What does it take to be a great marketing manager? A strategic mindset. Understanding of the market and the customer. Creativity, yes that too. But there is something that is not on this list — working in an office. This is because being co-located is not required to be a brilliant marketing manager.
You can work remotely and create breakthrough marketing — it just takes certain skills.
What are some of these skills? You need to be able to communicate clearly, of course. You have to be assiduous in how you approach developing your marketing plans. You need to be sure everyone understands the strategy behind the work and that you are meeting deadlines. These are good characteristics for any marketing manager to have.
But let’s layer on the twist of collaborating with teammates who are working across multiple time zones. With asynchronous schedules, you might think remote marketing teams run the risk of misunderstandings and may fall into silos. And when communication breaks down, it is nearly impossible to make meaningful progress on marketing programs and campaigns.
These issues are typically borne out of organizational dysfunction, not remote work.
Our marketing teammates at Aha! are located in cities and towns across the United States — Portland, Dallas, Minneapolis, Princeton, and Charleston, to name a few. And these folks are some of the hardest-working and highest-performing I have ever worked with. Every week, our team releases go-to-market launches, publishes new blog posts, and analyzes ad performance.
I am inspired by our team, but I know that we are not the only ones capable of achieving great things remotely. Here are seven tips for being a successful marketing manager — who just happens to work remotely:
Be the goal-first guide
You are likely wrangling many different projects and assets at once. With folks working from different locations, you want to create consistency across your marketing materials. That requires a solid understanding of the “why” behind the work — your marketing strategy. Lead the way in showing others how to take a goal-first approach.
Make plans visual
Ambiguity leads to chaos. You need to define and document everything — plans, workflows, templates — and make sure marketing plans and information are readily accessible. We use our own software for this, of course. Our marketing team builds cross-team roadmaps and calendars to visualize what each group is working on. These plans are referenced and updated daily to make sure everyone has the latest.
Make meetings consistent
Video meetings are essential for a remote marketing manager. But you want to make this time super productive and purposeful. Create a uniform document that lays out an agenda, action items, and open questions for each recurring team meeting. Once you build it out, share it — so everyone can view the agenda beforehand and add their updates and questions. Even better, add the anticipated time needed for each agenda item to keep things moving.
Choose the right channel
Some conversations require that you meet with the entire team on a video call. Others only require a brief exchange over email or instant message. You need lightweight communication guidelines so everyone understands which channels should be used and when. When you improve communication, you naturally improve productivity.
When you come across relevant content or information from another team, share it so that everyone can benefit. And if you see someone struggling or missing deadlines, reach out as soon as possible to address the problem before it gets worse. Err on the side of oversharing and others will do the same.
Even when you meet over video, the nuances of face-to-face conversation can get lost. There is that ever-so-slight delay in the software that can make conversations feel stilted at times, especially for folks who are newer to remote work. So go out of your way to exude a positive attitude when interacting with teammates. And devote time for small talk so you get to know people on a more personal level. (Those tight meeting agendas should make this possible.)
Actual performance is what matters. Whether you lead a team or not, you own the work that you do and you are responsible for communicating the impact that work has on the business. Facts and hard data always speak clearly.
Being a successful marketing manager is not about where you work — it is about what you bring to your work.
Remote work can help you increase efficiency and develop your communication skills faster than if you were in the same room as the team. I know this has been the experience of many folks at Aha!
And the next time you hear someone say that you cannot develop a meaningful program or breakthrough campaign without holing up in a conference room for a brainstorm, share this blog post with them.
What traits would you add to this list?
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