How to Manage a Marketing Department of One

How to Manage a Marketing Department of One

If you happen to work in marketing at a small- or medium-sized airport, you may be painfully familiar with the concept of a marketing department of one. In fact, many of our clients are, themselves, a marketing department of just a single — and very busy — individual. Not only that, but many of them are also an air service department of one, a customer service department of one, a PR department of one — well, you get the idea.

So how do you make sure you’re using your team (that is, your individual time, talent and resources) effectively? How do you find a way to get the job done and still get to go home at a decent time and with enough energy to pursue your personal life, like cheering on your kids or walking your dog? It’s a tough balance to strike — we know, we’ve been there — but it is possible. Here are some things we’ve learned. Maybe they’ll help you as much as they’ve helped us and some of our clients. Pick and choose the ones you like, or implement them all for maximum effect!

Make a list of the marketing jobs you handle

To help you out, we’ve made a list of common marketing jobs below. Put a star next to the ones you most enjoy or in which you are skilled. Put an X next to the ones that, given the choice, you’d rather never do again. Those ones with the X? They will take you longer to complete and will suffer in quality simply because you do not enjoy them. Chances are you can’t ditch them completely, but you may be able to get outside help. You’d be surprised how easy it is. And when you do that, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to the starred items.

Find resources to help with the stuff you don’t like or in which you aren’t skilled.

If you get frustrated every time you try to add new content to your website, find a partner to whom you can forward the content and let them deal with the technical aspect of putting it up there. If writing content for your Facebook page feels draining, invite some fresh energy into the process by getting an industry expert to make a monthly content calendar for you. Maybe you don’t have the budget to get a marketing company to help — that’s okay. There are lots of online resources (we added a list of some of our favorites at the bottom of this post) to help with all kinds of marketing tasks from graphic design to proofreading to creating content for social media.

Say no.

This might be the hardest thing for any marketing person to do. You’ve been trained to say yes, but saying yes to everything means you’re effectively saying no to some of the most important things because they suffer from the lack of attention. Either way, you’re saying no, so take back control and say no to the ones you really want to say no to.

Or… don’t say no.

If “no” is just too hard, trying saying “let me explore that and get back to you.” Then set aside 15 minutes to think it through, quickly weigh the pros and cons, and then get back to them just as you promised. And “getting back” to someone doesn’t have to mean saying a straight yes, it could mean saying, “I would be happy to handle this part of the project,” or “With my current workload, I’m only able to commit to ______,” or even, “I’d love to do this, but it would mean I’d have to stop doing ____________, and I’m not able to do that right now.” You can say no while softening the blow.

Enlist the help of employees and tenants.

Just because everyone at the airport isn’t on the marketing team doesn’t mean they don’t want to be or aren’t willing to help out. We have clients woo get operations team members to send them photos that they can post on Instagram. Or tenant employees who don’t mind giving the e-newsletter a quick read to find typos. Or even passengers who would tell you whether ad concept A or B would make them more likely to click. Just because you’re a team of one doesn’t mean you’re alone.

Schedule one week for all ad vendors to come to your office.

For many airport marketing professionals, ad buying is the one thing they wish they could outsource that they don’t feel they can. While a third party can often get you discounts (not because of your own bulk ad purchases but because of theirs), if you want to keep it in house and still reduce the frustration, consider telling all ad reps that the third week in January is Ad Buy week and you would welcome them to your office for a 30-minute meeting. You could do the same thing for promotional item vendors, printing companies or anyone else begging for time at your desk.

Trim the fat.

Are there projects or tasks that take up your time or energy and which have caused you to wonder if they’re really necessary? Maybe it’s time to revisit them. Devote a small chunk of time to identifying marketing tasks that just might not be worth the effort and don’t be afraid to trim the fat. Not sure others will agree with your choices? Consider conducting a quick internal poll about which marketing activities they think are most important, or if you expect blowback from passengers or the community, consider a public survey to gauge interest and/or perceptions of some of your marketing efforts. If you can ditch the things that are more work than they’re worth, you may be able to devote more energy to the ones that really make an impact.

Schedule a marketing retreat for your department. Yes, just you.

Go to a quiet place, away from your computer and phone, and get organized. Do what you can from this list. Think about how you’d like your position to improve or change. Explore possible resources that you might have around you. And breathe. Do some “team-building” exercises — and because it’s just you, we don’t recommend a trust fall. But you could certainly buy yourself a cup of coffee and tell yourself what a good job you’re doing and how you want this year to be the best year ever.


List of common marketing jobs

  • Strategist – based on available data, set the goals and objectives — the overall direction — for all marketing efforts for the year
  • Researcher – gather, clean and analyze data to inform the marketing strategy
  • Creative director – sets the overall direction for all creative efforts by translating the marketing strategies into creative vision
  • Art director – translates the creative vision into tangible concepts
  • Graphic designer – executes the vision and creates the actual artwork
  • Writer – executes the vision and writes the messaging
  • Editor – ensures the messaging aligns with and supports the creative vision in the most effective way possible
  • Proofreader – checks all written materials for typos, errors, inconsistencies and formatting issues
  • Production manager – coordinate printing and production of promo items, collateral, signage and more
  • Public relations manager – create and maintain a favorable public image for the airport by communicating programs, accomplishments and/or points of view
  • Social media manager – translates the marketing strategies into social media strategies
  • Advertising/media buyer – coordinates with the creative team to buy and place advertising for traditional (TV, radio, outdoor, etc.) and digital (Expedia, Google, etc.) mediums
  • Website manager – coordinate/oversee all website content, enhancements and integrations
  • Event planner – coordinating all event details for in-house events as well as events in the community
  • Program manager – from volunteer programs to art installations, this job involves coordinating the details of any airport programs
  • Community relations manager – responsible for maintaining positive relationships with local leaders, businesses, organizations, government officials and others


Online Resources

These are some of our favorite free services (some have paid pro-upgrades) to keep your marketing moving forward. The resources below will help you maintain your brand in an appealing and professional manner while staying on budget. For more resources like these, follow The Quotient Group on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram as we post marketing tips frequently!

Creative Market

Stock up on design resources for your next project. Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. It has the perfect mix of creative assets to bring your project to life — from engaging infographics and modern templates to fun fonts and web themes — there are endless ready-to-use design assets ready for you. Every week they give away six free “goods” — and you can sign up for weekly reminders.

The Noun Project

Are you in need of typographic symbols or icons for your next project? The Noun Project is a website that aggregates and catalogs icons that are created and uploaded by graphic designers around the world. It has a diverse collection of free icons that can download SVG and PNG.


Do you ever have a post planned but are not sure what photo to include with it? Unsplash is the perfect site to browse beautiful stock photos by photographers that you can use for free.


Trello is a task management app that gives you a visual overview of what is being worked on and who is working on it. Like a whiteboard filled with post-it notes. You can organize anything with anyone, anywhere! Try making a content calendar to be sure you stay on track.


Promote brand engagement by using Canva’s easy drag-and-drop feature to step up your social game. Create cool branded graphics, print materials, presentations and more with a free subscription.


Millions trust Grammarly’s free writing app to make their messages, documents, and posts clear, mistake-free, and effective. With a free subscription, you are able to check your copy to help avoid spelling and grammar errors.