If I were to list 5 must-haves to run a successful business in 2016, be it internet-based or otherwise, garnering a thriving online presence will certainly be on it.
How do you build a solid online presence? Content marketing.
A Forbes article says that 88% of B2B marketers currently use content marketing as part of their marketing strategy.
If you are not already on the content marketing bandwagon, what are you waiting for? Hop on!
Be sure, though, to know that you are in for a lot of strategic thinking and decision making.
The most mind-boggling question when you first step into the content marketing is – should you outsource your content marketing or do it in-house?
Predictably, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, you must do your due diligence and determine what the best answer for your business.
Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself to arrive at the best answer for your business:
1. How fat is your budget?
It is very important that you carefully figure out how much to budget for content marketing early on.
That said, if you don’t have a fat budget for content marketing, outsourcing may not be the best option after all.
So, what do you do when the budget is not fat? You self-learn content marketing by reading blogs, listening to podcasts/webinars – and then hire a freelance writer. Once you see some results and are in a good position to scale up, you can move on to hiring a full-time professional writer, and a full-scale agency further down the line.
The point is – get started no matter what! The best thing about content marketing is – even the tiniest of efforts can bring a reasonable amount of results.
If you do have enough budget, start working with a specialized agency. Build an in-house team only when you have a clear understanding of what works best for Business Storytelling.
2. Do you want to do go niche?
Although most content marketers have great writing skills, it just might not be enough to market your business to a niche audience. If the aim is to do niche content marketing, you need someone who’s an expert in the discipline.
For example, a Tech startup can generate more leads by predicting trends rather than doing regular listicles or how-to posts.
If you have the budget for it, hiring a full-time niche writer is certainly a good idea here. One, they have expertise, and two, when a single person handles all of your content, there is consistency in writing style and presentation.
You can also outsource it to a medium-to-large agency because these agencies usually have many writers who are experts in different fields. Hence, you can trust that your content will be handled by an industry expert.
Freelance writers and small agencies are not a very good bet if you are looking for domain expertise as most of them are generalists and not niche writers.
Although there are a few niche freelancers, it is still not an assuring bet.
3. What is the weight of content marketing in your overall marketing efforts?
First of all, did you work to determine which type of marketing will maximize your profits? If so, then how much weight does content marketing carry?
You should determine how much of an emphasis you must put on content marketing to increase your profits. For example, for some businesses, outdoor hoardings might get them all the customers they need, and the blog is not a lead generation avenue – these guys need not spend much on content marketing.
If you think that content marketing is not your major cashpoint, don’t spend too much on it. Pick the cheapest option for you in terms of time and money.
For example, if you think that in-sourcing content will consume too much of your time and energy and that it’s not worth that – hire a small agency and produce an average amount of content; but if you think you need to do prime-time content marketing – hire a full-time
4. How keen are you about building a consistent brand?
I’d like to start by bursting a bubble: Not everyone needs to build a solid brand. What if you’re a small company with a small marketing budget where every dollar counts and every mistake is felt deep? Branding – well, not so much!
If you decide that outsourcing is the best way to go about your content marketing game, wait! You haven’t asked the most important question yet: Can the freelancer or the agency, capture the essence of your business in their writing? Because if not, your story will not be good enough to generate profits.
Before outsourcing, you must have a detailed talk with the agency of what your expectations are; what kind of content you want to publish; what writing style represents you; and your business philosophy and more.
You must look to see if the agency is receptive to your requests and ideas. Instead of staying out of the picture completely, you must monitor the work produced by the agency and they have to be comfortable with your nose.
Hire someone who confirms to your requirements and is willing to work towards getting to know your company. Hire someone who’s passionate about what they write – passionate writing is still the best way to reel in more readers.
Generic and out-of-the-place content isn’t going to cut it. The content must represent your business, and everything that you stand for.
If you don’t find an agency like that, taking in an employee and grooming them would be a better choice.
Re-capturing all of the above:
Small budget: go in-house, or hire a generalist freelancer.
Fat budget: hire a specialized agency, and build a team when you understand what works.
Niche marketing: either an in-house expert or an agency which can offer specialized writing services. Freelancers and small agencies not a good bet.
Content marketing a lead generator: either an in-house senior expert who builds a team, or a specialized agency.
Not a lead generator: hire a generalist freelancer, or work with a small agency.
High on keeping a consistent brand image: a specialized agency with personalized and tailored services, or a senior in-house expert.
Not very keen about a consistent brand image: hire a generalist freelancer or a junior marketer.
Over to you:
- Anything else that businesses should consider while deciding whether to go in-house or outsource?
- Can everyone really do content marketing on their own?