Outsourcing your company’s blog can be a big boon to your marketing team. It enables you to produce content that appeals to customers and helps you communicate your message efficiently without investing the time it takes to become a writer yourself. At the same time, it also helps you avoid the extensive overhead that invariably accompanies hiring a team of writers, editors, project managers, and SEO experts. In nearly every scenario, it’s a win.
However, despite the benefits that outsourcing can bring, there are a few big risks. Chief among them is having your outsourcing team write in a voice that doesn’t reflect what your company is really about. This disconnect between the outsourced writing and what your company should sound like is typically the result of having a team that doesn’t understand what your voice is supposed to sound like. We’re going to help you make sure that your outsourced content drives an increase in revenue and that you don’t lose your voice in the process.
Why Holding On to Your Voice Is Important
Consistency Is King
Whatever the company or the product, marketing only pays off when it’s consistent. When companies say one thing on a Tuesday and something different on a Thursday, it leads to confusion among potential buyers. This confusion doesn’t only exist in public statements or on landing pages, but in every place that you communicate. This includes your advertisements, your blog posts, any piece of content with company’s byline attached to it. Unless you’re consistent in these areas, customers will end up confused.
If this happens, you’re going to set customer expectations incorrectly – and you’re inevitably going to end up with customers that buy something from you only to find out one month later that they didn’t get what they thought they were signing up for. A recipe for disaster.
Blog Posts Need to Feel In-House
When people visit your blog, they need to feel like they’re interacting with you, not with some team that is sitting out in a warehouse on the outskirts of town. If someone visits your site and every word is polished and in line with your voice, and subsequently visits your blog where the voice dramatically shifts, they’re going to feel the difference. Even if they can’t put their finger on what the difference is, if your blog is a second-class citizen people are going to notice.
The only way to ensure that this perception doesn’t become reality is to have a consistent voice. This voice will guarantee that regardless of how someone is interacting with you, they’re interacting with the real you and not an approximate facsimile. If your voice doesn’t line up in both places and you haven’t spent the time to make sure your external content team knows your voice, you may end up worse off than if you hadn’t published any content in the first place.
Let’s assume that the worst case scenario has happened. You’ve outsourced your company blog to another team, you haven’t fully educated them on what your voice is supposed to sound like, and the content that is being published isn’t getting any traction with customers. In fact, customers are confused about why they’re getting email notifications for blog posts that are of no value to them.
While these types of customer complaints may seem like a one-time mistake, they’re actually reflective of a content team that doesn’t fully understand your voice. When a team doesn’t understand your voice, it also means that they don’t understand your company or your customers. When that’s the case, there’s very little chance that they’re going to come up with topics or editorial calendars that speak to the intended audience in an authentic and engaging way.
How to Maintain Your Voice:
Yes, the downsides to outsourcing your voice are real. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your voice remains true to who you are.
Make Your Customers Available
One of the most reliable ways to make sure your company’s voice is reflected in every blog post that’s published is to have your writers speak with your customers. After all, most of your writing is going to be targeted at potential and existing customers, so your writers should get to know their audience.
This has one major benefit. When you connect customers to writers it helps the writer better understand why your company is the way it is. It may seem insignificant, but having your writers independently learn about your customers is one of the best ways to get people to think the same way you do. This shared thinking can then very quickly evolve into a shared voice – one that isn’t taught, but that’s arrived at on one’s own.
Achieve (An Explainable) Product Market Fit
Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and one of the creators of the Internet browser, once said, “Product market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” There are a number of symptoms of not having achieved Product Market Fit, but chief among them is not being able to succinctly summarize what your business is about. This may seem like a question everyone should innately know, but sadly, many companies stumble with the answer for minutes.
This impacts your outsourced content in a big way. If you aren’t able to describe what you’re doing, then you certainly aren’t going to be able to describe the voice that you’re doing it in. For a content team, this can only lead to frustration. Inevitably, it will result in articles that don’t feel right to you and feedback for the writers that doesn’t make any sense. Unless you put in the time and effort to achieve product market fit upfront, your content efforts will likely fail.
Provide Article Feedback
For writers, there’s very little information you can provide that’s as valuable as open, clear, and honest feedback on blog posts. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to get involved in the nitty-gritty of each post – that’s why you’re outsourcing! Instead, it means that you periodically provide feedback on the voice of a piece.
For example, say that you have a writing team that publishes eight blog posts every month under your company’s banner. While you may feel the urge to provide feedback on each paragraph, it’s often far more useful to provide feedback in aggregate on how the posts feel, how they compare to how you want to sound, and what high-level changes you want made. Assuming that you’ve outsourced to a team that really understands writing and content, this type of feedback will be far more useful than nitpicking their commas and subject-tense agreement.
“Authentically You” Writing
Without a doubt, one of the quickest ways to show your voice is by writing it down. It’s faster than describing a voice to someone and it’s often more accurate than any description you could come up with. Consequently, you should make an effort to share authentic pieces of writing with your outsourced team as a demonstration of the voice you want to project.
This doesn’t mean that you need to start blogging, but you do need to have a few pieces of writing – internal memos, emails to partners and investors, or even interviews you’ve done – that are reflective of how you want to sound. There’s a very good chance that you’ve written something in your voice in the past. Look in unusual places like landing pages or sales pitches and send them to your writers, highlighting the things that are really you. Doing this will be incredibly instructive.
Outsourcing is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal as a company founder or marketer. It enables you to increase the amount of work you accomplish in a given period without having to invest vast resources in an entirely new team. These benefits hold true for blogging and content as much as any other area of your business. However, it’s important to keep in mind that if you lose your voice because of outsourcing, very bad things may start happening to your company and its public standing. Stick to the above lessons and keep your voice on track.