Freelance Worker Restrictions – Coming to a State Near You?

In an April ruling, the California Supreme Court significantly raised the bar that companies must meet to classify workers as independent – aka freelance – and not as employees.

What’s driving this? Money of course.

Money in the form of lost revenue to state and federal coffers, and in benefits “denied” to freelancers.

Freelancers have long been the backbone of the advertising industry as agencies worry about margins while trying to meet the demands of clients and new business opportunities that ebb and flow on a weekly basis. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of workers classified as freelancers rose more than 50 percent, accelerated by the 2008 recession and changes in worker attitudes about their work-life choices.

There certainly has been abuse, which gave rise to the term permalancer as agencies denied employment opportunities when there was clearly a sustainable need. We even know a few permalancers that rotated between a couple of NYC agencies every 4-6 months just so the agencies could avoid having to classify them as employees.

In these instances, however, those permalancers were paid through payroll as temporary help and all taxes were collected as though they were real employees. What they were denied was vacation and sick time benefits as well as access to agency 401k programs.

But what of all those gig economy predictions, whereby temporary positions for short term assignments are offered by companies to independent workers, would become the new normal? A study by Intuit predicts that by 2020, independent contractors will comprise 40 percent of the workforce.

Between clients squeezing agencies on pricing and increasing government scrutiny of worker classifications, agencies and clients may need to rethink their remuneration as well as staffing practices.

Some agencies have already turned to using staffing companies that take care of payroll matters while supplying temporary creative, production and even account management help. The challenge though is getting top talent to work through these temp agencies that can skim anywhere from 10 to 33 percent of the worker’s wage – and that’s before covering the payroll taxes.

Another solution is to directly hire top freelance talent as temporary employees for clearly defined short terms assignments, paid through payroll, and then released when the assignment is over.

While the right solution may not be a lasting one, it’s clear that agencies as well as marketers with inhouse studios need to work with their human resources and legal teams to find a solution that heads off potential legal battles while attracting top talent that just don’t want or need a full time permanent job.

After all, your state could be next.

 

Bajkowski + Partners LLC is a leading consultancy providing services to marketing and procurement teams in the areas of agency relationship management, agency search, process audits, contract and SOW development and audits, and a number of other marketing resource and marketing operations related areas. For more information, please visit our website.

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Some Agencies Don’t Want New Clients

As agency search consultants always on the lookout for those hidden gems of an agency, it seems that many don’t want to be found.

Their websites may be well-designed and easy to navigate, conveying both their unique talents and internal culture.  But the contact page is often lacking or the agency doesn’t always keep its contact list up to date with business intell service bureaus – even the free ones!

We realize small to mid sized agencies don’t always have a dedicated new business person. But no agency can survive without continually gaining new clients. So why make it so difficult for anyone to connect with you?

So, here are a few of our pet peeves – which if we have them, then it’s fairly likely so do other consultants, marketers and procurement – which you should consider and think about how your agency can avoid these pitfalls:

  1. Don’t Contact Us, We’ll Contact You – Time is always of the essence for the new business inquirer. So while you may not have a dedicated new business person, or for whatever reason you’re not providing a dedicated contact on your website, too many agencies commit these potentially fatal errors:
    • Unmonitored Email Box – Asking potential clients and agency search consultants to complete your general inquiry form is fine, but not if no one is reading the emails on a daily basis. If you use this method, it shouldn’t become a black hole where inquiries go to die.
    • No Phone Number – Really? If no one responds to our email, we may make one last ditch effort. Just one. Maybe.
  2. Whenever – We sent an email to the right person. And maybe we also left a VM. But getting back to us weeks later makes you SOL.
  3. Auto Attendant Void – We get it. You’re small but modern and no one really answers your main number. And, after a VM promising a prompt return call, you want us to leave a message – that’s never returned. Or it’s returned a few weeks later. Once we start contacting agencies, the search moves quickly and if you don’t respond within 24-48 business hours you’re just too late.
  4. We Don’t Do New Business – This must be our all-time favorite response from the person answering the main number. We realize you’ve got cheap and often inexperienced labor at the front desk, but you need to invest in a little training here!

Wake up and re-evaluate your new business efforts. Everyone at your agency should know what to do if a call or email lands on their radar.

It’s never been a better time for smaller and independent agencies to gain business from those well-known brands. Marketers are looking beyond holding company agencies, and many are indeed interested in finding that up-and-comer for either ongoing project work or AOR status (which is definitely not dead despite what you read).

So remove any roadblocks to your agency’s new business success and make it easier, not harder, for us to connect and connect quickly!

 

Bajkowski + Partners LLC is a leading consultancy providing services to marketing and procurement teams in the areas of agency relationship management, agency search, process audits, contract and SOW development and audits, and a number of other marketing resource and marketing operations related areas. For more information, please visit our website.

