As the business owner or Director, there’s a lot of pressure on you to make the right call when it comes to investing in marketing support. Not only are you dealing with your own expectations, but potentially those of other directors and team members.
If you’ve been doing everything in-house until now, and this is the first time you’re spending cold, hard cash on your marketing, then you want to feel confident that you’re spending it in the right place.
And if you’ve worked with marketing consultants, agencies or freelancers before and had your fingers burnt, or simply didn’t see the results you were looking for, then you’ll want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
At the end of the day, you need to see a return from any investment you make in your company’s marketing.
We do offer content marketing consultancy at Content Boost, but we also understand that it’s not the solution for everyone. By giving you some insight into the advantages and disadvantages of hiring content marketing consultants and agencies, I can help you make the right decision for your business.
So here’s an honest look at the pros and cons of working with a marketing consultant or agency to develop your content marketing strategy.
Benefits of hiring a content marketing consultant
What are the advantages of working with a content marketing consultant/agency?
By hiring a content marketing specialist to work with you on your strategy, you’re gaining instant access to their expert knowledge.
They have spent considerable time and money investing in their own training and qualifications, which they’re passing on to you. Not only that, but they’ll bring all their experience from working with other businesses.
It’s from these experiences that they’ll have developed their own templates and ways of working that should make the development of your strategy a smooth and efficient process.
As a professional marketer, they are continually doing research and market analysis to ensure that they stay on top of new trends and best practice, which means you don’t have to.
And you also gain access to their network of contacts, which may include graphic and web designers, content writers and social media specialists to name a few.
So if, through developing your strategy, they identify areas where you need specialist support that are outwith their own remit, they can save you the time and hassle of finding a good supplier and connect you with their trusted associates.
One of the biggest benefits of working with consultants for content marketing is their objectivity. Being external to the business, they are not entangled in company politics or fixated on how things have been done in the past.
They’ll bring fresh insights and new ideas, and spot opportunities that may not be obvious at first glance. They’ll also be able to observe trends and patterns in your historic data that will help make informed decisions about your strategy going forward.
How long have you been saying “we really need to start producing content” or “we need a digital marketing strategy”, but not done anything about it?
A consultant offers accountability. By making the investment, you’ll kick-start the process. And by working with someone externally, you’ll be forced to give the development of your content strategy the time and attention it deserves.
They’ll help you set appropriate goals and targets, and give you an idea of what’s realistic and what to expect. And when it comes time to assign actions to members of the team (which is inevitable!), they can help make sure they get done.
If there’s been some debate and discussion internally about the direction you should take with your marketing strategy, a skilled content marketing consultant will help everyone get on the same page.
By helping all team members to understand the vision and purpose for the strategy, and how it impacts them personally, they’ll get their buy-in. Then, they can facilitate productive discussion that captures everyone’s ideas and concerns, transcending office politics.
Hiring a content marketing consultant saves you time. You don’t need to worry about conducting research or analysis, they’ll take care of that for you. It reduces your need for self-study to understand the ins and outs of content marketing, they’ll guide you through it.
Due to the focused attention you and your consultant will give your content strategy, the likelihood is you will reach your outcomes more quickly, which allows you to focus on implementation and starting to generate results.
All of these time savings enable you to spend time in other areas of the business.
Where recruiting an in-house Content Manager might seem like jumping in at the deep end, working with a consultant offers you flexibility.
It allows you to choose the best implementation approach for your circumstances. Whether that’s creating and distributing the content in-house, or outsourcing parts of the process.
As it’s a short-term commitment, you’re not nailing your feet to the floor, or putting yourself under pressure to recoup ongoing employment costs.
It’s also a cost-efficient option. You’re paying for a specific deliverable, or outcome, therefore productivity during the development process will be higher, and there is less chance of scope creep.
And it’s cheaper than recruiting an employee to develop the strategy in-house.
Drawbacks of hiring a content marketing consultant
What are the disadvantages of working with a content marketing consultant/agency?
Any external specialist that you bring into your business is going to incur a cost. Fees for content marketing consultancy may be charged hourly or as a fixed price for the project, and could be anywhere between £500 and £15,000 depending on the consultant and the scope.
But whilst there is a high initial outlay, you may be able to pay in instalments to help with cashflow. And remember that the purpose of the content marketing strategy is, ultimately, to generate sales! So you can expect the cost to be recouped in time.
Implementation not always included
Another thing to bear in mind is that implementation may not be included in the scope of the consultancy project.
This means that, before you engage a consultant, you need to be prepared for the ongoing cost of producing, distributing and measuring your content.
Whilst it may not be included in the project fee, your implementation plan should be discussed and agreed as part of the strategy development process. So make sure you ask any prospective consultant if this will be covered.
Because a strategy is no good without execution!
Risk of different visions
There are many benefits to working with someone external to your company, but there are some drawbacks too. One of these is the risk that they have a different vision for your content strategy.
Because however much time they spend with your staff, or your customers, they will never be embedded in the company. They won’t have the in-depth product or industry knowledge that you do. Nor will they have an awareness of wider company priorities, or historic issues, unless you tell them.
They might also have different values or a different ethos to you and your team, which could lead to a lack of understanding of the true goal for your strategy.
And you may find that you have conflicting ideas. Working with a consultant will involve taking honest feedback and criticism, which may or may not go down well! And there is always a potential for bias.
Any or all of these things could mean that a consultant isn’t the right fit for your company, so it’s important to have a detailed conversation before you embark on the project to understand their approach, and ensure that you’re both on the same page.
Knowledge/experience not internalised
A further drawback to working with an external consultant is that any knowledge that they gain throughout the project, as a product of their research and analysis, and discussions with the team, will be lost when you stop working together.
In order to build upon that work that you’ve done, you would need to work with the same person again.
If you had an employed Content Manager, this knowledge and experience would be retained within the company. And leading such a project could also be seen as an opportunity to develop that team member.
As with any type of project work, a content marketing consultant will be working to a scope.
This means the consultant will assign a limited amount of time to your content strategy project, and will be working with other clients simultaneously.
The scope will also define the deliverables for the project, so if new issues or ideas arise during the development of your strategy, they may need to be set aside and treated as a separate project at a later date.
An employed content manager would have more flexibility in terms of scope (although it should still be managed!), and would also be fully dedicated to the content strategy project.
There’s always an element of uncertainty in hiring an external consultant. They might talk a good talk, but do they really know what they’re talking about? Is their advice sound? And will you actually see results?
At the end of the day, there’s no escaping the fact that they’re an unknown quantity. But the way to mitigate the risk is to ask lots of questions about their process, ask for case studies and testimonials, and check out their own content to see if it rings true for your business situation and objectives.
Over to you…
- What are your biggest concerns about working with a consultant on your content marketing strategy?
- How could you mitigate these issues?
- What questions will you ask the prospective consultant beforehand?
I hope this has helped outline the main pros and cons of working with a content marketing consultant or agency to develop your strategy. If you have any questions, just leave a comment!