Why flexible staffing models will become the norm in marketing

March 26, 2020

If it seems like only yesterday that 2020 hiring plans were just ramping up... Well, that's because it was (literally) only yesterday! Sadly, recent events are putting unprecedented pressure on companies to do more with less. As well, companies are getting very good at being very virtual with the staff that they do have... very quickly.

This, combined with record unemployment claims, creates questions for marketing executives (check out the increase in people searching for "unemployment benefits in Google Trends).

How can they pivot programs to keep pace with changes in the market with fewer team members than expected? And how can they take advantage of the new virtual workforce on the horizon?

Recent reductions mean that many skilled workers from many industries are looking for jobs. This creates an interesting opportunity for companies. Many of which may be able to continue spending on marketing... just not on full-time marketing headcount.

In times like these, one viable strategy is to turn what would have been fixed costs into variable costs by (sometimes temporarily) outsourcing specific marketing functions. And with the accelerated rise of remote working, hiring a flexible, distributed workforce is even more possible than ever.

As you think through your next move, here are some of the main benefits to consider when moving to a flex staffing model:

Keep work moving when adding permanent members isn't an option

When you can't add fixed-cost headcount, outsourcing as a variable cost is an obvious strategy. You can get work done while keeping costs flexible. Leveraging a trusted agency resource, staffing partner or recently-unemployed contractors are safe ways to add talent without long-term commitment.

Virtual tools make flexibility more possible

As an agency, we use a variety of tools to work remotely with our customers in ways that accelerate getting work done. Slack, Asana, Zoom, Hangouts, Google Docs, Creative Cloud, InVision are among the technologies that we are ultra-experts at. This virtual revolution is going to change the way we work quickly and extend our clients' workforces beyond their four walls. Many tech providers are now offering these tools for free, to help speed things along even more. Forward-thinking marketing executives can use this to their advantage in their staffing plans.

Help accelerate or kickstart an important project

Outsourcing is a great tool to help you unstick stuck projects or wrap them up quickly. Bringing in contractors with specific skill sets may actually lead to better results and faster delivery.

Augment capabilities that aren't core to your business

Marketing agency teams often have limited spots for full-time employees. So marketing leaders tend to hire all-purpose players for permanent roles. A winning staff strategy requires knowing which roles work best with internal resources and those which may work better occupied by an outsourced specialist.

More "specialized" roles may include creative direction, digital development, content development or analytics and reporting. Agencies or hired guns are often best-suited to these kinds of roles.

Re-think an important strategic initiative or project

This is a great time to re-think your current strategy so you can stay ahead of rapid change. An outsider's viewpoint can help you see a problem or opportunity from a different perspective. It can create new energy and momentum for projects that need more thought. Hiring with strategy in mind is a great way to force "outside-in" thinking.

Free up your internal team to work on the most important things

Sometimes, urgent trumps important. You need to ensure that your limited internal staff can keep your most important agenda items moving. That means you have difficult choices to make about how they spend their time and energy. Hiring a third-party can give your own team time to focus on critical items.

Add production roles that increase capacity

As the recovery progresses, you'll need to be ready to ramp up fast (but smartly) as headcount budgets start to return to "normal." A variable cost plan for production roles (designers, copy, development, marketing technology, analytics, project management) is a low(er)-risk way to quickly add capacity.

Get access to technology (and expertise) from an agency partner

Agencies have access to many useful tools and technologies. Purchasing "access" to technology through an agency or their partner programs may yield lower costs than going direct. Many agencies also have expert resources that can help you implement and run technology while you get up-and-running..

These are just some of the ways you can use a flex staffing model to maintain your marketing team's momentum. More importantly, the number of ultra-talented people on the market for a job is a whole lot higher today than just 30 days ago. Those who can should be looking for ways to keep them working while getting your own work done. It's a massive win-win for all.

If you'd like to talk to us about transitioning some of your projects to a flex strategy, let us know. If you're someone that is out of work, check out our career page on our site.