I’ll start by declaring an interest: I run a content marketing company that specialises in online video. Our business is built on persuading organisations to outsource the production and distribution of their content.
I’m not going to pretend that outsourcing - lock, stock and barrel - is right for everyone. Often there is an argument for keeping some of it in-house. You may want to hire a specialist provider of a particular type of content for, say, a couple of years, learn how they do it, and then try to manage on your own.
But my overwhelming experience is that organisations which have invested in the services of a suitable strategic content partner have been glad they did - and left their rivals playing catch-up in an age when the power of traditional advertising is waning, and cold calls, spam and junk mail have lost almost all their impact.
Currently around 55% of UK companies outsource their content. Here are four key reasons why you should join them.
1. You don’t have time
Content marketing, done properly, is extremely time-consuming. A blog post can’t be trotted off in half an hour, and a homepage video might take two or three people a week to plan, shoot and edit properly. Using social media to ensure your content reaches your target audience can take at least an hour a day. And remember, content marketing is more than just a campaign. To reap the benefits, it needs to become an on-going business function. Do you and your colleagues really have the time to commit to it?
2. You lack the skills
Don’t underestimate the range of skills involved in successful content marketing. It encompasses journalism, PR, SEO and graphic design to name just a few. Yes, you could hire a team of media graduates and buy them the right equipment, but it takes years to develop the skills required to produce really high-end videos or infographics. Be realistic… Do you have the skills in-house to make as good a job of content marketing as you want to?
3. You can’t afford to hire permanent staff
Even if you were prepared to wait for a newly-recruited in-house content marketing team to start firing on all cylinders, just think of the cost of recruiting, employing and replacing them. Each new content producer you recruit will need investing in equipment, whether it's cameras, editing and design software, lighting and associated insurance costs: they don't come cheap.
Outsourcing gives you immediate access to specialist expertise and the flexibility to pull the plug on it whenever you want to. And it’s precisely because they’re expendable that outside suppliers continuously strive go above and beyond to prove they’re worth what you’re paying them.
4. You would benefit from an outside perspective
You love your brand and so you should. You’ve worked hard to build and nurture it. But that doesn’t make you and your colleagues the best people to write about it. The content that’s consumed the most isn’t remotely advertorial; it’s objective, impartial and authoritative. A content marketing company sees you as others see you and is therefore well placed to judge the sort of content you should be publishing and how it should be written.
Ultimately, as John Hall from Influence & Co. pointed out in an excellent post on this subject, whichever route you go down, “results are what matter, so be creative, picky and flexible.”
For the next few posts we’re going to looking in particular at video content - the most outsourced form of content of all.