The Outdated Perspective on Digital and Marketing Staffing That’s Hamstringing Your ROI

digital staffing ROI

Are your marketing contractors and freelancers not producing the quality of results you’re used to? Are you having a harder and harder time finding the skills and expertise you need to fulfill your interim digital goals?

There are a lot of potential causes for that, but one in particular is becoming more common at an alarming rate: unrealistic, antiquated compensation expectations for temporary staff.

Average wages as a whole are growing across the board at an accelerated rate.

digital staffing wages

Chart by Carlyle Group via Business Insider

And compensation for skilled marketers is up even further. If your business is still operating on the mindset of stagnant employment and compensation from several years ago, you’re going to start losing out on top talent, and your marketing will suffer accordingly.

The Worst Offenders

You would think that organizations with a large commitment to marketing and well-developed departments would have a more realistic idea of what it takes to bring in game-changing talent. But we find that the parties most guilty of being penny-wise and pound foolish with their flexible marketing execution solutions are larger corporations. They’re often hindered by strict internal pricing guidelines for contract talent set by people internally who don’t understand marketing, or are stuck working through a VMS that inhibits flexibility and responsiveness to the reality of today’s target market. They also have a bad habit of (over)paying salary and compensation consultants and basing rates off of their feedback, regardless of how accurate it is.

On the other hand smaller organizations are often surprised by the high price tag that can accompany top-tier marketing staffing. But they’re also better at being able to shift gears and update their perspective after the initial shock.

A Swelling Demand for Dwindling Supply

Staffing for marketing and digital needs is very different from how you might approach administrative, IT, legal, or other business demands that are commonly met by contract staffing. Those disciplines, while important, are relatively stable and consistent.

Compared to those fields, marketing is moving at a million miles an hour. It’s getting more complex and specialized in a million different directions every year, meaning it’s progressively harder to find someone with the specific skillset you need to execute your mission. There are very few remaining “generic” marketing roles; everything is focused and optimized toward some particular strategy or technology stack. In the rare instances you’re able to find an ideal candidate whose skillset matches up with your needs, you don’t want to lose them because you were just under their range and couldn’t justify the cost.

Average Rates, Average Talent, Average Marketing

If you asked any good CMO if they would be happy running an “average” marketing operation, you would of course expect them to respond with a resounding “NO!”

Investing further into marketing staffing is a risk–and not a cheap one. But it’s not as expensive–or as risky–as mediocrity.

In today’s business environment, being exceptional is more of a requirement than an option. Competition is higher than ever, and middle-of-the-road just doesn’t cut it when it comes to attracting the attention of potential customers. There’s always someone else trying to do it better.

But great marketing doesn’t just happen. It begins, and ends, with premium marketing expertise. And like all other services, premium quality is accompanied by a corresponding price. If you’re basing the pay rates of your contract talent (or full-time staff, for that matter) on industry benchmarks and averages, then you should expect an average quality of candidate to fill that position and provide average work. Investing further into staffing for marketing and digital needs is a risk–and not a cheap one. But it’s not as expensive–or as risky–as mediocrity.

Competing with Full-Time Opportunities

If you haven’t taken a close look at the job market for marketing and digital experts recently, its current state will probably surprise you. While a few years ago marketers were scrambling to find work amidst layoffs and hiring freezes, now businesses are the ones struggling to find the right expertise for their myriad and often very niche needs.

Marketers have never been more empowered to be able to analytically and demonstrably prove their worth. That means if you’re a strong marketer with a good track record and an in-demand skill, you’ll often have your pick of organizations trying to hire you, often with impressive compensation packages.

There are plenty of great reasons for a professional to choosing to work on a freelance basis or contract through a marketing staffing firm. But convincing the best talent to work for you on a contract basis rather than taking a more stable full-time role is already a hard sell in the best of situations. If you’re not able to make a competitive offer, expect the difference-making experts you need to get a competitive edge to look elsewhere.

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