If you want to develop a successful content marketing program, it’s wise to understand the different types of content assets that contribute to successful content marketing efforts – as well as which types are most appropriate for each stage of the customer buying journey.
The next step, which is usually the most challenging for marketers, is figuring out how to actually get content created.
In this post we’ll look at the four most common approaches.
1. Insourcing: The first option, and usually the go-to for most marketers, is to create the content assets yourself. Using this method, your organization maintains control through every step of the process by leveraging the in-house team of content writers, graphic designers, and web designers. Additional resources sometimes tapped into depending on the complexity of the product or service include subject matter experts.
However, there are several downsides to this approach, so using it exclusively usually isn’t the best approach for most organizations.
In-house resources always have other competing priorities, commonly leading to lapsed deadlines and bottlenecks. Also, there’s the potential for inconsistency in output and quality if there are multiple writers and designers on the team, each of whom has varying skillsets and creative style.
Addressing these hurdles can be time-consuming, especially for more complex content projects, and potentially take longer than using other content creation approaches.
2. Agency: Another option is to hire a marketing or creative agency to take care of your content creation requirements. This has an immediate appeal for several reasons. It gives you scale and flexibility, you can tap into the agency’s larger pool of creative talent, and agencies will have the insight in knowing which content assets have worked for other clients.
In short, you have a small army of content and design specialists at your disposal. Hiring any agency also comes with reference checks and thorough due diligence, which provides some assurance in terms of
The downsides are that most of the time you’re paying high hourly rates, and agencies can be slow moving at times because they’re also serving other clients. In terms of time commitment, you still need to manage them, provide direction, inputs, and factor in time to review and approve all content assets.
3. Freelancers: Freelancers are often a breath of fresh air if you’ve had problems creating content through insourcing or agencies. They are often less expensive than an agency, and if you do your due diligence, you can find freelancers who are on par with agencies in terms of talent and expertise. Another great advantage is that often specialize in certain areas (e.g. video production, or eBook designer) so you can basically find an expert in any type of content you want to get created.
Freelancers are flexible and can work on an hourly or a flat rate basis, and will work until you are happy with the end product. There are also several popular sites where you can hire freelancers, so this makes finding them easy. It’s a competitive field so many of them are constantly keeping their skills up to date.
But, just like all of the approaches, there are a few downsides to hiring a freelancer to help you with content creation. One challenge is that there’s minimal oversight, so it’s really up to you to find the best resource and hope they can deliver as promised. Also, they typically require payment through credit card or PayPal as soon as a project is finished (or payments at predetermined intervals over the course of the project) which means your finance department loses a bit of control over vendor payment cycles.
Also, remember freelancers are not your employees. They’re hired to perform a task so if your needs change or expand halfway through a project, you may need to set up another project or revisit the original project cost. You may also encounter problems with some freelancers failing to meet deadlines or expectations.
4. Content Marketplace: The fourth approach is really a hybrid of the agency and freelancer model, but typically offers the best aspects of each. The content marketplace model enables organizations to create content assets on-demand by leveraging technology, managed services, and a vast network of creative talent, including designers, writers, developers, creative directors, and animators.
With this model, the content marketplace vendor is part of the entire process which adds a level of oversight and accountability missing from some of the other models. The organization simply submits their requirements, a price is agreed, and based on the brief the organization completes, you are matched with the creative resources best suited to create your custom content asset or project.
Communication is maintained throughout the entire process. Content assets are delivered at the highest level of quality, on time, and in-line with your expectations. The content marketplace model also allows you to scale your production of visual content with ease and without hiring additional resources. Additionally, project costs can typically align with most budgets.
Most content marketing projects will leverage resources that fall into these four categories, and while it is tempting to argue for one over another, it is really dependent on your particular situation. For a deeper dive into it all, take a look at The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Content Creation, the essential Content Creation 101.
How do the world’s best brands like Salesforce, Nike and L’Oreal create highly successful content marketing programs? Download The Modern Marketer’s Guide to Content Creation to find out.