The Female CEO In the Spotlight with Susan Marshall

Oct 23, 2020 Torchlite

Tricia Scott interviews Susan Marshall, Founder and CEO of Torchlite. A 25+ year technology professional, who held successful leadership positions at Adobe, Apple, and Salesforce before founding her own company. As the visionary behind Torchlite, Susan brought the first Torchlite Marketplace online in 2015 to create a roadmap for marketers to successfully navigate the digital learning curve ahead, while giving highly skilled, professional freelancers the opportunity to expand their own businesses. Now a Certified Salesforce Partner, Torchlite's primary focus is to serve enterprises to working with cross-cloud Salesforce products. Susan loves technology, digital marketing, and building teams of super-smart people and I am honoured that she has chosen to share her journey with us. Over to you Susan… So, Susan, what's your story? Thanks for asking. I came out of the midwest to Southern California in the early 1990s. I was young with a fresh degree in History from Denison University and fairly limited work experience. Life was still analogue for most of us, but I quickly began hearing about what technology was going to do for society. What was going to be possible in our lifetimes. It all seemed so fantastic and exciting at the same time. In the early days, close proximity to the creative forces was pivotal to understanding the innovation ahead. You had to hear it for your own ears to believe what was coming down the pipeline, and quickly. With strong writing skills, I got in on the ground floor, creating marketing copy for the incredible new video and graphic design technologies coming online for professional use. It was so new that we were making up words and phrasing for it on the spot! From there, I was hired by Apple to join its product marketing team under the leadership of Steve Jobs. I worked on pro tools for the early tech adopters, high-skilled web developers who could code like it was their native language. Steve had just come back to Apple, and we were all vibrating with his renewed creative energy. Although coding was still the most prized skill among developers, even back then we were working toward universal usage of these tools to democratise access and get everybody on board. The rest, as they say, is history. One opportunity led to the next. I was very deliberate about the positions I accepted before breaking out on my own in 2015 to start Torchlite. I am a lifelong learner, and while I was recruited into subsequent leadership positions, I deliberately chose mentors and projects that I knew I could get behind with the full force of my intentions. By the time I had dreamed up Torchlite, I knew the path we would take to get there - and the sacrifice it would require for my core team of stakeholders and me to achieve success. I was ready for that new challenge. You’ve worked for some of the most successful tech companies in the world, including Apple, Adobe and Salesforce. That’s quite a resumé! What made you decide to set up on your own and how scary was it to leave behind the security of those massive corporations and go solo? Life often pushes us in the right direction. I had returned to my midwestern roots, and the timing just felt right. I’d had this idea percolating in the back of my head as I brought one innovation online after another. With each new product launch, I could see the access broadening exponentially but not necessarily the users’ bandwidth. While we are adapting as consumers to adopt technology on the fly, complex systems still require some finesse. Specialised skills that may require an effective setup are not necessarily skills an employer needs in a long term employee. Over and over, I heard about customers frustrated that they couldn’t get their investment in technology to help them work more efficiently and perform as expected. What’s worse, they’d limp along getting more and more discouraged. I knew that professional help would always be necessary just based on the light-speed rate of innovation coming to market. This digital divide was opening rather than closing. Fortunately, Salesforce recognised the same problem. To make sure the Salesforce technology performed as their customer expected, they began providing robust online training and certifications through the Trailhead training centre. This action and that of other enterprise marketing tech companies gave me the cornerstone to Torchlite. Our customers would have access to the very best freelancers, and their skills would be clear to everyone through a transparent network of high skilled workers with an online profile detailing their expertise. The model has worked well for us and our network of freelancers. I’ve worked on thousands of marketing campaigns and kept pace with the technology to support it. I was ready to break away from the corporate world at a time when freelance work was on the rise. I had a solution to my biggest challenge as a product manager - how do you get technology into the right hands at the right time? By building a network of high-demand, high-skilled experts across industries, I was able to bring together my passions to create my marketplace. I love working with engineers. My team is building the bridges powering innovation. I can stay connected and put people to work. That is a good feeling. 2020 has been a challenging year for many businesses with flexibility being key to surviging this global pandemic. Many businesses are going to see changes for years to come while we work the new ‘normal’.  