October 17th, 2012
by Chad Pollitt
The realization that content is king on the Internet has infiltrated the marketing world in a big way over the last few years. Content-producing startups seem to be popping up everywhere. In the content marketing world a mature company is only three to five years old, and some of those are getting bought up. Brands are shifting their budgets more towards internal and external content production, too. This is reflected in the growth of content marketing as an industry and a buzzword.
Content marketing organizations come in many different shapes and sizes. Some aren’t independent companies at all, but rather teams or departments inside of existing companies or marketing departments.
Regardless of the make-up, these content marketers create web content through one or more of the following production methods: researching and writing from scratch, outsourcing/crowdsourcing and editing, repurposing news or existing client content or a coaching/training model that facilitates content production by client employees.
Some of the above content creation production methods may work well for one client, but might not work as well for another. Below are the pros and cons of each content writing production method agencies (or internal teams) can deploy for their clients.
1. Writing from Scratch
Pros: There’s a lot of client stickiness to be had by having agency journalists or copywriters regularly conduct client interviews and research in order to produce content. This type of regular interaction via phone, computer or in person builds real relationships. If the journalist or copywriter has great skills, the resulting content can produce some level of gratification or pride in the mind of the interviewee.
Cons: It’s hard to find a cost-effective writer with real industry expertise for all of the industries represented by an agency’s client base. If the writer or journalist lacks real or up-to-date industry experience, the content can be bland, lack passion or be inaccurate.
However, some content marketing agencies alleviate this problem by only targeting verticals or crowdsourcing for expertise. Vertical specialization and crowdsourcing doesn’t always guarantee quality or passion-filled writing, though. This technique is also hard to scale and can be inefficient.
2. Outsourcing and Editing
Pros: Some agencies outsource or crowdsource content production for their clients, bring it back in-house and edit it before delivery. This process can have some scalability and efficiency.
Cons: Agencies that deploy this model are in somewhat of a middle-man position. Editors and account managers must efficiently communicate client corrections or updates to the third party writers to remain profitable. Rejections of this type of content are expensive for the agency. The problem can be exacerbated further if the writer speaks a different language natively.
3. Repurposing Existing Content
Pros: Tapping into older yet still relevant, content already produced by a client company and repurposing it into a new up-to-date piece of content has many benefits. It’s not much different than creating a research report in college. However, plagiarism is encouraged, rather than discouraged. There’s also efficiency and scalability for agencies using this technique.
Cons: Not all clients have sufficient quality or quantity of content to repurpose. Also, depending on the brand, some older, repurposed content may be difficult to get through compliance or past department heads.
4. Empowering Clients
Pros: This technique for creating content puts the heavy lifting back on the client. Many agencies provide a coach, mentor or consultant to help empower client employees to produce content. When rolled-out successfully, employees can be a great, passion-filled and expert source for the critical content relied upon for successful Internet marketing campaigns.
Cons: Client employees may not want additional responsibilities on top of their day-to-day activities. If a content coach is unsuccessful at motivating and training client employees, all of the other marketing tactics relying on content being published and shared in the first place will fail.
Each of the content production methods described above has pros and cons. Marketers and marketing organizations need to decide which ones to leverage to make their clients as successful as possible. Unfortunately, most content marketing companies and internal teams rely on only one of the production methods described above.
Content marketing as a service is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The reality is that to optimize results, maximize efficiency, reduce costs and keep clients happy, a mix of the above content production methods should be deployed. The appropriateness of the mix should be client or industry driven, tested and refined over time.
Director of Marketing at Slingshot SEO, Chad is a decorated veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, a former Army National Guard Commander and the Director Marketing at Slingshot SEO. He authored “The Content Marketing Manifesto” in 2012. His other writings and articles have been published in dozens of newspapers, magazines and websites throughout the world.