What to consider when considering outside help with your brand copywriting.
Ever since content took reign of its rightful kingdom, most companies have had a “we need a copywriter” moment. But do they all, really? Many brands could certainly do well to have a scribe (or a team of them) in house to handle brand messaging and content marketing. For others, it’s unnecessary, or flat-out unadvisable. And then there are those that could benefit from a strategic combination of in-house talent and outside consulting. If you're wondering which arrangement might work for your brand, consider the following...
Let’s just get this one out of the way first, shall we? Because it’s a big one, always. It is a natural law that the more you invest in a robust brand voice strategy and content program, the further it will go toward galvanizing your business goals. When your resources are limited, you may not have the luxury of a dedicated staffer. One way to get more bang for your buck is to hire an outside content partner. The national average yearly salary for a junior copywriter is $47,000. You could invest less than that in a pointed campaign directed and executed by experienced editorial talent outside your company, and it could actually give you more marketing power than a management-needy junior full-timer who spends a lot of time looking at Facebook. All other variables constant, quality of time is better than quantity of time.
Partnering with outside talent works well if the nature of your business lets you plan campaigns and content packages in advance. Weekly or biweekly blogs, newsletters and social posts can be submitted and approved in advance, kept in the can and rolled out when the time is right. On the other hand, if you need updates multiple times a day, based on constantly changing events and conditions (or whims), you might want someone in house who you can literally turn to at a moment’s notice to get some tweets off or whatever. Just make sure you have a style guide for that person to follow, so you don’t look like you’re all over the place—even when you are!
If you’re in a highly specialized industry, the people creating your content need to know what they’re talking about and who they're talking to. Company insiders could be the best choice because of their proximity to your products and target demo—unless they’re a little too close to the cause. Hiring someone external brings a broader perspective, but make sure they know your industry really well. In many cases, specialized knowledge trumps general writing talent.
So many brand directors think they can strap their staff with blog-writing duties and expect good returns on that ask. Such an organic approach is more of an experiment than a strategy. And how many employees appreciate having “be a professional writer ” tacked onto their list of things to do? Even if you do have capable, willing writers on your team with bandwidth to spare, how do they decide what to write about and when, and where to post it? Is there a centralized brand voice strategy? You might turn to an outside partner for guidance on that, if nothing else. It’ll empower your team to create better, more focused content.
Take an honest look at the way you do things. If you aren’t very organized, don't know what you want, or haven't defined your goals, you’re going to have a hard time conveying your needs to an external entity. You can often afford better talent hiring an outside expert over a full time employee (see “your budget” above), but in order to reap the full value of the work, you’ll need your team to be very attentive about getting them the information and feedback they need. Help your consultant help you!