By Mark Juliano
I’ve currently taken a position with IronYun, Inc. — a video surveillance company based in Taiwan and expanding to the United States. My colleague and friend Paul Sun (we worked at Avidia years ago) contacted me asking if I’d like to do some consulting — that turned into IronYun needing someone full time.
IronYun is in Taiwan, with offices in 7+ countries and over 10 locations (including sales offices) — and virtually (pardon the pun) everything is done on a virtual basis using phone, email, WebEx, Skype, etc. While we could open an office in the USA, these days that makes no sense. WHY? Because being virtual means you can find the best people, where they live — as well as dramatically reduce office and overhead costs. It also allows for flexible work-time, especially given the employees (and contractors/consultants) are on at least 6 different time-zones.
Building a Virtual Marketing department allows me (and any company) to quickly, efficiently and effectively find quality experienced people from all of our existing contacts, coupled with using Facebook and LinkedIn to re-connect with existing and prior contacts. This means I can draw from my past companies: FORE Systems, TalkShoe, Avidia, MediaSite, Vinomis, Network Equipment Technologies (NET), Haley Systems — in locations ranging from Pittsburgh, Erie, San Francisco, SF Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, etc. (and now Taiwan, Korea, Japan, etc. from IronYun locations) — PLUS all the contacts, and locations that these people KNOW and TRUST.
Keys to Building a Virtual Marketing Department
At it’s core, there are seven (7) core concepts in building a virtual marketing (or other) department.
- Working anywhere, anytime — on flexible work schedules. It’s the new millenia, so get with the program. People work best on their time, and can take care of their personal life when they see fit. This also facilitates hiring of a) stay-at-home parents, b) people wishing to make some extra money, c) people in different time-zones, d) semi-retired individuals, etc.
- Hiring primarily part-time, or contract employees/workers. Why? Because you can get the best-of-the-best for each particular marketing area.
- Using Internet and other technology tools effectively: LinkedIn, Facebook, email, text, phone, WebEx, Skype, Wikis, etc. If you are NOT up-to-speed on effectively using these tools, you’d better become proficient quickly. A virtual department WILL NOT work without these tools (and they’re basically all FREE) I would give you the URL website addresses of the companies above — but, you should already know them.
- Limited face-to-face meetings and travel, substituted by continual electronic communications and occasional electronic conferences (i.e. WebEx and Skype). As many people know, meetings can be the death of an organization in terms of wasting valuable time. This is supplemented by once-in-a-while face contact, especially at the outset or soon after the team is built, to re-establish PERSONAL contact.
- (MOST IMPORTANT) Hiring/working with people you ALREADY know (now or from past work experiences), or who are directly referred by and trusted by your TRUSTED contacts. Building the Virtual Team simply will not work if you have to go through a recruiting process, or are working with all NEW people you don’t know well.
- Working with free-lancers versus Marketing Agencies (i.e. PR, Advertising, Web development, etc). I do realize this is somewhat of a personal preference, but those Agencies are NOT virtual, so you’re basically paying for their overhead. Of course Agencies can add value, particularly if you don’t possess a particular marketing skill in your Virtual Department.
- TRUST — you must trust your team to execute. And the Virtual Vice President of Marketing or Chief Marketing Officer, must have continual personal communications. AND, the people within the Virtual Department, must trust the top executive. Why? because there’s no time to be endlessly debating decisions.
Advantages of the Virtual Marketing Team
I’ve already mentioned some of the key advantages, but will expand on them here.
- DRAMATICALLY LOWER COST versus a corporate marketing team in a single location. Savings can be at least 50% – 70% or more taking into account: 1) office costs and overhead, 2) recruiting costs, 3) free-lance rates versus agencies, 4) training costs, 5) no relocation costs, 6) travel costs.
- SPEED. It’s just more efficient, which may be counter-intuitive. Many organizations believe that having everyone in a single location is MORE efficient. This is not true. Single-location organizations naturally have more meetings, more office politics,
- MORE EFFECTIVE because you can hire the best people wherever they live.
- 24/7/365 TEAM. There’s always someone awake around the work to help you out. And you can get a considerable amount of work done, while others sleep.
- FLEXIBLE. Hire the skills when you need them. In my case, for the cost of 2 full-time marketing people working for me, I can hire 6-8 people with a variety of skills. And if we need an additional skill, we just find someone from our vast network of contacts.