How do you see using companies such as Torchlite assisting small businesses through the transition? Can you give our readers the top three benefits of hiring nonpermanent  assistance? We hit the nail on the head in terms of timing for 2020. I’d argue that we have never seen such incredible adoption of technology from both business and consumers in our lifetimes. We all jumped on email and such as the world came online, but today is different. I don’t know about you, but I remember the analogue world, learning what WWW would mean to society in our lifetimes. It was exhilarating. Now, twenty-odd years later into my career, technology plays a larger role in commerce than ever before. Digital adaptation is moving so fast that manuals have turned into FAQ pages and automation is king. Understanding the backend of this process is more critical than ever before. Just as we went into lockdown Salesforce graduated its first cohort of Essential Advisors for SMBs. As a strategic partner to Salesforce, we built out a dedicated portal for small and midsize businesses to find the expertise they need to stay relevant in a transformed world. Our playbooks, with the guidance of a certified Advisor, walk clients through the project step-by-step or Advisors and customers can create custom plans to meet the SMB’s needs in consultation on the marketplace platform. It’s all transparent and clear to ensure on-time delivery of exactly what the customer is looking for. The three big reasons to hire freelancers are simple. Freelancers are flexible, specialised, and focused. We do the legwork to find and recruit the best of the best so our customers can entrust the marketplace to give them the insight to make smart decisions. So much is expected of a business owner, learning how to set up and implement technology may not get the attention its investment deserves. This is where a professional consultant is critical. As businesses grow, they have the option to tap back into the marketplace to find an expert ready to support that process. How do you handle criticism? I’ve worked in some very high-pressure environments where sensitivity to how criticism is received isn’t a factor. I learned to take it, and praise for that matter, at face value, setting aside an emotional response to get to the source. Is this something I can fix, do I need expert support to sort it out, or is this something that doesn’t apply to my vision? Because in the end, I have the final say and so it is essential that I hear what is being communicated to me by my colleagues and board members, taking the necessary actions to keep us moving forward. I also give frequent feedback to my team and network of freelance professionals as we continue to grow Torchlite. I believe context is so important when communicating difficult information. I value my team and want them to know that I am invested in their success as much as my own. Critical feedback is always delivered in the context of how we can make this better. Because in the end, we all want to be on the same page or else it isn’t worth it to be here. I am not a big corporation, and I rely on the freelance model to power Torchlite. Those relationships are built on trust. The ability to give criticism in context of success powers that trust leading to long-standing, mutually beneficial relationships. What has been your biggest hurdle to overcome so far in running your own business? Freelancing has so many benefits, but it does require a steady stream of clients in need of those services to stay afloat. We are a niche marketplace that isn't going just to run itself. I know who our freelancers are and their high level of skills. I work closely with my BDM to get in front of the businesses that will benefit from that expertise. I also follow business trends very closely to gauge what kind of talent I need to add to Torchlite to meet our clients' needs. My days are filled with meetings - more now than ever that people don't have drive time between appointments - I do media interviews like this, podcasts, and will talk to anyone that wants to know more about us. I am continually hustling to bring new clients into the Torchlite marketplace. This level of engagement has nurtured a network of loyal freelancers and customers that have maintained steady contracts since our inception. There may be other ways to do it, but this works for us. I like to know what's happening with my baby, who is working in our network and what is happening in the broader marketplace. What is your favourite thing about being your own boss? I work where I want when I want. I am fortunate to split my time between Colorado and Indiana. Each place is so beautiful, and I wanted to be able to enjoy both of them to the fullest. I can set up in a room next to my family and get more done in a few hours than if I was going into an office, putting off time with them. The efficiency allows me to balance my drive to succeed with a life that is fulfilling and rich with experiences outside of my business. Like many CEOs, it is hard for me to stop sometimes with that ease of access, but I've got a team that I trust to keep the plates in the air when it is time for me to go offline for a hike with my kids or to make dinner. It is always there when I get back, and usually, they have made progress on projects I set in motion. More importantly, my brain has been cleared, and I am ready to give it my all again. One of the questions often raised when it comes to outsourcing work is, ‘how can you know if the person(s) you are outsourcing to are qualified/safe/competent’? As the CEO of a freelance marketplace, how do you ensure that your clients get the right match and it it easy to check credentials? This is the cornerstone of Torchlite. Our freelance marketplace is designed to answer precisely those questions. We vet and interview our freelancers for both the hard skills and soft skills necessary to work with our clients. Less than 4% of the applicants are accepted into the Torchlite marketplace because of the rigorous interview process. This is not a self-serve marketplace for freelancers to sign up for, and it shows in the quality of our projects. Of those accepted, we verify certifications and provide a user profile detailing their accomplishments. Client reviews are posted with their profile so new customers can be confident they are matched with the best consultant for their projects. What is the first thing you check in your business on a daily basis? I have a team Slack channel that we use for daily check-ins. We are scattered all over, so it is an excellent centralised place for us to keep each other up to date, sharing our successes and frustrations. I trust and rely on my team and the various freelancers I am working with at any given time to keep me informed. In return, I stay super responsive to their needs. It is a virtuous cycle we started well before the pandemic, and it