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Learn how to scale your holiday marketing with a remote team in our latest blog post.
Remote work is hard to scale.
But when you have to work remotely during the busiest time of the year, scaling can be especially hard.
How do you coordinate a team of creatives and contractors when you have dozens of looming deadlines, and clients who wanted work delivered yesterday?
In reality, remote work can be scaled, even during crunch times.
You just have to make a few changes in your approach.
- Building a roster of reliable contractors much before the holiday season starts
- Automating all trivial tasks, creative or operational
- Taking advantage of third-party service providers
Let’s cover this problem in more detail below.
1. Recognize the demand (and the opportunity)
One of the biggest challenges for any brand during the holiday season is creative scarcity.
Simply put, too many brands are competing for the same eyeballs on the same channels. Throw in the sameness of themes and colors during this time (red, green, and white anyone?) and you have a recipe for brand fatigue.
For instance, a survey by Celtra and Dynata discovered that 68% of holiday shoppers found holiday marketing to be “repetitive” and 79% want different storytelling approaches in holiday ads.
Consumers recognize this. Marketers recognize this. And even marketers recognize this.
Yet the same stale creatives get cycled throughout the holiday season.
Why? Simply because there aren’t enough resources to push out fresher ads constantly.
As an agency, this presents a huge challenge and an even bigger opportunity.
If you’re able to consistently meet heightened demand during this period, you will find brands lining up at your door. Remember the age-old mantra: being on time is more important than being perfect. And nowhere is this more true than during the holiday season.
Pitch this to your clients - consumers want fresher ads. If you can deliver on it, especially as a remote agency, you can tap into a massive assortment of clients from anywhere.
2. Build your your network before the holiday season
Demand for every kind of worker - from creatives to Santa impersonators - goes through the roof at the start of the holiday season. Try to hire additional people (full-time or freelancers) and you’ll end up competing against dozens of other agencies.
This is why the process of building a foundation of reliable and available freelancers should start before the holiday season even begins.
Good creatives have options aplenty in crunch times. While you can offer them more money than your competitors, what they truly want is an employer they’re comfortable working with.
This kind of trust-building can’t happen overnight, and it certainly can’t happen in the middle of the holiday season.
Months before the season starts, reach out to the creatives in your network, and ask:
- Will they be available during the October-December period? If yes, will this be full-time or part-time?
- If hiring part-time help, what other existing commitments do they have? How do they foresee demand from these commitments shaping up during the holiday season?
- If they don’t have availability, can they recommend someone else?
Of course, you’ll have dropouts and people reneging on promises. But walking into the season with a ready list of, say, 25 people you can tap into gives you a headstart. Even if half of them don’t show up, you’ll still have something to work with.
A regularly updated repository of contractors - such as the vendor directory in Workamajig - can make it easy to coordinate schedules and availability with freelancers.
The vendor directory in Workamajig makes it easy to find, contact, and even bill vendors from a single dashboard.
3. Automate and templatize filler content creation
What’s the easiest way to scale a remote creative team?
By not relying on a remote creative team.
Of course, you’ll want top-class creatives to brainstorm great ideas and dream up the vision for any campaign. And of course, you need creatives to produce the flagship content in any campaign.
But in between, your creatives also have to produce a ton of “filler” content. Think Facebook ad variations, social media graphics, banner ads, etc.
This content is usually formulaic and can be easily templatized. A Facebook ad, for instance, might just be A/B testing dozens of ad background colors for maximizing CTRs. Do you really need a full-time designer churning these out?
Through templates and automation, you can rapidly iterate dozens of variants and even get your non-creative marketing team members to push out content.
Some tools worth checking out include:
- Canva, Crello, Visme, etc. for turning content into templates for rapid prototyping and production
- Creatopy, Copy.ai, Designs.ai, etc. for automating ad creation
I can understand why agencies have been squeamish about using automation in creative production. But ultimately, reducing cost and scaling trivial content creation help you deliver even more value to your clients - the only thing that truly matters.
4. And use even more automation...
Remember that every message or call extracts a far heavier toll on productivity in remote environments than in physical offices. There are no water coolers or coffee breaks where you can quickly ask a teammate a question. Online, every message actively disrupts work.
Automation fixes this problem.
As a remote agency, your goal should be to maximize automation in your workflows. The fewer hands touch any task, the faster you’ll be able to deliver it.
