Episode 149

How To Be Successful if You Are a Marketing Department of One

by Smarter Building Materials Marketing

Manufacturers depend on their marketing departments for everything from sell sheets to social media. For a lot of manufacturers, all of that weight falls on just one set of shoulders. Are you a marketing department of one? Here are three of the absolute essentials you’ll need if you’re riding solo.

More About This Episode

Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

Small departments can get things done when they’re resourced well and have support from the rest of the team. Beth talked with Tracy Dacko, the Marketing Manager for Schöck North America, about delivering results and staying ahead when you’re running things on your own.

Staying Creative as a Department of One

Tracy Dacko is the Marketing Manager for the U.S. & Canadian division of Schöck, a global manufacturer of structural building components based in Germany. Tracy’s background is in design and creative departments, and she owned a marketing communications firm for a decade. She eventually joined Schöck in 2016 to head up their marketing department for the U.S.

“The main product that we sell here in North America is structural thermal breaks,” says Tracy. “This is a very common product within Germany and throughout Europe — they've been using structural thermal breaks there for decades — but it is a little bit newer to the North American construction market.”

This plays a big role in Schöck’s marketing strategy, to bring awareness to the product as a solution and to educate professionals here in the States. “So a lot of what we do here is educational,” says Tracy. “We help to ensure that architects and engineers are aware of them as a solution, and we help to encourage adoption within the building codes and more widespread use throughout North America.”

That strategy was built over time, some of which happened before Tracy arrived.

“I was the second marketing manager in North America, and there was a lady in this role prior to me, and she did a good job of kind of getting things rolling, a lot of foundational setup,” says Tracy. “So when I came in, I think a lot of my focus was to build a bit more structure behind it and to kind of formalize things.”

And that was no small task.

How To Tackle Big Jobs

Beth asked Tracy what establishing processes while keeping up with the marketing efforts already in place looked like.

“Really one of the first major initiatives for me was finding a marketing automation system,” says Tracy. “There's so many different things to do, so many different moving parts that, anywhere that you can automate something or streamline, it is hugely beneficial. We had started up with Salesforce about six months prior to my starting with Schöck.”

Salesforce allowed them to build automation around their events and communication with attendees and other contacts. “So it was a lot of moving parts, of various things. Beyond the marketing automation, we had events, trade shows, things like that,” explains Tracy.

Running her own business helped Tracy navigate a lot of these challenges — just dealing with Salesforce alone can be a multi-person job! (If you know, you know.)

“And that really taught me a lot about being a single individual running a lot of different things, but it also taught me about setting myself up for having a larger team,” says Tracy.

All of us have strengths and weaknesses, and when you’re running the show on your own, you’ll notice where those weaknesses are. But don’t stress — Tracy suggests taking notes, instead, and using them to plan out your dream team for the future.

“So as I got a larger team, when I had my own company, I started compartmentalizing things,” she says. “It was compartmentalizing, streamlining and automating everything that we possibly could, and making good use of those resources also.”

Top Three Priorities for Solo Marketers

It’s not a secret that the marketing department always asks for more budget. But if you’re juggling a lot of tasks and need help or resources, it’s part of the job to ask for money.

“And when you're trying to build a business, you need to look at where everything is going,” says Tracy. Tracy gets why CEOs might want to pinch pennies when it comes to marketing. “I think the main thing is to have a good conversation with and an open line of communication with a marketing department of one,” says Tracy.

Tracy talked with us about a few other things to prioritize when it comes to those marketing conversations.

  1. Create a Feedback System

In a small marketing department, you’re often creating things and deciding on them all on your own. Tracy developed a feedback system to help her create content that was successful — not created in a vacuum, but content with a strategy, and buy-in from the team.

“You forget that no one else actually knows what you're doing,” says Tracy. “It's a constant struggle for me in this role to remind myself to tell people.”

One of the best ways to talk with other departments is to bring up numbers that everyone can relate to. A marketer’s best friend can be an analytics report because having information helps to back up the work that you’ve been doing.

“So I taught myself Google Data Studio one afternoon, and now I have a four-page report that I can send to my sales team and to my boss and to our internal sales manager and our product manager and they can see what's going on on the website,” says Tracy.

Being a department of one can silo you away from other departments, “and the other part of the isolation also is isolation of your ideas,” explains Tracy. To keep the dialogue going, Tracy has essentially set up her own think tank at Schöck — a cross-functional marketing review team.

“So it's the head of sales, our product engineer and our product manager and myself, and anytime something is created, literature, an ad, something like that, I will circulate it to them just to get the input from different sources to make sure that we're on target,” says Tracy.

  1. Simplify Everything You Can

It’s easy to get overwhelmed as a marketer with all of the available tools out there, so Tracy suggests streamlining and organizing in ways that work best for you.

“You have to kind of be a generalist and field whatever fires you need to put out that day. And quite honestly, let's face it, sometimes you can take half a day looking for receipts for accounting or troubleshooting something in your marketing automation software,” says Tracy.

She keeps track of most of her priorities in one single spreadsheet. “I like to keep things simple. I also like to write out my to-do lists every day,” says Tracy.

She’s also cut out things that she doesn’t have time for.

“One of the things that I did when I first came in is I closed the Twitter account,” says Tracy. “But I wanted to just kind of put aside the things that were not really going to happen and that weren't terribly effective anyway, and were going to suck up a lot of time.”

  1. Outsource

Tracy also keeps a running list of things that she can send later to a virtual assistant or another contractor.

“I work with a great person up in Canada who helps me out with spreadsheet stuff and things like that, where I know it's going to take me time to go through things, and she can go through it very quickly and effectively, and it's relatively inexpensive and it gets something off my plate,” says Tracy.

Understanding where you can delegate and automate tasks is key to running a marketing department, and getting things off your plate means there are more opportunities for you to grow in other areas.

Want Even More Insight?

Tracy’s final recommendation to marketers is to keep educating yourself. “Obviously, there's so many resources, videos, podcasts like this one,” says Tracy. She attends LinkedIn Learning classes, among others.

Keeping up with industry trends and best practices this way helps to keep Tracy on top of things, and also keeps her connected with other marketers and industry professionals.

You can connect with Tracy on LinkedIn to continue the discussion.

If you are a marketing team of one or even a small team at a large organization and have questions about how you can be more effective, send us an email at [email protected].

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