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What Inquiring MarTech Minds Learned at MarTech San Francisco 2017

Graphic Source:  martechtoday.com

 

MarTech San Francisco 2017  just wrapped up and from what we're reading, the presentations and conversations were centered around the abundance of martech solutions and myriad of ways to configure a stack (aka M-architecture).

+5,000 MarTech Solutions and Counting

The marketing technology landscape has burgeoned by roughly 40% since 2016 to a total of 5,381 solutions, and of course a quantum leap since 2011 when only 150 or so solutions existed.

You can download an infographic of the 2017 MarTech Landscape at chiefmartec.com – while it doesn't rank the players, it just shows how overwhelmingly difficult identifying the right solution can be. Hence this has led to the growth of consultants out there offering services to manage martech rfps, whether for single solutions or stack creation.

Bespoke Stacking Rules

Reports from MarTech San Francisco also revealed that no two stacks – or marchitectures – are alike. The good news is marketing tech teams can customize their stacks, but like building an agency roster, we foresee challenges in determining the right stack mix.

Ideally, you want to build an efficient and highly scalable marketing to sales automation platform that accommodates multiple user types with a seamless and responsive user experience. And of course it should be accessible and simple to use.

When building the stack, consider the following:

  • Solves – what needs are you trying solve, what are the priorities, and what belongs in the stack
  • User Mix – who needs to access or leverage the enterprise stack or a particular component
  • UX – like anything, if it's cumbersome or not meeting a user's unique needs, people will go around it
  • KISS – keep it simply simple (no need for name calling!),
  • Training – it should require minimal training across the user-types and be very intuitive
  • Hire an Expert – there a lots of claims out there from solution providers to consultants, but vet your consultant and make sure they have a proven track record. And don't forget to check their references and case studies!

Buyer Beware

Lots of martech vendors claim to be platforms but not all are – a real platform is both capable of allowing other software to run on it and has a track record of third-party software solutions already utilizing the platform as its foundation. According to martechtoday.com contributor Sheldon Monteiro, slightly more than 1,000 of the martech providers have a true platform solution. The last thing you want is to have to build a lot of API's to integrate your software with your platform. It should be plug and play.

A Segment of One

Marketers have talked for years about establishing a 1:1 dialog with a customer and martech, when implemented properly, makes this possible. With all the noise out there vying for a consumer's attention, segmenting to a customer of one requires a simplified stack that delivers a unique message that is relevant to that customer's position within the purchase funnel. Building unique conversations tailored to each of your potential customers will break through your competitive messaging clutter. That's when they'll start talking about your product or service among their social community – and in a positive way if you've made a strong connection.

 

If you need daily coverage on the evolving world of marketing technology, we highly recommend signing up for MarTech Today. It's free and delivered right to your inbox. Visit martechtoday.com to subscribe.

Bajkowski + Partners LLC is a leading consultancy providing services to marketing and procurement teams in the areas of agency relationship management, agency search, process audits, contract and SOW development and audits, and a number of other marketing resource and marketing operations related areas. For more information, please visit our website.

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Agency Searches For Project Work On The Rise

Over the past 18-months, we’ve seen a definite increase in the number of clients asking us to facilitate agency searches for project work.

Some clients are looking to expand their agency roster brain trust, while others want to test-drive a relationship before committing to further involvement.

While the reasons are varied, there are best practices as to how these types of searches should be implemented and here are some helpful tips:

  • Clarity – The project scope, agency selection criteria, and search plan need to be clear, in written format and vetted internally. And have the proposed master services agreement, which clearly defines the relationship and terms, ready and available to share with participating agencies.
  • Brevity – The search should have a short completion cycle, no more than 4-6 weeks, and limit the number of agencies under consideration to 6 when developing the agency slate.
  • Sans RFI – Proper pre-vetting should make a full blown RFI unnecessary and for a project…good luck finding an agency wanting to complete your 30+ questions!
  • Be Social – Select 3-4 agencies from your initial roster and meet with them – in person, not by phone! Go to their offices. Chemistry and cultural alignment is key to success.
  • Spec Work?!  – Remember that this is a project, not an AOR search. Spec work is time-consuming and expensive for participating agencies, so unless you plan to pay them for it, don’t ask for it.
  • Ban FOMO – People always find an excuse as to why they need to be involved, but this is like taking your friends and family to your dates…and it actually doesn’t end well in the long run. Keep the agency selection team as small as you can make it, keeping it to those responsible for the project strategy and relationship management. If you’re an experienced and successful marketer, then you know how to make resourcing decisions. Still getting pressured? Use a RACI Matrix to manage your internal constituents’ involvement.

If you have questions or insights on conducting a project agency search, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Bajkowski + Partners LLC is a leading consultancy providing services to marketing and procurement teams in the areas of agency relationship management, agency search, process audits, contract and SOW development and audits, and a number of other marketing resource and marketing operations related areas. For more information, please visit our website.

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