Should You Outsource Your B2B Content Marketing?

Does your website have a blog? Have you posted articles to it? Have you posted new content consistently? It’s okay if you haven’t answered yes to all of these (or any of these) questions. Many small to mid-sized businesses struggle to get a handle on their content marketing. It’s a serious struggle for B2B service companies because they know they can use their blogs to illustrate their expertise, if only they could find the time to publish great content. So that may be why you should consider outsourcing your content marketing.

Why Invest in Content Marketing?

Studies show that those companies who invest in their content marketing have 55% more site visitors than those who don’t. Why does this matter? Because content marketing turns your website into a lead generation engine. Your ideal buyers (which you determined by creating B2B buyer personas, right?) will self-identify by interacting with your web content. If your content resonates with them, then they do things like subscribe or download your eBooks and slideshows.

Leads generated by your website are leads you didn’t have to chase down. They are leads who have shown you that they are interested in your services and in your company. Great content is an investment that keeps on giving as long as your website is up.

How Do You Know If You Need to Outsource Your Content Marketing?

Okay, you’ve determined that content marketing will help you establish trust with leads and create serious ROI. But how do you know if you need to outsource your content creation and marketing?

Do You Have Anyone with Content Marketing Skills on Your Team?

So first, so you have anyone in your company who has content marketing skills? There are quite a few technical skills involved, but the basics are:

  • Ideation and Strategy: You can create a content strategy and tell the writers what to write.
  • Writing: You can put pen to paper and the words flow to your target audience.
  • Topic Expertise: You’re a subject matter expert.
  • Distribution and Promotion: Once the writing is done, you know how to position it and distribute it best for maximum reach.

Depending on what your business is, it can be a struggle to find even one of these skills in your organization. Don’t let the “writing” skill fool you. When I write that, I mean writing that is optimized for search engines as well as your target audience. Great writing can languish at the bottom of search results if you don’t write so search engines understand that it’s great.

Finding one person with two or more of these skills can border on the impossible for smaller organizations. When you try to find one person with all of the skills, well we like to call those a unicorn. When discussing job postings with other content professionals, sometimes all you have to say is “Oh, they’re looking for a unicorn.” and that justifies not applying.

The one thing I recommend companies let go of is finding someone with their exact niche experience. If you can find someone who can create your strategy, write/optimize, and distribute and promote it effectively, then take that person and teach them what they need to know about your specialty. Or resign yourself to perhaps finding writers with niche expertise, and also hiring a content marketer to work with them.

You have good writers in your company, but don’t they have jobs?

When you assign writing to people in your company, they often do well at first, but…. You need to post fresh content to your blog and social media channels and send new content to your email list consistently in order to have the best results.

Any writer in your company already has a job, correct? Unless you hire them just to write for you. So eventually, as things come up, your content creation and distribution gets pushed to the wayside, leaving you with a blog that hasn’t been posted to in 3 months…. 9 months….. a year. Until someone remembers it, posts a few times, and then leaves it alone again.

Maybe You Hired Freelance Writers, and Things Are Getting Out of Hand

So you hired freelance content creators, and things are getting crazy. It’s almost a full-time job to manage all of them. Not to mention, you struggle to manage all of the distribution channels. And are you sure that blog post was optimized?

When you have multiple contributors, in-house or freelance, it can cost you a lot of time to keep things straight and on schedule. So you should consider hiring a content marketer to tie your marketing goals to your sales goals, create your strategy, implement your content plan, and optimize, distribute, and promote your content.

What Does an Outsourced Content Marketing Solution Look Like?

You don’t have to outsource your entire content marketing strategy. Here are some ways content professionals can help you:

  • Create a content marketing strategy you can implement in-house
    • Pay them for a few extra hours each month, and have them create your content calendar too
  • Consult with them as needed for content marketing pushes (i.e. for large events or new services)
  • Have them train your in-house staff on aspects of content marketing
  • Hire a content marketer to manage content created by your in-house team

Of course, a content marketing solution could also be completely Done For You (DFY). This is definitely the most expensive option because it requires the most time and skill. It becomes more expensive if you expect one person to handle everything. A DFY solution typically looks like:

