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  • Writer's pictureAmy Numbers

How to find the perfect mix for your marketing team

To effectively promote your association’s brand and products, you need the right group of people on your marketing team. Learn how to use direct employees and freelancers and which mix will work best for your organization.

When the time comes to assemble or expand your marketing team, there are many avenues to creating the right configuration. But how does an association know if they have the assembled the best mix for their needs?

Here’s a look at different types of workers available for creating effective marketing teams, along with when it’s best to outsource assignments.

Types of Workers

Direct employees. Hiring a new marketing employee is best for associations looking to fill a long-term or permanent position that will be fully integrated into their operations and internal cross-functional teams. With direct employees, associations have the flexibility to create a specialist in one function (e.g., marketing automation, market research) or a generalist who can lead many complementary marketing functions. In addition to salary, expenses for a direct-hire employee typically include the cost of medical, dental, and other benefits (could be 25 percent of salary or more), plus annual training and development costs to ensure the employee stays current on constantly evolving technologies and best practices.

Interns. Associations can leverage new and fresh thoughts, learn about practices that are being taught at colleges and universities, and capitalize on the enthusiasm of someone looking to build their resume—all while helping advance your marketing programs. An intern could work full-time or part-time for a specified time period, whether that’s the summer or a semester. While interns are typically paid less than entry-level employees, managers should be prepared to spend additional time and effort introducing the intern to workplace practices and serving as a mentor.

Outsourced workers. If looking to reduce costs for payroll, overhead, and benefits, then outsourcing could be the answer. One advantage is that you do not pay direct benefits to these employees. When looking to outsource, research, talk to others who have outsourced, and consider performing a cost-benefit analysis before making that final decision. The outsourced category includes:

Consultants. A reputable marketing and communications consultant will bring high-level creative thinking, fresh ideas, and long-lasting relationships. Although this is a plus, developing a relationship of trust can be cumbersome and requires patience. The consultant will need to learn and understand how the organization works.

Freelancers. Freelancer agreements could be structured according to a regular schedule or on an ad-hoc basis, with the opportunity to scale up or down based on need. In most industries, freelancers range from entry-level to highly experienced—providing additional flexibility to custom fit the right solution to specific association marketing projects, campaigns, or events. While it may be best to find a freelancer through word of mouth or a personal reference, there are organizations and websites that specialize in helping associations find freelancers.

"With direct employees, associations have the flexibility to create a specialist in one function (e.g., marketing automation, market research) or a generalist who can lead many complementary marketing functions."

Tasks That Outsource Best

Now that you understand the employee options, you may be wondering which tasks lend themselves to being outsourced. These tasks work well:

Planning and strategy. Developing a strategic marketing plan often requires someone with significant work experience who shows visionary leadership and is skilled in facilitation, consensus building, and so forth.

Graphic design. Effective graphic design can take a campaign from average to extraordinary. Finding a graphic designer with diverse experience, appropriate technology knowledge, and an efficient process can save time and money.

Video production. Outsourced video production allows associations to create solutions for their specific needs without investing in recording equipment, production software, or the specialized skillset required to produce impactful videos.

Research. Since this type of work often requires in-depth knowledge on state-of-the-art practices and the ability to ensure statistically relevant research, you may find a partner helpful in providing guidance on market research, member needs, data analysis, focus-group facilitation, and more.

Social media. Utilizing these tools can boost your brand. However, since social media is ever-changing, an association may find it more efficient to work with someone skilled in each of the various channels.

Digital campaigns. Engaging in these type of efforts—whether Google Ads, SEO, and other website tools—can bring both value to associations’ marketing efforts and increase awareness to their brand. If you don’t have the right expertise on staff, outsourcing this work could result in better web metrics.

Copywriting. A copywriter with relevant industry experience can hit the ground running and develop content to meet an association’s specific needs.

Since marketing is crucial to an organization’s brand and longevity, it’s important to assemble the right mix of people to be on your team—whether direct employees, consultants, freelancers, or interns.


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