Outsourcing Content Curation and Marketing in the Outdoor Industry
Based on the moves made by successful businesses in 2017, content and the lasting positive effects it has on search still is a huge part of a well rounded digital presence. In 2018, you could be asking yourself “what efforts should I make for content this year?”. One part of this effort will be (at least it should be) content curation and content marketing. Creation and marketing of high quality, relevant, and purposeful content in the form of video, photo, and writing that drives consumers to profitable consumer action. This content curation and marketing can be fulfilled by either internally hiring a content marketing manager or outsourcing content to an agency or freelance writers. Now arrives the question…” should you hire internally, or outsource”?
Your Brand’s Debate
Now as your company debates the question of whether or not you should outsource content or hire an internal content marketer, many comments will be brought up in favor, but more likely against outsourcing content. Hiring a content marketing manager gives you control of a well-connected source you can readily reach, communicate, and work with. Above all I feel like the main argument in favor of hiring internally is a consistent brand voice. While these arguments are made in favor of hiring internally, outsourcing content will likely be belittled with comments centered on lack of brand voice, expenses, lack of expertise, lack of internal company communication, and most of all lack of trust from business to business or business to individual (depending on if you go with outsourcing to agency or individual freelance outdoor writers). While all of these are valid to a degree, my aim here is to settle the debate once and for all.
As the outdoor industry navigates the treacherous waters after last year’s DGA, as a brand and company in this industry you should realize that you are already starting the content marketing race late. For more than three years now many top outdoor industry personalities, influencers, hunting product giants, and creative brands have been adapting and perfecting their content marketing efforts. Their success is a testimonial to the validity of the DGA and why it arrived last year. With that being said, will hiring internally or outsourcing catch your company up, yield similar results to the pioneers of the industry, or outcompete these already established digital authorities?
Pros and Cons
Before we dive into the most important aspect of this argument, the numbers, it’s a good idea for your business to dive into the pros and cons of both options. These will simplify the debate but also create some progress to a logical decision before looking at the numbers.
Internal Content Marketing Manager
- Control – and a lot better line of communication is a great argument for an internal hire. They are a part of weekly or daily internal meetings, sensitive or confidential information, and would be already apart of new product or service development.
- Brand Voice – again one the biggest arguments for hiring a content marketing manager internally would be a unified and consistent brand voice. Essentially It is much easier to for an internal content marketing manager to be consistent with voice in relation to information, products, or services. Think about it simply as the manager being able to comfortably use “we” in content, instead of a freelance writer speaking only to readers.
- Less Expensive – considering what you know or think content curation and marketing is. An internal hire, depending on the skill set and experience level, is most likely less expensive than hiring an agency or freelance individual on a flexible schedule. However, this comes at a cost to your content. I have seen many internal content creators focus on only their given skill set or area of interest, leaving a gap in marketing the content as a whole.
- Tolerance – you could have the worst product or service in the industry compared to your competitors. It is a harsh reality but hiring internally will only create a continuation of the problem. Hiring internally means his/her salary is based on tolerating and accepting the product or service and marketing it. Therefore, most if not all of the content will lack the excitement and life.
- Creativity – being in an office environment….no matter how “creative”, “radical”, or “progressively open” you feel it may be will dull creativity. Why? Minds in an office or internal environment think alike. Decisions and marketing efforts become funneled, and it can be easy for a creative content marketing manager to lose creativity over time. This also comes down to other employee’s suppression of ideas, content, and campaigns that are outside the box…as it is not the “norm” of the internal environment.
Freelance Outdoor Writers or Agency
- Creativity – flows from a creative content agency or freelance writer. They are the outsiders looking in. Chances are they have perceived your brand for years, they are the consumers, giving them a unique and valuable perspective. This also creates diversity, something that could bring new life into your brand and even your brand’s voice.
- Experience – is hard to come by. I don’t mean writing ability or even hunting/fishing experience. Normally this sets freelancers aside, but agencies bring more experience to the table as a whole. Not only writing and content creation, but an agency could bring a skillset to the table that could generate twice or three times as much profitable consumer action than an internal hire. They also continually work with other brands in the industry and have direct access to trends, fluctuations, and other content in the industry.
- More Bang for your Buck – …literally. The experience and skill set that comes from outsourcing content to an agency could also create relationship and infrastructure for other needs. These could be social media marketing, web/graphic design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), video production, analytics, and a host of other services most marketing agencies or a well-rounded individual freelancer could offer.
- Communication – is absolutely the number one architect or destroyer of a brand’s success when it comes to outsourcing content. I have seen brands go from a top content authority in this industry to the very bottom over just a few short months…what happened? Communication stopped! Communication, to a level of an open phone line at any time, is often needed to create, syndicate, and market content freely and successfully.
- Expensive – hourly or contracted agencies and freelancers are one of the first reasons brand hire internally. Good agencies or freelance writers know what their value is worth to you. However, they normally bring a broader and more experienced skill set to the table to create more effective content and ROI’s on content.
The Needed Skillset
I brought up the terms experience and skill set over and over again in the pro’s and con’s section, and for good reason. Now, obviously, I am leaning you towards making a decision to hire an agency for internal content marketing efforts. Most of the time the majority of business owners and marketers agree that this is a great route, especially if you have limited resources. However, I also know that one key hire could contain all of the skills set’s necessary to fulfill what an agency could…but that would be golden goose in terms of this industry. You won’t come by a marketer that can not only write or manage writing over numerous outdoor industry topics, or niche specific topics, that can also post, optimize (SEO), syndicate, and market that content on social media channels…at least in a way that doesn’t look like a train wreck. Optimization of content alone using SEO tactics can double if not triple content’s ability to drive traffic and drive profitable consumer action. Most content creators/marketers might have SEO on their resume but do they have the numbers or case studies to prove their understanding?
I can’t argue that the right individual that has the skillset, experience, knowledge base, organization, and drive could be a smarter investment for your brand. Again, this golden goose most likely has his/her own brand or company already and is not floating around looking for a job. However, I know that an agency is a lot more likely to have this skill set and experience covered. Checks and balances between individuals and departments in an agency prevent such train wrecks that could result from lacking in one area of content marketing.
Numbers to Prove Agency Success
While I can’t directly attest to a successful content marketing strategy from an internal hire, I can report impressive results from businesses that chose to outsource content to Stone Road Media (SRM). One client…let’s just name “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” employs many SRM services including content, SEO, and syndication. Without giving away to much confidential information or industry secrets, the following numbers give you glimpse of what a successful agency can do for your brand and business. Over the course of multiple year relationships, “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” grew both page views and sessions by around 70% (70% increase for 2017 vs 2016 and 2016 vs 2015). Organic traffic increased around 167% year over year from 2015 vs 2016 and again from 2016 vs 2017, an impressive increase considering page views are pushing close to 3 million!
Number’s from Stone Road Media’s 2018 ATA Show Content Marketing Kit.
This is a testament to the ability of an agency to fulfill a brand’s need for content marketing. Above all, it can show you what you are missing out on by either not implementing your own content marketing strategy or what your internal hire might not be achieving.
By any means, this blog and others like it on this website should be a comparison to how you approach digital marketing in the years to come. With the rest of the Outdoor Industry pushing forward into the digital marketing realm, how long will you wait and fall behind?