Today’s business environment demands flexibility and the ability to quickly adapt to new opportunities and challenges—especially in marketing.
But that’s easier said than done. Most companies realize they need to be more nimble in all their functions, but struggle to stretch out of their stiff bureaucracies and established ways. Meanwhile organizations that are able to make it work are able to race ahead.
Ready to get your business started down the path to marketing enlightenment? Try some beginner’s poses that will help you tack your challenges more nimbly.
Keeping Pace Without Overcommitting
You don’t want to be the one overinvesting in Betamax technology and experts the day before VHS comes and establishes market dominance.
Marketing is moving fast, and if you want to have the slightest chance of keeping pace you’ll need to react quickly to trends. Hesitating at the wrong time or playing the wait-and-see game can mean lost opportunities.
But in the race to keep up with the competition, some companies pick up a little too much momentum and overshoot. They develop the wrong expectations, make rushed decisions and end up committing a lot of resources into something that might not pan out.
You don’t want to be the one overinvesting in Betamax technology and experts the day before VHS comes and establishes market dominance. So when a new channel or tool or tactic for marketing comes out, using flexible staffing is a great way to get a head start on the opportunity. If it turns out to not be a great long-term investment, it’s much easier to cut your losses and turn your attention elsewhere when you’re relying on staffing talent.
For various reasons, you might find yourself under strict headcount restraints. Yet those restraints rarely come with reduced expectations from the people who instate them. Marketers are often asked to do more with less, including fewer full-time staff. So how can you establish or maintain market dominance through growth and innovation when your marketing department is already pushed to the limit?
Non-FTE staffing options are a fantastic way to work around headcount restraints. Whether you’re working under a general hiring freeze, need to stay at within a certain headcount range for tax and regulatory purposes, or need to bump up your revenue-per-employee KPIs, you can still execute a big strategy without a big full-time staff.
Working With—and Around—Marketing Agencies
Working with a specialized agency is an excellent way to add flexibility in its own right. They’re a fast resource for concentrated marketing expertise. Partnering with an ad agency agency (or several) is often a great idea—especially when you need someone to handle advanced strategy and specific large-scale execution you lack the in-house talent for.
But relying on an agency to complete all your marketing, even the more basic day-to-day tasks, can get very pricey very fast. It’s one thing to commission a flashy TV campaign from a broadcast agency or work with an expert SEO firm to streamline your efforts. It’s quite another to get charged a premium for relatively minor work like modifying a banner image on your website or slightly update copy for next week’s print ads. Not to mention the additional time spent and hoops jumped through to get your requests through the proper channels to the agency.
Marketing contractors are a good way to mitigate that cost. The additional access to execution capacity means you can easily bring in the talent you need to take care of spontaneous marketing requirements quickly and cost-effectively.
relying on an agency to complete all your marketing, even the more basic day-to-day tasks, can get very pricey very fast.
Seasonal and Cyclical Marketing
If you’re like most companies, your business isn’t steady year-round. You have periods of low activity where the demands on your staff are minimal, then busy periods where you need all hands on deck—and then some.
Effective marketing reflects your business cycles (though the work is often done months in advance) to maximize exposure and ROI during peak times and reduce costs during slow periods. Shouldn’t your marketing staff do the same?
It doesn’t make sense to hire an employee full-time if you only need them 4-6 months of the year. But those months are crucial—you can’t afford to not have that capacity and expertise when you need it.
One good solution is to maintain a relatively small core of high-level marketing strategists and managers who can maintain your brand and keep your marketing going year-round. Then you can supplement them with more expertise and manpower during busy times as needed with marketing contractors.
Avoiding Financial Risk with Contractors
Extensive use of independent contractors and freelancers can be effective but carries its own risks, especially in terms of co-employment. Regardless of what arrangement you think you may have with independent nonemployees, you often run the risk of taking on liability as an employer. .
If the government determines you are legally considered an employer, you take on all remuneration and tax obligations associated with that status for those employees, dramatically increasing costs.
In order to maintain the extra flexibility contractors offer without taking on employer status, it’s best to partner with a marketing staffing agency that employs the contractors instead. When the agency takes on the role of employer and does its due diligence, there’s no confusion as to who takes on the compensation and tax responsibilities and you avoid any trouble with the government.