So you've outsourced your content marketing (or you're considering doing it). Outsourcing can be an effective way to achieve your content marketing potential without hiring a full team in-house.
In fact, half of B2B marketers outsource at least one component of their content marketing, and 84% of those outsource content creation.
But whether you outsource content creation to a team of freelancers or to an agency, relinquishing control can be daunting. How can you let go of the reins and let your content partner take the lead in creating your content without diminishing its quality and effectiveness?
Whether you're worried about voice, industry knowledge, or strategy, there are ways you can ensure your content meets your expectations of quality when you're working with your outsourced content creation partner.
We all have a voice that is uniquely ours. The phrasings we use, the words we choose, and the personality that ties it all together help us communicate who we are.
If a content marketing provider asks you to decide what topics you want blog posts written on and then comes back with 10 completed blog posts the next week, run in the opposite direction. That's how you end up with low-quality content that in no way sounds like you or your company.
So how can the members of an outsourced team possibly understand the unique voice of your company's subject matter experts?
The short answer? They probably won't get it exactly right 100% of the time, but your relationship with your content partner is exactly that—a relationship—and it takes some collaboration to get what you want and need out of it.
The best content marketing partners want to collaborate with you because that's the only way to truly nail down your unique voice. And they want your input during content creation to make sure your voice and expertise shine through.
Here are a few ways you can make the most of that collaboration:
- Provide examples. Have you created articles, released videos, or hosted podcasts in the past that you think perfectly capture your voice and the way you want to be positioned in front of your audience? Share those with your outsourced-content team! They will form a foundation for your content partner to base new content on so each piece of work is true to your voice.
- Share your word-choice preferences. If there are terms that you love to use or certain words or phrases that make your skin crawl ("paradigm shift," anyone?), let your content team know.
And not just in the early stages of your relationship. As you continue creating content with your team of freelancers or partner agency, keep updating your editorial preferences as you notice opportunities crop up in your outsourced content. Doing so will ensure the content is in line with your vision and is continually improving.
- Let your team hear your voice. It can be tempting to stick to email, Google Docs, and content management platforms to work with your content partner, but you shouldn't shy away from having discussions, interviews, or brainstorming sessions over the phone or via video. Actually listening to you speak can be incredibly valuable for the members of your content team: They'll be able to literally hear your passion and the words you use to communicate that passion.
Be specific in your feedback. Whether you're giving feedback in writing or orally, make sure it's constructive and specific—so that your content team can act on your feedback with clarity and confidence.
Saying "This article is boring," for example, will just leave the team feeling deflated and unsure of what needs fixing. But saying "more hard-hitting data and more powerful verbs would really help this piece pop" would give members of your content team clear direction while still allowing them to use their expertise to decide what exactly would strengthen the content.
Content marketing is all about sharing your expertise with the world, so it's imperative that your content be accurate. No wonder a lot of marketers who outsource content creation (and subject-matter experts who write bylined content) are worried that their content partner won't be able to fully grasp their industry.
When you're working with your outsourced content creation partner, it's important to understand what each party is bringing to the table.
- Although the members of your content team have to know enough about your industry to ask you the right questions, they don't have to be the experts.
- Though your partner is providing content creation, strategy, and distribution expertise, you and other subject matter experts in your company are the authorities in your industry.
Here's how you can share your knowledge and expertise:
- Provide unique insights. You and others within your company are ideally suited to provide new, cutting-edge perspectives that push your industry forward. So when your content partner asks you for your perspective, make sure what you provide isn't something that could be found with a quick Google search.
Valuable content is rooted in unique insights.
Keep your content partner up-to-date. As developments occur in your industry, let your content partner know.
If you get a particularly interesting newsletter, stumble across a fascinating article, or uncover valuable insights from new research, send that information to the members of your outsourced-content team so they can keep those new insights in mind as they develop content topics and seek out publishing opportunities.
Provide a few short sentences summing up your reaction to the new developments so your team has an idea of your position on those industry changes.
Content marketing is only as effective as the underlying strategy, which determines the direction of your efforts. After all, if you don't have a destination in mind, it's pretty hard to take the right steps to get there.
Your content partner is the expert on content strategy. Here's how you can empower your outsourced-content team to take ownership of your content strategy:
- Start with the why. Before your content partner can fully develop a content strategy that will be genuinely effective, you have to know why you're creating content and communicate that to your partner.
What are you hoping to achieve through content marketing? What specific metrics are you using to determine whether your efforts are successful? The members of your content team need to know that information so they can create content that strategically works to achieve your "why."
- Communicate strategy changes. The why behind your content creation probably won't stay the same forever. So as your objectives change, tell your content partner. Otherwise, you'll each be working toward separate goals, resulting in a disjointed content marketing approach.
- Share your editorial calendar. There might be some content initiatives that you're keeping in-house, such as social media posts or press releases. Sharing your editorial calendar and keeping it updated allow your content partner to stay abreast of what you're working on internally.
That will help ensure that the content your partner is creating works together with your internal content to achieve your goals, and it will enable you to avoid duplicating each other's efforts.
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Outsourcing content creation and relinquishing some control over your content can be stressful. But if you put the above strategies into practice, you can maintain a collaborative relationship with your content partner to execute a content strategy that will help you achieve your content marketing goals.
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