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How To Build A Marketing Dream Team

From Twin Creek Media's YouTube Channel:

Who’s This Video For?

  • Small business owners who are hiring their first internal marketing person (my definition here of "small business" is a company with annual revenue under $1M
  • Mid-size businesses (annual revenue under $20M) with Directors & Managers wearing too many hats - these companies typically need a small team of people


What's a Dream Team?

Building a marketing dream team is just like building a dream team in sports…  you need the best people in the right positions. Our marketing company started in 2004. I’ve had 17 years to think about this… to make mistakes and see what works.

Basketball - Chicago Bulls - who is Jordan without Scotty Pippen or Dennis Rodman

Hockey - Vancouver Canucks - the Sedins twins were phenomenal forwards, but what about the defensive players? Or the goalies? Then there are the rest of the players, coaching staff, trainers, and all the support the team had behind the scenes.

Dream teams play well together, cover each other’s weaknesses, and are focused on a common goal. They are set up to win.


Start With the End in Mind

What are you trying to achieve?  

What are your organizational goals? More sales, more subscriptions, more reviews, more fans/followers, more media attention, more leads, chats, phone calls, more people walking through your doors?

Build a plan that is reverse-engineered from your end goal.

It’s far too common to jump straight into tactics - design, advertising, social media, take pictures, shoot a video, build a website, do the Google thing…. go, go, go!

No. Stop.

Slow down. Let’s do some heavy thinking first. It’ll save you countless hours and $1000s running off in the wrong direction.

Better answers, start with better questions. Once you truly know what you need, then you can look for the right people.

Who to Hire First?

Okay, now where to start? Let’s discuss the basic roles in a Marketing Dream Team:

  1. Strategy
  2. Technical
  3. Design

Why are these the basic roles?

It’s because every marketing project has 3 stages. We call them planning, production, and promotion (or execution, but I wanted a word starting with ‘p’!) and you need experience and skills for these stages no matter what the project is.

Now the smallest “team” is just one person that can sorta do all of the basics — a Jack or Jill of all trades. In a nutshell, it’s someone who can think it, build it, and do it.   

In more words, it’s a person who can…

  • research, plan, and budget, 
  • then design & create and write stuff, 
  • and finally, execute and manage the ongoing work of reaching your target audience, measure results, tweak & repeat.  
Okay, if you're a unicorn, put up your hand! 

Okay, if you're a unicorn, put up your hand! 

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

When I started my career, I was a 1-man band. I went to a local college to learn marketing & design, then combined it with previous experience in social work, finances, and sales. I knew just enough to be dangerous.

One of my first clients was my wife’s parent’s company - a garden centre. One of their business goals was to improve communication with customers. In 2006, social media wasn’t as well used, so we decided to use email - the cheapest and fastest way to communicate that would reach most of their customers. That was the planning stage done - know the goal, understand your audience, a choose the best tactic.

Are unicorns real?

Sure, they are! 

But you may end up with one that's more of a narwhal and less of a pretty pony. 

Unicorns serve a purpose but aren't as good as a group of specialists.


Back to our email newsletter project example... I designed a basic email signup form. A physical notepad to use in the store.

Then we incentivized people to sign up by having a weekly draw for a small prize - like a pair of gardening gloves.

That’s it.

The email list grew and grew.

First 100s of people, then 1000s.

Next was promotion:

We sent out an email newsletter I designed using some software. The email newsletters focused on great info about plants, flowers, veggies.  Some content was educational, some more sales-y.

Customers knew more about products, store hours, sales, trends. Later on, we used social media channels like Facebook. These tactics complemented traditional efforts on radio, TV, and print.

Okay, so looping back to the basic roles in a Marketing Dream Team:

  1. Strategy
  2. Technical
  3. Design

If you think marketing is ONLY about ads or about sales, or your whole department is your web girl or design guy, you’re going to be in trouble.

You need planning and strategy first, then technical skills to build (especially these days with so much involving the internet and digital marketing), and creative design abilities to make things look beautiful and read well. Then it goes back to strategy - did it work? How can it be better?

