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Want to Beef Up Your Content Strategy? Outsource it.
By: Jen Keefe
Boost Results While Maintaining Your Brand with Content Outsourcing
Content strategy outsourcing requires a little bit of letting go, which can be tough for some marketers.
But let’s make the case for outsourcing your organization’s content strategy to an outside entity; letting go of in-house content development and execution, and putting it in the hands of an external team.
Why do this? If your company is like most, you don’t have a full-time content team or the resources to create one. You’re likely assigning blog posts, press releases or social media tasks on a one-off basis to certain employees, but have had trouble achieving a dedicated effort. The reality is everyone is busy, and producing effective company content often takes a backseat, or stagnates at some point during the writing, editing, approval and publication process.
Even if you are producing regular content, how is it being monitored? Your content strategy is only effective if you track performance and understand which content is driving results with your target audience. Otherwise, all that effort could be producing little to no impact.
Is Keeping Your Content Strategy In-House Really Working?
Think about the reasons you might want to keep your content strategy within your company.
- “Keeping our content production in-house is the cheaper option.” It may seem less expensive, but spending man hours on content production without a dedicated effort to prove its effectiveness is likely costing your business in the end.
- “No one outside the business can effectively communicate what we do.” It’s true that your company leadership and employees know the finer points of your business best. But outsourcing content production doesn’t work in a vacuum. Marketing agencies or writing services work closely with the right people to ensure the correct information is collected. You would also be involved in reviewing and editing any content before publication so you know it accurately represents the business.
- “What we’re already doing for content is adequate for our needs.” A robust content strategy doesn’t serve only one function. Good thought leadership content can help you provide value to existing customers, reinforcing their decision to work with you. A content strategy also helps you get found more easily online, builds credibility for your brand, and allows your business to differentiate itself from the competition.
Take the Leap to Content Outsourcing
If your company can’t dedicate the time and resources to developing and executing an effective content strategy, outsourcing can take the responsibility off your hands while driving ROI.
Here are two great reasons why outsourcing your content strategy can help your business:
Attention and Expertise.
While you may have a marketing team and a few writers on hand who produce a couple blog posts each month or whip up the occasional press release, an external team that’s part of an agency specializing in content strategy can give your content the attention it needs.
They can work with the team members you have who are already producing content to ensure that it’s resonating with your target audience and generating results for your brand. These experts can also propose other content marketing tactics to take your content strategy to the next level. These could include:
- Audience research: Understand what your target audience really cares about. If you find you’re spending time producing content your audience doesn’t find helpful, you can switch gears to deliver the right content to the right people in the right way, and at the right time.
- Competitive research: See what your competition is up to. What type of content are they producing and how is it performing? Compare their activity to your audience research to identify any gaps–then your brand can swoop in with the content that is really needed.
- Search marketing: How’s your advertising strategy? Getting found online isn’t just about blog posts and whitepapers. Depending on your budget, a search marketing plan is a core part of any content strategy and should be a key tactic of any digital agency you work with.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): If you’re producing content, are you implementing the right keywords to ensure it gets found by your audience? Your agency partner will do the heavy lifting to ensure each piece of your content is SEO-friendly, including your website.
- Content calendar creation: Keeping track of your content strategy is a big job. Put it in someone else’s hands. Your agency partner will create, update and monitor your content calendar so your strategy stays on track.
- Social media strategies: You likely have a social media component to your business now. But do you know how well it’s working? Do you have the time and resources to make it more effective? Outsourcing your content can include a sharper and more strategic focus on growing your business across your social channels.
- Content Outreach: Most agencies will also allocate some of your longer pieces of content for outreach, meaning you can be published in industry magazines or trade journals that are looking for content just like yours. External publication helps you get found online, boosts your Google reputation, and increases traffic to your website.
Each tactic helps improve your overall content strategy so you know your efforts are working and can see the progress. Not even massive companies have the numbers or expertise to execute such targeted and informed content strategies.
External content teams are used to working with brands and are familiar with the research and communication required to get smart on the companies and industries they’re writing for. If you outsource your content strategy, you should feel included in the process and informed every step of the way.
Some marketing agencies have a singular industry focus, such as athletic brands, while others have clients across industries. In many cases, you can utilize writers who have worked in your industry and have more in-depth knowledge from the outset. Whatever your preference, there should always be a high level of collaboration based on an agreed-upon on proposal inclusive of your goals for your content strategy execution.
Keeping Your Brand Just That–Yours
Outsourcing content often gives rise to a larger concern we haven’t yet discussed–how to maintain the critical elements of your brand while giving an outside entity the reigns.
Fortunately, another top function of marketing agency content departments and other writing services is the ability to carry forward your brand’s voice, style and personality. Consistency is key with any content strategy to ensure your brand is recognizable to your target audiences whenever they encounter it.
If you’re planning to outsource your content but have concerns about maintaining your brand, here are a few key items to provide to the agency or external team:
- Brand Guide: Your company should have brand guidelines that dictate critical brand elements like mission, vision, positioning statement, competitive positioning statement, voice, tone, style, and audience personas. Providing outside writers with this information gives them an easy reference to follow for content creation and can be easily cross-checked in any content review.
- Writing Samples: If you feel like the content your company has already generated is a good reflection of the brand, writing samples can give outside writers a valuable template to follow for future content generation.
- Style Guide: Depending on the type of content for which you’re outsourcing, you may need to provide the design elements for your brand, such as colors, font, logo usage and image treatments.
- Bullet Points: If you have a rough idea of the content you need but require help putting it together into a cohesive article or blog post, providing bullets or a basic outline gives writers a great start, and ensures your key ideas and goals will be reflected in the final piece.
- Interviews: More in-depth types of content like whitepapers or application/process-specific articles require the unique insights of your company’s subject matter experts. Setting up interviews between these individuals and the writer will expedite the entire process and ensure the information is correct and reflective of your company’s knowledge and experience.
If your company doesn’t have the bandwidth to give a content effort the attention it needs, outsourcing is a great option. Strategic content creation is extremely beneficial for brands, and you will likely discover new and improved ways of using content to increase ROI when you utilize agencies that specialize in this area.
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