Episode 27: Why Companies Need to Embrace the Gig Economy
- Guest content for background:
- What is the gig economy?
- Utilizing contractors/freelancers/agencies instead of permanent employment
- Last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 55 million people in the U.S. are “gig workers,” which is more than 35% of the U.S. workforce. That number is projected to jump to 43% by 2020.
- What created this paradigm/opportunity for corporations?
- Companies have always embraced outsourcing marketing expertise. If I don’t have a videographer on staff, I know I need to outsource my video. I don’t need a full time PR person, just need to run a big campaign, then I hire a PR agency.
- What they’ve never embraced until now is the idea of getting significant day-to-day output from contractors/freelancers/agencies.
- The reason this shift occurred is a combination of a problem and an opportunity
- The problem is the continued inefficiency of the corporate environment – meetings, meetings, meetings
- The opportunity is that many more qualified workers have left corporate america and are available to work for your company
We might get to this later, but what do you think about the difference between a contractor that can come onsite vs. a 100 remote contractor? Is there an advantage with one or the other, or is it really dictated by the quality and approach of said freelancer?
- So, what should marketing departments and CMOs be thinking about on this topic?
- EMBRACE IT – First, the growth rate of the gig economy is staggering. If companies don’t figure out how to embrace it quickly, they will have trouble filling open headcount and when they finally look to outsourcing, they’ll have trouble finding the best talent.
- IDENTIFY STARTING POINT – Once you embrace the concept, you need to figure out where to start. Look for places where you have in-house expertise, but not enough time in the day to get the work done. An example might be that you have product marketers who are supposed to be writing whitepapers, but don’t have the time. Or a web/demand gen team that just can never find the time to figure out SEO. These are great places to find talent that you can hook into your existing resources to help amplify what they do.
- FIND TALENT – Next you have to find the talent. From what I’ve seen, many of the outsourcing websites are good for short-term projects, but not the best for finding long-term contracting talent. The best place to start is with referrals and LinkedIn connections. Find someone who used to work in your industry, but has moved on to the gig economy. That will be the best fit for finding someone who understands your business and what you need to reach your target audience.
Which ones? Is there an added expense? Would love to go over a couple options!
- DEVELOP PROCESS – Lastly, you need to invest the time to figure out a process for managing these gig employees. My suggestion is to enable a junior employee showing potential to manage the gig employee(s) as career development. Ensure that you are using shared workspaces (like Google Drive) and are managing expectations and deadlines to a basic project plan in a shared spreadsheet. A short 5-10min weekly meeting is usually sufficient to review finished projects and assign new projects for the week. Slack or Skype are also great tools to help facilitate the working relationship.
- How is this different from the trend that happened and failed for entire marketing departments to be outsourced to agencies?
- If you outsource the majority of your department to an agency, you’re only shifting the inefficiency problem to a different location. The key is to work with a set of individuals or smaller agencies who are shielded from the meetings and inefficiency. While there are great efficiencies to be had here, the challenge will be managing that many gig employees at scale.
- What is your prediction for how marketing departments will look in the next 5-10 years?
- I think that companies will hire core product expertise, marketing strategists and project managers. That small, tight-knit group of individuals will set the strategy, but they’ll use gig employees to execute it. I think we could see a shift to as much as 20% in-house employees and 80% gig employees.
- [Add concepts we want to cover]
- Onboarding contractors to adopt a company culture and voice
- What is the one thing our marketing directors and CMOs should take away from this discussion?
- The gig economy isn’t going away – it is time to embrace it
- What is the next thing they should do?
- Start experimenting now by finding low hanging fruit and start developing the process for how this can funnel into your workflow.
- You’ve been a marketing director and CMO of large organizations, what is the best advice you can give them?
- Start showing small wins. Get a whitepaper done that was sitting as an outline for months. Start a targeted campaign that you’ve been wanting to tackle. Just find a burning problem or missed opportunity and track the results. This will be key for building your case internally with your team so they see the benefit. And if someone leaves the company, try not replacing them and instead using gig employees. Most employees spend >50% of their time in meetings. You only want the time they spend producing and this is all you need to outsource.
- To be clear, upper management will have no problem with this. They love the idea of flexible resources versus full time employees, but it is a culture change for your team and you need to be sensitive to that. Make sure they understand that your in-house team are the strategists. The gig employees are just there to help them see their strategy come to life and amplify the output of the in-house team.