Content Marketing: DIY vs Agency

By Mike Huber

When you’re getting started on a content marketing program, one of your first questions will be who’s going to do the work?

Some banks have robust marketing departments and can run with a new content initiative. However, others have maybe one or two people in their marketing departments and they’re looking at this as a lot more work on top of what they already do.

As I see it, there are three ways to deploy a content marketing strategy:

  • Implementing a strategy internally with existing resources (the “DIY” approach)
  • Turning over the entire project to an external partner
  • Working in conjunction with a content marketing consultant or agency to implement the program

Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1. DIY content marketing.

First of all, can you really do this all by yourself? The short answer is, yes. There are many tutorials, how-to guides, checklists, and quick start guides to learn what you need to do. Here is a quick list of downloads I think you’ll find very useful for do-it-yourself content marketing:

Here are the top considerations when implementing an in-house content marketing program:

Content marketing isn’t a campaign. First of all, understand that content marketing isn’t something that starts and then stops. It becomes part of your culture…if you do it right. You must commit for the long term, whether you do this in-house or use an agency.

The best content and ideas will come from your staff. You’ll be amazed at the number of great ideas and content that your internal team will help you create. The caveat to DIY content marketing is that you need to have a variety of resources to draw from. A marketing team with only one or two people, for example, may need to tap talent from across the company to serve as content writers.

You will need a content strategy. In order to be successful, you’ll need a written strategy in place. This strategy will help you identify your audience and tone, and will also allow you to plan your resources. By starting with a plan, you’ll have an actual roadmap to success. If it isn’t written down, it doesn’t exist. Content marketing is a team sport—and as such, it needs written documentation in order to be communicated internally and executed effectively.

If you don’t start with a plan, you may get a few quick wins but in the long run you will fail. Most content marketing efforts without plans end up creating “content for content’s sake” and not for strategic reasons that align with business goals.

Neil Patel, a digital marketing guru, says that your strategy is really a set of goals and as such should follow the S.M.A.R.T. format.

  • Specific: Define the precise content tactics you will use.
  • Measurable: Make sure you have a way to measure your ROI.
  • Attainable: Have a clear perspective on the eventual outcome.
  • Relevant: Target your business goals.
  • Time-bound: Set milestones and deadlines to know when you’ve succeeded.

Advantages of an in-house content marketing team:

Company knowledge – Your in-house marketing team will have the best and most in-depth knowledge about your business, goals, culture, and values. They should also have clear ideas about your company tone, brand, and voice.

Industry – You know your particular space better than anyone else. With this knowledge you should be able to write better content than an outsider about your industry and the competition.

Efficiencies – Working on an internal team should also give you the advantage of quicker turnaround times and faster approvals. Consider giving small incentives to team members who create content. What gets rewarded gets repeated. Hold people accountable to deadlines that they agree to. Celebrate the great content that your team creates.

Disadvantages of an in-house content marketing team:

Limited content marketing expertise – Many companies don’t have a content marketing strategist or content writer on staff. A DIY content marketing department is generally started by the team that’s handling all the other marketing, and creating content becomes one other thing they’re responsible for. Even when you have capable people on your team, starting a content marketing program internally is often limited by existing knowledge, skills, and resource availability.

Difficulty scaling – Your current team may be so small and busy that adding more responsibilities might not be possible.

Cost – Adding staff to implement a content marketing plan will also add cost. Even if you use existing staff to get started, you may find that you need additional expertise to fully implement a plan.

An alternative to hiring new staff may involve bringing on agency help. And that brings us to the other two options for deploying a content marketing program.

2. Handing over your content marketing to an agency.

This is a choice many companies make. For those who don’t have the internal resources to comprise a content marketing team, this may be the best choice. The agency then becomes part of their team, creating the content needed for their website.

Advantages of relying entirely on a content marketing agency:

Quick start – You can ramp up a program very quickly by utilizing the agency resources and its network of writers.

Complex content types – Agencies have the resources to take on the spectrum of content types, such as infographics, videos, and free guides. These types of content utilize specific skills that may not be in place on your current team.

Deeper insights – An agency can provide a clearer picture of what needs to be done in order to rank for your priority keywords, and give you structure and processes based on their experience and lessons learned. Agencies have worked with multiple clients, and have experience on what works and what doesn’t. This can save you time and resources by doing what has been shown to work rather than taking on the learning curve from square one.

Disadvantages of relying entirely on a content marketing agency:

Limited company knowledge – You are closest to your customers and your industry. Bank insiders are in the best position to create content to inform, inspire and teach your audience.

Compliance issues – Because your in-house marketing team has an existing relationship with your compliance team and other in-house stakeholders, you’re more likely than an agency to have the open lines of communication to move content through the approval process in an efficient and productive way.

3. Content marketing in conjunction with an agency.

Under this approach, you assign an internal resource to act as a liaison with the content marketing agency.

This internal resource becomes the bridge between the bank and the agency—alerting the agency to company initiatives and goals, and providing it with the knowledge it needs of your bank’s products, voice, values, and audience.

By having this bridge, you also have the advantage of incorporating agency knowledge into your bank. You start to develop your own content marketing DNA.

This is a very natural way to learn about content marketing from the agency and to use its expertise to advance your internal knowledge and skills around content marketing.

This approach gives you the opportunity to leverage the advantages and mitigate the disadvantages of the other two approaches.

Use an agency to scale the quality and quantity of your content. And learn as much from them as possible to incorporate what you learn into your company’s DNA.

Mike Huber is the Director of Strategy for Vertical Measures, a Phoenix-based internet marketing agency helping clients drive profitable growth through content marketing, SEO and paid advertising. Mike is a regular speaker at conferences providing workshops on content marketing and SEO. Twitter. LinkedIn.