  • Ideation and strategy creation, providing an overview of how social media, the blog, email, and premium content pieces will all be used.
  • Annual, quarterly, and monthly content calendars and plans (sync with company events and initiatives)
  • Producing regular content that is:
    • Optimized for search engines
    • Contains royalty free photos or photos that you own
      • You’ll want those photos edited to have your brand and blog post title to optimize for sharing (like the ones you see in this blog)
    • Contains authoritative links to non-competitive websites
  • Content management (drafting and scheduling all approved content)
  • Repurposing old content (taking a video and turning it into a blog post for example)

If you completely outsource your content marketing, I highly recommend finding a content marketer you can work with first. Allow them to find the best blog, email, and social media writers. This would be the most cost-effective option for a completely outsourced solution.

So there you have it. Does your company have the symptoms of needing to outsource some or all of it’s content marketing strategy?

Shoot me a message to schedule a free consultation with you to see how you can start using your website to attract the sorts of leads who really need and value your services.

Should Your Business Be on Social Media?

Should your business be on social media? A lot of business owners ask themselves this question these days. Perhaps your business is new, and you’re wondering if you’re “big enough” for social media. The answer is YES, you’re big enough for social media. If Grumpy Cat can have a Facebook page, then your business is big enough. Or maybe you’ve been in business for quite a while, and you believe that you don’t need social media. Well, I’m not saying your business is going to fail without social media, but could you do better if you reach your customers where they spend most of their time? The answer again is YES.

Continue reading “Should Your Business Be on Social Media?”

How to Hire the Best Freelance Writers: The Path to Success!

You’ve done it! You’ve started to see returns on your content marketing efforts. Not only has your site started to get organic traffic (i.e. from Google) and social media traffic, you’ve gotten some leads and a few sales from it! But it was a ton of work! You had to:

  • Write the blog posts and social media posts,
  • Create your lead magnets,
  • Set up the landing pages,
  • And automate email campaigns.

As a small or mid-sized business owner, you understand the value of content marketing, but you know managing it all yourself just isn’t sustainable! Enter: your freelance content team!

You have a lot of work to do before you can actually hire anyone. All of this work is an investment though. Because once you hire quality content creators, marketers, and/or a manager, you won’t have to worry about your content creation anymore.

Decide on Your Content Goals

What do you want from your content professional(s)? Do you want someone to write blog posts? Social media? Emails? All three?

What about your lead magnets? Lead magnets can be ebooks, quizzes, fillable workbooks and template, slide shows, and so much more. It takes more time to create lead magnets, which means they normally cost more. However, the shelf life of a lead magnet and ROI of the lead generation you get is well worth it. What is a lead magnet?

“Lead Magnet — noun — an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information. The goal of the Lead Magnet is to maximize the number of targeted leads you are getting for an offer.” via Lead Magnets | 9 Lead Magnet Ideas with Examples

Also, you need to decide on your budget. Everyone can write, but not everyone can write well. Don’t expect to find great writers on the cheap. Content marketing is worth the investment, but you have to actually be willing to invest.

Freelance Content Strategist or Marketer

So obviously there is a lot going on here. If you need help deciding what your content strategy and plan should be (they aren’t the same), then you’re likely looking for a content strategist or marketer. This is someone who can:

  • research your industry and business,
  • create your buyer personas,
  • plan your strategy,
  • and create your monthly/quarterly content plan

If you also like their writing style and they have management experience, then they may also be able to manage any content creators you hire. (Most content marketers and strategists can also create content, but there’s really only so much you can expect from one person. Hiring a strategist and/or marketer who can then manage a team of writers is the most cost-effective option)

Freelance Content Writer

If you feel like you have your strategy and plan well in hand, then you’re likely looking for a content creator (or content writer). This will be someone who will actually create the content laid out in your plan. You may need more than one writer depending on how aggressively you want to grow your content footprint. Another thing to consider here is what other peripheral tasks you want your creators to do. Should they look for photos to go with the content? Should they be able to upload into your Content Management System? What about writing things like meta descriptions and alt text for your blog posts? If your freelance writers can do these things, it will save you a lot of time.

Keep in mind that you may not find that “unicorn” content professional. There aren’t a lot of people who can do EVERYTHING. So do you want one person who performs most tasks in a mediocre fashion? Or two-three people who perform well?

How Do I Find Great Freelance Writers?

