To hire marketing talent or to hire an agency? Insourcing vs. Outsourcing.
Jun 3, 2015
According to Content Marketing Institute (CMI), in 2014 only 43% of companies were both insourcing and outsourcing B2B content creation. More than half were relying on only in-house talent or only an agency. Both strategies are likely doomed for long-term failure for reasons listed below. The solution to finding greater content marketing success—from strategy and creation, to distribution and measurement—is only through a hybrid of both insourced and outsourced talent and expertise.
The reasons for—and the shortcomings of—insourcing everything
That same year, 56% of B2B marketers were only insourcing content creation. There are three key reasons you may decide to insource everything:
- You want to have a sense of control, as you don’t have to rely on outsiders who don’t know the brand and audience inside and out.
- It seems—although it isn’t always—most cost effective to insource all content creation.
- There’s the talent aspect; companies think they can gain agility by having greater connection between industry expertise and content-creating talent inside their own walls.
The problem with insourcing everything is that you’ll never get the agency-level talent, quality and execution inside your own business. It’s difficult to inject content-making creative into a company whose main focus is something entirely different; engagement lacks in terms of culture because it’s not the core business.
Additionally, decision by committee is problematic internally, as too many people are involved in too many aspects. Leadership and process tend to get in the way. Ultimately, quality and speed suffers.
Outsourcing everything leads to noise
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s outsourcing everything. You’ll find content marketing expertise with an outside agency, but little industry expertise. Without a deep knowledge of the business, no high-value content will be created – and valueless content, no matter how high of quality, is just noise.
The need for valuable content
One of CMOs’ biggest complaints is that they can’t keep up with the demand for valuable content. In fact, 55% of B2B content marketers say they are challenged with producing enough content, and 47% have trouble producing engaging content. While they have the industry expertise in-house, they need the marketing talent that an agency offers. The most effective, long-term approach is to have internal groups work with external partners to keep up with the demand of valuable content.
Considering the cost of time and money
To create your own hybrid for the proper volume of high-value content and to be able to execute on the right strategy, you need to consider volume, quality and speed as it pertains to cost – both of your time and your money. While it takes time and money to hire a group of in-house talent, also consider the time it takes to get them culturally ingrained into the organization.
Sixty-nine percent of B2B Content Marketers said their greatest challenge is a lack of time. Using only in-house talent requires an incredible amount of time and carries the risk of uncertainty. Typically the dollar isn’t as important as the time it takes away from other business tasks. Whereas an agency can create much higher quality content, and create it faster, but that option is more expensive in the short term. Companies need to decide that balance of money, time and talent to find their ideal hybrid.
Finding the perfect balance
So if insourcing everything results in poor quality and slower speeds, and outsourcing leaves out value, what’s the right balance? You must balance industry expertise with content marketing expertise, keeping volume, quality and speed in mind.
After you’ve implemented your hybrid, look at the indicators of your success – then adjust your balance from there. Consider the metrics you predefined… audience awareness, share of voice, and conversions – from signing up for a newsletter, view of a video, or actual moment of lead generation (like registration for more information). Without understanding what you need to measure, you won’t be able to perfect your hybrid.
The right balance of insource and outsource will be highly effective with collaboration. The formula for really fast, valuable content is the talent and speed of an agency combined with enterprise expertise and involvement.
As the founder of Centerline, I consider myself fully accountable for the creative direction and quality of content that Centerline delivers. But my true expertise is problem-solving — specifically using both the right and left sides of my brain to find creative solutions to big business issues. Here at Centerline, we combine strategy and media elements to create compelling, immersive experiences that generate traffic and awareness. The chance to do that better every day keeps me coming to work. Before founding Centerline in 1996, I was a power generation engineer for General Electric, providing energy solutions in developing countries of the Pacific Rim. Today I continue to expect the unexpected and work to always raise the bar for what we deliver to our clients.