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January 17, 2017 (Updated: April 7, 2020)
Teaming up with a production company to outsource your content marketing strategy can be stressful for some. How do I convey my strategy to the production company? How do I give feedback? How will they know my brand image, core values, or guidelines that must be followed? These are a few important questions that might be in your thoughts. With 62 percent of today’s companies outsourcing their content marketing, having a positive experience is necessary for success. Whether you currently outsource your content marketing or are maybe just thinking about it, here are a few ways marketers can successfully outsource great content.
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We have all heard it before: organization is key. In the case of outsourcing, organization is critical for a successful marketer to content marketing team relationship. Organization should be present from the beginning of the relationship. Even if you are not quite sure of your marketing strategy, be organized with what your company needs. Decide who will be managing the content providers from the start. Having too many hands in the cookie jar can easily lead to disorganization or a possible negative relationship with your provider. Try to stick with one person ordering content and sending feedback. This will help align communication and decrease multiple emails with bits and pieces of project information.
Once you decide to outsource your content marketing, gather as much information as possible. CopyPress asks each client to complete a quick creative brief for each campaign or project they are looking to create. The creative briefs help our client strategist team better understand the scope of the campaign, who your target audience is, and the end goal of the project. From there, we create a style guide for each client and campaign.
The style guide assists the writers, editors, and QA team in creating the content you expect. It is essential for scaling content production, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Be sure to review any style guide created. Give feedback and thoughts on content style, tone, format, linking, etc. Again, the more information you can provide, the easier the content creators can understand what you are looking for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you are unsure of something or confused by any terms, ask. This will help clear up any misunderstandings from either side and set the teams up for success.
When outsourcing content production, an adjustment period or test period is vital to a successful relationship with your provider. This period is used to create style guides, learn your company’s expectations, and find quality writers that fit. Not all writers will be a great fit for your company. The content production company searches for writers that may fit the style we perceive you are looking for (based on information given in questionnaires, style guides, etc.) but their writing style may not be a perfect fit.
If you receive content that is not up to your expectations, communicate your concerns with your point of contact. Describe what you do not like, what you like, and your concerns. Your point of contact should review all of the documents and information provided, as well as the content delivered. They should work with the writer on improving the piece or bring on a new writer to the campaign. Any feedback is positive feedback in the adjustment phase.
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As in many relationships, communication is a key factor to success. Positive feedback is just as important as negative feedback. Positive feedback allows the writer to see an example of the work expected. Negative feedback gives the writer an example of what is disliked and why. Both positive and negative feedback are important to the writer in discovering your expected writing style.
When giving feedback, be sure to use track changes and comments instead of just updating the content. Again, this shows the team what you are looking for, what was disliked, and how to improve the style guide and future content pieces. Feedback in emails can get misinterpreted or lost when forwarding to the writers. Also try to explain any subjective feedback. What one person may call a “too cartoony” digital media project could be interpreted in many ways. Should the designer change a small style aspect to the image, like the face or outline? Should the piece have imagery instead of illustrations?
Timely responses improve content quality and writer satisfaction. When a writer receives feedback weeks past the content delivery, the content in question is not fresh on their minds. Writers work on multiple projects and campaigns simultaneously. Revisiting a piece that was completed two or three weeks ago is difficult to do. Slow feedback may also affect the writer’s satisfaction with the campaign. If feedback is slow and it is difficult to close a campaign, the writer will be less willing to take on more work. Your ideal response time should be within 48 hours. Timely responses also encourage timely work from the creator.
We all have projects that pop up and need immediate attention. While it is critical to review timelines, both the client and creator need to have realistic expectations. A 1,000-word quality content piece is not going to be completed overnight, nor should it take an exorbitant number of days. Creators have multiple projects they work on and timelines for each. CopyPress suggests to discuss timeline expectations before the project begins. This will get both sides in line and set up for campaign success. Try using a project management system. We use Zoho Projects. Zoho Projects assists both parties with management. You can add milestones, tasks, due dates, and assign them to the party responsible. It is a great way to outline the production process and hit expectations.
As a client strategist at CopyPress, I have experienced some great relationships with clients and some not so great relationships. Remember communication and organization are always helpful in any type of relationship. To set yourself and your content production team up for success, follow the tips above. Remember to communicate any questions, concerns, or information you have on the project. Good luck!
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