Most of you reading this are all too aware that marketing is a critical, yet sometimes very frustrating component of doing business – a necessary component in the pursuit of success. The advent of content marketing has made the challenge even more difficult. Now, every enterprise must not only develop and implement their traditional marketing activities, they must now supplement it with ongoing, multi-format content creation and storytelling as well. Additionally, with change happening faster than in decades past, companies must now also consistently review their strategy and regularly revamp it based on changing market conditions. Many companies have chosen to lessen their marketing burden by employing the use of freelancers to do that work for them. While many companies use a combination of marketing agencies, freelancers and in-house marketing staff to produce their campaigns, some have tried to rely solely on freelancers. This may not, however, be ideal. Here are 3 reasons why a company shouldn't just hire freelancers to do their marketing:
1. Too many skillsets for one person to handle
At the end of the day, marketing is primarily based around storytelling. The whole point of any inbound marketing strategy is to attract consumers to a company website or other online properties, engage them, and call them to action, thereby converting them into customers. Freelancers are sometimes utilized to meet these objectives because the company is unable to devote enough in-house staff to conduct an effective marketing campaign. Successful freelancers are oftentimes professional storytellers, which is good. The problem is there are too many skillsets needed – writing, design, analytics, programming, database management, strategy – for one single person to master by themselves. Trying to solve this problem by adding additional specialized freelancers can turn into a problem of “too many cooks in the kitchen” (see reason 3 below).
2. Many freelancers are returning to full-time employment
During the recent economic downturn, freelance work became a bit of a stop-gap for many professionals who found their employment hours reduced or their position terminated altogether. For a while back in 2008 and 2009, it seemed like everyone and their mother was calling themselves some sort of independent consultant! However, now with unemployment on the decline, many freelancers have returned to the stability of full-time employment, thereby reducing the size of the available talent pool of independent talent. The few remaining freelancers are increasingly booked up with contracts, which decrease their availability to take on additional freelance work. Such a scenario often results in conflicting priorities for the freelancer, which causes his or her work to be either delayed or not completed at all. If a company's inbound marketing strategy relies solely (or even primarily) on freelancers, this is obviously untenable as it could cause disruption or even irreparable damage to a specific marketing campaign.
3. Disorganized campaigns and messaging
As we mentioned above, effective inbound marketing requires a large set of high-value skills – too many for one person to do themselves. An inbound marketing strategy that uses only freelancers encounters a third problem when using more than one independent contractor: Inconsistent strategy and messaging. Different people producing different content reduces the consistency and, as a result, the clarity of the message. Such a piecemeal approach is easily detectable because the content lacks a uniform style or a single voice, so to speak. This gets worse when different disciplines and priorities clash with each other, such as the inevitable conflicts that arise between technical SEO (“we want exact-match keywords”) and branding strategy (“we want language that fits our brand standards”). If we remember that the primary goal of any inbound marketing strategy is to tell the story of the product or service in a manner sufficiently compelling to call the prospect to action, this inconsistent approach will likely detract from the message and may even cause your prospects to leave altogether, perhaps never to return. If that doesn't spell doom for a marketing campaign, we're not sure what does!
Get a team in place
What’s the solution to this dilemma? The solution is to have a unified team, rather than rely on a network of mercenaries. The best marketing is done by teams of people who have worked with the products, services and subject matter long enough to know them inside and out, and who have worked with each other long enough to know how to take everyone’s’ individual knowledge, talents and specialties and work effectively with everyone else’s specialties to build something that is much more than the sum of its parts. Sometimes this team is best built out in-house; sometimes this is best handled by a marketing agency that brings in their own built-out and experienced team. Both approaches might take more time and money than bringing in some freelancers for some quick tactical hits, but in the long run it’s the only way to run your marketing in an effective and sustainable manner.