Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Outsourcing Your Marketing Content Creation? Watch Out for These 3 Issues

Have you been thinking about outsourcing your marketing content creation? Whether you're a small business owner or a turnkey provider of marketing solutions, strategic outsourcing can make your life a lot easier. But it's not as simple as posting an ad on an online job board and scooping up the lowest bidder. Here are three potential headaches you want to watch out for.

1. Language Barriers

The modern age of cloud collaboration and digital outsourcing has created a wealth of options for getting stuff done quickly and cheaply -- as any devotee of Timothy Ferriss's 4-Hour Work Week will tell you. But when it comes to creative, informative, well-written content, you still get what you pay for. Outsourcing's ability to turn the whole world into your marketplace can create problems in this regard. Many freelancers are willing to work for an astonishingly low price because they live in parts of the globe where a little money goes a long way -- and English is not necessarily the native lingo in these areas. No matter how fluent these writers may be in the language, their writing may contain some quaint surprises based on local usage habits.

Even where English is the dominant tongue, you need to watch out for national or cultural differences. The English language has taken on a wide range of fascinating colorations over the centuries, not only within its mother country but also in the course of its travels from one culture to another. The subtle but clear differences between American English and British English are an obvious example. Make sure your freelancer is both functionally fluent and colloquially fluent in the style of English you need for your target market. If you're catering to a UK audience, for instance, make sure your American freelancer is making proper use of British English ("jumper" for "sweater," "colour" for "color," single quotation marks instead of doubles, et cetera).

2. "Writers" Who Aren't Writers

Your outsourced writers may not be writers at all, especially if they're part of some larger online marketing package you've signed on for. Case in point: I recently had a client present me with a pile of blog articles that were almost unreadably bad -- randomly structured, repetitive, and in some cases not even relevant to the business's target audience. The client explained that he'd been getting this level of quality (?) on a regular basis, fixing the articles himself as best he could before publication. He could no longer spare all the extra hours required for editing them, so could I repair them or replace them with all-new pieces. I asked him why he hadn't simply assigned the job to me in the first place. He answered, "Well, these guys offer free blogging along with the website hosting and SEO I'm already buying from them." I pointed out that the blogging wasn't exactly "free" if he had to waste his valuable time fixing them (or hire a professional writer to make them work).

When an inbound marketing company includes content creation among its various other services, always ask about the credentials of the person doing the writing. The firm might think it just makes sense to hand the job over to the SEO guy or the web designer or whoever. But if you want articles that are not only well optimized and nicely laid out but also compelling and engaging, then you need to confirm that the company has a freelance writer -- or go find one of your own.

3. Lack of Communication

If you do bring a separate freelance copywriter into your outsourced marketing mix, then you're also dropping one more cook into the proverbial kitchen. An additional member of the marketing team means additional opportunities for communication failures and disagreements. This is particularly true if your writer has no direct access to the people managing your account. If your writer communicates only with you, and you communicate only with your marketing provider, then you're stuck in the middle as liaison, interpreter and peacekeeper. Outsourcing is supposed to free up your time, not swallow more of it.

The smart strategy here is to get your writer and your marketing company talking to each other directly. This allows these two parties to do their thing, talk to each other efficiently using marketing-industry-speak, and genuinely collaborate on a powerfully effective final result.

Outsourcing your marketing content can do fabulous things for your productivity, not to mention the quality of the content itself. Just take care to hire the right professional for the job, and then make it easy for that professional to contribute as a real part of the team.