August 27, 2021 by Jason Pittock | 7 min reading time

A marketing agency’s work is never done. Sure, you can say that about any business. But digital marketing is such a dynamic field that you need to put in some extra effort into staying on top of industry news and trends. Plus, there are so many sides of marketing - there’s email marketing, paid advertising, SEO, content creation, etc. That is precisely why it is essential to cross-train talent in your marketing agency.

After all, how else can you make sure you and your team have all the skills that your agency needs? And can you stay competitive with a small team? You can if you get proper training - including cross-training. Especially for growing companies, cross-training can be an effective and engaging training solution. This article offers tips on how to cross-train talent in your marketing agency. 

What Does "Cross-Training" Mean?

Training employees is essential for any business, especially in the digital world, where marketing tools, trends, and algorithms are evolving so fast. While training in one’s “core” capabilities is always a good idea, sometimes you may want something more. Something different. To step outside of your comfort zone and look into new skills. This is when you can consider cross-training in your marketing agency.  

What does this mean? Employee cross-training can be described as the process of helping team members gain new skills that are outside of their core role; this may include both soft skills and hard skills. 

In the case of a marketing agency, this will usually include marketing or digital skills that are outside one’s “comfort zone” or the skills used on a daily basis. For example, a salesperson may be good with words and may have an inclination for coming up with new content ideas. Or maybe your copywriter also has an eye for detail and is curious to learn more about design. 

Why Should You Cross-Train Talent in Your Marketing Agency?

Why should you cross-train employees? Is this a necessary time investment? Will it help your company? Of course, you do not need to cross-train your employees. But it can be a good opportunity, both for your team and for your agency. 

benefits of cross-training talent in your marketing agency

A marketing agency should be agile, creative, and always rise to new customer challenges. This is not possible if your team doesn’t have a good understanding of marketing tools and trends. Offering your team cross-training can offer your agency a series of benefits, like: 

  • Help your team get the bigger picture: when your team understands how other departments work, they can have a realistic overview of how the entire company works and how all your marketing projects are developed. 
  • Better collaboration: Since employees across departments have a better understanding of how their colleagues work, collaboration becomes more effective. It will be easier for people to team up and work together on new exciting projects. 
  • A more agile team: If you have a new creative project, having a team that has been trained on a wide variety of topics can be very useful, as your team members will be able to contribute in various areas of the project. 
  • Internal mobility: Giving employees the opportunity to get this kind of training can help you retain employees who want to make a career change; should an employee want to develop their career in another field, they can do so within the company, thus still contributing with the knowledge about your business and projects.
  • Develop empathy: Last, but not least - cross-training in your marketing agency can help people be more empathetic towards their colleagues and their roles. This can in turn lead to better communication, collaboration, and teamwork. 

5 Tips on How to Cross-Train Talent in Your Marketing Agency 

So, you’ve decided to train your employees. You have acknowledged your training needs and you have realized that there is an opportunity of cross-training your team. What should you do next? How do you cross-train talent in your marketing agency? Here are 5 of our favorite tips, to get you started: 

how to cross-train-talent-in-your-marketing-agency

Assess the risks

Before you even plan to cross-train talent in your marketing agency, you should assess all the risks involved. You should evaluate if you have the resources needed (the people and their availability), but also the time necessary for this action. 

You should also evaluate if your team is interested in cross-training and properly understands what it involves. Make sure there are no misunderstandings - the biggest risk of implementing a cross-training program is usually that people may not understand it correctly and worry about their job security. You can avoid this by clearly communicating the reasoning behind the training and by ensuring people that they are safe in their current position and that there will be no pressure on them to take on new tasks. 

Analyze the skill gap and the capabilities within your team 

What skills would you like to improve in your agency? Before implementing any training program, you should evaluate both the skills you have and those you need within your organization. It would also be interesting to have a look at market trends and anticipate the skills you will be needing in the near future. After analyzing the skill gap, talk to your team to find out what knowledge areas they would be interested in improving and/or sharing. Perhaps someone in your team has a passion for something interesting. If it is something potentially useful for your team, you can include that in your training program.

Make cross-training voluntary

While cross-training talent in your marketing agency has many benefits, you should be careful how you present your training processes to your team. It is best to keep cross-training on a voluntary basis - people should see it as something fun and interesting, not like an obligation. Mandatory cross-training can lead to unnecessary risks, as mentioned above: fear that this will mean a career change, that it will add new tasks to the current workload, or that this will involve a lot of time.

Use mentoring programs

One way you can prepare your team for cross-training activities is through a mentorship program. As cross-training requires employees to venture outside of their comfort zone, a mentor can help through the process. Having the help of an experienced colleague in an area that one is not comfortable with can help the trained employees feel more relaxed about the learning experience. 

Take into consideration the time involved in cross-training in your marketing agency

Employees shouldn’t feel that this training is getting in the way of their working efficiently or that it is taking too much of their time. The training should be included in your team’s schedule and appreciated accordingly. Again, you should make sure that your team understands that cross-training is supposed to help both them and the agency. 

Cross-training talent in your marketing agency can and should be beneficial for all parties involved. For those receiving the training, it will be useful as they will learn or develop a new skill. But it is also a nice activity for those giving the training. Keep in mind, the people involved do not have to be “experts” and the training does not have to be in-depth. This can be a learning experience for the trainers as well, as it can help them consolidate their knowledge. After all, sharing information on a topic, discussing and debating it, will help everyone involved consolidate their knowledge. It’s all about growing together!

Jason is the CMO @ ClickGUARD. He is passionate about all things PPC, SEO and has extensive customer acquisition experience. When not writing about SEM he can be found surfing the wildest ocean waves of the South American coast.