2 Suggestions For Employing Contractors

A recent conversation with a potential client (PC) went something like this:

(PC)  “I need someone to develop a white paper on our new product that can be used to fulfill the offer in our upcoming email program.  The content will also be used in a brochure that we plan to hand out at the annual trade show, and can be used in a direct mail campaign.”

(FAM)  “That’s great.  It sounds as though you have thought this through.  One question, why are you doing this?”

(PC) “Huh?  This is the way we generate leads.”

(FAM)  OK, let me ask some questions before we get started, relating to your desire to generate leads:

·         Who is your target market?

·         What have been your results in the past 12 months in reaching them?

·         How is your product significantly different from the competition in solving the problems in your target market?

·         What is the “normal” open and conversion rate for your emails?

·         What has been your return for trade show activities?

·         What have been the results of your direct mail programs in the past?

·         Etc.

(PC)  Gee, you don’t understand me do you?  We just want somebody to deliver a white paper, not ask questions about us.  We know what we are doing, and want you to deliver the documents requested.

(FAM)  Thank you for considering us.


This exchange represents a mindset that is common today, i.e., people who are employed on a contract or temporary basis are expected to deliver a specific item which is then to be used by the contracting firm as they see fit.  The “contractors” are not expected to understand the broad picture or strategic plan of how and where their effort fits.

The result is that the worker provides what he/she thinks is needed, based on conversations, reading and observation of the product/service/company.  The buyer gets the work product and is often dissatisfied, complaining that when they had their own marcom, copywriter, designer, etc. the work product was better.

Experience has shown that the longer a “contractor” works with a company, the better the work product.  Generally this is because the “contractor” learns and understands over time, the strategy, plans and objectives of the company.

Companies seeking help on a short-term basis should follow two simple rules:

1.      Over communicate with contract workers.  Share with them what you are doing, planning and where you want to go.  The probability of them running across the street to your competitor with your intellectual property is low.  In short, make them part of your team.

2.      If you have even partial success with a contractor, keep him/her, train him/her about your company and culture and give them more to do.  Until a requisition is open for a full time position, keeping a person for an extended time is your best bet.

Our experience is that the more companies share with us, the more and better work we deliver; that while we market ourselves as “consultants” we do provide deliverables, and the more we know about our clients the better we can meet their needs.

If you have personal experiences in this area, chime in.





1 comment to 2 Suggestions For Employing Contractors

  • Jim Matorin

    I like this post.  Very concise.  Being an outside contractor, one of the benefits I believe outsiders bring to the party is objectivity (fresh eyes).  Therefore your point resonates about embracing the outsider as a member of the team and bringing them up to speed on your company's business.  It makes for an excellent long term working relationship.

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