But 62% of businesses are capitalizing on this potential through outsourcing. While this may be a good option for some, it’s an even better idea to start out by creating your own marketing content.
This probably runs contrary to the advice you hear from other creative professionals, who are incentivized to push back against the DIY mindset that startup founders have.
Obviously there’s no substitute for having a trained creative or team of creatives writing, designing, recording, and deploying your content. Plus, you didn’t get into business to run a digital media operation (unless, of course, that’s your business). You got into it to do what you love: create customer-pleasing products, build a great business, and grow your reach and influence.
But when you outsource too soon, problems arise:
- Disgruntled creatives due to underpaid labor. When you outsource too early, you don’t have the funds to invest in highly skilled creatives. So you pay for what you can. Unfortunately, underpaid creative work results in poor quality and, often, a disgruntled person on the other side of the relationship.
- Less effective content due to lack of understanding on your company. If you’re stretched too thin, you can’t provide the relationship support your vendors need to create effective content.
- Wasted time on your part due to poor ROI. You may invest a lot of time in something that generates a poor return on investment. And your time is more precious and valuable than that.
Of course, at this stage in the game, you’re probably not going to create something that looks to rival HubSpot or IMPACT or other top marketing companies. But give your audience some credit: they’re going to care more about the substance, authenticity, and helpfulness of the content than flashy, slick production value.
And that, you can do:
- If you can write a descriptive email answering a customer question, then you can write a short blog post.
- If you can call a prospect and describe to them what you do and where you fit in the market, then you can record an audio podcast.
- If you can deliver a presentation over a video call, then you can record and post a video on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
More than that: according to marketing & sales expert Marcus Sheridan, content marketing is the “soul” of your company. “When you own your content creation,” he writes, “You own the soul of your business.” In addition to that, here are three benefits you’ll realize when you create your own marketing content.
1. You connect directly with your audience for feedback
You don’t get to decide whether your content is high quality. Your audience decides that when they engage with and gather value from the content you publish–or not.
Sure, there are basic standards of quality you have to meet. You have to write clearly and with good grammar. You have to create visually appealing graphics. Your audio shouldn’t be filled with static and pops, and your videos shouldn’t be so shaky that no one can see what you’re filming.
But the ultimate value of a piece of content lies in the value it brings to your audience and, thus, your business. The more you understand what your audience will respond to, the better able you’ll be to create high quality content.
That’s one of the reasons you should consider starting to create your own marketing content. When you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re the one reading the road signs–and looking out for other drivers. You’ll see first-hand audience reactions through page engagement stats, social media engagement, conversions and lead generation, and more.
This happens both quantitatively and qualitatively. You could post a YouTube video that skyrockets in terms of views; that’s a good quantitative sign that you’re performing well. Or you could post something on social media and you get an onslaught of positive comments, especially if they’re from new or prospective customers.
But why do you need to be the one to do this, whether that’s you personally, or a member of your internal team?
It’s a question of agility and speed. As you test out your content on your audience, you’ll still be learning what works for them and what they respond to. You may get it right out of the gate. But if you don’t, you may need to quickly shift your strategy and execution in response. That’s easier to do when you’re the one directly engaging in the content marketing strategy and execution.
2. You can establish yourself as an authority faster
Odds are, you’ve got a wealth of knowledge in your company that you can leverage to help boost your brand authority.
While the best agencies will likely interview and use the insights provided by your team’s subject matter experts, this process will take time. There’s also the risk that an agency is not going to “get it” as well as you or your team, which will only slow down the process.
But if you start out doing it yourself, you’ll get to leverage the insights and authority that you already have on your team:
- If you’re the founder, you’ve been listening to and responding to the market since long before your company was formed
- If you’re in marketing, you’re probably engaging in first-hand market research by listening to customers, competitors, and thought leaders in your space
- If you’re in sales or customer success, you’re on the front lines and probably know better than anyone how to speak to your customers’ needs
- If you’re in product, then you’ve spent your days developing something that customers are going to respond to
There’s a gold mine of industry experience and expertise that you can leverage in your content to build your brand authority. If you create your own marketing content, then you’ll have first-hand opportunities to tap into all this experience in your company quickly and easily.
Then, as you grow and establish yourself as an authority in the industry, you have a process for leveraging your internal expertise. Plus, everyone on the team will be used to contributing to your content. So the buy-in will already be there.
This means that when it’s time to bring in some help, they’ll be able to hit the ground running.
3. You’ll see first-hand what your gaps are
As you grow your content marketing operation, you’ll start to understand what you can do and what you can’t. The latter is probably just as important, if not more so, than the former.
Understanding the gaps that exist in your content operation will be critical information when you go to the next stage in expanding your business and, thus, your marketing investment.
In the startup world, everything is modular. Due to limited budgets and exceptional needs to generate large returns on investments, the activities you invest your time and money in must be only the ones that move your business in the right direction.
Knowing exactly what your content marketing gaps are means that you’ll be able to prioritize specific content skill sets, thus ensuring that you’re outsourcing the skill sets you need.