There are a lot of different places you can search for your ideal freelance writers:

  • networking events
  • online job boards and sites
  • LinkedIn
  • Referrals from family and friends

You may also find content professionals you’re interested in while you’re researching content in your industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out and see if they’re taking on more clients.

Many businesses are making use of job platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr (and the list goes on). One of the main things you can do to make your job search on any of these platforms easier is to create a great job ad. When you create a job ad that is unspecific or vague, the best writers are likely to pass that job by (I do). These job boards can have a bad reputation for low-quality work, but many clients on these platforms write poor job posts that only low-quality writers will respond to.

To entice the best writers to submit a cover letter and samples to you for consideration, you need to create a job ad that shows:

  • Your passion for your business
  • Your intent to invest in your content
  • Benefits of working with you and your company
  • The tools they should know how to use
  • Any required topic, niche, or industry experience
  • What you expect from your freelance writers

The more specific you are in your job post the more likely you are to weed out the unqualified writers from the beginning. As a content strategist and marketer, I have a list of things I look for that either qualifies or disqualifies any prospective job post or client I come across.

You may wish to specifically include:

  • Information about your company and your website
  • Your ideal customer or target audience
  • What you think you need in terms of content strategy, marketing, planning, creation, or distribution
  • Other requirements or desires that would further qualify anyone considering your job post.

Something I DON’T AGREE WITH:

“Sites like UpWork, Fiverr or Craigslist might be a good fit, depending on the type or quality of content you’re working with. You are unlikely to find excellent B2B writers with industry experience on these sites, but you may find writers for lightweight, consumer-oriented content.” via How to Hire Freelance Writers to Scale Your Content Marketing

You can find excellent freelance writers, content marketers, and strategists on these platforms. YOUR job ad is going to determine whether or not they apply. Most successful content writers have a full plate, so if you want them to work with you, put some effort into your job post or they may never reach out.

I Have My Freelance Writer Shortlist. Now What?

Now you have to vet your shortlist. You’ll disqualify most to get down to the few you think may be a good fit for your business. Some of the things you can do:

  • Check their work examples thoroughly. You’re looking for:
  • Great grammar
  • Tone and style that you like
  • Demonstrated ability with past clients
  • Experience in your industry (or the ability to learn your industry. You may find someone who has everything BUT experience in your industry. This shouldn’t disqualify them if you have time for them to learn)
  • Do you like their writing? Do you think it will resonate with your target audience?
  • Finally, consider the quality of their proposal? They should craft a tailored proposal for your review.
    • If you think you received a copy and paste proposal or cover letter, then they aren’t showing you they take your job post seriously.

What Should I Ask These Content Writers During the Interview?

Next, you’ll conduct your interviews. Don’t be surprised if the writer prompts you to go over your job post again. In fact, they should. This helps them determine if they can actually help you. Prior to the interview, you want to identify any specific requirements that are particularly important to you. Now is a great time to ask them about any of their work examples that you really liked.

Most writers don’t expect to know if they’ve gotten the job during this initial call. Be upfront that you’re interviewing other writers, and let them know when they can expect your final decision. It’s tempting to just never talk to the writers you don’t select, but it’s not very professional. You never know if you’ll need to reach back out to them.

Now It’s Time for a Test Writing Piece

Now that you have selected 1-3 writers that you’re really interested in, it’s time for a test project. A test project helps you determine if you like working with a particular writer. If your personality types grate on each other, then you won’t enjoy interacting with this writer, and they’ll probably dread working with you.

Have your test projects due around the same time frame so you can determine who you would like to move forward with. Again be up front and let your writers know that other candidates are submitting test projects, and when they can expect your final decision.

That’s It! No Big Deal Write? (Haha, get it?)

Delegating content creation, marketing, and strategy benefits you as a business owner. You’re a pro at what you do, and you shouldn’t have to be a pro at what I (and my freelance colleagues) do as well. Bringing on freelance content professionals can seem intimidating, but it will free you up to work on other aspects of your business.

If you find a writer, marketer, or strategist you enjoy working with and you need to expand your content team, ask them who they know! Great professionals network with one another! You’ll have a stellar team in no time! Reputation is everything in the freelance world, so I know I would only recommend the best!

Have you hired a writer to create your content before? How was that experience for you? Please let me know in the comments!

