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What the gig economy means for marketing professionals

As technology continues to erode and disrupt traditional business models across many industries, the gig economy is fast emerging as the new way of working for many in the marketing space. Brand and agency models are shifting, with lengthy retainers being replaced by flexible, project-based arrangements. Conversely, more marketing professionals are focusing on satisfying their own personal career goals while achieving a more dynamic work-life balance. But is the gig economy “worth it” and how should marketing professionals approach this new way of working?

What is the Gig Economy?

The gig economy is the use of short-term contracts or project-based work as opposed to traditional permanent jobs. Through this arrangement, individual freelance talent or small agencies can enjoy greater professional freedom; more flexible working hours and potentially even greater earnings. Businesses too stand to benefit, particularly SMEs, as the gig economy allows for faster scaling of business, fast access to unique skill sets, potential cost-savings, and the ability to “shop” for best-in-market services.

With these benefits, it is no surprise that an already estimated 10 percent of the workforce in Singapore are in contract arrangement, and this number is set to rise. As an increasing volume of marketing work is done through short-term contracts, how can marketing talent better position themselves to take full advantage of the gig economy?

Gaining Exposure

One of the biggest hurdle, especially for those starting out as independent marketing professionals, is exposure and becoming “discoverable”. While some have pre-existing networks to get a foothold in the market, often times these connections may not provide a consistent enough level of work to sustain freelancers.

One potential source that marketing professionals can turn to are platforms that are built to facilitate the gig economy, such as Zomwork. These platforms help showcase talents, allowing companies to easily find the right skills sets that they are looking for. For example, in the event of disputes around deliverables, payments are typically held in escrow and these platforms can help mediate.

Another benefit of these platforms is that talents are exposed to a wider variety of clients, including those that would have been outside their “regular” industries or geographic regions. For example, China-based companies looking to expand to the SEA region may look to these portals to connect with a pool of talent that have the necessary skills.

Showcasing Skills

While these platforms provide an excellent channel to get more exposure to potential clients, marketing professionals still need to be able to articulate their services and skills sets. While this may seem intuitive, marketing professionals in the gig economy sometimes forget that their potential clients may not be marketing professionals themselves. In addition, there may be other marketing professionals providing similar services.

Thus, the challenge lies in articulating services and skills in a way that is easily understandable by the potential target audience. In addition, marketing professionals need to be able to showcase their competitive differentiators. Some key considerations that marketing professionals should keep in mind when creating their profiles include:
● What specifically are the services that I want to showcase?
● Is it communicated in a way that a non-marketeer can understand?
● Is the potential value of my services clearly spelt out?
● How else can I showcase my value tangibly?
○ E.g. Case studies, Thought-leadership pieces, blog posts, etc

Building Client Relationships

With successful client relationships, the process tends to start from the initial conversation phase. In fact, it can be argued that a successful project needs to starts before the project is signed off. As mentioned previously, many companies engaging with freelance marketing talent may not necessarily have a marketing background.

As such, marketing professionals should set themselves up for success by providing frameworks and goals that align with what their clients are looking to achieve. For example, a company’s business goal may define as broadly as “successfully launch a new product”. Before the project begins, marketing professionals should clearly articulate marketing goals and ensure that both themselves and clients are aligned before starting the project.

Ultimately, the gig economy has and will continue to create new opportunities, and it’s up to marketing professionals to equip themselves with the right skills sets to fully leverage this new way of working.

Jason Teo

Jason Teo is the General Manager for Zomwork.