, but especially these days, the trend toward remote teams is the new normal. In 10 years, one-third of workers will do their jobs remotely. Managers today need to get out in front of this trend and create a distributed marketing strategy that pairs top marketing leadership qualities with proven distributed team management practices and tools.

Top marketing leadership qualities are your foundation:

  • Provide and accept honest feedback that builds trust
  • Stay enthusiastic and flexible to avoid burnout and high turnover
  • Adapt and respond swiftly with acknowledgment and solutions
  • Engender work-life balance by offering flex time and remote work options
  • Mentor and encourage cross-training for better brainstorming
  • Drive the mission with a clearly communicated purpose

How to strategically manage a distributed marketing team:

Define consistent procedures

Onboard team members with expectations and established structures, which is especially important for remote members who won’t have the traditional face-time, water cooler-style orientation.

Provide clear communication

Adhere to clear communication parameters that don’t distract or confuse, but instead support transparency and accountability.

Email and chat suggestions:

  • Use subject line naming conventions for updates or issues
  • Remind your team that cc’d members need not reply
  • Retain email streams (no sidebars with identical subject)
  • Identify who has action items and is responsible for status emails or reports
  • Be mindful not to use slang or localisms that don’t easily translate across cultures, especially when working on technical aspects of a project

Working hours

Even if they’re limited, set hours that span the whole team, so everyone is available to each other for at least part of the day. This can be difficult when one or more members are on different continents, so be ready for constraints that may arise during certain project phases. Make use of collaboration tools to bridge the gap and manage work done asynchronously. This goes a long way toward building team cohesion and sharing vital information.

Meetings

Hold meetings only as necessary and be respectful of other people’s project deadlines. Schedule regular calendared status check-ins to make sure everyone is on the same page. Make a time for conversations so that everyone, whether they’re on-site or remote, can participate, even if it’s easier to pop over to someone’s desk with your questions. These strategies promote transparency and trust.

Work-life balance

Team knowledge adds to business success. Encourage the pursuit of outside interests, not just professional skills to foster a positive environment and job satisfaction. If finances allow, bring everyone together at least annually.

Pull it together with marketing project software

A centralized distributed marketing software platform saves time so teams can concentrate on the project at hand. At a minimum, invest in one that is easy to learn and has user buy-in, includes excellent customer support and tutorials, connects team members across multiple channels, provides easily customized workflow paths, templates and calendars, allows for the sharing of marketing assets with use guidelines, and, importantly, syncs with select third-party apps so the wheel does not have to be reinvented.

Distributed marketing teams are successful when marketing leaders communicate mission and goals, encourage creativity and feedback, and provide scalable, easy-to-use, collaborative tools that support team members across the office or across the world. It can be done if you put all the right pieces into place.

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