Apart from content creation, automation can help you track results, create campaigns, schedule content, and even send reports to clients.
Since automation usually follows fixed rules, it also has the advantage of reducing human error. New hires are less likely to make mistakes if they simply have to press a button to generate a report.
That’s not all.
Automation can also help you cut administrative overhead. Even something as simple as automated reminders and notifications can help you move faster and produce more.
Automated notifications in Workamajig
5. Leverage “productized” services
Most agencies maintain a roster of freelancers to help them manage excess workload or chime in with expert advice, when necessary.
However, ask an agency to offload work to a “product” like Fiverr or 99Designs, and you’ll meet with resistance.
There’s a dominant culture among agencies that productized service companies are their competitors and ergo, must be avoided and even disparaged.
And while we’ve talked about productizing your own services, you can also use these “products” to supplement your own capabilities.
Take something like a voiceover for a video ad. If you were to go through the traditional route, you’d end up hiring an artist and booking studio space - expensive and tough for a remote agency.
But on a site like Fiverr, you’ll find hundreds of voice-over artists with their own semi-pro studio spaces willing to record your ads for cheap.
The stigma against using productized services, again, stems from the belief that “creative” agencies must handle creative work in-house. But supplemental creative work - voice-overs, social media calendars, copy-paste social media graphics, etc. can be easily outsourced. Your in-house creatives should be focusing on the big picture, not hunting down voice-over artists and studio spaces in their local cities.
If you really want to scale, you’ll have to find a way to figure out:
- What kind of work requires minimal creative input
- How to outsource it so you can maximize time spent on actual creative work
6. Double down on collaboration
Check any project manager’s to-do list and you’ll find “improve collaboration” perpetually stuck somewhere at the bottom of the list.
The truth is that while most of us talk about collaboration, few actually walk the talk.
If you’re going to be successful as a remote team during this crunch holiday time, you need to go all-in on collaboration.
Simply put, you can’t afford any lapses in productivity when your clients are depending on you. If your team is stuck figuring out what to do instead of actually doing it, you’ll be behind on your deliverables.
Collaborative workplaces are happier workplaces, according to a study by Deloitte (source)
We’ve talked a lot about remote team management and collaboration in the past. In a nutshell, you need to:
- Equip your teams with the right collaboration tools - and constantly ask for feedback so you can upgrade or switch to even better alternatives.
- Prioritize project planning so your team always knows what’s expected of it at any stage of the project
- Focus on transparency and give team members an easy way to track their progress and see upcoming tasks at all time
- Use communication channels preferred by your employees. For instance, 41% of millennials prefer written digital communication. Imposing video chats on them can have the opposite impact on productivity and morale.
For more information, see these articles from our archive:
7. Be aware of changes in the marketing landscape
Lastly, no amount of remote work efficiency will help you if you’ve simply misread the marketing environment.
The last two years have drastically changed what’s expected from marketers and agency partners during the holiday season. “Experiences” have moved online, advertising is largely digital, and goals have shifted from “footfalls” to “eyeballs”.
As we wrote a little while ago, holiday marketing now starts faster, isn’t afraid of realism, and has to factor in real-world shortfalls and price spikes. The old tactic of slapping “50% off!” stickers on everything around Thanksgiving can’t really work because supply lines are stretched and your brand partners are running short of inventory.
In this new reality, any team - remote or otherwise - that can move flexibly will be at a massive advantage.
Essentially, your team must:
- Move early and move fast since holiday season now starts earlier and lasts longer
- Shift attention from discounts to experiences
- Explore new themes apart from the tried and tested holiday ideas
- Cultivate a digital edge and focus on delivering measurable ROI, not just vague vanity metrics
While this might not be specific to remote teams, it is crucial for all marketing teams. Adopt these practices and you’ll start on the right foot in this new era of creative marketing.
We make Workamajig, the all-in-one project management suite built for creative teams
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Over to You
Scaling creative work is never easy, but it’s particularly hard when you have to do it with a remote team. If you start early, build up a roster of reliable freelancers, leverage third-party services, and focus on collaboration, you can deliver results even during the crunch holiday season.
One way to make your remote team more efficient is to switch to a more transparent, unified agency management system like Workamajig. Workamajig gives you unprecedented insight into your operations and helps your remote teams perform at their best.