In an ideal world, a marketing department would be able to provide all the content required to create a successful, lead-generating content marketing strategy. A recent survey has shown that many B2B marketers are struggling to make an impact with their content marketing.
A vast majority, or 72%, of surveyed marketers say less than half of their marketing staff play a primary role in content marketing strategising. The net result? Content soon devolves into sales talk instead of genuinely useful, smartly-packaged insights for buyers.
An additional 71% of marketers say that their content features case studies or customer stories – but only 3% say it’s a primary focus for their marketing operations.
While three-quarters of respondents state they frequently communicate with their customer base, only 5% make it a priority - meaning that marketers are more interested in acquisitions than building long term relationships with existing customers.
Alas, businesses that fail to exploit the potential of content marketing risk being left behind by competitors who are more responsive and proactive. If you feel you’re one of those grappling with the issue, it might be time to consider looking outside the company for content marketing solutions. But what are the pros and cons of bringing a third party on board?
Pro: “It’s out of my hands!”
…And into the content marketing provider’s, meaning your supplier is now responsible for the whole process, from generating content and delivery schedules to ensuring that content hits the mark each and every time. Your role? To monitor the provider’s output and the ROI on the C-Suite's investment.
Con: “It’s, erm, out of my hands…”
While you retain ultimate control, there’s no getting away from the fact you’re handing over one of your marketing’s crown jewels to a third party who, most likely, won’t know your industry and business quite as well as you do.
You could end up having to send copious notes and corrections to the provider to ensure that its content is hitting the right note and offering up suitably in-depth content that will appeal to your savvy clients and prospects. It’s a situation that could end up being a huge drag on your team’s time and resources.
Best Practice: Selecting the Right Partner
How do you go about securing the right provider for your company? Here are some useful tips:
1. Ask the provider for testimonials and case studies from clients in a related industry – after all, it’s up to the agency to convince you that it can create suitable and incisive content for your company.
2. Ask the potential provider for an overview of what it will bring to the project; what social platforms does it recommend working with? Does the agency know its Prezis from its VideoScribes? Its SlideShares from its Uberflips? The agency must be able to display a convincing vision for your content and how it will be presented and distributed.
3. Look for evidence that the provider will bring new ideas to the table. You don’t want to simply brief it – an agency should surprise, delight and challenge you. If not, why bother going to a third party in the first place?
4. Commission the agency to provide a three-month schedule of content and samples; it will give you a real-world feel for its capabilities and approach.
5. Make sure you have the provider’s best people working for you; don’t sign the contract only for your business to be shepherded off to a junior marketing executive.
6. Ensure key figures within your company are available to be interviewed about the machinations and operations of your company; share your knowledge with the provider to ensure that it knows your business inside and out.
Pro: “Goodbye silo!”
Hiring a fresh pair of eyes can help bring new impetus to your marketing endeavours. They can also offer new insights into your work processes; a great provider can help break down the silos within a company.
Con: “Hello organisational hell!”
The input of your third party could create confusion and doubt as you struggle to work together. The agency may provide inconsistent client care, fail to keep you in the loop and critically, not fit in with the mindset of your company. Again, that initial selection process is critical to weeding out agencies that are going to be more hassle than they’re worth.
Best Practices: Working with your Partner
Selecting the right provider is just the beginning; how do you manage them on an ongoing basis?
1. If moving forward with a provider, closely monitor its content plans and delivered content (especially over that first three months). Offer guidance and direction as and when needed.
2. Organise regular content meetings whether in person or via Skype; it’s essential that the provider is brought on board as a department and not simply treated as an entity that you “fire and forget.” After all, would you leave an in-house marketing team unsupervised for long periods of time without regularly checking in on their progress?
3. Monitor data and analytics from the provider’s content marketing; is it hitting its mark? What content is proving popular? Are there any weaknesses? Ultimately, you need to prove the provider’s ROI to the C-Suite.
4. Keep the provider up to date with the latest developments within your business – the more information it has to hand, the easier it is for the agency to create bespoke content that complements the growth of your company.
5. Ensure that the provider is plugging itself into your industry and not simply paying lip service to it; their people must be networking and attending key events so they become experts in your field.
Key outsourcing takeaways:
– Do your homework when selecting the right provider and more importantly, ensure that they are prepared to do theirs.
– Be prepared to give up control – the provider must be allowed to run with your content marketing and not feel like it’s being micromanaged.
– Communicate with your provider regularly so you’re all singing from the same marketing sheet.
– Build a relationship over time; it could be one of the most fruitful ones your company ever has.
– Be prepared to show the provider the door if it fails to deliver ROI in the mid-to-long term.
For more tips to ensure your content marketing is hitting its mark, download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Content Marketing.