Who Should Run Your Content Marketing? Agency vs. Insourcing

Content has become one of the hottest topics in marketing as its ROI has become more demonstrable over time and new systems and strategy have become more accessible. With the upcoming digital marketing event focused on content marketing, now is the perfect opportunity to update your perspective and reassess your business's approach to this evolving discipline. Hendrick Motorsports, Christine Brownlow, will be reviewing the challenges planning and strategy behind their content marketing mindset on Tuesday August 16th.

As interest in content strategies continues to grow, many companies are left wondering how to best develop an effective content marketing initiative. One of the biggest decisions you have to make is whether to carry it out internally or to outsource the responsibility to agencies or other third parties. The choice is not always easy and can be different for every business. However there are a few basic considerations to help any organization determine the most effective strategy for delivering content marketing ROI. 

1. What Does Content Marketing Mean to You?

Content Marketing has a lot of definitions depending on who you ask. The exact recipe of content that is best for your business will be different from any other organization's. Whether you're considering hiring content marketing talent or choosing an agency partner, one of the primary goals should be to understand what content marketing means to them. It is important that you share a similar vision and priorities. 

Look for specific answers that address:

  • How they will determine how much content is needed
  • How they will determine which type of content is needed
  • Who will be creating the content
  • How they will encourage engagement and ensure growth over time

2. What Internal Content Capabilities Do You Have?

If content marketing was easy, everyone would already be doing it effectively. A fully developed content marketing operation should have experts in at least 5 key disciplines contributing to the effort. In order to be successful, you need to have access to a wide variety of creative, analytical, digital and marketing talent. This expertise is how you make content exceptional enough to standout instead of getting lost in the crowd.

Content Marketers need to excel in these three skills at a minimum:

  • Communication
  • Industry insight- comfort and competence with the subjects at hand
  • Promotion skills- the ability to place and promote content effectively

It is not very difficult to find someone with competence in one or two of these areas, but it is very hard to find someone with all three- especially if your business operates in an obscure or niche market. 42% of companies said they currently did not have the in-house expertise to use content marketing effectively. And they're not talking about one person having the necessary skills; these companies couldn't find all the necessary skills within their whole department.

If you're fortunate enough to have that talent in-house right now, then you at least have the option, if not the motivation, to handle your content marketing yourself. But if not, you'll need to outsource or build your own team of full-time and contract talent. 

3. What are Your KPIs?

There is a different understanding of success for every one of content marketing's myriad definitions. In order to have a good working relationship, especially with an external third party, you need to agree upon reasonable guidelines for success beforehand. Before you agree to work with someone you should determine which KPIs you both think are most critical to success. 

You probably have very specific goals for your content marketing so make sure you go through why you care about each and what results for each metric you consider desirable. If you can find a third party partner that shares your goals; great! But if not, you might want to consider insourcing to build your own team so you have very specific control over strategy and destination.

4. What Part Will Content Play in Your Big Picture Marketing Strategy?

Before you even think about hiring anyone to help you with content marketing, get a good picture of how content marketing fits into your business.

If you are already extremely busy and occupied with your current marketing operations, introducing a new factor may only lead to the chaos rather than being a useful asset. If that's the case, then you are probably not in a good position to be on boarding a new team because you will not be setting them- or your business- up for success. This is a scenario that an agency or other external partner might be just the thing you need. They can create and execute a strategy without putting more strain on your organization's current structure. 

Bio: Mark Miller is Marketing Manager for MarketPro, a marketing recruitment firm. He writes on marketing career development and trends that can impact marketing jobs. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.