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Upping Your Headcount in 2022? Here are 3 Lessons Learned

As 2022 approaches and life slowly returns to normal, chances are your plans for the new year involve an increased headcount – a trend we’re seeing across many organizations. Within the last 2 years alone, many marketing teams have made the decision to move from agencies to hiring more marketing employees in-house. In fact, according to a recent Gartner survey, 29% of work that used to be sent to agencies by marketing teams was moved in-house during the pandemic.

Whether your organization is looking to hire full-time staff or a suite of contractors, plan for an increase in people and projects in the new year. As you prepare, the most important aspect to consider is how your processes, people, and tech enable your company to scale.

In this post, we’ve identified 3 marketing lessons we learned about adding headcount in 2021 that can help boost your marketing success in the post-pandemic landscape:

1. Keep the Team Agile

We all know that marketing team workloads are not static — they often pick up new projects and make changes as new information becomes available. But, as these teams add headcount, doing things on the fly becomes less and less viable. Successful marketing departments are adopting the agile methodology of product teams to ensure they’re ready to pivot at all times and can better learn from past mistakes to adjust quickly. According to Adobe, there are 6 key values in agile marketing:

  • Responding to change over following a plan,
  • Rapid iterations over big-bang campaigns,
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions,
  • Numerous small experiments over a few big bets,
  • Individuals and interactions over large markets, and
  • Collaboration over silos and hierarchy.

Applying an agile marketing framework opens the opportunity to achieve both structure and flexibility at the same time. By applying product development principles to marketing strategy, organizations can enable the agility and digital dexterity needed, even as they scale.

2. Track Shorter Milestones

As an organization’s headcount increases, their project visibility can suffer as it becomes easier to track projects as simply “In progress” without paying real attention to the details that drive such progress. To alleviate this kind of ineffectiveness, marketing teams are tracking the progress of shorter milestones instead, especially on longer projects, to ensure visibility and transparency of real progress on a weekly basis.

Short-term goals also give the team quick wins and completions, enabling a sense of real progress while allowing the room for more tangible commitments from each team member, every week. At weekly check-ins the team is able to more easily identify holes in resources and where there are backlogs that need to be addressed with better resource allocation.

Planning in sprints offers much better visibility into how a project is progressing while contributing to continuous improvements.

3. Keep a History of Everything

It’s inevitable that an increase in people often leads to an increase in gaps within communication channels and project workflows. With that said, it is important to establish processes within your organization to track project milestones, assets and results on a weekly (or daily) basis.

  • Project milestones and completions: When and how files are passed off and who owns any given project at any time.
  • Project assets: The use of source files (both used and unused), work-in-progress (WIP) files, as well as finalized assets.
  • Project results: The project ROI, the budget spent and which specific leads are attributed to any given campaign.

As team members or agency partners come and go, it’s crucial that you don’t lose information, insights or assets with them. Anyone on the marketing team needs to be able to pick up a project where someone else left off, without gaps in communication, project history or access to the right resources. They should be able to continue analyzing past and present information to make smart and informed decisions. The way to achieve this is to keep an organized hub of information and assets, easily accessible to the right people.

Stay Ahead in 2022

As your team grows, it is important to ensure that you are prepared for the effects that it will have on your current workflows and processes. As you start planning for the added headcount in the new year, here are four steps to follow in order to ensure all bases are covered:

  1. Understand where there are bottlenecks and broken processes: Without the right insights into why, where and when you’re experiencing pain points, you won’t be able to help find solutions. The right knowledge here will help you identify and shape long-term solutions that will scale.
  2. Design an implementation plan and commit to it: Ideas and solutions to problems are great, but without an actual implementation plan that’s all they are — ideas. To put them into action, build out a real plan and commit to the timeline for implementing it.
  3. Ensure you’ve got the right tech in place: With the right tech stack and effective integrations along with it, you able to set your team up for scalable growth, better communication and overall improved performance.
  4. Implement for the future, not today: Build out your tech stack and implementation plan as if you’re going to double your team. Maybe this year you’re growing by ten people, but next year it could be by 50 people. Set up your tech solutions, workflows and processes to scale with the company with minimal effort.

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