Become a flexible content creation hub

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In the beginning, marketing ruled over creativity. Then technology took over.

But the future? It’s all about talent.

I’m not talking about bloated organizations and endless registration agencies. We’ve been there, done that.

I’m talking about flexible collaboration models designed to leverage the right talent at the right time.

The mixed team is now an undeniable force in remodeling the workplace.

In 2020, 90 percent of business leaders Reported independent talent platforms would be very or somewhat important to their organization’s future competitive advantage.

What makes them so important? Forty percent of freelance talent platform users say highly skilled freelancers have helped improve their speed to market, increase productivity and increase innovation.

Nowadays, with great talent comes great leverage. Especially in a post-COVID world, the best creators don’t necessarily want a full-time job. At the same time, organizations are under pressure to reduce fixed costs, especially marketing.

Our research finds that 73% of brand marketers who use freelance designers today plan to rely more on them in the next 1-2 years.

Leveraging independent talent gives brands flexible bandwidth, unlimited choice, and the ability to scale content quickly. Scale is the number one motivation for mixed content marketing teams, according to our survey respondents.

But what are the implications of a shift from project-based content creation to a constantly on-demand creative workforce?

On the one hand, the marketing doctrine is undergoing a metamorphosis.

Here are some examples :

Notice a theme here?

Brands are realizing that old command and control policies actually stifle the creativity and agility they are meant to support. Mixed teams are proving to be more agile and focused on innovation.

Along with the marketing mindset, there are ground-level changes brands need to make to effectively scale independent collaboration.

Our recent research provides some clues to areas ripe for transformation.

1. Bridge the brand awareness gap.

Basically, the role of a marketer is to outsource the brand. Yet almost a quarter (23%) of brand marketers cite brand knowledge transfer as the # 1 challenge of working with freelance designers.

To keep creators on the same page, content marketers need to be equal curators and translators, centralizing information typically locked in branded silos and distilling it into easy-to-use resources for creators. contents.

At a minimum, brands should have a set of easily digestible content guidelines on deck to streamline this task, along with clear examples of what “good” content looks like. It’s also helpful to supplement the guidelines with briefs that detail key brand perspectives, solutions that enable them to achieve them, and internal SMEs that a creator can turn to for more information.

In a recent discussion with a panel of freelance writers, it was estimated that only around 10% of the brand’s customers have content guidelines to share with creators. Often, brands hand over summary tasks or long presentation materials and files filled with information that it is up to the creator to interpret.

Both flawed approaches send an immediate signal to creators that it can be difficult to work with a brand.

content guidelines

2. Develop your talent search strategy.

I was surprised to find that 60% of brand marketers still rely heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations to find freelance talent.

I have a theory that word of mouth recommendations make marketers feel like they are making safe bets. But, as any HR manager will attest, asking for referrals is not a sustainable way to create a continuous flow of talent, nor is it a guarantee that these freelancers will be successful.

Most freelance talent platforms offer a few clear game-changing benefits for marketers: 1) Immediate access to a large base of selected creators looking for employment. 2) Automated payment processing with centralized tracking of invoices and payments.

Brand marketers should be prepared to champion the value of networks internally and assess the level of network integration required to meet internal needs while appeasing new stakeholders in the procurement process – their teams. financial, legal and IT.

Content marketing specific platforms host the types of creators that marketing teams typically need and support marketing-centric workflows that consider different types of content, comment tracking, scheduling, and marketing. continuous publication.

brands need independent networks to evolve

3. Expect a learning curve.

The ability to trust creators goes hand in hand with the willingness to invest in them.

Think for a moment about the difference between your investment in training freelancers and that in full-time employees. It’s true that freelance designers are used to getting to work quickly, but they should get at least some of the same grace given to full-time hires when it comes to accommodating expectations. of the brand.

The first missions are where the rubber meets the road. Common mistakes at this point include underestimating the time it will take to onboard and manage freelance talent (30% of brand marketers said investing that time was their # 1 challenge) and not hold independent creators accountable for the “last step” in the content creation process (23% of brand marketers said “reviewing content myself” was the biggest waste of time).

Managing creators can’t be a side scramble for already overburdened marketing resources. Brands need one or more dedicated people responsible for the designer experience, including minimizing the amount of work that falls on the marketing team.

This last point is important. Unwrap what the “on-brand” content looks like. What is typically missing in content that needs to be reviewed? Would it be helpful to share a lexicon of legally approved terms? To define more clearly the solution to which you want to lead in the creative brief? To provide a list of third-party sources that are acceptable to cite?

There’s a reason the learning process is described as a curve, not a cliff.

integrating freelancers involves a learning curve

4. Reinvent creative workflows.

Bringing independent designers into the fold can come as a shock to the usual modus operandi. Content workflows must work, for brands and the creators who depend on them. Twenty percent of brand marketers cited managing schedules and meeting deadlines as their # 1 challenge for working with freelance designers.

It is often a symptom of heavy internal processes. The sudden increase in the complexity and scale of content creation places an emphasis on manual tasks like updating spreadsheets, checking calendars, and keeping track of documents across platforms.

Look to automate the essentials – tasks like creating assignments, scheduling, governing reviews, and following up on comments.

Good content marketing platforms provide structure to these aspects of the collaboration process, making it possible to work more interdependent with greater visibility given to brand stakeholders who need it and less effort on the part of the team. marketing team.

convoluted publication process

Ultimately, brands need to view the relationship with independent designers as two-way and long-term, rather than one-sided and transactional.

Understanding how to share your brand with others, invest in integration and continuous communication, and use technology to lubricate the sticking points in highly interdependent workflows is what will pave the way for marketing to be what it is. ‘it was meant to be: a flexible content creation powerhouse that drives brand growth.

Featured Image Attribution: Pixabay from Pexels

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Jenny T. Curlee