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Should Businesses Outsource Content Marketing?

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Content marketing is all about making and sharing useful things that keeps your target audience interested and coming back. Unlike regular ads that push products, outsourced content marketing offers useful info or fun content. This helps build trust and engagement with the audience over time.

The Core Dilemma: In-House vs. Outsourcing

Businesses today have a big choice in content marketing: create it in-house or hire agencies or freelancers? Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best choice varies depending on factors like budget, business goals, and available skills. 

Think of it this way: Choosing between in-house and outsourced content marketing is like deciding whether to cook dinner at home or order takeout. Cooking at home lets you control what goes into your food, but it takes time, skill, and ingredients. Ordering takeout saves time and gives you restaurant-quality meals, but it can be pricey and might not always be exactly what you want. Each has its own trade-offs.

Advantages of Outsourcing Content Marketing

Expertise and Specialization

Access to Professionals with a Specific Skill Set

Outsourcing content marketing gives businesses access to skills their in-house team might not have. Content marketing agencies often hire experts in areas like SEO, video production, and social media marketing. This brings a lot of skills to the table, boosting their content’s quality and impact.

Variety of Content Forms

An outsourced team can create many content types, like blogs, videos, podcasts, and infographics. With an in-house team, you’d need different specialists for each. An agency usually has all these skills in one place.

For example, they might have an SEO expert working on your blog, a videographer making great videos, and a social media strategist sharing your content. This way, everything looks professional and works together smoothly.

Think of an outsourced team as a Swiss Army knife. You have multiple tools without carrying a separate device for each function.

Cost-Effectiveness

Lower Overhead Costs

Outsourcing cuts the need for permanent in-house staff for content creation, saving on costs like salaries, benefits, and office space. This is great for smaller businesses that can’t afford a full-time content marketing team.

Pay-as-You-Go Model

Many agencies offer flexible payment options, like project-based pricing or monthly retainers. This lets businesses pay for services as they need them. For example, you can pay per project if you need a one-time video or blog post. Or, you can choose a monthly retainer for ongoing content needs, giving you regular access to the agency’s services. This flexibility helps manage costs and get exactly what you need.

This is like a pay-as-you-go mobile plan, where you only pay for the services you use, making it a more budget-friendly approach.

Time Savings

Faster Turnaround Times for Projects

Given their specialization and experience, outsourced teams often complete projects faster than in-house teams with multiple responsibilities. This quick turnaround is great for taking advantage of timely opportunities or market trends.

Frees Up Internal Resources

By outsourcing content marketing, your in-house team can focus on other important parts of the business, like product development or customer service. It’s like hiring a lawn service—while they take care of your lawn, you can focus on remodeling your home.

Scalability

Easier to Scale Operations Up or Down

Outsourcing makes it easy to adjust how much content you produce. You can ramp up during busy seasons or big marketing campaigns. Likewise, you can scale down during slower times without the hassle of hiring or laying off staff. It’s like a dimmer switch for your lights; you can adjust the brightness as needed without changing bulbs each time.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing Content Marketing

Quality Control

When you outsource content marketing, you risk inconsistencies in branding and messaging. Different writers and creators might interpret your brand’s voice and messaging differently, leading to a mixed brand experience for customers. It’s like having multiple chefs make the same dish; each adds their own touch, making it hard to keep the flavor consistent.

Risk of Low-Quality Content

While agencies may promise high-quality content, the end product may not always meet your expectations. Quality might drop if the agency is juggling too many clients or isn’t fully invested in your brand. It’s like ordering a fancy meal from a crowded restaurant; the food might not be as good. So, choose an agency that really cares about your needs.

Communication Barriers

Outsourcing can lead to communication barriers, particularly to agencies or freelancers in different countries. Misunderstandings can happen because of cultural differences or not knowing specific industry terms. It’s like trying to cook a complicated dish with a recipe in a language you don’t know well; the result might not turn out as you planned.

Time Zone Differences

Real-time communication can be tough if your outsourced team is in a different time zone. This can delay projects and make last-minute changes hard. It’s like needing to see a doctor in an emergency but finding out they’re only available at inconvenient times. This could be frustrating and slow things down.

Limited Influence Over the Creative Process

When you outsource content marketing, you have less control over the creative process. Decisions about content topics, formats, and distribution channels might be made without your input. This can be frustrating if you have specific ideas or goals. It’s like hiring an artist to paint a portrait but not being able to tell them how you want it done.

Confidentiality Concerns

Outsourcing can also present confidentiality risks. Agencies will have access to your business plans, customer data, and other sensitive information. If proper nondisclosure agreements are not in place, there could be a potential leak of confidential information. It’s like entrusting your house keys to a neighbor; while convenient, it does pose a security risk. So, choose an agency that you can trust.