Best Tiny Marketing Team (Triangle Team)

The best improvement you can make to a 1-person marketing dream team is to make it a 3-person team that has people who are a lot better in each area.

I tried lots of combos before discovering our first effective small team: 

Thomas - a technical wizard who can figure anything out

Christina - a talented graphic designer

Myself, James - a strategy & ideas guy

We were all “get it done” type of people and motivated to win and genuinely help other people succeed. 



James, Christina, Thomas - Twin Creek originals

James, Christina, Thomas - Twin Creek originals

"Do the right thing” was our simple mantra. Pro Tip: I learned pretty quickly that the personality types and core values have to jive in order for everyone to agree on what the "right thing" is! James Shaw, Creative Director/Partner, Twin Creek Media

Best Small(ish) Marketing Team

Once you have the basic roles covered, then you can stretch and grow as you see fit. As the years went by, our team grew and branched into our specialties.

What are your biggest needs? 

  • Is it more upper-level management & strategy, creating the vision, offering guidance at the 30,000ft level?
  • Is it more technical help managing your website, keeping up-to-date with technology and Google’s algorithms that affect search engine ranking? Or experience setting up advertising campaigns, online forms, and software tools.  
  • Or do you need more creative resources - taking photos, designing brochures, web graphics, producing videos, writing blog posts.

What needs a full-time pair of hands and what is needed just once in a while?

Answers to these questions determine how your marketing dream team grows. You’re basically dividing up the basic strategic, technical, and design roles into more expert jobs.  

For example, your graphic designer might be able to create a simple video, but if you want something kick-butt, you’re going to want a bunch of people - say a scriptwriter, videographer, editor, and maybe actors or voiceover talent.  5 people are better than 1.

Fun fact: In Hollywood, they find that number closer to 300 people, not including all the support services.)

The current marketing dream team.

The current marketing dream team.

Video Walk-thru of Our Team

Let’s take a look at our current team because we’re basically a marketing department...

I know a number of them have been all-in-one marketers in the past - Thomas, Erica, Teresa, as well as myself.

But when we hone in on our strengths, the results go to the next level.

Pro Tip: forget about people being well-rounded and focus on what each person is (could be) world-class at.

From Twin Creek Media's YouTube Channel:

Hiring Internally vs. Outsourcing

It’s a tricky question: should you hire more internal staff or hire contractors or a marketing agency?

The short answer is both. Here’s why…

Internal people are faster & more flexible.

Senior internal folks are obviously critical to steer the ship. This could be the owner or CEO in a small company or the Marketing Director in a bigger company.

Junior internal people can do 28 things in one day. Or they can drop everything and deal with an emergency. They can travel & run errands, pick up the phone and talk to a supplier, customer, service provider. 

Internal team members are great at dealing with endless details coordinating your event. They can switch gears and help another department. They can respond instantly and you can literally walk down the hall and talk to them.

External people are more specialized & cost-efficient part-timers.

Contractors, consultants, or a marketing agency like us can fill in the gaps missing in your internal team. If you don’t really need a full-time website developer, then it makes good sense to outsource website design. The same thing applies to graphic design, video production, social media management, advertising… the list goes on and on.  

Unless you need a full-time expert, it’s cheaper to outsource. Building out a dream marketing dream is expensive too. Think $500k to 1 million per year for 5 to 10 great people. And that’s just salaries, not counting recruiting, training, benefits, and hoping they’re all going to work together well. This is the reason ‘plug n play’ marketing agencies like Twin Creek are useful – a company can hire a 9-person team for the cost of 1 internal staffer.  

When you outsource, your marketing budget can be reallocated month to month to what you need at that time. External people also bring a fresh perspective on things. We’re literally on the outside and have the advantage of knowing what works and doesn’t work for loads of companies trying 100s of different ways to win in business. Trust me, this insight is crazy valuable.


Get building your marketing dream team! Find the people that are competent in the golden triangle of strategy, tech, and design. We hope you can surround yourself with a group that you can trust, makes you laugh, and can celebrate your success. Good luck! 

~ James Shaw, Creative Director/Partner, Twin Creek Media 

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