The first to see a reduction in their marketing budgets is often when they are the most affected by a downturn. Upskilling your current team with digital marketing techniques can increase efficiency and reduce the impact of the cuts.
Upskilling doesn’t have to be costly or time-consuming.
Nurturing your in-house talent pool increases business resilience, enhances marketing innovation, and creativity, and decreases reliance upon third-party operators
Your immediate goals and your long-term business strategy will determine the skills you choose for your team. If done correctly, you can take a lead over your competitors
- Sarah Gilchriest is the Global COO of Circus Street . She discusses the essential skills that brands must have to remain competitive in an economic downturn.
We are entering a global recession that is expected to be very difficult. Brands will look for ways to reduce costs as consumer sentiment continues to worsen. Marketing is often the first budget to be cut, as we all know.
It seems easier to end a campaign, or to give notice to an agency than to sack a developer, or to reduce infrastructure costs. Cutting marketing can be a false economy, which will only make a company grow slower and worsen the downturn’s impact. Is there a way that brands can maximize their digital marketing output and reduce costs?
Upskilling may be the answer.
Learning while cutting costs
Your first reaction might be to think that training programs are costly luxuries. This is not true if you want to reduce costs. Here are some things to consider.
Training should be tailored to your needs. Training a few people can have a huge impact on your team. A well-planned strategy, which I will discuss below, can result in a highly targeted program that provides the most important skills to those who are best suited to use them immediately.
There are many resources available that can help you embed learning and reduce costs.
Let’s look at the costs. A well-executed training program can pay for itself, and the initial investment is negligible compared to other business functions. You get a lot for your buck.
Why should you be paid to advertise?
Payed advertising is a great option for many reasons. Paid advertising, in comparison to other marketing areas, is characterised by the diversity of skills and techniques required to execute a campaign. This is an extremely fast-moving field that often requires the use of multiple tech platforms. Many brands outsource this functionality to freelancers and agencies. People who don’t rely on a few ‘power users’, or worse, are spread across many departments. This results in bottlenecks and single points failure.
Digital advertising is often the best area to increase efficiency, innovation and effectiveness in marketing. This is where your company can achieve more with less.
Identifying the right skill
The key is to find the right mix of skills. You will need to have creativity, data analysis, platform knowledge and development techniques as well as marketing expertise. It is important to understand the capabilities of your team before you can get started. It is important to realize that some abilities may be hidden as they are not used every day. It is amazing how fast a company forgets about previous experience of employees after they are hired.
The marketing department should also be able to audit the team’s skills.
Until you look around, you won’t be able to see the hidden gems in other parts of your business. This is also a great opportunity to discover the potential of your employees to learn new skills, as well as their personal goals. It’s easier to develop someone who is willing to invest their time and effort in this particular skill. An audit does not have to be complicated. A simple matrix will allow people to identify their skills and highlight the areas they want to improve.
It’ll be easier to determine the best path forward once you understand what you are working with. The first step in determining the right skill mix is to identify your immediate needs. You could, for example, take a service that is expensive in-house to plug a weakness. This would be where a team member leaves and severely hinder your ability to function.
Your commercial goals and the aspirations of your employees should be compatible
These areas are then mapped out and compared to your current marketing output. If you plan to target more users on certain social media platforms, or other ‘exotic’ platforms such as IoT devices or digital boards in the future, this is an example. Maybe you see the financial advantages of using headless CMS tech, and want to set up the skills necessary to make the transition after the recession. Perhaps you would like your team to be able to see if the Metaverse is a good fit for your company.
Although this may seem complicated, once you start to see the hierarchy of skills that you will need most often becomes quite obvious. It’s important to remember that upskilling is flexible. If your needs change, or you feel that you’ve chosen the wrong skills, it’s easy to switch tracks.
How to get started quickly and cost-effectively
Your team’s training is a matter of personal preference. Everyone learns differently. Talking to specialists and employees will help you create a customized teaching program. You can use online tutorials or accredited programs to learn. It is not necessary to invest in a complete program right away. You can reduce a lot risk by piloting. You can start small, one or a few people from your company. Then you can continue to assess the impact.
Avoid making a mistake
Businesses make the common error of waiting too long for their employees to learn new skills. This can slow down the process and cause a decrease in ROI. Applying new skills is the best way to instill them. Make sure your team has the opportunity to put their new skills into practice on real projects. To determine the impact, keep an eye on your business metrics. This includes customer feedback and team performance. Digital marketing, unlike other departments, can produce very clear outputs. This will allow you to quickly determine if your digital marketing strategy is working. You can then decide how to implement your training program.
Marketing doesn’t stop with the marketers
Diversifying your skillset builds resilience and encourages innovation, as I have already mentioned. It’s simple. If you have only marketing skills, you limit the number of people who can offer useful insights and fuel innovation. Your marketing output will suffer if you have less oversight and feedback.
You can make your team multidisciplinary and cross-functional to spread valuable skills across your business. Customers service teams can learn basic digital marketing concepts, while marketers can do the data work necessary to support their day. Your data teams can also think like marketers, if needed.
Not being prepared for the worst does not mean you have to lose your capabilities
In the event of the worst, and you have to cut your staff, sharing key skills across your company will limit the damage to your core functions.
Let me conclude by stating that many of the things I have discussed apply equally to business owners and individual freelancers. If you’re a sole trader, a downturn can be daunting. You can increase your value to clients and future-proof your company by upskilling.
You might be able to use the time that you do have to train if you have experienced business declines. Although it may seem obvious, many people fail to recognize that technology and the demand for skills can change quickly. It is not a bad idea to add more skills to your company’s arsenal.
Sarah Gilchriest serves as the Global COO for Circus Street .
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Search Engine Watch’s first article was entitled How to upskill your paid advertising skills to combat economic downturns.