The problem with content is that it requires people to create it, edit it, manage it, promote it, and generally make it exist and do its job. For those of us who make our money that way, it may be more of a feature than a bug, but I also understand that it presents a challenge for companies. Marketers (either in-house or from an agency) concoct a beautiful, in-depth strategy and then the challenge of “who do we get to make all this happen?” rears its ugly but all too common head. The instinctive answer in most cases is “we’ll have to hire someone”, whether as a permanent employee or a freelance contractor, but I have seen too many immediately go to this answer before stopping to consider whether it’s the best option or even necessary at all, or whether there’s not a better strategy entirely, given their existing employees.
Play to your strengths.
There are usually multiple marketing strategies that will work for a given company in a given scenario. There are so many variables that it’s a rare case when a marketer would look at what the company is and what they need and point to one, specific approach and say that that and only that would work. I point this out because imagine if, at the outset of any discussion with marketing, whether in-house or agency, you sat down and were able to give an accurate picture of all the skill sets already available from your employees, whether they worked in a marketing or marketing-adjacent function or not? If I was the marketing consultant on the other side of that table, that would guide me in one direction or another with our strategy and would allow me to focus the budget in the places where it would have the most significant impact.
Know the talents you have available.
Far too often, unfortunately, companies don’t have any clear sense of what the skills of their employees are beyond what their specific daily work duties entail. Looking at it from that perspective, it’s easy to see why so many marketing strategies seem like they’d require a whole cadre of contractors and new hires. But what if employers broadened their perspective? What if they actually had an understanding of not only what their employees did every day now, but of what else they had experience doing, what else they were good at, what else they wanted to do?
Obviously this has applications far beyond marketing, but you can see how this could change a company’s approach to a new marketing strategy entirely. For example, typically you’d have a subject matter expert from within the company write up some notes or answer some questions that a copywriter will then turn into an informational page on a new website or the basis for a white paper. But what if you knew that one of your technologists was also an accomplished writer in their spare time? Suddenly hiring a copywriter isn’t your best approach, because you really just need someone to guide and edit what your existing employee can produce, instead of needing to take their information and do all the work of crafting the bare facts into content. What if instead of hiring a photographer to come take pictures of employees for new marketing materials, you knew that someone in your communications department was an avid photographer and you asked them to spend some time going around the office with their camera? Not only do you get the photographs you need, but they were taken by someone with a first hand understanding of the business and what’s important to you.
Make your dollars do more, for your marketing and your business.
This isn’t about saving money, and it’s absolutely not about freelancers or creative professionals not being worth the investment. What it is about is getting the most out the dollars invested. If you don’t have to spend money on duplicate freelancers or new hires, what else could that money do? How much better could your marketing content be? What specialized skill could you add to the mix? If you really understand what your existing talent pool is, you can better choose complementary people as freelancers or permanent employees and the end result is more benefit to the team and the company for the same total cost.
Beyond the increase in cost effectiveness, you can help create a culture of trust and holistic appreciation within your organization if employees feel like they’re acknowledged, understood, and appreciated as whole people, not just as their job description. Not only is this just good for everyone in that it makes being at work, a place we all spend close to a majority of our adult lives, that much more enjoyable, it’s good for the bottom line. Not only do happier, more fulfilled, more appreciated employees have lower turnover rates, which saves you money in hiring and on-boarding efforts, more and more research supports the idea that happier employees are more productive and care more about the needs and goals of the company, making them more effective as well.
By learning about the varied skills and interests of your existing employees, you can make your marketing dollar go further and make everyone that much happier, which I think is about as win-win as they get. What’s one skill you bet your colleagues don’t know you have? Share and surprise us in the comments!