Imagine you are sitting in a room with 100 TVs on at the same time. What would it take for just one of these TVs to capture your attention in the midst of all the chaos? Something quite special, right? This is the challenge facing most marketing teams these days. Everyone is busy creating content which adds an incredible amount of background noise to the digital world. In this environment, it is difficult for a single message to break through.
This problem becomes even more acute for small businesses that lack the resources to build highly skilled in-house content marketing teams. As a result, small businesses either find new solutions to fill this skills gap or risk being left behind by their competitors.
Develop external partnerships
A common strategy that many small businesses use to find content marketing support is to partner with an outside agency. While this approach can be incredibly effective, it still requires strong internal leadership able to identify internal strengths and gaps, delegate responsibilities to external partners, and unite both parties to pursue meaningful common goals. So how do companies combine internal and external resources to develop a winning content marketing strategy? It starts with identifying the roles of your team.
Common content marketing roles
Before a business engages with an outside agency, it must internally examine what resources it already has, its bandwidth to take on content marketing tasks, and the skills it lacks. At the end of this audit, a company should have a clear idea of what help it needs from its partner agency and how the two parties could potentially work together. Here are the most common roles that businesses will need to fulfill:
A good place to start this audit is to identify who is leading the content marketing efforts. The title of this person may be different depending on the size of the organization. However, their professional responsibilities should be devoted to marketing.
This internal marketing manager will drive the strategy, define the relevant objectives and supervise internal and external resources. As such, they will ideally have direct access to executive level leadership to gain insight into the performance and planning of the business.
Content marketing strategists fulfill many essential roles. First, they define what the team is trying to accomplish and the tactics they will use to achieve their goals. Strategists understand what internal resources are available, how to deploy content to reach a target audience, and how to modify content based on success, failure, or changing business conditions. Successful strategists also understand what a business’s target audience wants or needs and what kind of content they’re most likely to share.
People with production skills use visual and written information to create useful marketing content. These skills generally fall into three different categories:
- Writing : These producers write short or long content in a variety of media, including social media posts, video scripts, white papers, and more. It helps to have multiple writers, if possible, as they often have different strengths and weaknesses.
- Designers: Graphic designers who can create a consistent look for their brand across many different content categories are very valuable team members. Designers and writers often work closely together to produce content.
- Internal experts: This internal resource provides the topics, facts, and statistics that other producers use to create compelling marketing content. Usually, internal experts are high-level employees such as CEOs or other product and service experts. However, some companies use lower level employees as internal experts to develop them as thought leaders or position them for speaker or webinar roles.
Once a content team has created something, they need to put it where people can see it. This is where distributors come in. Content channels generally fall into three broad categories:
- Media held includes assets that the business controls such as its website, blog, social media properties, or email newsletter.
- Media won, also known as public relations (PR), places company-created content on third-party channels such as TV, newspapers, industry publications, and podcasts.
- Paid media includes social media and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Distributors include many different roles, from public relations professionals to website staff to search engine marketers and more. How they distribute content will depend on the marketing strategy and where the audience for a specific piece of information lives. Strategists and distributors often work closely together to create this plan of attack.
How does an agency fit in?
Now that you have identified the roles you can fill in-house and those you will need to outsource, you can choose your partner agency. Most agencies can perform any of the functions listed above. However, some agencies specialize in one particular area rather than another, such as PPC or PR. The good news is, you don’t have to hand everything over to the agency. You can mix your skills with theirs until you find the right formula for shared success.
If you’re building a content marketing operation from scratch, partnering with an agency can also help you determine what roles you hire internally. For example, suppose your partner agency has writing resources. In this case, you may choose to hire a versatile designer who can contribute to other parts of your business rather than a more specialized content producer.
Most importantly, agency partnerships allow businesses to remain flexible based on their needs, goals, and internal resources. Agencies can also help businesses scale when new marketing demands exceed existing capabilities.
Built for success
Creating compelling content marketing resources is essential for businesses to market their products and services. Partnerships with agencies help these businesses develop more sophisticated content that more effectively reaches their target audience. These partnerships are also often less costly than bringing in the necessary skills and resources.
So, if you are considering engaging with an outside agency, first assess what skills you have, and then think about how your partner agency can increase the skills that you might be lacking. By remaining flexible and communicating clearly, you can leverage the resources and expertise of your partner agency to develop a successful content marketing strategy.
Image courtesy of Kaleidico via Unsplash