When looking to expand marketing plans, a common consideration centers on whether to outsource resources or hire internally.
And to be honest, there's no black or white, one-size-fits-all answer to this question—it depends entirely on your company objectives, budget, and a plethora of other factors.
In fact, it may be possible for you to successfully employ a combination of in-house marketing and outsourcing to fulfill your company’s needs, or you might get a better ROI from hiring a team of marketers for the typical price of one in-house hire.
To help you decide, take a look at some common questions (and answers!) about hiring an agency.
Can an outside writer effectively capture and convey my brand voice?
This is a valid concern, and we get it—you are your company, and your company is your brand, so you're having a hard time putting trust in someone else's hands.
When you work with an agency that comes with a team of highly talented writers, they can easily adopt the company voice to connect with the different buyer personas effectively.
These talented and creative-minded writers have specifically sought out agency work because they prefer the dynamic and diversity of an agency environment—so even if you wanted to hire a writer for in-house, you might have trouble with recruitment and retention.
Also, getting a fresh perspective is a good thing—someone outside of your company will have an easier time creating emotional distance from your brand and producing content that is credible and objective in the eyes of the audience. In-house writers can tend to take a more advertising approach, which is great when the situation calls for it, but for your company goals, you need all-around rockstar writers who can create marketing, PR, and advertising content.
I can just hire a freelancer to write a blog post a week. What do I need an entire team to do?
While content is a big part of an inbound marketing strategy, there's much more to it than that.
The ultimate goal is to produce results—not to just write a post a week. So when you write, you’ll need to write content that is aligned with your persona's needs, fits into an overarching lead generation strategy, and is crafted with the best practices of SEO, balancing consistency, keywords, and innovation.
There are different content types that require different skill sets. For example, there are different best practices to writing white papers, writing an ebook, or creating an infographic. When you outsource your content marketing to an agency, you get a team of experts in their specific area, so if you hire in-house or one freelancer, he or she should be well-versed in all aspects of content types.
One other note, each blog post can take hours to complete when you factor in the time for research, writing, revising, and publishing—meaning you'll definitely want to consider bandwidth and workload.
What's the quality standard of content in working with an agency?
There is no excuse for bad grammar, whether it be from an agency or an in-house writer. It's more likely you'll have typos or misused prepositions if you have a freelancer or in-house person writing, as there aren't editors or steps for quality along the way.
A good agency will bring you completely clean copy—whether it's for a Facebook ad, blog post, or postcard—because the only thing you need to be concerned with is if the content is producing results and sales.
Can I do a trial period with a content marketing agency?
If you are still unsure about hiring a content marketing agency, you can test the waters by partnering with them for a set period of time. It depends on the agency of how contracts and engagements are structured, but if you can commit to a project, it can be a good testing ground.
Once the project or contract is nearing its end, try your hand at creating and managing marketing content to compare how the work of the agency with your own to see if you could have done better.
If you feel that your work produced better results, then maybe you do have the necessary skills to take your content marketing back to in-house (or maybe it is time to find another agency).
Moreover, you can try outsourcing only a small part of your content marketing plan to an agency. For example, if blogging consistently is an annoyance for you and your team, why not outsource this to an agency that can deliver consistent output and high quality. Or maybe you enjoy blogging, but want to offer visitors to your website white papers or an ebook to download—this can easily be a one-off project for a content marketing agency to handle.
Well, if the first few questions didn't guide you in the right direction, you should outsource your content marketing if...
- You don’t want or can’t hire a talented in-house writer.
- You don’t have enough office space for a team of content marketers.
- You don’t have time to write and manage your marketing.
- You don’t have well-rounded in-house marketers that are expert in the various content types.
- You don’t have time to stay on top of the marketing trends.
This post was originally published on September 1, 2014, and it has been updated since.