In a previous article, I talked about taking a visual approach to your marketing plan by creating a mind map. There are lots of terrific free mind mapping tools out there that will help you to organize and categorize your marketing ideas and opportunities in a way that keeps the focus on your marketing goals and commitments.
As we all know, planning is nice and fun, but implementing is critical. Implementation has become more challenging than ever as marketing departments have been reduced or eliminated. In their place, virtual teams have taken over much of the implementation of a company’s marketing plan.
One huge benefit of using a virtual marketing team is that you can get very specific around skill sets and hire landing page writers or bloggers or search engine experts to do specific components of your marketing plan. But the disadvantage of this is that you also have to manage these teams who are often far flung around the world.
Like many small business owners, you’re doing everything yourself. And then when you realize you need help, you just grab anyone to help you. If you’re a fan of Michael Gerber’s E-Myth, then you already know this is headed in a dangerous direction.
As you build your business, take stock of what your brand is as well as what your goals are and then make a commitment to build a team that will support those things. Here is how to get started:
1. List your projects. The first thing you need to do is list each project. It helps to describe the goals and objectives of the projects as you list them because it will help you choose potential team members based on their knowledge, skills and attitudes. Say your brand is committed to the details; you’ll want to make sure that your team members are also detail oriented. And if your promise is fast delivery, you’ll want to make sure that the people you hire to help you have the ability to turn around projects based on your requirements.
2. Write out the milestones for the project. Next, write out the basic milestones for the project. For example, launch a website, attend a trade show, create an e-mail marketing campaign. This will get your brain bubbling about the specific skills you’ll need for your team.
3. Layout the skills that you will need. This is one of those steps I used to skip over—and that was a big mistake on my part. In the past, when I had a set team of employees, I was limited by their skills. But now that I use virtual freelance based teams, I can focus on the talent and expertise that is required to do the job rather than doing the job based on the talent I have available. Look at your milestones and focus on the talents, skills and experience you need to make your marketing campaign successful—write those down. They might include: article writing, copywriting, Web design, search engine optimization, Google analytics, etc.
4. Create your team around each project. Now, list out the team members (resources) that you currently have around the skill sets you need. This will do both you and your team a huge favor because everyone will be doing something that they are good at. When you use team members who are weak in an area, it takes longer, they are unhappy and your results suffer.
5. Recruit new team members. My go-to resources for recruiting new team members have been oDesk and eLance. Both sites offer every level of talent and skill from all over the world, and at every budget level. The search process is easy and I’ve had great experience so far with both.
How to train your virtual team
One hidden advantage of working with virtual teams is that it forces you to create very detailed work instructions and procedures for anything that you intend to delegate to the team. The process of training your team will actually force you into working on your business rather than in it.
One terrific way to train your team is to actually go through the process that you are delegating yourself and document each step along the way. Use the guideline that anyone who picks up the document and has the skills, should be able to do the job on their own after reading it.
- Project name: Give each project a short name (i.e. Entering leads into the database).
- Objective or purpose of the project: Create an objective (i.e. To capture the names and contact information from leads captured from a trade sleads).
- Procedure: Break your project down into specific tasks. Think of this as a sort of recipe of how to do something. An important aspect of writing these instructions is to pretend that you are literally walking the person through a process. Be sure to include helpful hints and guides along the way. For example: "be sure to double check the spelling on each name before you hit save."
If your project requires work on a computer, then you are in luck when it comes to training. Use a screen capture tool like Jing or Camtasia and record yourself actually doing the task at hand. Save it as a video or upload it as a private YouTube video (especially if you’re showing confidential information) and then share that with your team. This gives your team the ability to actually see what you’re doing and watch the training over and over.
Virtual teams ROCK
I’ve been working with virtual teams for about a year now and can tell you that the experiences have been rewarding on so many levels. Not only have I had the opportunity to connect and build relationships with brilliant and dedicated small business owners from all over the world, but my business has grown as a result.
If you find yourself needing an extra hand to grow your business, building a virtual team is a great option for everyone involved.