If you're using Memetics to grow, who you need on your team? Monkeys teach each other to use tools, so anyone can make a meme, but hopefully your bar is higher than that. The structure that worked for the 50-person marketing agency I founded, echoes the structure outlined by Warren’s Meme Team in an internal document from the 2020 election (”Saving the nation with selfies & memes”), so I’ll use their terminology. It’s important to note that none of these roles are new: any good marketing team has a similar setup. What’s different is the attitude, skills, and experience of the people who fill these roles, as well as how they work together in a fast-evolving environment. For each role I’ve outlined the terminology, the main areas of responsibility and a hint at what the typical work day entails.
Message takes the lead – it’s easier to create designs from a copywriters' brief, than reverse engineer the meaning of a piece of art, so words go first. This is the strategy layer, so they need to have a deep understanding of human nature, and the ability to understand what the data is telling them is working. Message ideas get fed into the Creative team.
Creative sets the tone – the styles, colors, fonts and format make an extraordinary difference, as that’s what grabs attention and builds trust. They must think in terms of modular components, that can be reused and remixed to make new combinations. It’s hard to find an artist that is also a system’s thinker, so this is the hardest role to hire for. Creative assets go to Distro for deployment.
Distro gets it out there – they know where the audience spends time, and how to insert your message natively and authentically. They're handy with a pivot table and know enough statistics to be dangerous. They handle the operations: building and maintaining campaigns across multiple channels. They feed back results to Message and Creative so everyone knows what’s working.
Infra makes it scale – their job is to make the other jobs easier, so we can do more with less. From project management to managing documentation, they keep things running efficiently. They should never let Distro do a task more than three times without automating it. Leveraging ‘no code’ tools and building custom applications, they alleviate the most tedious and repetitive work.
If this is the team, then who will lead them? Traditionally the CMO, but for smaller companies without vast resources at their disposal, someone with a traditional CMO skillset won’t thrive in this environment. The last time we tried to rebrand marketing we believed “Growth Hacker” would be the new VP of Marketing. This was during the rise of Silicon Valley when developers were put in charge of marketing, because technical ability was a competitive edge in digital marketing. The new edge is creativity, with distributed teams seeding thousands of messages and images in social media to see what resonates. If you need someone to navigate the unfamiliar territory of new social platforms, understand the rules of engagement with influential tribes in counter culture, and always be tapped in to whatever ‘the latest thing’ is, you may need to hire a Chief Meme Officer. At least you don’t have to change the acronym from CMO.