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The pros and cons of outsourcing your content

Outsourcing your content is a big decision. Weigh up the pros and cons beforehand.

Outsourcing your content production for the first time is a big move. Get it wrong and you will end up spending more time and resources on it than you ever have done before – and it could do unprecedented damage to your brand. Get it right, however, and you will be entering a paradise that will enable your brand to flourish. Martin Wanless explains.

Here are some of the pros and cons of outsourcing your content.

PRO: Someone else is responsible for it

Yep, that’s right. It’s no longer your responsibility. It’s your agency’s job to keep things on schedule, make sure content is being produced and is of a high standard. If someone resigns, it’s your agency’s problem to recruit and replace them – and get the job done!

CON: The agency you choose may not know the industry you work in as well as you do

Of course, not many will. However if you are going to outsource, you need to ensure that the agency you choose has a track record in a similar or comparable space. It may not be the same industry, but experience in a similar space will stand you in good stead.

PRO: You get the expertise of the whole agency

A good agency will come to you with the latest thinking and insights, and keep you on the ball. They will advise of best practice and present new initiatives to enhance your offering. They will advise you which technology platforms will work. They should have been there, researched it and done it. Why do all of the research when someone else has already done it?

CON: The agency you work with won’t do things the way you would have

If your agency just follows instruction to the letter you’re not getting good value. The agency you choose must challenge you to think differently, to think creatively and achieve more than you could have done yourself. If your agency is purely an order taker – or indeed, you want an order taker – outsourcing probably isn’t for you.

PRO: Cracking content will get you results

That’s the biggest pro. Engaging with an agency who knows what they are doing will deliver great results. They should be able to prove it. If strategy isn’t mentioned in the first meeting, walk out and talk to someone else!

CON: You need to be willing to hand over (some) control

If you want the best results, you need to trust. Even if you don’t think it’s the right cover/article/Tweet. If your agency can give a good rationale for doing something in a certain way, and if you want results, you’re going to have to take a leap of faith sometimes. After all, you’re engaging them for their expertise.

PRO: A good agency will have your back

Will this article get us into trouble? Will this new brand name get us sued? Will this Tweet cause controversy? A good agency should be able to identify issues before they become a problem.

CON: Sometimes you end up with juniors managing your account

Whoever you work with, you need to ensure the calibre of the people working on your account is going to be high. Why would you spend months negotiating with one set of people, only to never see them again after they’ve got the business?

PRO: It can be a wonderful experience that benefits your overall business

The agency you work with needs to be part of your team – you should use the same criteria you use to employ someone. They should be a cultural fit, you should enjoy your meetings with them, they should enhance what you do and bring the best out of you. They should be eternally reasonable and motivated by bringing you success.

CON: The agency may just do the job and get out of there

The agency you choose must be prepared to invest fully in your industry. They must be out and about making contacts, having conversations, and unearthing the stories that really matter to your audience. If they’re just in there to create some content and get paid, you deserve better.

PRO: You’ll get the benefits of being involved in something bigger

Sometimes when you’re working in a silo it can be a lonely experience. Working with a good agency will put you in touch with other marketers and CEOs, and will establish a great network for you to tap in to.

CON: You will be pestered…

Agencies love keeping things to schedule. If you have missed a deadline, there’ll be a phone call reminding you. Of course, as long as it’s done in the nicest possible way, we think that’s fine!

PRO: You could win awards!

If you outsource your content, and take the agency’s leadership, it should be of the standard to win awards. Backed by the right strategy you have a compelling case – your agency should know which awards to enter and should be an expert in award submissions.

CON: You will need to invest in it

That’s right, you will most likely need to invest. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ is true here. If someone offers you a deal that seems too good to be true, it will be. Your investment should be measurable, however, so by identifying the effect your content has on other parts of the business – most likely ending in sales – you can assess the effectiveness of your investment.

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