has become a lifeline these last few months as we all stayed close to home. What have you found difficult on your journey and what would you avoid if you were able to do it all again? There have been so many challenges, but I don't know that I would have it any other way. Those painful moments in my career, and there have been many, pivoted me into something bigger and brighter than I could have imagined. Leaving Salesforce to start Torchlite was hard, but I was propelled on a path that got me here when I took that leap of faith. I had to believe in myself above all others, and I don't know that many women my age were taught to do that. I'd successfully worked in a male-dominated field for so many years, and I was good at meeting the goals set out for me to advance their objectives. Finally, I permitted myself to put my ideas first after years of striving to please someone else. It was incredibly liberating, and without those challenges, I wouldn't necessarily have arrived at this point. What's your top tip for our awesome female entrepreneurs reading this article? Stay focused. Entrepreneurial initiatives require flexibility and sometimes radical change to achieve success. Without a guiding mission and laser focus on the end goal that flexibility can become muddled, and we find ourselves being pulled in too many directions. I start every day with an intention. I have my punch list to get through, and I always ask myself, will this move us forward? Is this the best use of my time or can I rely on someone on my team to make this happen? I take my responsibilities to Torchlite very seriously, which means I need to know everything that is going on. I cannot possibly micromanage any of it, but I can step in at a moment's notice if need be. Fortunately, I have a great team that allows me to maintain high-level engagement with day to day operations while focused on issues that will continue to grow our network. Digital marketing is often seen as complex and there’s no doubt that the need for such expertise is only going to grow exponentially in the coming years. Do you feel there should be better educational programmes for young people emerging into the job markets? You are right. I know there are better educational programmes available right now for anyone motivated to get trained up. One significant change emerging from the pandemic, coupled with the current student loan crisis is a serious reevaluation of how and where we learn. Industry leaders like Salesforce know the value in ongoing training beyond profits. The Trailhead program provides viable, certified paths for freelancers to gain the expertise required to join the Torchlite network as a professional consultant. Again, as a Salesforce partner, we rely on the virtuous cycle as they up their game in training, we can improve services offered to our clients. The new Advisor program is a perfect example. Launched in the winter of 2019, Salesforce Advisors are CRM experts ready to help small businesses get started quickly on the Salesforce platform. We network those new admins with small companies invested in the technology but in need of a hand getting going. For all this to work, it requires each of us to do our part. Our freelancers operate as small businesses. Their next gig depends on the success of their current one. The most successful freelancers anticipate that next gig and make sure they are ready. The Trailhead program encourages ongoing learning as the platform continues to innovate. What's the number one played song on your iPod? I am a classic rock girl. I’ve been listening to some deep cuts from Janice Joplin lately. She’s got a rawness to her voice that really speaks to me. What do you know for sure? I know for sure that I can do this. It is not always going to be the easiest path, but it is the one I have chosen. I can be a workhorse, or I can lead. I am dedicated to my team and the success of Torchlite, so I decided to lead. It feels as right as that first copy editing job that opened my eyes to the power of technical innovation. I believe in what we do and the abilities of my freelancers. As a small business myself, I am invested in their success and will continue to build out this network because no one has to be here. They all chose to work with my team. I don't offer the benefits of a traditional employer. But I do provide a pipeline for more work so they too can dictate the terms of their work-life balance like I do. And to me, that is really rewarding.  Do you have a book or favourite podcast recommendation for our female CEO members? I highly recommend Masterclass.com. It’s important to continue growing and learning no matter what it is. What's next for Torchlite? We will continue to grow our network to meet the needs of our customers. It isn't just about traditional marketing. Businesses are in desperate need of the broad range of digital expertise we provide. There isn't an industry untouched by the digital transformation. The services required to bring it all online from our health records to the financial powerhouses and back to the mom and pop retailer are profound. We are going to keep pace and keep innovating to meet those needs. And we are going to hire professional consultants to help us get it done. What makes you truly happy and how do you handle downtime? I am feeling really content right now. My kids are teenagers, and I am so proud of them. I've sacrificed a lot of time with them for my career, and it is so gratifying to see that they are thriving despite our non-traditional household. Their dad's dedication to their well being allowed me to "have it all" if there is such a thing. My downtime is about my kids. I now can go offline to be with them without feeling stressed about what I might miss in my inbox. Colorado offers incredible vistas with zero wifi, and I honestly breathe a little deeper when that part is shut down for a while. I know it will be there when I get back.   The Female CEO is a a community of awesome women coming together in support and empowerment and setting a new trend for female entrepreneurs across the world. To learn more about The Female CEO catch up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Clinical Empathy Can Be Your Superpower

