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How to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!


How to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

Well that's what we should have called our presentation, but at the B2B Marketing Ignite Event in June 2023, we went with how quiet hiring is helping smart marketers to build rocket ships!​

It's the same thing really but on the day we took the audience through our origin story, how we utilised quiet hiring as client marketers in 2019, and then how this inspired us to launch The Inspired Marketing Group in 2020.

B2B Marketing's Ignite Conference is an annual event where over 750 global marketing leaders come together to learn, share best practice and network.

There were lots of familiar war stories on the day of marketers having budgets cut, hiring freezes, talent leaving and not being able to replace them - all while sales and revenue target stays the same! It’s brutal out there at the moment.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!


Our talk focussed around how quiet hiring enables you to build marketing rocket ships!

And, how it helps your brand (both your personal and business brand), gives you more flexibility, makes you more agile, increases your capacity, allows you to properly test and learn, protects your team from burnout and reduces or eradicates fear.

To build a marketing rocket ship you firstly need to believe it can be done. It’s a scary journey and to get there you’ll almost certainly need to think differently.

Over the course of the presentation we showcase our inspiration which allowed the creation of The Inspired Marketing Group, and now how other leaders are building marketing rocket ships with our help.




The slides​ (and speaker notes)


Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

My name is David this is my co-founder Richard. We are both career client side marketers having worked in large corporate businesses and venture backed startups. But in 2020 we founded the Inspired Marketing Group which is based on everything we wanted as client side marketers.

​Hyper flexible and rapid access to marketing experts with no long contracts or big scary retainers to explain to finance.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

It’s always risky doing a 30 seconds overview of what we’ll cover in the next 30 minutes…whilst presenting over lunch..but here goes… Quiet hiring enables you to build marketing rocket ships!

  • It helps your brand, both your personal and business brand

  • It can give you more flexibility

  • It will definitely make you more agile

  • It increases capacity

  • Allows you to properly test and learn

  • Protect your team from burnout

  • Reduces or eradicates fear…and we don’t talk about this element half as much as we should.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • So before we kick off, what is quiet hiring?

  • This is what Gartner define it as - basically it is the art of either moving internal resource around to increase capacity, increasing the responsibilities of people already in you team - which you need to pay them for - or bringing in contract workers off payroll to help you out temporarily.


Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • I’m going to start off talking about fear.

  • I’ve been lucky enough to do some great things during my career. Like all of us in this room

  • Chatting with Dave over a beer i joked and said this..

  • But actually it wasn’t a joke. When i reflected on It was true…more than i thought it was.

  • And the more we both explored this throw away line it started to ring true on every single level.

  • So, we started to dig a little deeper on this subject of fear, from a theoretical side, as well as a personal side.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • Fear- big thing for us as humans, it’s a big subject - also a big thing at work - Immunity to change - great book worth a read

  • Not fear of attack or psychological safety at work but our own subjective fears.

  • The stuff we pick up on our journey through life that prevents us from doing what we could/should do at work to make a change or help our organisation make a big step forward - to help it become a rocket ship.

  • Our anxieties can be infinite but at work our fears are generally around failure, letting others down, losing control and how that will reflect on us professionally

  • At the core of this fear is the fear of losing our jobs. - not being able to support ourselves, our loved ones or our lifestyle.

  • Nobody wants to be publicly wrong - so we protect ourselves by minimising risks.

  • We’ve probably all heard the words of fear maybe even said them ourselves - ‘We tried that and it didn’t work.’ ‘That’s just not how we do things here’

  • Well guess what, working in a high growth business is pretty scary.

  • Strapping yourself to something which is designed to go really high, really quickly and that could explode at any moment is scary as hell. So how do we move beyond that fear and succeed on our mission?

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • Kegan and Laskow Lahey state 4 steps to overcoming fear at work -

  • being aware of fear when you experience it - know when you are being driven by fear.

  • next lean into it and imagine that fear coming true - that’s the scary bit.

  • then reflect on where that fear is coming from and how your current situation compares to that original experience. - your situation today should be different to the situation where you learned this fear so you can objectively asses that fear and the likelihood of it coming true.

  • Finally take a small step towards that fear with safe experiments.

  • I spent a number of years in venture backed startups - they’re trying to build rocket ships - but everything was aligned around the principle of test, learn adjust.

  • If you fail, fail fast.

  • Failing is ok, as long as it gets shut down quickly and you minimise the impact. You dust yourself off, take the learnings and go again - but you do better next time.

  • Theory is great, but what does this look like in the real world?

