There's little doubt that outsourcing content work to specialists is in vogue these days. More companies - especially small businesses - are turning to outside help for everything from web content development to a whole range of content marketing services including blogging, email newsletters, infographics, whitepapers, social media campaigns and much more. More than nine in 10 B2B marketers now use content marketing, and nearly two thirds of businesses outsource this type of work. But while hiring an outside content writer can help companies generate leads, build a loyal following, and position themselves as industry experts, it's certainly not for everyone. Before taking the plunge and outsourcing your content work, consider the following scenarios in which you're probably better off not hiring an outside writer or content marketing specialist.
- You may already have a content writer in your midst. Sure, content writing is a specialized skill and a bit of an art, but you never know when these talents might be hiding in plain sight. Take a good look around your organization, particularly at individuals who handle marketing and communications. Chances are that one or more people already create content that is directed toward your intended audience. Do any of them have the inclination, talent and bandwidth to step into a more full-fledged content writing role? Be careful here, though: in addition to having a strong way with words, effective content writers must possess a clear understanding of the business landscape and content strategy, as well as a keen sense of how and when to leverage social media. But who knows… maybe your content writer is sitting just one cube away?
- Your market is a mystery. We’ve seen companies go out at spend a bundle on outside content writers without really understanding the audience they’re trying to reach. This cart-before-the-horse approach is a waste of both time and money that results in off-target messaging that invariably falls flat. Before investing in either internal or external content writing resources, make sure you do your homework. Conduct some research, speak with your clients and prospects, and get a firm handle on their interests, issues and needs. Targeted content is great, but only when you really know who you’re targeting.
- Your objectives are unclear. You might have an industry-leading suite of products and services, but if you lack a strong focus about what you hope to communicate and achieve, the message will be a muddle, no matter who you hire to assemble the words. With increasingly short attention spans and a cacophony of distractions competing for eyeballs nowadays, don’t waste what may be your one shot with messaging that’s either vague or tries to do too much. There’s no point in bringing in a content writer to craft something super unless you’ve nailed your approach and objectives. What exactly do you hope to convey and achieve as a result of the campaign?
Of course, the truly exceptional content writers are those who can help you crystallize your objectives and get a better handle on your target audience. But the fact remains that you’re much better off – and will very likely save yourself some money – if you at least begin to address these key challenges before bringing in a hired gun. Then there’s always the possibility that you’ll find a terrific content writer within your own organization. If that’s the case, skip the outside help altogether and put the savings toward other marketing or web development expenses. Or better yet, why not go out and get a ping-pong table for the office?