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How to Scale Your Marketing Team for Agile 2.0

How to Scale Your Marketing Team for Agile 2.0

With your customers moving faster than ever before, it’s a serious challenge to outpace their expectations and deliver breakthrough experiences. To do this, marketers need to rethink what it means to be agile. While Agile Marketing 1.0 focused mainly on process, Agile Marketing 2.0 focuses on people and creating the right mix of talent so your team can be nimble, fluid, and responsive.

Sounds good, right? It is! But it begs the question, how do I do this? The answer: by hiring in different ways than you have ever hired before – mixing internal talent, embedded teams, outsourced teams, and agencies to create a single marketing force!

Let’s break down the hiring options for building your internal team. We’ll review some guidelines for choosing when to hire permanent, temp-to-perm, and freelance/contract team talent, and see how real-world companies are using these three different hiring models to build an Agile Marketing 2.0 team.

Save Your Permanent Placements for the Strategists

As McKinsey recently stated, the ability to be both stable and dynamic is necessary for organizational agility. While an Agile Marketing 2.0 model creates a dynamic environment, you still need a core internal team of strategic players who provide stability and can execute to the strategy that drives the rest of the team.

The strongest and best core players are:

  • Strategic marketers who excel at understanding your customers, business, and brand
  • Senior digital and creative professionals who drive quality and consistency across your entire organization

These core team players are chartered to:

  • Direct and manage other team members - including full-time employees, freelancers, outside agencies, outsourced teams, and more
  • Successfully execute to meet the team’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Set the standards to ensure a consistent brand and messaging
  • Set the example of corporate culture for the rest of the team to embrace
  • Own the institutional memory and legacy knowledge

Permanent Hires in the Real World

A digital agency found long-term success expanding its service offerings across a quickly increasing number of departments at a large athletic outfitter. The only downside of that success was it had to quickly recruit and onboard a core of skilled strategists and team lead talent as the account grew. On top of that, most of the team was embedded at the client location meaning the talent needed to fit in with both the agency and client culture. Because these team members were crucial to the stability of the account, and building a strong foundation working onsite at the client, hiring permanent talent was the way to go.

Temp to Perm: Skilled Hires Faster

Agile Marketing 2.0 is fluid; it has “no fixed shape and yields easily to external pressure.” The environment stays fluid by hiring its talent in many different ways, including temp-to-perm. A temp-to-perm or progressive hiring model allows you to work on a trial basis with contract candidates over 30, 60, or 90 days before making a permanent hire decision.

There are many reasons to bring in talent in a temp-to-perm model:

  • Pilot. Temp-to-perm or progressive hires make sense when you are looking to hire senior-level creatives for pilot projects
  • Fast hire. There are times when a candidate brings in-demand creative talent to the table and you need to make an offer fast - before you lose the candidate to a competitor. Alternatively, you may be waiting for an approved requisition for a permanent position but have work that needs to be done now. Both scenarios are good reasons to consider a progressive hire.
  • Cultural fit. A progressive hire gives both you and the candidate an opportunity to evaluate whether the job is the right fit. This can be important for those companies that place high importance on the corporate culture and an employee’s ability to fit in.

From a financial standpoint, it often makes good send to hire temp-to-perm employees because it reduces the risks and costs associated with a bad hire: recruitment fees, staff time, employee separation costs, and possible litigation fees. Yes, it may disrupt the workflow when a temp-to-perm hire leaves, but it will have significantly less impact on the business and employee morale then when a permanent, long-term hire abruptly leaves.

Temp-to-Perm Hires in the Real World

A major content production studio has on-going needs for in-demand talent able to produce very specific aesthetic and design work on behalf of the studio’s large, high-profile media clients. Vitamin T has helped them hire a variety of talent including designers, video creatives, and account managers. The studio’s in-house team is nimble and “lean and mean,” so when the studio wins new projects, it must quickly ramp up headcount - sometimes within a week. In addition, they also have a strong corporate culture and prefer to test drive candidates before bringing them in full time. Because of the short hiring timeframe and the importance of a good culture fit, the studio prefers a temp-to-perm hiring model. With this hiring strategy, the studio has the flexibility to “try before they hire” for ongoing contracts or to disengage with the talent if the project work ends.

Freelancers Fill the Gaps

Freelancers can help scale your teams when time-bound or large-scale projects surface and you need immediate help for a specific period. The positions can be either strategic or tactical depending on the needs of your organization. For example, you may want to focus on an augmented reality (AR) project but don’t have employees with the the in-house skills. Temporarily hiring an AR expert to create the strategy and oversee its execution can be the right first step.

A skilled freelancer can be a vital team member when you want to bring in new ideas or a fresh approach to a project or initiative. This is especially important in today’s digital age where technologies and marketing strategies are constantly changing and freelance talent coming off related projects at different companies can uplift your creative and campaign results.

Freelance in the Real World

The in-house digital content team of a large retail company was tasked with improving its in-store and online customer experience in time for the biggest shopping season of the year. However, the retailer had one major challenge: it was unable to measure the return on investment (ROI) of its in-store digital programs. The plan was two-fold: analyze the results of weekend digital campaigns, and then optimize results.

First, Vitamin T placed freelance talent to analyze the results of weekend digital campaigns and make recommendations to improve the content and experience. Armed with this information, the head of digital content built a case to accelerate progress and improve the digital online experience by bringing in over 10 additional talent within a few weeks. Thanks to the influx of analytics and digital talent, the retailer measurably improved its customer experience and exceeded their goal for increasing year-over-year sales.

Building Teams

Don’t build your future-focused team in the same way it’s always been done. Start with what you’re looking to achieve, and what problems you’re trying to solve. The exact right team structure is different for almost every company, so do the strategic thinking up front, and then look at hiring your internal and external talent.

No one hiring model works for everyone and every team. Agile Marketing 2.0 success requires your organization to mix and match talent and hiring models based on goals and business circumstances. By killing the traditional org chart and hiring flexible teams, you’re able to react to a changing marketing ecosystem fast, bring the right talent on board quickly, and minimize the risk of a bad hire. Save your permanent hires for your strategic staff and senior team members. With temp-to-perm candidates, you can test drive a candidate and decide whether the fit is right before making a permanent hiring decision. And with temporary hires, you can augment your staffing requirements as needed with project-focused freelancers and contractors. Making the right hiring choice helps innovative marketing leaders and their teams to be nimble, fluid, and responsive.

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