Sep 25, 2020 Elizabeth Basile

Clinical empathy is key to survival in 2020. When sellers understand the human experience of decision-making, they win, according to advisor and best selling author of The Transparency Sale: How Unexpected Honesty and Understanding the Buying Brain Can Transform Your Results, Todd Caponi. Buyers are in a completely different mindset than they were in January. They need sellers who understand what problems they are managing and what goals they are trying to reach. Beyond that, they need to feel that sellers can empathize with their experience. Clinical empathy consciously centers the buyer’s emotional response in the sales process, and according to Caponi, it’s the difference between effective selling now versus six months ago. When a business’ very survival is on the line, real empathy and honesty are more imperative than ever before.    Understanding every company’s three basic survival instincts.  Caponi argues every company is focused on three basic survival instincts, right now. This puts them in the mindset of scarcity, and it’s going to impact their willingness to do business. Using a little behavioral science combined with practical application, sellers can actually read the buyer’s mind, allowing them to more easily connect to their experience and anticipate how to help them.  To understand the human decision making process in business decisions we need only look to ourselves for insight. Our basic response to financial insecurity is threefold:   Eliminate discretionary spending Extend runway while reducing costs on the essentials Avoid downside risks   In times of scarcity, both personally and professionally, our lizard brain kicks in and we start to think about survival over everything else. The same instincts driving personal security are motivating global business decisions. This is because your prospects are, in fact, human beings.   When done right, customers stay, buy more, and advocate on your behalf. The old adage of under-promising and over-delivering creates expectation inflation that works against our natural instincts in stressful situations. When everything is on the line, what we really want is the path of least resistance that fits within the new paradigm. Effective sales reps and marketers create empathic routes for their prospects and customers by anticipating and removing friction from the purchase before they encounter it on their own. A successful sale meets the customer where they are now, under stress, and grows with them when they are ready to scale up. For instance, reduced spending may have included the difficult decision to reduce workforce, but the work still needs to get done. By hiring a certified freelancer, companies can save money and keep their projects on track. Visit Torchlite.com to learn more.    Todd Caponi Author, Speaker, Workshop Leader Todd Caponi is the author of the best-selling and 3x award-winning book, The Transparency Sale, a speaker & workshop leader as CEO & Founder of Sales Melon LLC, and Managing Director of Chicago’s VentureSCALE. Previously, he had spent almost 4 years building the revenue capacity of Chicago’s PowerReviews from the ground up as their Chief Revenue Officer...turning it into Illinois’ fastest-growing tech company. Prior to that, he's held sales leadership roles with 3 other tech companies, including ExactTarget, where he helped drive the organization to a successful IPO and a $2.7B exit through the acquisition by Salesforce.com. He's a former American Business "Stevie" Award winner for VP of WW Sales of the Year, and also once owned & operated a sales training company.   Learn How Transparency & Clinical Empathy Can Be Your Superpower Todd Caponi, author of the award-winning book, The Transparency Sale (and former sales leadership team member for the Marketing Cloud), and Susan Marshall, Torchlite founder and CEO, talk effective selling in an uncertain market.  

