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Content Marketing: DIY or Outsource?

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Written by: Robin Powell | Ember Television

For any business looking to build its client base, content marketing is essential.

Instead of firms finding clients, increasingly clients are finding the best firms.

If you’re not telling your story online through high-quality content, your prospective customers are simply going to find competitors that are.

But the big question firms need to ask themselves is this: Do we manage our own content marketing, or do we outsource to a specialist provider, or perhaps two or three different providers?

For any company considering the DIY option, I would present three important caveats.

The first is this: Don’t underestimate the time that content marketing, done properly, requires.

Generally, I tend to deal with relatively small firms, typically financial advisers. Sometimes they’re one-man-bands, or they might just have a staff of three or four. In my experience, these firms don’t have the sufficient time to make a good job it. If yours is a larger firm you may have more capacity, but even then, do you really have the staff available and with enough hours in the day?

Secondly, don’t underestimate the breadth of skills you’re going to need.

For starters, you’ll need a strategic thinker to develop a content marketing plan; this doesn’t have to be a marketing specialist, but it helps if it is. You’ll also need a manager, or, at least, an administrator, to oversee implementation of the plan, to ensure that everything gets done on time and to the right standard. Other skills you’ll want to call on include SEO, copywriting, graphic design, video production and social marketing. Be honest, do you really have that range of skills in-house?

Thirdly, don’t underestimate the expense involved in content marketing.

Whether you do it yourselves or you pay someone else to do it, it won’t be cheap. I often hear firms say that, rather than pay an outside company, they’re going to hire a recent graduate to do it. Are you really going to find someone of that age — or indeed any age — to provide all the skills you’re going to need? Even if you hired, say, half a dozen fresh-faced graduates, it might take years for them to start working to the level you need them to. You’ll also have to invest in equipment — cameras, lenses, microphones, editing software and so on — and there’s insurance to pay for as well.

Time and again I see firms make a start with content marketing but end up wasting resources on it and giving up. In most cases it’s because they hadn’t fully appreciated the time, skills or expense involved. Yes, the idea of being totally self-sufficient might appeal but, for all but the largest firms, it’s usually unrealistic.

The other advantage of using an external company is that they’re not too close to what you do. Small businesses in particular can lose a grip on what the outside world thinks of them. A contractor from outside your business will view you as other people see you, including prospective clients. That’s extremely valuable.

Sure, there may well be tasks that can be performed in-house. But outsourcing the bulk of your content marketing to firms with the relevant expertise allows you to maintain the consistent level of quality that you’re looking for, allowing you and your colleagues time to focus on what you do best.

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