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How to Scale Your Marketing Team for Agile 2.0

How to Scale your Digital 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

McKinsey has pointed out that 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, temporary employees, 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

One of the largest U.S. department stores was overhauling its user experience (UX) department as part of a mandated digital transformation. The incoming UX executive needed to quickly hire team leadership and he needed this talent fast. Aquent was brought in to source, vet, and hire the highly skilled talent — combining cutting-edge creative, technical, and digital chops — necessary to fill four distinct lead roles. This team would be the foundational core, lending strategy and stability in a very dynamic environment. Given the company goals this team was tasked to drive, and the key leadership roles they needed to fill, permanent hiring was clearly 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 sense 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 leading auto manufacturer needed to expand and strengthen its digital expertise within its dealership network. Aquent built up a team of 60 talent to fill their newly created digital manager roles. Within two months, all 60 digital managers were on the job, using a variety of skills–website content strategy, search engine optimization, digital advertising, lead generation, CRM, and social media–to improve customer experience. Within nine months, the manufacturer was seeing an improved digital presence and better relationship building with territory managers and dealership employees. Based on initial results, management outlined additional KPIs and moved the most qualified team members into permanent roles. By hiring temp-to-perm, they were able to alleviate risk through piloting a new digital direction, and then create a permanent change once the new direction proved successful.

Temporary Hires Fill the Gaps

Temporary hires, such as freelancers and contractors, can help fill the gaps 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 more on artificial intelligence (AI) marketing and machine learning (ML) but don’t have employees with the the in-house skills. Temporarily hiring an AI marketing 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 message and campaign results.

Contractors in the Real World

A leading online travel company wanted to grow revenue with a pilot loyalty program. The program marketed perishable last-minute hotel, cruise, and airfare packages to a database of 11 million+ opted-in consumers. In order to track the campaign’s success and justify expanding the pilot, the organization needed interim marketing analytics talent to track and analyze campaign results.

For this short-term project, Aquent placed an experienced business intelligence manager and marketing campaign analyst. Both had unique, hard-to-find skills, including expertise with the applications, technologies, and query tools used by the company. These two interim team members were instrumental in measuring the effectiveness of the campaign. The incremental revenue and profit of the pilot demonstrated it was indeed a success.

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 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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