Achieving a growth pathway takes momentum that can overcome the odds.
Like hungry soldiers at Valley Forge, they are all tugging on our attention -more than 8,000 different marketing software systems, plus a small army of one-person bands that decided one day to keep working from home and use some of that software. Is that the army that you need?
It's Gig or SaaS-Maggeddon
They're all fighting for themselves - the SaaS providers (software as a service) just need to get you to pay the subscription fee, and the gig workers are working to live the life they choose. But the idea that this combination alone will lead to growth is a tale you should hesitate to believe. The story goes like this:
Growth, for your organization, will come if you choose a single magic bullet software (or a stack of them), and collect a number of self-employed gig workers who can do all of your marketing tasks.
Or, it might be the next level up. That would be gig workers who promote themselves as an agency. This is a one or two-person company that has lots of great software and is essentially a gig worker you pay on a retainer. They usually come offering help for a specific challenge like SEO, Social Media, Ads, which represent their primary skillset even though they offer an array of services.
The allure of the SaaS plus a Gig worker approach is based on a myth that magical software plus a rag-tag collection of one-off giggers, when combined, will add up to growth. But, all of those diverse skills don't act like a unified force, and they do not operate under a shared strategy.
Lessons from the Revolutionary War
The army that fought under Washington was a diverse group of colonists, each with a fierce sense of independence. Who in some ways are like marketing gig workers today. They were almost all volunteers fighting with their own uniforms, weapons, and often food. Gig workers do the same and offer to enlist with your army.
But here's the big difference:
The wartime giggers who belonged to Washington's army were working out of a sense of strong loyalty - to their own states and local control. They were fighting for something they believed in, together. It led them to follow their leaders, fight and die together.
That points out the big difference between gig agencies, or gig work plus software, and what actually leads to a win for you. George Washington had a "grand strategy," that was the basis for his attackers in New York and eventually in Virginia. It takes a cause, plus a plan and a leader to bring diverse workers together to win.
How the Gig Economy can Help You
Gig work can take some of the routine work off your plate, especially with short-term projects or low-value tasks. Need some social graphics, a one-time code change, a bunch of online research, or data entry? Go gig every time.
But If you take that up a notch and try to get gig workers to write in your voice, create effective marketing copy, or manage the optimization of your website for leads and conversions; now you have a problem.
A gaggle of gig workers doesn't make a team.
Growth is Like a War
All the demands of Washington's victory are still true today. You need a cause, a plan, and a leader to overcome the obstacles to growth and win.
1. Growth Leader
If you want to win, you'll still have to rely upon a growth manager. Like George Washington, your growth manager is in charge of the "grand strategy," and brings together talent and technology in a focused campaign.
The ranks of growth leaders include those who have been recently knighted to coordinate growth for their organization and those who've always been in charge of growth but have renewed their focus on this goal.
We talk about the term "silo-busting" as a reality of organizational growth today. Imagine the silos that Washington had to overcome with volunteer armies from different regions, a Congress that was far from the battle, disconnected supply lines, and disconnected sources of battlefield intelligence. Building cohesion is a real challenge for growth leaders too. It's a leadership test to get different teams and leaders to each see the win in a shared effort.
2. A Cause Worth Fighting For
Growth is a fight. You have to overcome the status quo (perhaps the biggest enemy), get people to work together, and align your internal goals with what your target audience and customers actually want (market fit). Once you've done all of that, you have to beat back all of the noise in the market to get people's attention.
Passionate work only follows purpose.
What gig workers have going for them is that they are working for a way of life. A big job of the growth manager is to attach the work of the organization to something bigger than self-interest or to the company bottom-line which feels like it belongs only to the owners.
Answer these questions about your organization:
- Are you solving big problems for people?
- Are they important enough to create loyalty?
- Does your work environment operate like a team?
- Would someone actually want to be a part of what you are doing for more than a paycheck?
3. A Plan that is Flexible
Washington wanted his grand strategy to focus on winning in New York. The big problem was that the British wouldn't fight in New York with their fleet. Washington's plan had to shift to a win in Virginia, at Yorktown.
Effective growth strategies have to be flexible. For that to be true they have to be based upon a deep understanding of the customer, that goes beyond just some demographics or an advertising audience, plus they must be built with a set of durable principles. That's far more than a collection of tactics delivered by diverse experts using someone else's software.
Washington brought all of these elements together by winning loyalty to a cause and to his leadership with a plan that not only got him the authority from Congress but resulted in winning the war.
The role of the growth leader is to bring a plan, a cause, and a team together in a focused and flexible effort.
Growth Leader Resources: