ALEx stories

Assessing Your Team During an Economic Downturn

Aliyah Mallak May. 28, 2020

Over the past three months, most industries have had a dip in sales, with staggering drops in clothing, furniture, vehicles, and oil. Even ad tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are facing slumps in revenues, not to mention regulatory pressure. With ad sales at record lows and shifting consumer behavior, it’s a rough time for marketing across the board.

Regardless of whether your marketing budget is being cinched or expanded, you’ve been facing change — and you will likely continue to do so until the economy is out of the woods. Businesses are being forced to make the most of their circumstances at any given moment. Given the blanket of uncertainty, a deep understanding of the ecosystem coupled with creative thinking and agility, are key components for teams that will forge the path forward.

Research shows that when budgets are tight, investing in efficient business practices help companies set themselves up for higher gains after economic restraints ease up. In fact, when companies invest in learning, they can make huge returns — up to 24 percent higher profit margins, 218 percent higher revenue per employee, and $30 on every dollar spent on training, studies show.

Online marketing training is a way to upskill at scale and quickly. It’s not the same as traditional, clunky employee training or historical in-person training, which lacks longevity in knowledge retention. This method of injecting knowledge where you need it is helpful for quick agility in marketing, whether it’s addressing a longstanding need or a new, on-the-spot need.

When budgets are tight, getting the most value out of your upskilling program is essential. You can’t afford to waste valuable resources on inefficient learning programs. While there is so much we cannot control, there are some tried and true methods that work:

Assess Your Team: Find Out What They Already Know and Where the Gaps Are

Your team takes a skills assessment, and learning paths are suggested based on their results. With it, you — and they — get a starting point and some direction, whether they’re lacking an understanding of the digital media ecosystem, skills in data and analytics, or knowledge about campaign management. Whatever the gaps are, an assessment can give you a benchmark to work from.

Your goals ultimately determine which areas of focus your team needs to assess, and then an assessment can help offer them direction.

Create Learning Paths

Give your team direction so they can actually fill the skills gaps and learn with purpose. A learning path is a group of related courses that, together, help you master some topic or area of learning. Inside this learning path, there can be various methods of learning, based on learning style preference.

Learning paths can help motivate your team as well. They’re essentially tailor-made programs for your employees to help with their careers. You can create these simply and easily by training through an online platform that takes data from the initial assessments and generates learning paths. The learning paths are based on which skills your team needs to know in order to accomplish your business goals.

Customize Course Content

Once you’ve defined the most relevant learning paths for your team, you can consider customizing your course content based on your unique needs. Every team and individual is different. A strong curriculum includes both foundational material and current events that influence job effectiveness. Get help building these courses when you need it or do it all yourself.

Customization can also cater to different learning styles. You can include options that have reading and writing in order to appeal to linguistic learners. You can include podcasts and webinars for those who learn better through listening. Or get a group of people to take a course together and then talk about it in order to motivate the interpersonal learner. Embracing cognitive diversity is a strategy to motivate your team to learn. Each learner can autonomously select what’s best for them if you provide diversity in learning methods.

Either way, create the courses that fit your needs instead of trying to refit your needs to the courses.

Track Your Team’s Progress

By tracking course performance, you can get a sense of the material and how well your team is absorbing it. On top of team-based data, you can also track individual performance in order to identify high performers. Information like this comes in handy when making data-based talent decisions.

Beyond performance, you want to see how much your team is engaging with the learning materials. Are they actively learning or are they avoiding it? By tracking lesson views, course completion, and results from quizzes, exams, and projects, you can see which members of the team are engaging with the learning experience.

A platform that provides these insights is key.


Once you set the members of your team on individualized learning paths and track their progress, it’s time to assess their skills again and re-define those learning paths — after a few months, if your team is engaged in learning, they should have gained enough new knowledge and practice to measure their skills again.

However, relying solely on benchmark assessments is a mistake. Benchmark assessments are used by many traditional training programs to get a baseline picture of skills and knowledge standards. Unfortunately, benchmarks are built on years of data. The problem with this approach is obvious to anyone familiar with the daily significant changes in the media industry.

It’s nearly impossible for traditional benchmark assessments to have any validity in our current environment of rapid change.

A team that’s in the know, now, is what we all really need.

A business can't rely on a single set of standards when technology — and now, this pandemic — is shifting those standards all the time.