There’s no doubt that the gig worker pool has grown. According to Upwork, “the U.S. freelance or “gig” workforce is growing faster than the overall U.S. workforce, outpacing overall U.S. workforce growth at a rate 3x faster. Freelancers are expected to be the majority of the U.S. workforce by 2027, based on growth rates witnessed in the past year.” And it’s no surprise. While gig workers are finding the independent contractor lifestyle appealing, businesses are enjoying the savings they’re realizing from a reduced workforce.
Hiring marketing talent, or any talent for that matter, can certainly have its challenges. The hiring process is time-consuming and costly, and studies have time and time again shown that nearly 50% of new hires don’t last more than 18 months. As a result, the marketing professionals at smaller, community banks are looking to external providers; ad agencies, design firms, and, of course, the gig worker.
These service providers are not inexpensive. Long term, retainer relationships with ad agencies, for instance, are tough due to shifting budgets, market conditions, workload, and more. “Project-based” relationships aren’t easy, either. They’re expensive, too and can require a significant investment of your time, as well. Then, there’s the freelancer; the individual who is usually “repped” by an Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr… or a recruiting/talent management firm such as Robert Half or Creative Circle. Here, since gig workers are less expensive than ad agencies and design firms, there’s an opportunity to, perhaps, save some money and get the work you need done.
While I can’t claim to have had experience with all of these resources, I’ve had more than my fair share with some and, in general, the talent I’ve seen is pretty good. Some quite good, in fact. But the point is this: Finding the right freelance help is not about talent.
Say your bank is launching a new product or service. Perhaps you’ve just re-designed your website to radically improve your customer’s digital banking experience. You now need a multi-channel campaign to get that message out: In-branch signage, social media messaging, press releases, print and online advertising, a drip email campaign, and blogs. You don’t want to engage an outside agency because of the cost so you take on the role of marketing “general contractor,” and hire the freelancers you need with the goal of managing them just as a contractor would manage the electricians, dry wallers, plumbers, etc. in constructing a new home.
First, you need to find the right individuals for the job. That, in itself, can be your fulltime job for weeks. Here, for example, is what you’ll find on Fiverr in your search for someone who can put together an animated video:
“I’ll do an amazing, animated explainer video for you… starting at $120.”
“I will create an animated explainer video… starting at $5.”
“I’ll do a great animation video for your business… starting at $2500.”
So, after a somewhat exhaustive search that involves judging their creative and strategic-thinking abilities, as well as widely differing pricing, you identify your team. Once you’ve worked with them on their availabilities (add another week of discussion) and they’ve all “cleared their decks” to start work on your campaign, you then need to get them ramped up not just on your campaign parameters, but on your brand. Your deadline still looms. You’ve gotten them on-boarded and they’re on the job. Your front-end web developer suddenly needs to go out of town while at about the same time, your copywriter takes on another project that pays better but “can still do what you need.” Your project’s schedule and timeline have now gone out the window and several of your team members are having scheduling issues. Your “new and improved” digital experience is, unfortunately, no longer that “new.”
You get the picture, I’m sure. As the old adage goes, it’s sometimes easier to do something yourself then to try to explain what you need to someone else. And this can certainly be true when working with hired guns, no matter how talented they are. They’re not employees, so you can’t manage their schedules. Nor have you really gotten to know “how” they work. You know “what” they can do, but skill sets are often not as critical as attitude.
Freelancers go through a process that, like The Seven Stages of Grief, we can call The Five Stages of Project Work.
1) Initial conversation where parameters and compensation and are agreed upon; both parties are excited
2) First deliverable not up to snuff; freelancer pushes back on critique
3) Timeline changes, forcing all to re-arrange their schedules; freelancer is privately wondering if he/she did the right thing by taking on the gig
4) Second deliverable not up to snuff; freelancer feeling truly demotivated at this juncture
5) Issue of compensation arises with “scope” change; freelancer actively looking for another project. Yours is now relegated to “if I have time” status
Now, having said all of the above, I’ll also say this. Not every creative project goes this way. Some, by stroke of luck, act of God, whatever you want to call it, go smooth as silk; the work is great, deadlines are met, everyone’s happy. But, when you’ve invested in a product or service worth marketing, and you’re investing more in the messaging around it, can you afford to gamble on talent you’ve probably just met?
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, relevant, and compelling communication that will help you build trust, relationships, and with them, your brand. All while saving you time and money.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.