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Adopt a Competency Framework to Build Your Martech Team

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Four illustrated butterflies in solid colors (purple, blue, green, and yellow) of varying sizes on an off-white background.


Martech, short for marketing technology, is about much more than your technology stack. While one part of the martech equation is the technology, the other part is the people who use it. You need a team of unique individuals with the right balance of traits and skills that interplay to create success. 

Marketing technologists with the right competencies can seem like mythical creatures. Thankfully, they’re more like butterflies than unicorns — they actually exist. However, it’s easier to find them when you adopt a marketing competency framework to guide your hiring decisions and team development.

With the right framework, you get clear on the skill sets and behaviors you need in your marketing technologist(s) and across your team. Thankfully, you don’t need every attribute in every person. You can map out your competency needs for your team like you can map your marketing technology. Then fill it in across your organization as you go. 

Just as there are frameworks designed for leadership and inbound marketing, we created one specifically to help you develop individuals and teams in martech. We call it the M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework. Once you understand it, you can start to advance your current team, identify and fill the gaps, and hire appropriately.

Start with the M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework


Focus on the right competencies, and you can contribute to higher satisfaction, retention, and productivity metrics for your team. Which, in turn, leads to significant positive influence on your customer experience and financial outcomes. 

But before we get into M.A.R.T.E.C.H., there’s another acronym to consider. In their book Inbound Marketing, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot present a framework called D.A.R.C. that’s intended to guide the hiring and development of inbound marketing-savvy employees.

D.A.R.C. stands for: digital citizens, analytical, reach (web), and content creators. This framework is great for inbound marketing — we use it ourselves. Although it contains some competencies needed in the development of marketing technologists, it’s not designed specifically for martech. That’s where our M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework comes in. 

  • Marketing: Create and communicate value. Content-rich and channel-focused, create value through inspiration and education.

  • Agile: Evidence-based, content marketing with customer collaboration and a dynamic responsiveness to changing market conditions. This isn’t just about moving fast, it’s about adopting and working with agility.

  • Resourceful: It’s unlikely you’ll always have enough money or people to execute every opportunity (or a problem). Cultivating a genuine curiosity, an openness to new networks, and the willingness to navigate uncharted waters will help in accomplishing what’s most important.

  • Technical: A developer may not consider your skills technical, but your peer network comes to you for technical stuff because you can explain it. Understanding and appreciating the intricacies and connectivity within the technology stack is critical. You also need in-depth application configuration knowledge.

  • Entrepreneurial: Have ownership like the company is yours. Develop passion and pride in making sure things run properly. Ultimately, if this was your business, is this how you’d do it?

  • Culture: Cultural fit equates to better teamwork, collaboration, and rapport across various departments. If the culture is broken to begin with, fixing it needs to be one of your top priorities.

  • Hero: Make someone else a hero. This role is the magic behind the scenes. Leveraging various marketing technologies to power the initiatives of others will make everyone’s life more enjoyable. 

Adopt this framework and you have a foundation to find the right marketing technologists to build out your team. Then you can start to reap the benefits of your martech technology stack.

Here are some of the most important parts of the M.A.R.T.E.C.H framework that define the characteristics you need in your leadership and team.

Marketing knowledge still comes first


Notice that M.A.R.T.E.C.H starts with “marketing.” Even though you need to learn how to use your technology, your organizational marketing knowledge still comes first. You need a team of people working together every day to create accurate and impactful brand experiences. Here are some proven ways for you and your team to build marketing knowledge.

  • Stay aware and consistently curious: Gravitate to topics of interest and stay in the loop through Google alerts, Hootsuite dashboards, service and sales team interactions, books, podcasts, blogs, whitepapers, newsletters, etc.

  • Build social networks: A social network requires a constant exchange of value. Dunbar’s number suggests you can comfortably maintain 150 meaningful relationships. Enhance your social network through volunteering because shared values are a great way to start a professional relationship.

  • Participate in industry events: Events are a great way to add people with shared professional interests to your social network and build your expert network. Some of the local and national organizations we’ve found helpful include: Social Media Breakfast, American Marketing Association (AMA), Association of National Advertisers’, Content Marketing Institute, and the MarTech Conference. Local Meetup groups are also a great way to find like-minded marketers in your area.

  • Build your expert network: Widen’s friends include Scott Brinker and Joe Pulizzi, who are both excellent sources for thought leadership and have presented at the Widen Summit. Subject matter experts are sitting right next to you as well — remember to engage your colleagues.

  • Run experiments: Set aside some money and try something new. Buy new technology, promote in a new channel, change the message, or try a new target.

  • Evaluate ongoing programs: This is the marketing stuff you think is working effectively. These programs often are renewed without considering how else the money could be used. Check to see if it’s up to your current definition of success. Is there a way to improve it?

Share marketing knowledge across your organization

What do you do with all the knowledge? Don’t make a common mistake and silo it away in your department. Share it with your organization so that you can get support for your goals and challenges.

Once you expose other stakeholders to what’s going on, you establish a clear understanding of what marketing actually does. That builds support and eliminates the common misconception that everyone “knows marketing.” They’ll see how much work it takes just to get a high-quality blog post onto the website and start to empathize with your cause. 

