Make vs Buy Decisions in Content Marketing


  • We’ll talk about outsourcing decisions in content marketing initiatives
  • Some components can’t be outsourced - Others probably should be
  • Assess your time, budget, skills and passions to make the right decisions

Assessing What You Can and Should Get Help With

Developing and executing a successful content strategy is a time consuming and demanding endeavor. It stands to reason that many businesses bring on an outside consultant or agency to help.

It’s important to understand what can be outsourced effectively and what requires internal participation. It’s your basic make-vs-buy decision adapted for content marketing.

The goal of a content strategy is to continually build better relationships with potential and existing clients. At a high level, that means two things:

  1. Providing value to your target audience by educating them and sharing your expertise
  2. Conveying the personality and culture of your organization

Authenticity is crucially important as you build relationships and tell your company story. Consequently, some of the work just can’t be outsourced completely. You’ll need to participate - at times deeply - to have great success.

However, an outside expert can be instrumental in many other facets of strategy development and execution. So how do you assess what you can and should do yourself? And what may be best left to an outside expert?

Self awareness is the key to that analysis. Some of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself are:

  • How much budget vs how much time do I have?
  • What skills are required and which of those are possessed internally?
  • Which tactical elements will I enjoy and which will be an unwelcome chore?

Honestly answering those questions will help develop a plan that utilizes external resources to build upon your existing strengths.

Client-Side Requirements for Content Marketing Success

Before we get to all the things a marketing consultant can do for you, let’s discuss some of the things that they can’t do without you. I think a company must participate in the following three elements in order to expect success.

1. Providing subject matter expertise

You and your team are the experts in your field and know your business better than any consultant. Internal expertise is a huge asset that should help provide value to your audience. Some participation is essential.

However, a consultant can be extremely useful for harvesting your internal expertise and doing more with it. A skilled content marketer should be able to  interview a subject matter expert for 30-45 minutes and extract enough information to create several content pieces.

For many people, the biggest challenge in content marketing is sitting down to do the actual writing. Getting some writing and creative help can be well worth it.

2. Conveying culture and personality

One of the key opportunities of content marketing and social media is producing content that is not only useful, but reflects the people and culture of your organization.

People like to do business with people. When you show a bit of what makes your company human it can offer a real competitive advantage with certain customers. If the person running your social doesn’t have the pulse of your business, it won’t ring true and feel authentic. At best, you miss an opportunity - at worst, you confuse and lose credibility with customers.

An outside consultant needs access to and assistance from internal team members to understand and convey a company’s culture.

3. Customer service and response

Digital communication channels present amazing new opportunities - and also present demanding new responsibilities and expectations.

When you open new lines of communication with customers, you must be ready to deliver great service through those channels. Every message, every comment, every reply from your audience deserves your attention and response.

Much of that communication can be handled by an astute consultant. But other situations - unhappy customers, technical questions, order problems - could require internal team members get involved quickly.

Be sure to have systems in place that can always maintain exemplary service levels and escalate issues as necessary.

How marketing consultants CAN help small businesses with content?

Fortunately, there are many places where an outside expert can take charge. Filling skill and knowledge gaps within your organization can have a fantastic ROI.

You may choose to take the lead on some of these internally. But after an honest assessment - other components will likely require some help.

  • Research and buyer persona development - Conducting primary customer research, keyword search volume research and competitive analysis
  • Writing and storytelling - Researching and crafting compelling narratives, clearly conveying complex ideas and elegantly telling the story of your company
  • Content production - Producing value adding blog posts, whitepapers, videos, infographics, podcasts, etc to reach and educate your audience
  • Imagery and design - Professional photography and graphic design
  • Marketing automation and email - Segmenting customer lists, developing automated customer workflows and optimizing for best results
  • Analytics and reporting - Testing, learning, adjusting, testing, learning, adjusting, testing, learning, adjusting, testing...
  • Social posting and content distribution- Sharing the great content you create with the people that need it most
  • Digital advertising - Accelerating growth by expanding reach with paid social promotion, pay-per-click advertising and display retargeting
  • Process design and QC - Designing the processes and systems that ensure your marketing engine runs consistently and efficiently


  • Limits to your time, skills and interest areas mean hiring a marketing consultant or agency may make sense
  • Some aspects of content marketing will require your participation
    • You must: Provide expertise, infuse company into content, maintain service levels
  • Other aspects can - and often should - utilize outside marketing expertise
    • A consultant can help with: Target market research, storytelling, writing, content creation, photography, video, design, marketing automation, email campaigns, content distribution, social posting, digital advertising, process design and quality control