Consider this. A healthcare provider from Hyderabad posts an opportunity online for the requirement of a part-time Chief Marketing Officer. An FMCG company based out of Mumbai wants a New Product Launch Consultant for its personal and households products division.
A new mobile-based health service company is looking for a marketing consultant to help put together a business plan. Marketing, as we know it, is undergoing a quiet change. CMO, product launch, business planning. Roles once considered core to the marketing function have begun getting outsourced to experts for limited time periods.
And that’s not all. Other expertise being increasingly sought by organizations is in the arena of ‘brand management’ and ‘marketing communications’; again, skills considered sacrosanct to marketing.
This is great news for experienced professionals. No longer is it necessary for them to be part of a regimented corporate setup in order to do what they love. While there’s nothing quite as exciting as marketing, a corporate structure comes with its own trappings of long working hours, rigid processes to go through and unending powerpoint presentations to update various people in the senior management hierarchy. Not to mention precious hours spent ‘working the system’ to get other functions whose goals don’t match yours, to contribute to your work. All this, when time could have been better utilized listening to consumers online, improving your relationship management programme, refining new product concepts to take to market or any other activity that would truly value-add to the brand and the business.
But now all this is changing. Today, there are many avenues open to individuals to work in collaboration with marketing teams, without directly being in the corporate maze. The reasons are several…in order to promote a company’s product(s) or services effectively requires hundreds of different kinds of initiatives that are not humanly possible for a marketing team to do on its own. Second, some of these initiatives require skill sets that are best outsourced to specialists. Third, organizations have begun to take headcount mandates seriously, making it impossible to have a large pool of in-house talent.
So what kind of opportunities await those looking to work on their own terms? According to data analysed by Flexing It, an online firm that connects companies seeking short-term, flexible, professional skills to relevant individuals, the largest number of marketing professionals looking to work independently, are those with skills in marketing strategy and business planning (34 per cent). Up next are those with expertise in brand management (13 per cent), followed closely by market research and intelligence (11 per cent) and marketing communications and promotions (10 per cent) professionals.
If your interest and experience does not fit any of the above, do not worry as there are still plenty of other skills in demand. Expertise in any of the following - design, branding, packaging, advertising, public relations, sales promotions or events, will come in handy today. While there have been and will continue to be large companies offering one or more of these services, there’s a steady movement towards engaging professionals or boutique firms as well. The fact that most companies are finding it difficult to allocate a substantial chunk of their annual marketing budgets towards fixed retainers to large service providers, is only fuelling this trend. In addition to these monetary savings, companies deploying boutique firms also benefit by getting the same quality of expertise offered by large service providers, but with the added advantage that work gets turned around faster as these professionals are solely committed to the company’s projects.
With the proliferation in new channels, platforms and emerging technologies, other areas witnessing growing need for flexible, contractual work are digital, mobile and big data. Within digital, search engine optimization, social media marketing and online reputation management are where marketers need a lot of help. The other massive white space is the need for mobility experts. Enabling companies to optimise their websites and content for iPads, iPhones and Android devices, or creating apps that fuse unique customer data, social media, geo-location services and e-commerce to deliver an integrated experience to consumers, is high on marketers wish lists. Organisations are also looking at experts in customer analytics to help them make sense of data lying in various repositories across the company in order to deliver higher ROI, stronger relationships and more future revenue from customers.
As you can see, the opportunities for flexible, short-burst assignments are endless. People now have the freedom to work independently, pick projects of their interest and gather a wide variety of experience across companies and sectors, quickly. There’s never been a better time to leverage your specific skill set without being locked in a typical marketing profile.