It’s the pandemic, people! Marketing departments in printing businesses — and in your client’s company — are being disrupted. Employees are being reassigned, laid off, taking paid time off, or pivoting to address urgent priorities.
In this environment, how can we possibly go back to the old way of staffing marketing teams?
- A single marcom executive who does everything?
- A solo marketing contractor who does everything?
- An internal team with no outsiders that does everything?
- A staffer who tries to fit marketing around a full-time job in another department — and does everything.
As we’ve seen on the production side, skeleton crews place a huge burden on the individuals and internal teams if there is no back up. Lack of redundancy grinds everything to a halt when employees have to be deployed to cover elsewhere.
These practices are not practical in a pandemic, and they’re not the future of strategic marketing. In short, we cannot return to the old ways, even when things return somewhat to normal.
What, then, is the answer for creating successful marketing teams in a pandemic?
In 2021, hybrid marketing teams made up of internal cross-trained employees plus external experts hired on contract will be the hot new wave of marketing execution.
Even before the pandemic, teams made up of both outside experts and cross functional internal teams were becoming popular. Why?
Marketing expertise: You can get top notch experts for a short period if you bring them in as contractors or advisors. Also, if you are shopping for new marketing technology/app/design software, someone on the team probably has experience with it or can learn it quickly — a huge time and stress saver.
Affordability: Your utility players — contractors who can step in and cover a variety of positions — often can be obtained for a modest retainer. They attend team meetings, read the emails and follow app discussions, and they’re ready to jump in if needed.
Reliability: If you choose contractors on the recommendations of the others on the team, you usually find folks who can get things done, are good at Zoom meetings, pull their weight, and will bend over backwards to keep things rolling.
Collaboration: The new teams include your marketing strategist, SEO expert, IT manager, the technical sales people from your vendors, and your sales manager. Then you stir in your CFO, business advisor, and other experts as needed. Long gone are the days of silos. Today’s experts are deeply knowledgeable in many areas and happy to be learning from and working with other top professionals.
What will that mean for marketing team structure?
Logistics: Having a bigger team is challenging, especially for owners of small companies. There are parallel projects happening with their own budgets, requirements and deadlines.
Power: These expanded teams have a flatter org chart, not layers of people who report to the next level up. There may be a scrum master to deal with obstacles or a project manager to make sure everyone has what they need. Other than that, we’re all adults and the client is the boss.
Cost: Adding people and technology costs more, simple as that. Remember that your competitors are making these decisions — or maybe have done so already and are sprinting ahead. The company that builds a deep bench before they need it, wins.
Communication: Yes, there will be more meetings. More emails. More apps. More need for clarity. More training. More managing and less “winging it.”
ROI: Marketing teams will need a budget, deliverables, a schedule, and a plan. They’ll need a strategic program that gets ongoing results to justify the cost.
That being said, there’s more to ROI than gross revenue. This hybrid marketing team is going to help you weather the storm, stimulate you to be more creative, find new ways and places for you to monetize, pioneer new technologies, and refine the face of your company to attract new customers. Your team is worth investing in!
What’s an unexpected upside to the new hybrid marketing model?
After being a lone wolf for years, it’s been an adjustment for me to work on bigger teams with people I don’t know very well. Surprisingly, in a year of social isolation, it has been fun to get to know other smart, cool professionals in a team setting. It has expanded my comfort zone and introduced me to independent contractors I can bring in on other client projects.
For the client, an unexpected benefit is that these hybrid teams offer much-needed camaraderie within a can-do atmosphere.
How about you?
Have you noticed marketing teams growing, with more overlap in skillsets? Have you worked on teams with marketing contractors and outside experts? What are the hottest concepts for marketing teams in your world?
I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you!
Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. She is a Marketing Strategist and Business Growth Advisor who consults with owners of print and media businesses of all sizes. Sandy guides clients in building visibility and increasing sales using solid techniques and a proven system.
Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!