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

Richard

  • How do we know fear whether it be consciously or subconsciously plays a part in business and stops you building marketing rocket ships

  • We’re ex client side marketers

  • Surely we’re not the only one to have felt or experienced this?

  • 100% it was right, ok 90%...Well i’m 75% sure…ok here’s the self doubt. We’re human. It’s natural.

  • Our origin story is borne out of these points

  • Public own energy company around 2019. Landscape wasn’t just your usual acquisition and retention. It was also political.

  • We become daily news online, in the local and national press, as well as political verticals.

  • 280 jobs depended on defending this daily political attack but only had 4 marketers owning acquisition, retention, brand, operational comms, social media, PR, events, partner sales, local stakeholder management and the day to day of just being employed like meetings.

  • We were as lean as lean can be.

  • My innate behaviour was to write a job description and build a business case for a PR Manager.

  • The Financial Director got the need. Headcount freeze so unfortunately the answer was no.

  • Realigning activity budget but a FTE was still cheaper than a full time freelancers but i wasn’t allowed headcount.

Dave

  • In 2016 - while at a VC backed startup - I began kicking around an idea of a distributed marketing function - skills and expertise brought in on demand around the needs of the business.

  • At the time the feedback was very much - people on payroll, in the office working 5 days a week. But that idea just wouldn’t go away as a potentially very affective approach, for early stage or high growth businesses

  • As Richard said we needed a very specific PR skill set - we couldn’t hire - but the impact of inaction was now the fear.

  • So i got to work convincing Rich to add flexible capacity via a freelancer - We did some quiet hiring.

  • Using our activity budget we onboarded a local PR specialist to be on call when something happened and to help us proactively manage our public narrative proactively.

Richard

  • Took the plunge. My fear was alleviated but i knew and trust Dave

  • Worked perfectly. The PR challenge lasted for circa 6 months. We then exited our rolling contract we had both knowingly entered into.

  • New way was £6k vs £35k for an FTE

  • Our business moved into an acquisition phase and we need a new skill sets.

  • But it got me thinking. What would i have done with a permanent PR manager now? Square peg in a round hole. Made them redundant?.

  • Our hire was easy. I stepped out my comfort zone and utilised quiet hiring but it made me think how easy would it be to find other skill sets like this?

Dave

  • Welcome to my world in 2016. The Inspired Marketing Group was born

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • Worked for us as client side marketers but would it work for others…

  • Yes. You can protect and grow your brand with safe experiments, via quiet hiring and build marketing rocket ships…

  • It gives you:

    • Greater flexibility

    • Make you more agile

    • Instantly increase capacity

    • Protects your team from burnout

    • Enable you test & learn outside of BAU

    • Creates less fear both within yourself and within the business.

  • First test cases we saw with a digital leader. Create a digital centre of excellence with pure digital marketers’ rather than hybrids.

  • Knew what wanted. Pretty big business case to put to the Finance Director. 8 or 9 new heads. Probably circa £500k of headcount.

  • Fearless to ask for that. No head above the parapet, putting your existence on the line, with massive sunk costs. It’s a brave decision to try and transform a business function on this scale. But, also what if you’re wrong and stuck with heads or long term contracts.

  • How do you do something quickly because you’ve got target to hit, but do it safely. The answer is quiet hiring

  • Needed expert headcount but not on the payroll. Hyper flexibility in the contract and a pipeline people for when they needed it. Or, as we now know it as Quiet Hiring.

  • Within days a Digital Product Owner was on an initial 3 month contract 4 days a week, which was immediately cancable in the first 28 days and then just 28 days notice after that. Safety built into the contract.

  • Within a few months they had 7 Digital Product Owner’s, plus other roles to help execute the test & learn in place. The vision was being tested and paid for with a reallocation of activity budget rather than headcount. Safe experiments being conducted via quiet hiring with no permanent costs.

  • New financial year business units rather than the Digital Director started to build in budget and/or headcount for their own Digital Product Owner’s as they could see the benefits it was bringing to them in terms of leads and revenue for their area.

  • Other people now advocating and adopting your vision. Amazing. All done in via quiet hiring, in a safe environment without damaging your career.

  • An interesting side note too:

  • Marketing leads requesting extra headcount, also had less fear in doing so. Less risk involved in requesting extra headcount. Business cases are sometimes made up of best guesses, but there was tangible evidence of payback whether this be financial or less tangible benefits like improved employee engagement, less workplace stress etc.