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Press Release: Torchlite Promotes Robert Harris to Chief Operating Officer

Sep 18, 2020 Torchlite

INDIANAPOLIS (September 14, 2020) – Torchlite, the freelance marketplace for all your Salesforce needs, today announces it has promoted Robert Harris to the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO). Previously, Harris served as the Vice President of Product and Customer Success for Torchlite. Harris brings more than 25 years of experience in technology, e-commerce, and organizational leadership.  In the new role, Harris will lead all operations, including product development and engineering, and help establish the company’s strategic vision while facilitating the execution of critical projects. He will also work closely with Torchlite CEO and Founder Susan Marshall and its leadership team to help grow, scale, and operate Torchlite’s platform and services effectively. “With the launch of our new Marketplace for Salesforce, we are helping businesses implement the tools they need and provide highly-trained freelancers with meaningful work during this difficult time,” said Marshall. “Robert’s leadership skills, passion and proven track record in consulting and e-commerce make him the perfect candidate to take our new Torchlite Marketplace to the next level and further scale our services.” Harris is a proven leader with more than 25 years of experience building teams, products, and solutions that deliver compelling value to customers. In his previous roles, he’s demonstrated how to effectively drive cross-functional, organization-wide impact and work collaboratively with key internal and external stakeholders. Prior to working with Torchlite, Harris served as the Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at MVP Launch Partners and VP of Product and Engineering at Sigstr. He also served in numerous leadership roles at Loxa Beauty and its parent company Beauty Systems Group. “It has been an honor to be part of Torchlite’s journey by helping build the category-leading freelance marketplace for Salesforce and filling a much-needed gap in today’s business ecosystem,” said Harris. “With the accelerating growth of freelancers, per a recent Payoneer report, this is just the beginning for Torchlite. We look forward to continuing to support businesses nationwide by giving them access to the talent they need to run and grow their business.” Recently, Torchlite launched its new Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials, offering a new way for small businesses to access certified Salesforce Essentials Advisors on-demand with no long-term contracts, minimums or limits. The new Marketplace allows small businesses who adopt the world’s #1 CRM platform to access highly-certified freelancers who empower them to sell smarter, deliver faster support, and get started in minutes. About Torchlite Founded in 2015, Torchlite enables companies of any size to access and manage highly sought-after freelance talent from anywhere in the world. With Torchlite’s 3.0 platform, organizations can now take advantage of the growing freelance economy and create their own private marketplaces of experts who help customers take advantage of powerful technologies - on-demand. For more information, visit torchlite.com.

