In a Complex Marketing World, Flexible Resourcing Matters

The move from multichannel marketing to integrated digital marketing revolutionized the way CMOs and Senior Marketing Mangers reach their customers and optimize spend. An explosion of activity within adtech and analytics brought new technology that made identifying the correlation between marketing activity and bottom-line results clearer than ever. As a result, enterprise-level companies have been loosening the purse strings and investing more heavily in their marketing departments, looking to build more sophistication in their approach and get better returns on their marketing spend. But as any marketing executive will tell you, better technology and higher investment alone do not get the job done.

So much of the narrative around integrated digital marketing is tech focused, that it seems we are forgetting the significant human capital required to make this engine run. Executing a world-class integrated marketing program requires a sprawling, sometimes confusing network of specialized talent working in concert to deliver against specific business goals. Business goals that rely on channel marketing programs, field events, customer engagement and reference work, not to mention proper public relations and communications. Business goals that will lean on solid branding and brand sentiment for years to come. Goals that require the creative execution of social media engagement programs that will build awareness and bring buyers into the funnel. And when you add in market and product research, licensing programs, content marketing strategy, industry engagement, analytics and optimization, you can see how the marketing teams of Fortune 500 companies are comprised of tens of thousands of marketing professionals located all around the globe.

For this massive team of strategists, campaign managers, community managers, and automation experts to work most effectively, you need strong managers who are empowered to make smart resourcing decisions at the speed of business. To that end, ensuring your team has the ability to flexibly resource the right marketing work at the right time can be the key to realizing your full return on marketing investment.

More and more marketing managers are turning toward more agile, flexible, temporary, and portable working relationships to build out more nimble teams that deliver better results. But especially when you’re starting out, the line between full-time employee, contingent worker, consultant, and marketing agency personnel can get blurry. When is it the right time to use contingent teams or freelance marketing support, instead of adding full-time head count to your marketing teams?

  1. When you hit temporary or seasonal work peaks: There are times that you know that work will increase rapidly and then drop off. For example, around product launches and new feature roll outs that require double or triple the amount of coordination.
  2. When piloting new ideas: Marketers must experiment, but it’s tough to justify adding permanent head count to staff a project that might not work out. Want to try a new in-house social media microcontent studio team? Don’t start with 10 full-time employees. Start with one contract designer and a contract writer team. Build from there, tweak and learn, then make the case for full-time resources if it makes sense.
  3. When you don’t want to build the expertise from scratch: Some marketing categories are so niche, that you don’t want to bother training up and managing a full-time team. Usually the project isn’t part of your core business, making the build-out of in-house expertise a time-intensive, costly, and mistake prone endeavor. For example, a partner channel funds tracking and auditing team that uses more accounting skills than marketing skills.
  4. When you aren’t sure of the work load: It’s happened. Your team is stretched to the point of breaking. But is this the new normal? Or just a peak? You have budget, and a killer strategy, but not quite enough hands to execute on all fronts. Contingent labor can give you the help you need when you need it, without needing to be dead sure about your long-term resourcing needs.
  5. When you can’t get headcount funded: There are times where you absolutely know you need a new person on your team to be successful. You have no doubt about the good financial return on the time and cost of more resources, but due to red tape or a stalled internal process, you won’t be able to get the full-time head count in time. Use your marketing budget for a few added team members until the full-time positions can be created. Treat the contract consulting term as a test drive for potential FTE conversion of your contingent staff resource.
  6. When You Need a Specialist: There are some skills that are difficult to hire for, and are more likely to come from the consulting world. Many experts prefer to work in consulting and contingent work as “hired guns” to bring their knowledge for a specific amount of time, and then move on. Many have worked for large multi-national organizations before, and are willing to take short term projects but have no interest in joining ‘client side’ roles within these organizations. Limiting your resource planning to FTEs only can limit your pool of potential talent. You can get their expertise just when you need it, without committing to a large annual salary and costly benefits package.

In the enterprise marketing resourcing landscape, knowing how to resource quickly and responsively can be tricky, but it is worth your attention. Being able to add and subtract resources, and change the type and skills of those resources will provide you with the agility that is critical in our new, fast-paced, complex marketing world. You can’t just rely on your full-time team or an agency. It isn’t an option.  Master the use contingent teams and freelance consultants to make difference to your budget and most importantly to the outcomes for the overall business.

What do you think? How often do you leverage consultants and contractors to solve marketing problems?
At Projectline, we are committed to helping leading marketing departments find the right balance of talent to meet and exceed their marketing goals. Need a hand? get in touch with us on Twitter @projectline and @AnikaMarketer. For a behind- the- scenes look at Projectline life, follow us on Instagram @projectline.