Market musings

Using Open Talent Markets to Scale Your Small Business

by Sasha Viasasha
August 23, 2017

Branding matters, even for small companies. In the digital age, your storefront is online, and a professional presence can make all the difference to consumers who are clicking, typing and tapping their way to your business through a noisy digital marketplace.

How can you stand out?

High quality images and logos can make your brand unforgettable. They seize the viewer's attention quickly and establish credibility. Videos, blogs and social media posts can educate, inform and entertain your site visitors, converting them into customers and maybe even brand advocates. If this all seems like a lot to manage on top of trying to scale your small business, take heart.

Open talent markets can connect you with virtually any professional service or talent you might need.

With a little planning and resourcefulness, you can easily outsource the creation of compelling, attractive and effective content to represent your brand online. Then you can concentrate on building the business. 

Open talent markets like Fiverr offer a wide range of services, from graphics to data analysis to help with research & marketing. Meanwhile, higher-end marketplaces like 99designs turn out logos quickly and expertly, for much less than you might pay at an agency. Many social sites like LinkedIn have added microsites for assembling their own talent, while other companies like Upwork have built competitive freelancer platforms where you can post jobs and gets bids from a wide range of freelancers.   

Do your homework

Using open talent markets isn’t like handing everything off to a design firm. Committing to the process will yield the best results because the output is definitely a product of the input. The more information you can provide to the freelancer, the better. Samples of styles you like, sketches/descriptions you’ve written or even a quick phone call to introduce your brand—and yourself—will enhance and personalize the final product.

Information about the market and your ideal customer can help, too. Organize and edit the information so it’s easy to read and understand. Do you need keywords, a certain color scheme or have other requirements? Include them up front to save yourself time and money. Most services have a limit on edits, so you don’t want to waste your edit redoing the basics when you should be fine-tuning.

Expect edits

The first pass might not leave you where you want to be. Instead of just rejecting it, take a hard look and see what, if anything, works. If you are using an inexpensive service like Fiverr’s bargain basement $5 rate tier, you can even crowdsource the results with your customers to see which design or copy resonates with them. Pick the best and build on what you like. If you’re just sourcing raw ideas to begin with, pick the best and use those as prompts for the next round. 

Start small

Finding the right talent to work with can be tough, and it’s easier to start off with something small. Let’s say you need your website copy rewritten -- a pretty big job. You can start off with a home page or FAQ and use that to pick a writer. Once you’ve fine-tuned the tone and style, you can order the whole job. Even if you don’t get the same writer, you’ll have a style template to work with.

Outsource low-value work

Creating material for a website or social media does take time and effort, even with the help of open talent markets. Consider outsourcing other jobs, for example hiring an organizer to help you become more efficient. Getting help with housecleaning or grocery shopping can buy you the extra time to do more specialized work.

A good example of a talent market that handles tasks like these is Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Time intensive but necessary jobs like verifying email addresses or data entry can be done very inexpensively by people around the world who have a few minutes to spare. Small business owners can regain valuable time while they keep a cap on expenses.

Any low-value work that you can automate or outsource gives you back the energy to figure out all the tactical and practical stuff to scale your small business. Identify repeatable tasks that can be standardized when you come across them, as these jobs might be a good fit for the right marketplace.

Join the movement

You might even find that the right platform to promote your business. Consider joining a marketplace and offering your own services on it. While marketplaces aren’t a good fit for every business, they can help greatly expand awareness about your brand and help you gain traction in competitive markets.

The value of efficiency

Doing more with less is one of the big challenges facing businesses who want to grow in a low growth economy. At Spoke, we’ve created an application that can turn your smartphone into a small business phone system for just a few bucks a month.

Spoke was designed for small businesses. It’s easy to install and easy to use. In just three minutes you can turn your mobile phone into a business line with all the functionality of an enterprise-class phone system.

Our smart directory keeps track of all your business calls and supports your company with features like an AI receptionist, easy call transfer, and group calling. You can add as many or as few phones as you need. Check out our no risk free trial to see how Spoke can help your small business grow. 

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