Your Team Charter Is Your Most Powerful Management Tool

Everyone always asks, "What digital marketing tactics or strategies should we employ this year to really move the needle? Is it influencer marketing? Is it web personalization? Is it TikTok?" While your marketing activities are obviously an important part of your team's success, our first response is almost always to take a peek behind the strategy curtain before thinking about shiny new tactics.

Today we're going to walk through the most underrated marketing tool at your disposal -- the team charter. Before you fall asleep or click away, hear me out! If you've ever felt like your team was stuck in a rut, or a state of controlled chaos, there is a good chance that it's time to take 10 giant steps backward, and give some TLC to the basics of your team's operations. For us, the best way to do that is with a charter.

What is a team charter?

A team charter is a cornerstone document that outlines key aspects about your digital marketing team -- why you exist, what you're tasked to do, how you will operate, what roles exist on the team, and other defining characteristics. The purpose is to document the core details of your team so that anyone -- whether they are on the team or not -- knows exactly what to expect and what you're working towards.

Moreover, for those on the team, it is an agreement. An agreement for what's expected of their role; an agreement for what they can expect from their teammates; an agreement for how they should approach their work. In essence, it helps any member of the team truly buy-in to "the team", rather than simply working independently next to their coworkers.

Why is a team charter so important for digital marketing teams?

Simply put, a digital marketing team is one of the most complex teams in an organization. By nature, this team is made up of cross-functional experts, from writers and designers to developers and technologists, and everywhere between (managers, traffic specialists, web editors, project managers, PR specialists, media buyers. The list goes on and on). Chances are, everyone on the team will have vastly different experience and expertise, and therefore will have different context from which they do their best work. Without a charter, these unique contexts are a recipe for multiple directions, lack of coordination, and loss of effectiveness. Even if everyone is doing their best work individually, if they are all sprinting in opposite directions, there is little hope for managing a unified digital marketing program.

A charter pulls your team together. No matter their function or expertise, anyone operating under this governance document is tasked with going the same direction and working from the same foundational principles. Yes, they will still flex their own individual expertise and work-style, but it will be enveloped within the overall approach of the team. It's this unification that is truly the most valuable benefit of a team charter.

Without it, you're in a state of chaos -- controlled or otherwise.

Getting started with your team charter

There is no *one* team charter template that works for every team. However, we've included an outline here of some of the most important components to consider (At the end of the post, we also have a downloadable Word document that can get you started).

  1. Goal & Definition of Success -- Sometimes things like 'definition of success' seem too simple or obvious to document, but what we've found in a vast majority of our clients is that even though it was *assumed* that everyone had the same idea of the goal of their team, they all actually had slightly different understandings of it. Some considered lead generation to be the top priority, while others considered knowledge leadership to be most important. Your charter should outline precisely what your team is responsible for achieving, so it's crystal-clear to everyone involved.
  2. Justification -- Why does your team exist? Why is your team the only team who can meet the goal outlined above? Why should the CEO approve your budget for next quarter? Why does your work matter? As the leader of your team, you need to be able to justify your team's existence to your peers and upline. And your team needs a "why" to really do their best work.
  3. Measurable Output -- How will you and your team know that you're moving the needle for your company? Just like you measure campaign success, you need to be able to outline those KPIs that communicate that your department is making a difference (in a positive way). It's not enough to simply say "we're all *really* busy, and brand awareness is probably improving..." No, you need metrics that tie back to actual business value. Are you decreasing costs? Are you improving profits? Are you making sales? Whatever you decided on for a goal, this is where you figure out exactly how you're going to measure it.
  4. Values -- A team is more than a set of goals and drones following marching orders. It's a subculture within your organization. As such, you need to set a foundation of values and principles that you operate from. Do you value work-life balance? Do you foster healthy competition? Do you strive for best practice implementation? Do you value humor or humility? What are those *soft* attributes about your team that makes it function the way it does?
  5. Team Structure -- Instead of thinking hierarchically, and simply drawing lines between managers and employees, think instead about the functional roles that exist on your team -- and be specific. Content strategy, social media strategy, social media publishing, MarTech strategy, email marketing, analytics & data science, design, UX, copywriting, paid search, influencer marketing, etc. etc. Break the work of your team down into its smallest pieces, and create a role for each of those pieces. No, you don't need a single person for every role. But you do need to recognize all of the functions required to get the job done. You may have a digital marketing generalist who covers Social Media, Email and Content strategy, and that's OK. The point of this exercise is to DEFINE the work that has to be done so that you know what seats you need to fill. If your goal is to nurture more leads into converted customers, but you have no email specialist, you're going to hit pretty big issues very early on.
  6. Meeting/Collaboration Structure -- Another facet that is often overlooked is the structure with with your team communicates and collaborates. Here, you'll outline the standard operating procedures for recurring meetings, communication tools (like Slack or MS Teams), and general expectations for collaboration among your team. We typically recommend thinking about it in terms of Quarterly cadences, monthly cadences, weekly cadences, and realtime communication cadences.

Team Charter Example

Below you'll find a team charter template that we've used with a number of clients to get the ball rolling. In every case, we ended up adding or subtracting elements of the template to fit the exact needs of the team. Some need more prescriptive direction, while some simply need a barebones framework.

We recommend taking this template and working through it as is at first. Fill out the whole thing as it fits the specifications of your team. By the end, if you need to add more context in certain areas, or new sections entirely, go for it! The point is not to regurgitate a cookie cutter team charter template -- but rather use it as an accelerator to develop a critically useful governance document for your digital marketing team.

Digital Team Charter Template

Complete your digital team charter fast with this handy template.

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About the Author
Justin is the owner/founder of Fox Consulting Group, and a lead consultant for strategy engagements.

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