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Just Announced: Torchlite Launches Salesforce Essentials Marketplace For Small Business

Jun 30, 2020 Torchlite

Torchlite Launches Certified Advisor Marketplace for Small Businesses with Salesforce The Essentials Marketplace matches businesses with Certified Salesforce Advisors to help service small businesses and grow leads with Salesforce Essentials. INDIANAPOLIS, June 30, 2020- Torchlite, the freelance marketplace for all your Salesforce needs, announced today the launch of the Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials, a new way for small businesses to access certified Salesforce Essentials Advisors on-demand with no long-term contracts, minimums or limits. Through the Torchlite Marketplace, Salesforce Essentials Advisors can now find work online and small businesses get access to the talent they need to run and grow their businesses. “The Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials provides flexibility and agility on any size project at affordable costs,” says Susan Marshall, CEO and Founder of Torchlite. “We are excited to partner with Salesforce to help small businesses during these unprecedented times.” With Salesforce Essentials, small businesses can easily adopt the world’s #1 CRM platform— designed to scale and grow with them. New social, chat and phone capabilities in Salesforce Essentials empower small businesses to communicate with customers on their preferred channels—and can be deployed in just minutes. “It’s our mission to support small businesses with the technology and tools they need to connect with customers, especially in this challenging time and we're proud to partner with Torchlite” said Meredith Schmidt, Executive Vice President and GM of Salesforce Essentials. “The new Torchlite Marketplace for Salesforce Essentials is helping small businesses implement the tools they need, while at the same time helping trained freelancers find meaningful work.” In addition to matching Advisors with customers, the Torchlite Marketplace helps Advisors manage relationships with customers, find new work, and get paid. For those interested in becoming a Salesforce Essential Advisor, apply here. To get matched with a certified Salesforce Essentials Advisor, visit the client portal. About Torchlite Founded in 2015, Torchlite enables companies of any size to access and manage highly sought-after freelance talent from anywhere in the world. With Torchlite’s 3.0 platform, organizations can now take advantage of the growing freelance economy and create their own private marketplaces of experts who help customers take advantage of powerful technologies - on-demand. For more information about Torchlite, visit www.torchlite.com.

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Your Mid-Year Salesforce Marketing Cloud Check Up

Jun 15, 2020 Emily Brungard

It’s June—can you believe it? We’re not just telling you it’s June because we think you’re unaware of the date (we all rely on our Google Calendars, after all)—we’re reminding you that it’s time to check in on your 2020 marketing success. We’re halfway through the year—are you halfway to achieving your marketing goals? If you implemented Salesforce Marketing Cloud this year, you now have a solid six months of data to review. If you’ve used it for longer than that, even better: You have even more benchmark data to work from. Have you really looked at your Salesforce Marketing Cloud numbers yet this year? Not just your open rate or total engagements. Have you done a deep dive into your marketing processes to analyze what’s working and what should be changed? If you haven’t had a chance yet this year, we get it—marketers are busy! But doing so will give you the valuable insight you need to plan for the rest of the year and beyond. A/B Testing in Email Studio By now you know the importance of testing your emails. You even have the tools to do it yourself, but you might not know what your next steps should be. Email Studio’s A/B testing abilities give you visibility into whether or not your marketing emails could be working harder. Let’s say you are the Director of Marketing for a popsicle company. Your company is seeing an uptick in sales (it is summer, after all), but your email marketing program hasn’t been updated in a while. As you revamp your email efforts, you come up with two great, pun-filled subject lines. Which one will get the most opens, leading your customer to download a coupon and purchase your latest flavor? Only A/B testing will tell. Email Segmentation with Marketing Cloud You already know that sending your emails into cyberspace with no audience in mind is a no-no. When was the last time you refreshed your audience segments? If you’ve pivoted in your strategy over the last six months, it’s important to make sure that your emails are reaching the right prospects. More than that, prospects need to be receiving personalized messages that are relevant to them. With all of the information available to us as marketers today, there’s no excuse for not breaking down your audience based on marketing goals. Your popsicle company just launched a new flavor: prune. Your email sign up requires a birthday (for birthday treats, of course), so you are able to break down your audience by age. With your prior knowledge and a little research on the prune-eating demographic, you decide to target customers above the age of 50. Luckily, you've already built a list of customers who fit this demographic. Your prune popsicle is sold out in no time. Optimize Your Email Audience with Marketing Cloud As the Director of Marketing for your popsicle company, you know that you need marketing to generate popsicle buyers (also known as leads). Your email list helps you do that by sharing the latest news, upcoming events, and more. Did your list growth become stagnant over the winter? It’s time to reignite its growth with some old fashioned cross-channel marketing. Use channels you’ve already invested your time and money in, like digital advertising and social media, to create and execute your email growth strategy. Remember, just because the year is half over doesn’t mean you have to stick with what you’re already doing. Now could be the perfect time to dive into a new medium. Whether you work for a popsicle company, a start-up, or an enterprise business, the mid-way point of 2020 is here and it’s time to check in on your marketing progress. The Torchlite Marketplace connects you with experts and templates that show you what to do, how to do it and who can get it done.

