The success of any outsourcing ultimately relies on your communication. Here are six steps to working with your content partner to produce effective, high-quality content that meets your goals.
Plenty of excuses get in the way of creating consistent, high-quality content for your company and your audience: blah, blah, no time; blah, blah, no resources; blah, blah, too far behind. You get the gist.
Creating content all by your lonesome may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to leave you without the content you need to accomplish your goals; an outsourced content marketing partner might be your knight in shining content armor.
“But, Brittni,” you object, “our company has a really unique personality and brand voice. Won’t outsourcing our content make it generic and forgettable? A waste of our time?”
Worry not, marketing friend. Relax, grab the latest issue of Adweek, and let me put your mind at ease. Your true heart’s desire is a competent team, the right process, and more time to focus on your company’s bottom line.
The value of an outsourced content team
You have a talented team uniquely qualified to reach your goals — and you want to keep them focused, happy and productive. What if you could offload some of the time-consuming tasks and give those hours back to your team?
Now, there’s a common fear that outsourcing content can cost you your voice and negatively affect how your audience connects with your brand — but it doesn’t have to. In fact, the right partner can:
- Help you generate topic ideas.
- Secure placements in online publications.
- Earn PR opportunities.
- Maximize your published content by ensuring your work is clean, professionally written, edited, optimized and even distributed.
- Develop and refine your content strategy from the outset.
- Introduce you to new partners and contacts.
With the right process, your partner can be just that: a partner, not a transactional outsourced vendor. The key to creating — I’ll say it — synergy (#buzzword) is that your partner can’t operate as a completely separate entity. Here are six steps to choreographing harmony with your partner to produce effective, high-quality content in your voice.
1. Establish your goals.
Your content partner can’t read your mind. The more clearly you spell out the goals you want to achieve with your content, the better. Start with the micro — like site traffic, lead generation and sales enablement — and rank them by priority. Then, zoom out to give your new partner a picture of the next five years.
Consider how you, as an organization, define content marketing success. Match the right metrics to your content goals, and ensure everyone — from your internal marketing team and leadership board to your new content partner — is on the same page about your goals and how you’ll measure success.
2. Map out your current content strategy.
If you’re like 37 percent of content marketers, you already have a documented strategy in place, which probably includes your goals and metrics, as well as:
- An analysis of how consumers are interacting and engaging with your digital content assets.
- Profiles of your key audience personas.
- An editorial calendar and a set of content guidelines.
- Information about your KPIs and budget.
- Details about your typical sales process.
If you’ve documented this information, share it with your partner. This will be the framework for how you work together. And if you don’t have a documented content strategy, let your outsourced partner know right away so your partner can help you create one before you get started.
3. Articulate your brand vision.
Any good partner will understand that you’re the expert on your brand. You’re in the trenches, day after day, and you know the industry best and have the experience to provide rich context to any piece. To emulate that in any capacity, an outsourced agency needs to fully grasp your brand from every possible angle.
Aside from sharing your strategy, you should give your content partner a full picture of your company, from its humble beginnings to where it stands now. Paint a picture of where you’ve been, where you’re going, and how you want that journey perceived.
To get your new team up to speed (and because it’s good for you to remember these things!), pull together an overview of:
- Industry terms and jargon.
- The words your company wants to be associated with — and the terms or phrases you definitely don’t want to be associated with.
- The personas associated with your subject matter experts.
- The adjectives that you use to describe and embody your brand.
4. Identify your subject matter expert.
Your outsourced team can do pretty much all of the heavy lifting when it comes to things like content strategy, creation and distribution. But if you want your finished content to sound like it’s coming from you, some of it will need to come from, well, you.
To do this, you’ll need to select a thought leader to serve as the face (or the voice) of your brand and your content. Your thought leader — sometimes referred to as a subject matter expert — provides the personality, unique insights, valuable stories and real-life examples that help your content achieve the holy grail of marketing: authenticity.
5. Assemble a list of key players and existing resources.
Identify who currently oversees each area of your content efforts, including any current freelancers or other contracted partners, and assess their strengths. Make sure to communicate how involved your team wants to be in the content process once your outsourced agency steps in; this will help you and your outsourced partner divvy up responsibilities while avoiding overlap.
Whether you keep anything in-house, or your partner bears most of the weight, make sure these critical roles are filled to set yourself up for success:
- A content strategist, who develops the meat of your content and its strategy by researching and developing compelling topic ideas
- An editor, who edits your content to ensure it’s high-quality, professional, optimized for search, and error-free
- A project manager, who oversees your content from ideation to placement
- A publication relationship manager, who develops and manages relationships with media outlets and publications to help you pitch content and secure placements
- A social media manager, who distributes your published content and monitors relevant online communities and conversations
6. Share analytics.
Your partner should be able to provide stats and data on your content performance. However, because your partner team is external, its team members aren’t going to be able to give you the complete picture on their own. Without insight into how you’re using your content or what data you’re collecting through your CRM or CSM systems, your partners can only offer you so much insight into your performance (and theirs).
To keep a pulse on what’s working and what’s not, you and your outsourced partner will need to share analytics. Better yet, consider giving your partner direct access to your analytics platform. Ideally, the members of your partner team will be able to help you collect and analyze data and use it to improve your strategy — but they can only do that if they have all the necessary pieces.
Like any great relationship, your content marketing partnership will take time, trust, and a little bit of vulnerability. It’s important to rely on the experts you’ve partnered with and work collaboratively to achieve your goals — and ensure your voice is preserved in all your content. If you come into the onboarding process armed with these six things, you’ll give your outsourced content team a helluva chance to feel more, well, insourced.
Upcoming Webinar: How to Outsource Content Creation Without Sacrificing Your Brand Voice, 11 am PDT – Thursday, October 19, 2017