Across several industries, businesses of all sizes are planning for the commencement of the “new normal” in the aftermath of the global coronavirus pandemic. For many, some working habits developed during this crisis will last long after the policies of social distancing and lockdown have disappeared.
Of course, one trend that is clearly here to stay is working from home. As many office environments find it challenging to become “COVID-secure”, remote working is set to become an accepted way of life for many companies and employees. But there’s another trend that isn’t quite garnering the same amount of attention, which is the rise of companies relying on outsourced marketing through freelancers and specialist agencies who effectively become “arms-length employees” of their organisation.
According to a report by the freelancing platform Toptal, 90% of companies now depend on freelancers to augment their professional workforce. Moreover, 76% of surveyed executives planned to increase their use of independent professionals to provide expertise either to supplement full-time talent or to access skills and experiences they lack in their workforce.
Here’s why marketing, in particular, is set to become yet another business activity to increasingly become outsourced as a result of this crisis.
Coronavirus Outbreak Ramps Up Acceptance of “Blended Workforces”
COVID-19 has hit the marketing departments of companies across almost every industry segment. Unfortunately, many businesses have had to make painful decisions to relieve many marketing employees of their positions to allow the company to survive this crisis.
But completely removing a marketing budget is not an option. Companies desperately need to continue to bring in revenue during these unprecedented times, and marketing is a critical tool in maintaining the potential reach of a brand. As a result, companies are outsourcing their marketing activities to specialist freelancers, specialists, and small agencies, who can “keep the lights on” when it comes to marketing.
Outsourcing marketing tasks has become more accepted as recent events have shown that virtual staff can be trusted to deliver results without the constant oversight of management. The COVID-19 outbreak has only served to accelerate the general trend of employees working remotely. Whilst hundreds of companies will still be operating 100% remotely today, as many as 83% of employees worked remotely at least some of the time before the pandemic.
With remote working thrust upon business leaders and managers, the success of working from home has increased the acceptance of bringing in outside freelance remote workers to create an extended network of virtual employees. The “blended workforce” concept is set to stick around long after the threat of the virus has receded, particularly when it comes to marketing departments.
Outsourcing for Expertise is Far More Cost-Effective Than Upskilling Current Employees
There is a significant problem brewing within the marketing industry. The digital skills gap is hurting brands up and down the country, with only a third of UK companies reporting that their teams are equipped with the skillset to deliver successful marketing campaigns. This figure is only set to become more concerning as marketing continues its shift into a predominately digital activity.
While business leaders widely recognise the marketing skills gap exists, more than half insist they don’t have the time or the budget to invest in wide-scale training initiatives to bring current employees up to speed. With the current situation enhancing trust in the remote employee concept, companies will increasingly turn to those who can provide expertise on demand for a fraction of the otherwise necessary training costs.
It’s a practice we’ve become accustomed to with many of our clients. We recently freelanced for the international brand RAK Ceramics for eight months on an ad-hoc basis covering marketing tasks for which they didn’t have the in-house expertise. The work was varied but involved creating email campaigns, coordinating their 400-page brochure, and an assortment of other marketing-related tasks that they felt their staff needed support in delivering.
Outsourcing Marketing Combines Expertise with Flexibility
Businesses coming out the other side of economic hardship will value flexibility more than anything else. However, premium talent is rarely flexible. Top marketing professionals command competitive salary and benefits packages. For companies looking to tentatively move forward after surviving the hit to their finances, they are going to find it impossible to find talented employees willing to both work and earn less.
For instance, it no longer makes sense from a talent perspective to try to recruit for a part-time social media management position. While there may be the odd rare find, almost all of the best talent will be looking for a full-time job (if they’re even available in the first place). By hiring a freelance consultant, you can employ the services of an expert without having to provide a full-time salary or associated benefits such as holiday pay and pension contributions.
Hiring employees is also a considerable financial, emotional and time-consuming commitment both before and after-the-fact. The predicted layoffs taking place across all marketing departments are not something that leaders will want to repeat any time soon. Outsourced marketing help can provide the solution, given it can be picked up and put down whenever you need it. Given uncertainty will continue to reign for quite some time; companies will look to flexible arrangements above all else.
Outsourcing Set to Become the “New Normal” Within Marketing
As companies slowly begin to ramp up marketing activities again with the economy getting back on its feet, they will continue to take advantage of outside resources to have helped them deliver marketing activities in times of crisis, rather than rehiring those that unfortunately had to be let go.
If this scenario seems familiar to you, and you’re thinking about exploring outsourced marketing for the first time, we are here to help.
As a specialist marketing agency, Mcginn and Dolphin are perfectly positioned to help your company both during these unprecedented times and thereafter. If you would like to make use of outsourced marketing expertise, then don’t hesitate to schedule a discovery call with us to discuss your requirements.