Advantages of In-House Content Marketing

Brand Consistency

An in-house content marketing team lets you have more control over your brand’s tone, voice, and visuals. They know the company’s mission and values well, so they can create content that really matches your brand. This is similar to having a personal chef who knows your dietary preferences and can cook meals tailored to you.

Quick Modifications

With an in-house team, making quick changes to content is easier. Whether it’s tweaking an ad or updating a blog post, you can get it done faster. It’s like having a dedicated pit crew for your car; they can make fast, efficient adjustments because they are always there and know your vehicle well.

Intellectual Property

When you create content in-house, you own it entirely. From idea conception to final production, every aspect of the creative process remains within the company. This eliminates any risk related to licensing or third-party ownership. Think of it like writing your own book; the intellectual property, including every chapter and footnote, belongs solely to you.

Disadvantages of In-House Content Marketing

Cost

Higher Overheads Due to Full-Time Employees

Having an in-house content marketing team means you’ll need to cover full-time salaries, benefits, and other costs. Unlike an outsourced model where you can pay per project or need, in-house teams are an ongoing expense. This is similar to owning a car; you’re responsible for maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs regardless of how often you use it.

Additional Software and Tools Expenses

Besides staffing costs, an in-house team will need different software, like project management tools and graphic design programs. These add their own expenses. It’s like setting up a home gym; beyond just the equipment, you’ll need to invest in the space’s mats, weights, and possibly even climate control.

Limited Skill Set

May Lack Diversity in Expertise

In-house teams might not have the wide range of expertise that a specialized agency can offer. For instance, you may have great writers but lack video production or SEO skills. Think of this as having a toolbox with only a hammer and some nails; you’ll find it limiting when you need to perform tasks that require a wrench or screwdriver.

Need for Continuous Training

In-house teams need regular training to keep up with the fast-changing digital world. This costs extra and takes time away from creating content. Imagine it like caring for a garden; you can’t just plant the seeds and walk away. You must water, fertilize, and prune regularly for optimal growth.

Scalability Challenges

Difficulties in Rapidly Expanding or Shrinking Operations

In-house teams aren’t as flexible with scaling up. If you suddenly need more content, you’ll have to go through the long process of hiring new staff. On the flip side, cutting back staff without layoffs during slow times can be tough. It’s like owning a big boat; you can’t easily adjust its size for different trips.

Making the Decision: Key Factors

Budget

Your budget is an important factor when deciding between in-house and outsourced content marketing. Look at initial and ongoing costs to see which option is more affordable for your organization. It’s like deciding whether to buy or rent a home; each choice has its own financial implications and commitments.

Business Goals

Your short-term and long-term business goals should play a big role in your decision. If you need to scale quickly, outsourcing might be the better fit. But, if keeping brand consistency and protecting intellectual property are important, an in-house team might be better. It’s like picking different ways to travel; each has pros and cons depending on where you’re going and what you want to experience along the way.

Skill Availability

Before deciding, check out the skills your team already has. If they can handle most content marketing tasks, building an in-house team might make sense. But if there are big skill gaps, outsourcing to specialists might be a smarter move. It’s like a DIY home project; if you have the tools and skills, you might not need to hire professionals. But for more complex tasks, it’s usually better to get specialists.

Recommendations

A balanced view is important since both in-house and outsourced content marketing have their pros and cons. The best choice depends on factors like budget, business goals, and your team’s skills.

Conditions Favoring Outsourcing

Budget Constraints: Outsourcing is often cheaper if you have a tight budget and want to avoid long-term commitments. Think of it like using a ride-sharing service instead of buying a car; it’s generally cheaper and requires less financial commitment upfront.

Need for Diverse Expertise: If your content marketing needs a mix of skills like video production, SEO, and graphic design that you don’t have in-house, outsourcing gives you quick access to all that expertise. This is similar to hiring a general contractor who can bring in different specialists for each aspect of a home renovation.

Scalability: If you need to scale up or down quickly, outsourcing is more flexible. It’s like using cloud storage; you can easily adjust the space you need without dealing with physical hardware.

Decision to Outsource

Deciding between in-house and outsourced content marketing is tricky and depends on many factors. It’s not a simple choice, like picking between renting or buying a home or choosing how to travel for a trip. The decision needs a thorough evaluation and should be tailored to your business’s unique needs and situation.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, look closely at your specific situation—budget, business goals, and your team’s skills. This way, you’ll be in a better spot to make a decision that fits your current needs and long-term goals.

Picture of SHANE MCINTYRE

SHANE MCINTYRE

Founder & Executive with a Background in Marketing and Technology | Director of Growth Marketing.