It is not uncommon to find that branding, communications or marketing professionals are typically individual contributors in most companies. While the segregation of roles and expertise differs from company to company, what I recently found to be a commonality is that most marketers I know started off as a one-person team in their company.
A common question I get after others find out that I’m typically an individual contributor for all things branding, communications and marketing is “how do you do all that when it’s just you?” Here’s sharing how: I’ve lots of help from my stakeholders, partners and network.
My approach to it is rather simple. Side note, simplicity helps a lot when you’re covering lots of breadth. It helps keep you focused on what needs to be done and how.
I approach it from 3 angles: resources (balancing budget and time), a focused intent (the ‘why’ as a key criterion for all decisions) and network (banding together, helping each other do more with less).
Resources: Nurture your relationship with freelancers and (maybe) interns
As an individual contributor, time is a very scarce resource. You don’t want to be the bottleneck to business. As a marketing or communications professional, you want to always be enabling business. At the same time, for most companies with individual contributors, your marketing budget isn’t a luxurious one. You will have to be scrappy and think of the budget as neglible.
There’s always loads to do. So you will want to spend your time wisely. We all know that the marketing function has lots of tasks that are really simple and important, but super tedious to get done.
How I achieve more with less is to build a ready pool of talent I can tap into whenever I need help. Given the lack of a budget for agencies, the freelancer partnership model is great. They are an extension of me, to help me out with menial but important work like designing, resizing and optimising of content or corporate materials.
Having a ready pool also reduces the amount of time I spend looking for a suitable candidate the next time. I’ve been using a mix of Upwork and personal/referred contacts through LinkedIn so far.
If you expect to need a high volume of work, perhaps looking for an intern or part-timer could make more sense, both budget-wise and in terms of the time spent needing to brief and guide a different freelancer for each project.
Focused Intent: Always ask ‘why’ before hopping on it
I find it very useful to have a clear strategy that includes objectives and ideal outcomes for all communications efforts for my brand. This keeps the intent behind every project or task I take on super focused. I like thinking ‘scale’ when planning my communications strategy and I find that having a core narrative that resounds throughout your efforts really helps.
Having clarity of what you want to achieve is key to forming that ‘why’ — “why are we doing this? Because this will help us achieve this.” With this as your guiding post, decisions become very straightforward and swift. For anything that doesn’t help you achieve your strategic intent or contribute to your outcome, say no or put it in the parking lot.
The Magic of Your Network: You’re not alone. Help each other.
A magical way of gaining scale with your communications efforts is to leverage partnerships. Nurture these relationships. Most times, your partner is also struggling to maximise the potential of their project. Help each other. Co-produce a piece of content. You now have pooled resources, 1 piece of content, twice the reach and lots more engagement potential than if you’re doing it alone.
Likewise in content marketing, it’s always helpful to think of how else you can use 1 content piece to produce derivative content. For example, a video can be transcribed and edited into a blog post, with quotes extracted and turned into image stills for easy-to-digest social posts. (More content marketing tips in Joe’s blog here.) When you spread this across your partner and network’s channels, you get an exponential effect of reach and most times, it’s relevant word of mouth — meaning a higher possibility of engagement with your content.
Want to know more? Let’s connect and have a conversation! Drop me a message.
Have tips on what else you can do to scale your branding efforts? Please share them — I’d love to know and try it out! Leave a comment or reach out :)
I’m also looking to see where I can possibly automate some tasks; happy to geek out with you on this.