How To Build A Top-Notch Customer Marketing Team In Your Organization

In earlier blog posts, David Coates, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Iron Mountain, outlined his company’s unique approach to engaging customers, along with a framework for effective customer marketing.

In this final post, David shares the ideal mix of experience and skills needed to build a successful customer marketing team.

1. Use your peripheral vision when looking for team members

While the best make-up of the customer marketing team will depend on the organization’s approach and goals, Iron Mountain is keenly focused on driving engagement, advocacy and ultimately retention and loyalty.

With that in mind, David sought out colleagues and new hires obsessed with customer service. “Fundamentally, these people need customer-centricity to be part of their DNA,” David explains. As David found, people with that mindset can come from a range of backgrounds and areas of the business, including those in field marketing, communications, demand generation, customer care and account management.

2. Find those who can embrace uncertainty

Being comfortable with little structure and clarity is another must-have for members of customer marketing team, which is widely viewed as a nascent industry and function. As David puts it, “Those that succeed are the ones who are okay with ambiguity and the ‘white space.’ They need to put stakes in the ground and adjust on the fly.”

David also stresses the importance of team members being willing and able to connect numerous programs so that the parts contribute to a larger initiative. The reality is that a customer marketing program—and its goals and measures of success—will morph over time as the organization learns and grows. To keep pace with this evolution, team members should be patient and agile so they can continually tweak processes over time. “In this environment the ability to collaborate and identify common, shared goals are also key to addressing the ambiguity and building individual and shared success,” says David.

3. Recruit a mentor

Like any new initiative, spearheading a customer marketing program can feel like a lonely endeavor if you have a small team. In fact, it may feel like your team is taking one step forward and two steps back at times as you try to prove the value of your programs and gain internal buy in.

To keep things in perspective—and stay motivated—it helps to connect with internal and external mentors. “An internal mentor can help you overcome roadblocks and suggest how best to navigate within the organization, while an external mentor can serve as an unbiased sounding board,” says David. Within Iron Mountain, David has found mentors in the company’s CMO and the executive sponsor of the Customer Advisory Board; outside of the company, he turns to industry experts and thought leaders like Bob Peterson, Research Director at SiriusDecisions; Melissa Mahoney, Vice President, Corporate Communications at SimpliVity; Jane Hiscock, President and Founder of The Farland Group; and Eyal Danon, President and Founder of Ignite Advisory Group.

Top takeaways

  • Understand that allies for customer marketing can come from all areas of the company—but a customer focus is key.
  • The best customer marketing team members are those that show a willingness to work within a loosely defined structure and accept the ever-evolving nature of the program.
  • Support yourself and your program with both internal and external allies/mentors who can provide perspective and guidance.