Below is a video from Neil Patel titled How to Hire Writers to Create Killer Content For Your BlogYou may find some of the strategies they present in this video useful as well. I’m interested in your thoughts!

B2B Buyer Personas: Yes, You Have to Make Them

People hate research. As a result, marketers, business owners, hell, even bloggers, hate creating their buyer personas. If you don’t properly develop your B2B buyer personas, then your entire marketing strategy could be off track. Just to be clear though, let’s go over what a buyer persona is first. 

What Is a Buyer Persona? 

“A marketing buyer persona is a detailed profile of a person who could represent a large percentage of your potential customer audience. These are used to humanize the customer and help them understand how to reach out on a personal level.” via What is a Marketing Buyer Persona?

Why does this matter? When you personalize and target your content, you generate better quality leads for your business. Despite years of saying otherwise, website owners now realize that traffic numbers aren’t the metric of success. For years, the goal was to get as much traffic as possible. Now, at the risk of sounding trite, we realize that it’s “quality over quantity”. Better to have 1,000 site visitors that could go in your pipeline than 1 million who will never spend a dime. 

When you work with businesses, you typically have to create two personas with two different types of demographics. Initially, you have an organization profile that you create, which answers a lot of the questions above. Secondly, you’ll need to create a persona(s) for the person within that organization that you’d like to typically connect with. 

In my case, I prefer to connect with CEO’s/Presidents or Chief Marketing Officers. These are usually the people who have the power to say yes and no. Don’t waste time talking to people who only have the power to say no. I understand both personas, because there are some key differences between the CEO and the CMO. One difference would be in the way you speak to them. The organization has its goals, but communicating in the language of your persona helps you connect with your prospect. 

How to Build a B2B Buyer Persona

According to Risefuel.com, these are the top questions to ask in order to build a strong B2B buyer persona

1. What Are Your Customers Personal Demographics? 

You’ll find this to be the easiest information to gather as you prepare your persona. You’ll want to collect as much of this information as you can. Yes, it’s pretty low hanging fruit, but don’t underestimate its value. 

2. In What Industries Do Your Customers Work? Who Do They Serve?

When you target business, you must know the industries they serve in. Will your services or products help them achieve business success? You’ll be able to communicate your value more effectively. Additionally, knowing the industries will help you answer question 5. 

3. What is the Size of Their Company?

The answer to this question will shape how you market your solution. Are you targeting an ambitious take-on-the-world startup? Or a time-tested family owned business? The size of the company also relates to question four. How you ask? It relates because the larger the company, the longer the decision-making process usually is. This figures into how long this prospective customer hangs out in your pipeline. 

4. What Job Titles Do They Hold? Who Do They Typically Report To? 

Are you talking to the CEO? Someone in the Sales department? Their job title may reveal their stake in the decision to buy your service or product. That job title may also reveal their role in the decision-making process. For example, as a professional content strategist and creator, if I’m speaking to the Chief Financial Officer of a small company, I know that the decision-making process shouldn’t take too long. I’m speaking with the person I would report to, and the CEO will likely take their input very seriously. 

5. What Are Their Biggest Challenges?

Your product or service solves your prospective customer’s problem or fills a need. But so does someone else’s product or service. Your marketing needs to show your target audience why they should pick you over your competitors. 

6. How Is Their Success Measured?

When you know how your prospects measure their success, you can speak to their ideal end goal. When you can intentionally create content that illustrates a prospects problem AND their successful outcome in their own language….. Wow, that is some effective marketing!

Signs Your Buyer Persona Isn’t Quite Right

As you publish content, you generate a significant volume of engagement and conversion data. If you’re thoughtful about this information, you’ll be able to pick up on signs that you aren’t meeting the needs of all possible audiences with your content, including:

  • Regularly getting the same questions posed to customer service
  • A high churn or low engagement with content (as measured by bounce rate and average time on page)
  • Onboarding or survey results that aren’t in alignment with your buyer personas
  • Evidence that new (sometimes unexpected) types of customers are finding value in your product or service

via How to Drill Down Into Your Buyer Personas to Create Hyper-Targeted Content

 How much effort have you put into creating your buyer personas? What is the one part about developing buyer personas that you find most difficult? Let me know in the comments!