  • Quiet hiring had sped up the process too. Getting people quickly enabled her business unit to contribute to the overall business hitting it’s end of year targets too.​

  • It was so much quicker than the traditional recruitment process too and less up front expense to the business and less risk.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • Normally a good end to the story. Model rolled out permanently. Done via quiet hiring minimising your risk & exposure on many levels.

  • Shortcutted the recruitment process by permanently hiring some those quiet hires too. Try before you permanently buy.

  • Vision come true.

  • Didn’t stop there. Asked to join a visit to Asia PAC business to implement UK Squads & Tribe model as a means to be better structured marketing to achieve targets.

  • In part, the speed at which she executed to ensure her targets were hit, also contributed to the business hitting their £9.2b valuation target

  • It her own rocket ship. Global transformational superstar thanks to quiet hiring.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • So we’ve seen a couple of examples there - how quiet hiring can help reduce our fear with safe experiments. It can also make you look amazing.

  • But what about the business brand?

  • What about your own internal marketing team?

  • Most marketing teams at the moment are working flat out.

  • Redundancies and hiring freezes.

  • Budgets are being cut but targets aren’t changing. so people are basically being asked to do more with less.

  • Burnout is a very real issue, isn’t sustainable and reflects poorly on organisations in terms of their ability to retain and attract new talent.

  • So what can we do as marketing leaders?

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • For 100% productivity or performance you don’t need 100% effort.

  • You cannot deliver great work if you’re working at 100% for days and weeks on end.

  • Any cyclists in? Marathon runners?

  • Elite individuals and high performance teams know the importance and value of effort.

  • 85% effort leaves capacity for creative problem solving, it leaves capacity to spot opportunities and probably most importantly capacity of energy to go after those opportunities.

  • Not every decision needs to be perfect.

  • If perfect is the enemy of done then I would take an 85% right answer every single day.

  • Allowing people to make 85% right decisions helps remove fear for your teams, gives them the psychological safety to conduct their own safe experiments and also means they’ll get more done.

  • If your team is operating at 85% it also gives you scope to do some internal quiet hiring

    • Shift responsibilities around your team,

    • Give a high performing individual a stretch project

    • Or simply to mix up areas of responsibility to keep your team engaged with the wider business and build up diversity of knowledge in your team

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • Time for a scary stat.

  • on average 1 in every 5 of the people you hire won’t make it through the first 3-6 months.

  • We’’ve seen this with a client and it’s time consuming, expensive and a huge capacity draining problem.

  • You could avoid this by quiet hiring people internally, people with the right attitude or previous experience

  • But if you need a specific skill set sometimes that’s not viable.

  • Like we saw in the case study Rich just talked about, bringing someone in on a temporary basis can be as good as ‘try before you buy.’

  • Massive reduction in risk for you

  • That business took 4 of our placed people on permanently.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • As client side marketers we thought differently about our marketing headache and utilising quiet hiring to build our own rocketship. We’ve now started to see other leaders do the same

  • As we pulled this together, it reminded us of the 1st Apple brand campaign that ran in the 90’s called ‘The crazy ones’.

  • People who change the world, are the ones crazy enough to believe they can.

  • Centered around challenging the status quo and doing things differently.

  • And i guess that’s one of the takeaways from take. Think differently about your marketing headaches. Challenge the status quo. And certainly challenge those innate business behaviors we’re too often stuck in like full time, monday to friday, 9 to 5. What about right person, wherever they are for whatever time you need them for via quiet hiring?


Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • If you want to build a rocket ship you first need to be crazy enough to believe it can be done. It’s a scary journey and to get there you’ll almost certainly need to think differently.

  • Fear is a by product of risk. It too often gets in the way.

  • Be aware of it, address it and use safe experiments to face and overcome your fear

  • Quiet hiring can help your business brand and your marketing team

    • Greater flexibility and agility

    • More capacity

    • Avoid burnout and cultivate a high performing culture and team

    • Massively enhance your own brand and make you a game changer for your business.

  • We believe it. We’ve done it. We advocate it.

Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!
  • We’re not rocket scientists. We’re CMO’s and Marketing Directors, the responsibility on our shoulders is much bigger right?

  • Thinking back to Apple’s campaign. If these people can go and explore space, even create a new light source, then whatever you’re trying to do has got to be achievable. You just need the right support around you, embrace any fear you have and maybe think a little differently to how you’d normally solve that problem.

  • So, get that space suit on, build your own rocket ship by taking one small step towards your giant marketing leap.

  • Thank you


Ultimately outlining how to get awesome flexible marketers without making the CFO cry!

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