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The Freelance Revolution: Working In A Post-COVID World

Apr 22, 2020 Susan Marshall

It Has To Be the Right Partnership At Torchlite, we're obviously fans of independent contractors and freelancers. Over the years, we've grown to love these problem solving, creative entrepreneurs and do everything we can to support their careers. In fact, we are a catalyst to matching professional freelancers with the brands that need their skills on demand. But you can’t just add anyone to your roster — it has to be the right partnership. So naturally, we are concerned about the challenges of the COVID 19 pandemic and  consequences for freelancers and independent professionals. According to the New York Times at least 316 million people in the US, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, are being urged to stay home. Many of those people will be forced to reconsider how and where they work, some jumping into the independent contract business full time. We at Torchlite are here to help with that transition.   Implications For The Freelance Revolution PwC has helpfully published two interesting reports. The first is PwC’s 2020 CEO survey, published at the end of March, and involving chief executives from a variety of industries and geographies. The second is a survey of corporate CFO executives, also recently published.  This month, Forbes provided a summary of the CEO study main findings, followed by some interesting implications for the freelance revolution.  Worth a read, but here are the highlights. It's good news for our freelancers: Finance talent transformation is a key emphasis.  Half (50%) of CFOs describe their team as lacking the right skills mix to meet future business needs. Moreover, 60% believe that stable, long-term employment, is less likely in the future. Taken together, it’s fairly evident from the PwC and BCG reports that freelance and independent management consulting opportunity is likely to increase and broaden as a result of COVID 19. What might we expect: More companies are likely to access freelancers both for cost efficiency and to supplement critical skill sets. Without doubt, freelancing enables a more cost and time efficient approach to supplementing or adding critical technical skills. But, beyond cost efficiency, freelancing makes it possible to attract world-class talent that would be unavailable to most organizations on a full-time basis.  Perhaps the expert wouldn’t be interested in full-time work, or his or her full-time cost would blow up the staffing budget. But, she or he would be available on a project basis, or as a consulting advisor.   4IR offers interesting and important freelance work and lots of it.  Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum described the fourth industrial revolution this way: “The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.”  These are seen as critical investment areas, and no organization has the internal staff to independently realize the potential of 4IR. Remember, companies like Alphabet, Apple and Facebook - able to access tremendous resources - continues to depend on freelancers to fill out their teams. Freelancing, on a global scale, will grow significantly to meet the 4IR challenge. Freelancers are a critical resource to more industries. As BCG points out, freelancing is undeterred by industrial boundaries. Whether in agriculture, finance or education, most organizations lack the full set of skills and experiences they will need to take full advantage of future global and regional growth opportunities.  More areas of freelancing will grow in importance. The data sends a very clear message: freelancing will grow in a widening range of professional areas. We’ve already seen the rise of independent management consulting platforms, and the growth of new platforms in an ever growing set of professions. More companies are partnering with freelance platforms to build a more flexible, blended workforce. A Changed Economy As the danger of COVID 19 passes, and executives rework their businesses, reinventing in the context of broken supply chains, skill gaps, and digital transformational requirements, freelancing  has an exciting and attractive future. At Torchlite we have the tools and expertise to help freelancers and independent contractors thrive in our changed economy. For many companies, the work doesn’t stop even if the workers can’t be onsite. The expert freelancers who have the talents and skills that are in high demand can define where and how they work, compensation, and many other specifications around how they do their work. Join Torchlite’s network of freelancers today. Vive la Revolution!

