Hello from Portland. This week is one of those weeks when I have several pressing client deliverables. On top of that, I also need to create several podcast and video recordings. Creating content to build my personal brand and working on client projects are two full-time jobs. Ugh… What is the take-away of this: Don’t do what I do. It’s too much work.

Speaking of creating content, here is a LinkedIn message from Queenie who lives in Hong Kong.

She said: Hi Pam, I continually read your blogs and find them useful as I am in the B2B marketing field and specialize in the Asia Pacific market. Shall we connect so I can be informed about new articles.

Of course, Queenie! I’d love to connect, I answered. In response, she added one quick question:  When it comes to content marketing, I understand many in-house experts can contribute content but they might not write it in a customer-oriented way. For a tech startup company, what is your take on outsourcing the content writing vs getting a copywriter in-house?

Actually, Queenie, every marketer struggles with that decision. Should I hire someone FT or should I outsource? Which marketing functions should I take in-house and which should be outsourced?

The pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced:

For in-house resources:

  • You have total control of when and how things are done for your marketing materials and campaigns.
  • There is more transparency on how things get done.
  • The teams understand products and services better.
  • Faster communications among team members.
  • Much lower risk of confidentiality breach.
  • Takes longer time to turnaround than agencies
  • Skills are more likely to be broad rather than specialized
  • Less industry experience
  • Reduces employee time left for other business initiatives

For outsourcing:

  • Scale efforts quickly
  • Access specific and specialized disciplines such as SEO, Facebook Paid Ad buy,
  • Quick turnaround with new creative ideas
  • You can focus on strategy and leave the tactical implementation to contractors or agencies
  • Lack of complete dedication to your business
  • Lack of full understanding of your products and services
  • Requires multiple rounds of reviews
  • High turnover of account team support

There is no perfect solution

How do you decide when to use in-house vs. outsourcing?

To me, this is a budget and headcount discussion. I always ask my clients: Do you have an approved headcount to hire someone full-time? Or do you just have budget for outsourcing? For a tech startup, chances are that you don’t have headcount and a small budget. You likely need to outsource as much as you can.

I told Queenie that even if you get a headcount, you should hire someone who can wear multiple hats and cover multiple marketing functions, from copywriting, e-mail marketing, to social media outreach.

Many blog posts suggest that you should outsource repetitive tasks or tactical work. The challenge is how do you define tactical work in modern marketing? Is SEO tactical? I think it’s quite strategic, yet, many companies tend to outsource that. Is content creation tactical? Personally, I believe it’s very strategic, but again, many companies outsource content creation.

Understand your existing talent pool and what they can do

Evaluate your overall marketing plan and identify the gap between your talent pool and marketing plan. Then, use your headcount and budget to determine which marketing functions to insource vs. outsource.

The key thing about outsourcing is to make sure that you spend time to train and brief your contractors and agencies. Don’t expect them to know your products and services. It’s your job to brief and train them well. They can excel if you nurture them and provide the tools and knowledge to do their jobs. Give them wings so that they can fly.

I told Queenie: In-house or outsource, that’s no right or wrong answer. At the end of the day, it’s what you are comfortable with, how you want to prioritize your resource and budget. I made it very clear to her, if she wants to hire contractors, make sure that she takes time to brief and train them.

Queenie, it was great connecting with you on LinkedIn. I hope that we can meet when I visit Hong Kong next time.

So, how do you determine when and how to insource or outsource your marketing efforts?

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Again, if you prefer watching video, I also have a YouTube Channel, check it out and subscribe. One new video every week.

Before you leave, make sure to check out the previous podcast episodes.

Be well. Let’s connect again next week.

What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.