How the Gig Economy Delivers a Competitive Advantage for Technology Marketing.

Are you feeling outgunned by your competitors when it comes to creating high-quality sales and marketing materials? Hiring gig workers enable smaller technology companies to compete and win against their larger competitors without the overhead costs associated with increased staffing. For larger companies, it offers cost savings and delivers staffing agility for department heads. Also, it allows a technology company to quickly ramp up expertise for specialized or short-term projects.

In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace, and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees.

Gig workers can be used for point projects where there is a lack of expertise or where there is a time crunch – such as the development of key messaging, or writing a longer whitepaper. They can also be hired on a part-time basis where there is not enough work for a full-time position or, they can be hired for a short period of time for a project such as a product launch or filling in for an employee on long term leave.

Lower costs with higher productivity and focus

Forbes[i] says that 57% of businesses are now using free-agent talent and a lot of that is driven by cost. The average cost to an employer for a full-time employee is about 1.4 x their salary.[ii] However, in the higher paid technology marketing jobs – especially in Silicon Valley – the extensive benefits, bonuses, shares, high infrastructure costs, and other expenses can make this is a lot higher.

Regarding productivity and focus, employees tend to get bogged down with meetings and distractions that don’t impact gig workers. How many times have you heard of an employee arguing for a bonus where they missed the assigned target because other things took over? When you hire a gig worker – for example, to write a whitepaper – they get the job done because they won’t get paid for doing anything else other than writing the whitepaper.

When you add direct and indirect savings together, using a gig worker to create sales and marketing collateral can be 2 – 5 times less expensive than using full-time staff.

Taking advantage of specialized and experienced workers.

According to Market Watch[iii], younger talent is preferred in the tech industry despite the older workers having more “top performer” ratings. This can lead to gaps in experience and a lack of the talent needed to get certain projects done. Gig workers represent all stages of experience and talent so when there are projects that need higher levels of experience and talent, a gig worker is the solution.

Right size staffing for peaks and troughs

Most tech companies have busy periods or occasional staff shortages. It could be a product launch, sales or end-user conference or, you are growing faster than you can hire. With gig workers, you can hire them as short-term contract staff, for specific projects or to bring on specific expertise such as creating key messaging or writing a longer in-depth white paper.

Faster, quicker “hiring” / ramp-up

Using gig workers avoids the excessive costs of hiring, training and onboarding employees. The hiring process in technology companies can be exceptionally long and arduous and yet still there is an alarmingly high number of bad hires – 95% of employers [iv]admitted to making hiring mistakes. Bad hires suck the life out of a department or company and can have a profound impact on expenses. Forbes quotes the Department of Labor that says the price is more than 30% of the first-year earnings, while others quote much higher costs for onboarding in tech companies. The alternative is to use gig workers who have a much lower startup and running costs. Contracting gig workers for project work – or engaging them in a month to month contract – will result in “bad hires” having a much smaller impact and a difficult situation can be quickly rectified with little damage and expense.

Pitfalls to watch out for:

  • Going too cheap
  • Not being clear on your messaging
  • Lack of clear expectations

While the right gig workers can increase your department’s productivity and save costs, the wrong ones – while not as destructive as a bad hire – can delay projects and add workload to your full-time employees as they will end up fixing the mistakes. Do not go for the cheapest consultant or writer. Look at their background and experience in technology, sales and marketing.  Depending on the type of project you have, you will often need a balance of these. A writer with no technical acumen or experience can end up writing a well-written paper that is factually wrong. On the other hand, a technical writer with no sales or limited marketing experience can be factually correct, but might completely miss what really matters to the target audience.

When outsourcing the writing of collateral such as business briefs and whitepapers, invest first in a messaging document agreed by your leadership team. A well thought out key messaging document will be invaluable to make sure that the collateral is produced in line with your target audience and your solution capabilities. If you’ve never run a messaging workshop – check out the benefits here.

Make sure you have a clear contract. For point projects such as writing and video production – be clear on the number of drafts and reviews and who will be doing the reviews. For longer-term projects set clear milestones and have regular check-ins.

What experiences have you had with gig workers in product marketing projects and collateral creation?

[i]  Forbes Jul 31, 2018, 11:45 pm: Four Statistics Showing How Business Can Benefit From The Gig Economy

[ii] Bureau of labor statistics: Employer costs for employee compensation – June 2019

[iii] Market Watch, Sept 30, 2017: Silicon Valley has an age problem

[iv] Furst Person: Why 95% of Companies Make Bad Hires

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Graham is a skilled communicator working with vendors, customers, partners, analysts and media, crafting targeted messages that bridge the gap between product features and the perceived needs of the audience. Graham runs strategic messaging workshops and creates content for high tech companies.

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About Me

Graham Melville is a marketing executive that has over 25 years in the security, networking and mobility space. He has extensive experience in sales, marketing, and technology. Graham has led both Product Management and Product Marketing at Symbol/Motorola, Nokia, Meru and Citrix. Previously Graham managed sales and software development teams.  He was General Manager of  a reseller providing networking, PC’s and accounting systems.  Graham holds patents in the WLAN space and has been a contributing member to global standards such as the IEEE802.11i security specification.

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