Here are some simple ways to create marketing ambassadors across your organization:

  • Share the marketing plan and explain why: Share your marketing plan with relevant stakeholders. You can extract a cliff notes version and explain why certain things are being done to establish a greater level of transparency. When you’re accountable to your peers they can also help you.
  • Network with leadership: Network with leadership and management teams to help them understand marketing. They’ll appreciate the connection and their endorsement will be communicated to non-marketers by non-marketers. This’ll make it easier to get support for your plan across departments.
  • Host an open house with marketing: Establish a marketing open house as an internal event. Make it a party! Bring your vendors, have the public relations team explain their tactics, witness the social media teams monitor threads, or watch a demo of the software platforms that publish content into the market. Don’t be afraid to show the skeletons in your marketing closet. It can help build a “we’re on the same team” mindset.
  • Offer shadow days: Give super curious people a chance to shadow you for the day. Show them an analytics review, technology assessment, media interview, creation of a new blog post, a review of artwork from the design team, a product feedback session, or a budget review. Even let them see your inefficiencies; be vulnerable.
  • Hold fireside chats: Similar to the open house, a fireside chat allows the marketing team to highlight one or two topics presented by a member of the marketing team or an external thought leader. The style can range from conversational to a more formal presentation, but always remember to leave time for questions at the end. 

Once you’ve increased support across your organization, your marketing technology team can be more effective in everything you do. That gives you more organizational trust to pivot when there are new opportunities and good reasons to change direction. Agility doesn’t just come from moving fast. Let’s explore what it really means to be agile and practice the methodology. 

Adopt agile in your martech team


Martech and software development aren’t the same thing, but they do have a lot in common. You need to plan out your yearly roadmap and still have the flexibility to jump on new business opportunities as you go. That’s why our M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework includes “agile.” 

A common misconception is that agile just means to move quickly and change directions. That’s a part of it, but it’s never that simple. You need to adopt the Agile methodology and study it to really get the benefit. 

Start by reading about the foundations of Agile. Then, get more specific by researching how marketers use Agile methodologies successfully. Share what you find with others in your office. Imagine what your process might look like in Agile-mode and advocate for changes in that direction.

Here’s some recommended reading to get started:

A lot of the marketing industry has adopted Agile by name because it gives the perception of technical savviness. Most teams don’t actually practice Agile marketing. They just change directions a lot. But some marketing teams have committed to the methodology and been able to sustain for the long-term.

Here are some good resources to read about Agile in marketing:

  • Scott Brinker has Agile marketing posts with some informative reads and recommendations. His vision for Agile marketing is a combination of the Scrum + Kanban processes.
  • Richard Sheridan with Menlo Innovations has a great book, Joy, Inc., about the Menlo culture that highlights Agile approaches in action.
  • The Agile Alliance also provides lots of content and events, including experience reports to share stories and Agile experiences.

If you have the chance, shadow your software teams in action. You can learn a lot from watching Agile teams perform sprint functions, release planning, and stand-ups. Our marketing team benefited from watching our developers use Agile to build the Widen Collective®, a digital asset management (DAM) and product information management (PIM) solution that helps customers manage and share terabytes of marketing content and product data. 

One key to making Agile work is helping your whole team think differently. If you’re a martech leader, you have to start by encouraging your team to think for themselves and be resourceful.

Enable resourcefulness through leadership

We don’t always get more money and more people. But, we still need to reach our goals. That’s why “resourceful” is the “R” in our M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework. You can enable resourcefulness with the right leadership approach and get your martech team to make decisions on their own. Encouraging some good old-fashioned grit can also help. 

Here are some examples of what you can do as a martech leader to grow resourcefulness on your team.

  • Pose the challenge: What big problem is your team trying to solve? You need to effectively frame the problem and communicate it. Then everyone can apply their skills and knowledge to address it, together.

  • Give them space: You hired people smarter than you. Now get out of the way and let them do what they do best. Trust your team and let them explore options, stumble, fall, get up again, and figure it out. They’ll find more effective and sustainable solutions that way.

  • Leverage your network: Convert all those golf outings, benefit dinners, and business lunches into value for your team. Great leaders extend their networks to their marketing team to make sure the value flows through the organization.

  • Be responsive to requests: Leaders are not roadblocks, they are enablers. You need to be responsive and make sure you’re not keeping valuable employees in holding patterns. Make sure you’re available as often as you can be and not hidden away.

  • Ask the right questions: When you ask employees the right questions you empower them to think through the answers for themselves. There’s a temptation to lecture or give the answer. Don’t do it right away. Have weekly check-ins with employees, ask them about their lives, and keep them oriented to their own agency and potential for impact.

  • Share the impact: Show your team the impact of their efforts through key metrics. Find ways to show their direct impact on revenue, performance, and customer satisfaction in regular intervals. Dashboard monitors in open space are one way to do it in real time.

  • Recognize the effort: It feels good to know you are contributing to something greater and that your effort matters. Recognize your team and don’t save it for year-end reviews. Do it as you go. When it comes up, don’t wait, let them know their effort is seen. That generates resourcefulness on a regular basis.


If you do these things as a martech leader, your team feels free to make decisions and come up with solutions on their own. Now that you’ve got resourcefulness down, you know one of the main things that makes a marketing technologist tick

Now it's time to assemble your martech team


Now that you’ve got the M.A.R.T.E.C.H. framework, it’s time to develop a team that’s passionate about your customer experience. Do you have someone who knows Agile? No. Good! 

Talk with your recruiter about looking for that skill when you hire your next marketing team member. Not sure where to start? This article outlines key roles you might want to look for to round out your team’s martech skill sets. 

Remember, martech isn’t all about technology. You also need the right people to manage and use this software to create memorable customer experiences. This is going to take some time to get right, and that’s ok. Come up with a plan based on the M.A.R.T.E.C.H. competency framework and take it one step at a time. 

 

Topics: Marketing, MarTech, Change Management

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