Let me ask you a question, if you will. When you started to read the heading above, did you cringe, even just a little bit? If your answer is yes, I’m not at all surprised. Outsourcing has become something of a dirty word in today’s world. When most of us hear the word, we tend to think of the growing trend in the business world to move operations like manufacturing, customer service, and IT to other continents, sending with it lots of jobs which are sorely missed here in the States. This practice, which has contributed to our current economic woes, and has, deservedly stirred up a lot of resentment and bitterness, is more correctly called “offshoring”, since it has to do with sending jobs overseas.
OK, then what exactly is outsourcing?
Outsourcing is a much more general term. It refers to companies contracting work to a third party, one that specializes in the type of work you need. It could include buying parts from overseas. The term is also used to describe relocating a part of your operation, like manufacturing or a call center to another country, which can really be considered offshoring. But most of the time, outsourcing simply refers to hiring someone who is not your employee to do a piece of specialized work, usually because of the specific skills or experience of that third party.
What kinds of work are companies outsourcing?
At this time, we’re really beginning to see more and more outsourcing of a variety of business processes. Many experts advise that it’s wise to outsource any processes that are outside of your company’s core competencies. The idea here is that when you’re already short on manpower, you’ll do well to use outside resources to complete any work that’s not part of your essential business services. The idea here is to get the work done by those who specialize in those functions, and allow you and your staff to focus on what you do best.
Some of the tasks which we’re seeing outsourced at an increasing rate are:
- Distribution / Fulfillment
- Risk Assessment
- Customer Support
- Web Design
- Computer Programming
Marketing? Really? I thought that was best handled by in-house salespeople…
Well, let’s not confuse sales and marketing, though the two functions need to work together closely. Marketing is a much broader category, which includes everything a company does to promote the products or services it’s selling. It’s an essential process, to say the least. You’ve absolutely got to get your brand name to be visible and known, as well as your products. With everything else that you need to do to refine your product offerings, and keep everything running, it can be a great advantage to have this work done by an outside firm.
So, what about content marketing?
Content marketing, in case you’re not familiar, is a particular strategic approach to marketing, which centers around, as the name suggests creating high quality content. It includes, blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, all written content focused on attracting your customer audience, keeping their attention, and, hopefully, converting them into buyers of your products or services.
That sounds great. But why would I want to outsource content marketing? Or anything for that matter…
It’s a good question. And it’s one we hear often from folks running startup companies or small businesses. That’s no surprise, really. When you’re building a company from the ground up, it’s natural to try to do everything yourself...for as long as you can. But at some point, you’re going to find yourself in a place where the volume of business you’re doing, and all the associated peripheral tasks become impossible to manage on your own. When you find yourself in this place, and we hope you do, it begins to make sense to identify the aspects of your business that can better be done by a third party. Let’s look at some of the advantages to outsourcing your content marketing and other key processes:
In-house employees are expensive.
If you want to use in-house staff to manage your content marketing, you’re going to need to pay them. That’s fairly obvious, but when you look at what it will cost you to bring in employees to do the worth, do keep in mind that their salaries are only one part of the cost. As soon as you put people on payroll, you’ll also be paying payroll taxes, health benefits, vacation and sick time, etc. You’ll need to provide them with office space, furniture, phones, computers, software, and more. And don’t forget the “soft costs” that often get overlooked, like recruitment, training, etc.
When you outsource, however, none of the costs associated with hiring and maintaining staff are your responsibility. That all falls under the purview of the content marketing agency. This not only gives you less management headaches, but it’s also potentially a great cost-saver. You simply contract the agency for the services that you need, and leave the staffing concerns to them.
Outsourcing saves you time.
Content marketing agencies save you time in a number of ways. First, and most obviously, outsourcing the work to an agency frees up your time by taking the work off your plate, which I’m sure is already overfilled with work. Second, a good agency is accustomed to producing high volumes of high quality work in a relatively short time frame. The third reason is actually based on another term that we hear bantered about, perhaps all too much: multitasking. Whether or not you’re really able to multitask, your marketing agency will have multiple staff members ready to work on your projects, so they can, in fact, truly multitask. It would be difficult enough for you to work on both blogs and eBooks simultaneously, but your outsourced agency can assign more than one person as needed to your content marketing campaign, to get multiple content creation projects worked on concurrently.
You can take advantage of the expertise of others.
Neither you nor your employees can be experts on everything, and chances are that there are plenty of tasks involved in running your business that are outside of your skillset and knowledge. For example, if you’re a dentist, it’s not likely that you are trained in managing a content marketing campaign. So when it comes time to launch your campaign, and you need content created, why not turn to the experts? They’ve got years of experience, and have probably produced thousands of pieces of high caliber writing. Outsourcing your content marketing allows you to use the talents of experienced professionals, when you and your staff lacks those specialized skills. Even if you’re able keep a marketing professional on staff, you can’t expect that one person will have all of the skills of the full team you’ll get when you hire an agency to do the work.
Outsourcing frees up your time for better uses.
When you’re running a growing business, you’ve certainly got more demands on your time than there are hours in the day. So, with experts who can handle your content marketing with a high level of professionalism, and save you money, you can devote your precious time to the activities that you started your business for.
So, outsourcing my content marketing isn’t evil?
No, it’s not evil. Don’t confuse outsourcing with offshoring. Outsourcing of the right functions, like content marketing, is a very viable option, with very real and immediate benefits to you and your company.