As a marketing leader for your organization, guiding a results-driven marketing strategy is difficult enough: can you guarantee you’ll maintain the personnel to execute it? Without the right mix of industry knowledge and marketing expertise, your initiatives can fall short or miss the mark completely.
Marketing talent gaps can occur for a variety of reasons, and at any time. From budget cuts and rejected new headcount requests to employee exits to upcoming family leaves, even expected fluctuations can derail your marketing initiatives. It can feel impossible to fill talent gaps, especially at the executive and senior levels, without sacrificing or delaying the expected impact of your marketing initiatives.
The Cost of Marketing Talent Gaps
Talent gaps can be a revenue and productivity drain for any organization. Quantum Workplace reports that a new employee may take up to two full years to reach the same level of productivity as an existing staff member–not to mention the cost of finding and training that replacement. The cost of these gaps can be magnified for marketing teams with ambitious or mission-critical marketing objectives and deadlines to meet.
Marketing leaders are tasked with more than simply finding a replacement or substitute with pertinent skillsets. They need individuals that can quickly grasp the company’s goals and vision and seamlessly assimilate with the team to carry out the marketing strategy. Consequently, how you fill your talent gaps poses substantial implications for the execution of your marketing strategy, and ultimately your company’s bottom line.
How to Address Talent Gaps
Despite these potential repercussions, fluctuations in personnel or company needs don’t have to derail your marketing initiatives and goals. With a clear understanding of your objectives and the impacts that sudden talent gaps might bring, you can get to a reasonable state of preparedness with interim or alternative solutions that safeguard the marketing goals you’ve set in motion.
Every company’s approach will be different when it comes to addressing gaps in marketing talent. The most effective solution for you will be one that’s tailored to your organization, the bandwidth of your teams and the nature of the gap. So, before turning to quick fixes or the dreaded hiring block, consider bridging your talent gaps with one of these adaptable methods.
Leverage Existing Team Members to Cover Incremental Amounts of Responsibility
When a position opens, conventional wisdom says that the hiring process to replace the personnel gap would start almost immediately to minimize lost productivity. However, hiring right away doesn’t always make sense, especially if the position was eliminated due to budget cuts or if the position has a significant impact on company culture and goals. In these cases, it may make sense to reassign responsibilities of the role to existing team members while your broader hiring and talent strategy is considered.
Distributing incremental responsibilities internally across other team members offers several notable benefits. Company leaders can preserve continuity and consistency by dodging the ramp-up required when turning to outside expertise. Existing team members also are already familiar with your business’s goals, vision and culture, are well-versed in your established workplace and communication norms, and have knowledge of your past marketing initiatives.
Additionally, commissioning current employees offers leaders the chance to nurture and grow personnel from within the organization. Internal promotion has a longstanding record of boosting employee engagement and increasing opportunities for development. When carried out correctly, this approach can improve employee morale and overall competency.
Despite the promise of this approach, current employees may not have the expertise immediately needed to keep things on track. When paired with unrealistic expectations, asking existing team members to take on more work will often decrease employee morale, stunt team growth and jeopardize your strategic marketing objectives. Try as we might, there comes a point where squeezing more out of our teams, our days or ourselves just isn’t practical or realistic.
- Filling gaps internally can preserve consistency and continuity
- Turning to current employees often offers opportunities for development
- Adding responsibilities internally poses a risk of overload or ill-fitted tasks
Pull in External Expertise and Resources
Alternatively, some marketing leaders choose to delegate key initiatives to an outside marketing firm while searching for a new candidate, or until their current employee returns from leave. To stay on schedule in accomplishing ambitious or mission-critical marketing objectives without overwhelming an already-stretched team, it’s wise to consider this approach.
Delegating all or some responsibilities to a team of interim marketing experts can do more than simply bridge talent gaps. By putting the responsibility of select marketing initiatives onto an outside B2B marketing team, you can reclaim focus (for you and your team) on a select “critical few” objectives rather than a “fragmented many.” This high level of efficiency can accelerate accomplishment of goals and solidify the success of your overall strategy.
A marketing agency also offers deep expertise across a wide array of marketing subjects. These teams of fully-staffed functional experts and generalists are well-versed at managing multiple and diverse projects simultaneously, from overarching strategic guidance to niche marketing needs such as SEO or content development. With the ability to jump in and have immediate impact on business goals, marketing agencies can be a smart investment when it’s critical to maintain momentum and drive results.
Considerations for this approach include the time required to find the ideal agency for your company to partner with. Though it’s typically less of a time investment than finding and training a new employee, finding the right agency fit doesn’t happen instantaneously. Look for a firm that can tailor an approach for your specific needs and start actively contributing without significant ramp up.
Another consideration is cost, especially when you’re charged with steadfastly protecting your organization’s resources and your departmental budget. To ensure the initial investment requirements or hourly rate comparisons between agency expertise aren’t misjudged, get a clear understanding from any agency as to exactly what they will deliver, who will deliver it and what their level of ongoing availability will be. This understanding will provide you more solid ground from which to make a comparison and will often be a more favorable approach.
- Outsourcing marketing responsibilities can boost internal productivity
- Marketing firms offer new perspectives and proven expertise for immediate contribution
- Finding and leveraging the right firm requires time and careful consideration
Leverage Internal and External Expertise with a Hybrid Solution
It may be that your unique needs require a more creative solution to fill talent gaps. If you find yourself at a crossroads between overloading your team with incremental responsibilities or justifying the investment in a professional marketing firm, consider leveraging both for a hybrid model that meets your team’s cost and bandwidth considerations. This approach maximizes existing resources while filling any remaining gaps with a selection of outsourced tasks.
There is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to designing a hybrid model to effectively fill your marketing gaps. Some leaders choose to narrow the focus of certain roles and delegate the remaining gaps to outside resources. Others hire a less costly junior position and rely on a seasoned firm to manage strategic oversight for a given period.
Regardless, make sure you are taking the best interests of your team, both present and future, to heart. Though it’s easy to rationalize further fragmenting the attention of already stretched-thin resources, be careful not to rationalize that they can maintain an equivalent level of accuracy and effectiveness. To avoid widening the gap in the first place, your internal delegation should not overload your team’s bandwidth, or their expertise.
- A hybrid talent model addresses a mix of cost and bandwidth considerations
- Narrowing functional focus internally for some roles and adding select external supports can improve overall effectiveness
- Finding the right balance of internal resources and cost-saving measures is key to avoid burnout and budget excesses
Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to bridge gaps in marketing talent. Though it’s tempting to turn towards finding some way to keep everything covered with your current team resources, overloading them can put you in a worse position than where you started. Ultimately, the best solution will meet the specific needs of your organization, extend the current capabilities of your team and set you up for long-term success.