As a marketing leader, a perennially useful exercise is to get your team to grade the marketing function out of 10. Do this with blind voting, then discuss the answers and decide on how to improve the grade in the future.
Having done this exercise a number of times, here's my current rubric:
Poor (1-3 out of 10)
- No domain experts on team
- Zero leadership support or interest
- Marketing is just "the team that posts on social media"
The tragedy with teams at these grades is that they don't know, or don't care that they're at this level. You'll find this in companies where leadership is heavily engineering or sales focused, where marketing is essentially a glorified comms function.
If you're an executive that is dissatisfied with your marketing team but can't put your finger on it, the bullet points above are the reason why.
If you're a marketer that has somehow found yourself on a team like this, do not try to improve it. Leave immediately.
Most teams (4-6 out of 10)
- Capable people who can move KPIs
- Marketing goals have a fuzzy link to rest of business
- "I have no idea what the Marketing team is doing"
This is the vast majority of teams. Marketing is staffed with capable people who know what they're doing, but they're in their own world, almost firewalled away from the rest of the company.
Marketing will celebrate their wins during an all-hands meeting – and nobody cares. Marketers feel underappreciated. They get drinks after work to rant about why nobody respects them, not realizing that their team leader hasn't done the hard work of establishing and communicating real value to other teams.
Above average (7-8 out of 10)
- Smart team contributes to strategy
- Marketing wins are celebrated by other teams
- Inconsistent long term thinking
- Has key person risk
These are teams full of smart people who are crushing it. They not only recognized internally, but they have a number of people recognized in the industry – so nobody is doubting their marketing smarts.
For a sports analogy: this is like the 2018-2019 Toronto Raptors, who won the NBA championship because they acquired a key player. Once they lost that player, they were unable to recover.
So, at this level, the issue is that they're a good team, but they're not a good system. If they have personnel attrition, the whole thing could fall apart.
World-class (9s and 10s)
- Very smart team with inspiring leaders
- Significant impact on business-level outcomes
- Can see around corners
- Culture of high expectations
- Deep bench of talent
Sadly, I've only seen this team, and I would say that I haven't yet been part of one. HubSpot had several marketing teams operating at this level. A testament to how world-class they are is that I learned from them despite not being on the team!
Another perennially useful exercise is to run this exercise but with your peer function leads. For example, a CRM team leader grading the SEO team, or asking the sales manager to grade the marketing team as a whole. You'll want to do this with team leads only, and confidentially.
Quantifying "performance" can lead to uncomfortable situations, but in my experience it's been worth it every time.