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Press Release: Torchlite Officially Launches First-Ever Marketplace of On-Demand Digital Marketing Experts Powered by Collaborative Technology

Mar 22, 2016 Torchlite

INDIANAPOLIS (March 22, 2016) – First-of-its-kind platform provides end-to-end analysis of social media, website and email performance, while enabling businesses to tap a marketplace of on-demand digital marketing experts to plan and execute online campaigns. Effective digital marketing requires two key elements: technology and the highly-trained experts who know how to use it. With the launch of its new platform, Torchlite today becomes the first company to combine both elements—tech and talent—to enable businesses to plan, execute and analyze digital marketing campaigns from a simple, unified dashboard. Torchlite founder Susan Marshall, a veteran marketer who previously held positions with Apple, Adobe and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, wants to help businesses overcome the increasing complexity of digital marketing by adding people back into the tech stack. “Digital marketing has grown into a complex process that, for many businesses, has resulted overlapping workflows, mismanaged talent, and a mishmash of tools that are disjointed and often redundant,” said Torchlite founder and CEO Susan Marshall. “Torchlite simplifies digital marketing by bringing tools, analytics and a marketplace of highly vetted experts together in a productivity platform that’s clean and approachable.” Results from a 2015 study by Econsultancy reveal that digital marketing has indeed become too complex for many organizations to use effectively. Among the top reasons preventing companies from investing in digital marketing, 24 percent of respondents cited a “lack of understanding about digital,” and 35 percent reported a “lack of staff to make the most of any digital investment.” Torchlite finds itself squarely at the center of three converging trends: the growing need for specialized digital marketing talent, burgeoning demand for software solutions that balance product capability with usability, and the shift toward a gig-based economy. With its new platform, Torchlite is the only company that enables businesses to tap a marketplace of highly trained digital marketing specialists, provides a project manager who coordinates campaigns, and gives access to a proprietary platform where business owners have complete visibility to track their marketing goals. Marketing leaders, agency partners and other stakeholders responsible for driving new customers and increased sales through digital marketing benefit from Torchlite’s collaborative platform in several ways: Unified Channel Data: Save time and gain insight by collecting intelligence from every digital channel, including Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, MailChimp and more, and viewing it within a single platform. On-Demand Talent: At any time, businesses can tap Torchlite’s vast network of vetted marketing specialists (called “Torchliters”) to plan and execute digital campaigns. Complete Visibility: A simplified dashboard provides a real-time view of campaign progress, while offering in-depth analysis and insights on customer engagement within each individual channel. Simple Collaboration: Workflow features simplify approvals and asset sharing, while encouraging discussion and rapid feedback. Streamlined Productivity: Task scheduling, checklists, calendars and notifications enable teams to spend less time managing and more time producing. “The proliferation of increasingly more specialized marketing technologies hasn’t just made it challenging for businesses to select the right tools, it’s also has made it exponentially more difficult to select the right people who can use those tools effectively,” said Jay Baer, marketing consultant and bestselling author. “By solving for both of these challenges, Torchlite has secured a unique and enviable position in an otherwise crowded marketplace.” About Torchlite Torchlite is a SaaS marketplace of highly vetted experts who are supported by a productivity platform. By seamlessly connecting digital marketing experts and business owners through our application, we make building effective digital marketing campaigns easy – driving leads, online traffic, customers and revenue. For more information, visit torchlite.com.

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