I’m a firm believer that there is both a time and a place for grown adults to play whack-a-mole. For example, if you’re at a movie theater arcade waiting for that group of kids to quit hogging the air hockey table so you can finally play one game before your matinee showing of “Wonder Woman” begins, then whack-a-mole is a fine way to spend your time.
However, when you’re doing everything you can to build and execute a comprehensive content marketing strategy for your business, it’s the last thing you should be wasting your time on. When companies don’t seek help from outside partners by outsourcing content marketing, however, they often feel trapped in a cruel and endless game of whack-a-mole.
It usually goes a little something like: “OK, the weekly blog post is going live, but did anyone write up the social promo copy for it? What about the images? And is it going in the partner nurture email campaign or the general subscription newsletter? Did we ever get that newsletter redesigned? What about the guest post we submitted to Entrepreneur? Has anyone checked in with the editor?”
I’m exhausted just typing that.
Imagine what your marketing team members would finally have time for if they weren’t bogged down by the responsibility of crafting and executing a content marketing strategy on their own. (Probably a nap, for one thing, if they’re as wiped out as I am after trying to keep up with all these responsibilities.)
External content marketing companies can help you generate topic ideas, secure placements in online publications, earn PR opportunities, maximize your published content, and ensure your work is clean, professionally written and edited, and optimized — not to mention develop and refine your content strategy in the first place.
For all the benefits of content and outsourcing to the right partner, a lot of teams are hesitant to let go of the reins. Their concerns tend to fall into some combination of the following categories:
- Cost: When you’ve already got content efforts underway, it can be difficult to figure out how much you need to delegate to outsourced efforts. PR and content marketing partners provide comprehensive services, which is different from your budget for one-off freelance writers here and there.
- Time: Outsourcing content marketing is like hiring a custom homebuilder: The professional has the expertise and the resources; he or she just needs to get up to speed on your vision, preferences, goals, and timeline. That requires a period of onboarding, discovery calls, strategy, and knowledge extraction.
- Comprehension: Especially if you’re in a technical field, you may find it difficult to break down your offerings and industry. Like Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother,” no one’s actually sure what it is you do. You probably feel it’s just easier to keep it in-house because no one will know your brand, your audience, and your voice the way you do.
- Collaboration: Not to throw around the buzzword “synergy,” but…synergy. It’s real, and it’s necessary to get anything accomplished. The thing is that you already have talented members of your team who have been ideating, creating, and distributing content before someone like Influence & Co. steps in; bringing an outside team into the mix can leave internal teams feeling like they’re being replaced — not supported or free to pursue new and different projects they’re better suited for.
- Duplicating efforts: Recently, my parents decided to redo their kitchen because there aren’t any kids living in the house and they can afford nice things that might actually stay that way (direct quote from my mother). There was some miscommunication, and my dad hired a painter after my mom had already purchased paint and started to DIY it. Unlike my parents, you want to ensure you’re not outsourcing something that’s already happening internally, and that can be hard to do.
These are valid concerns, and I hear them pretty frequently on sales calls. But if you’re serious about using content to generate leads, enable sales, build your brand, and achieve the million other goals good content marketing helps you with, then you know working with the right partner is key.
6 Ways Your Marketing Team Can Work Alongside an Outside Agency
Influence & Co. has partnered with companies of all sizes, in different industries, and with different needs to work together to create amazing content. In our work as a trusted outside agency, we’ve identified a few things that set agencies and internal teams up for long-term success. Here are six ways to help you work effectively with an outsourced content marketing agency:
1. Map out your current content strategy.
If your team is already doing content, you should have a strategy that guides your efforts. Included in that is your editorial calendar, which details what kind of and how much content happens at what points during the week, month, and quarter.
How often do you publish blog content? What about guest posts? When content goes live, how do you distribute it? And don’t forget about the conferences and trade shows you attend, webinars you host, etc. These are all part of your strategy, and we need to know about them.
2. List your key players and existing resources.
With your current process outlined, identify who oversees each component and what that person’s strengths are. What does she love to do, and what can she not wait to hand off to an outside expert? Communicate how involved your team wants to be in the content process once your outsourced agency steps in.
Part of that team includes any other resources you’re using: freelancers, designers, an automation or CRM system, an SEO specialist, a partner referral network. Identify who and what contributes to your current content and how those elements will work alongside your partner.
3. Outline your sales process.
Your content should enable sales; for that to happen, your marketing and sales teams and your outsourced partner all need to understand your sales process. We want to equip your teams with the tools and collateral they need to educate, engage, and nurture leads into sales. The better picture you can paint of your sales process — who your buyers are, how they find you, why they select you, and how long it takes them to sign on the dotted line — the better we can help you move that process along.
4. Align your goals internally.
Before anything happens, ensure your executive board, your marketing team, and your outsourced partner all agree on your goals for content. Brand awareness and lead gen are not the same. If you know your leadership team is going to love seeing a Forbes article go live but your marketing team wants more MQLs, work with your outsourced team to prioritize those separate goals accordingly.
5. Share your analytics.
Both you and your outsourced team understand the value of content — that’s why you’re working together. Let your partner know what’s working and what’s not on your end so you can both improve your content. Show us which metrics you’re tracking and how you’re measuring success, and we can help you make sure those goals are met.
6. Trust the experts.
Your team and your outsourced partner need to know what the other is bringing to the table. You are the cybersecurity/HR/insert-niche-industry-here expert, and your agency partner is the expert regarding content. Don’t forget the reason you hired this agency in the first place — focus on what your team excels at, and trust your partners to do what they’re here to do.
Whether you’re a lean startup with a co-founder wearing the CMO hat or an enterprise brand with a pretty solid content team already, it’s hard to cover all the bases of a successful content marketing strategy on your own. Letting go of the reins and allowing an outside agency to help can be challenging at first — but once you see what you can accomplish together, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t outsource sooner.