Marketing Opinion South Africa

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Variety is the spice of life

The size of the "self-employed" market (freelance, contract, consultants) is growing at an exceptional rate worldwide. In the US 33% (53 million) of the workforce is made up of freelancers, and it is estimated that it will be as high as 50% by 2020.

The growth rates in Europe are also astounding; freelance numbers have increased by 45% from just over 6.2 million to 8.9 million in 2013, making them the fastest growing group in the EU labour market. Unfortunately, there are no figures for SA that I could find.

This growth is not out of necessity, but predominantly by choice. The UK researched graduates plans for the future and revealed an interesting picture:

    • 29% of all graduates say freelancing is part of their career strategy for the next five years, a fact that suggests the freelance economy will continue to gather pace in the UK.

    • The flexibility offered by freelancing is cited as the biggest career draw, with over two thirds (69%) of all graduates saying they feel independent work offers them a better work-life balance.
    • The opportunity to work on a variety of different projects and across sectors is also appealing, with over a third (38%) saying this is a significant pull.

    • Respondents are also attracted to the earning potential of freelance work with 38% saying they feel they can earn as much, if not more than they could in a traditional job.

I doubt this will be true for SA, but the trend will eventually get here. Gone are the days that employment at a big company was a security blanket. You are as vulnerable in a corporate as being a self-employed / freelancer. And the benefits for both parties are pretty obvious.

Freelancer Companies
- master of your own destiny- cost saving, lower fixed overheads
- better work/life balance- flexible workforce
- more variety / work stimulation - access to more expertise

In the advertising industry

Freelance has been around for many years in the advertising industry, but only in the creative department, and to a lesser extent the production department. There has been growth, particularly in tough times, and the odd client service freelance / contract job comes up now and again. IT is attracting freelancers, as the industry has big swings in their requirements of labour.

Variety is the spice of life

Why not outsource strategy? Only the very large agencies can keep a senior strategist busy all month. Even the finance department has it's lulls, freelancers can fill the gaps. By in large SA is lagging behind the rest of the world. Why?

In marketing departments of clients

I have not come across a freelancer working for a client. Yet, I believe there is a real need for them in companies / corporate marketing departments. There are significant peaks and troughs in the work flow, as is the case in the advertising industry.

Why not have freelance brand managers / product managers / marketing assistants etc. It will cut down on fixed overheads, and make the marketing department more flexible / adaptable to circumstances. It goes without saying that one needs the same freelancer doing the job, so that continuous training is not required.

Freelance marketing managers

I have addressed this point in a previous article (more for less) and feel very strongly about it. There are many small / medium and start-up companies that cannot afford to employ a marketing manager, which could lead to lower turnover and ROI. It is not about the size of the marketing budget, but rather the knowledge / experience that is brought to the table.

Even with no ATL / BTL spend, there are many critical factors that have to be done correctly to give a brand the best chance of success. Often there is no marketing or brand strategy, which results in everything being all over the place. Such as positioning / proposition, packaging, distribution, pricing etc. An experienced marketing professional will do a brand audit, determine the potential, develop a strategy and make sure it is implemented the right way.

If I can help, give me a call.

About Rolf Akermann

Passionate Marketing / Brand Strategist with substantial industry experience - Thrives on building and growing successful brands...

Let's do Biz