Specialization is the foundation of society. It allows us to work as web developers and digital marketers, occupations that produce zero food, and still eat. Could we learn how to farm and grow enough food for personal subsistence? Yes. Is it worth the cost, time, and effort? No.
That is specialization.
Since none of us want to be one-trick ponies, on the other hand, we find ourselves in a struggle between self-development and specialization. What should we invest in learning for ourselves and what should we simply outsource?
In the realm of digital marketing, this struggle is no different. You’ve heard the saying, “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” In a competitive market, average or “passable” is no longer worth the cost. If you want to be seen, every facet must be excellent.
To succeed, you must understand exactly what you’re capable of and where you need help. Accordingly, we’re going to look at which marketing channels are better left to dedicated experts and how your team can participate.
I don’t know if it’s possible to overemphasize this point, but your copy is your pitch, presentation, and close all wrapped into one. It’s you digital salesman, and the foundation for a high conversion rate.
Have you ever heard an owner or CEO tell HR to hire “passable” sales people and provide “budget” training? Obviously, cost efficiency is important, but a company’s sales team is the engine that drives revenue. The better your sales people, the higher your sales.
It’s no different with your website’s copywriting. For many businesses, your website is your primary salesman. And yet 75% of the copy I see is just appalling. Poor copy isn’t just bad wording, poor flow, typos, or other issues apparent even to non-writers. Great sounding writing can be pitifully ineffective copy.
Effective copy goes far beyond attractive wording. There’s a science to it, and yet it’s also an art. A change in one word can increase click-throughs by 161%.
Your copy isn’t something to assign to the team member with an English degree. This channel is better left to the experts. Top-shelf direct-response copywriters will consistently provide dramatically worthwhile ROIs, and the higher your traffic rates, the more profitable that investment is.
What You Can Do On A Budget
If your budget is preventing you from hiring a veteran copywriter, you have two options.
- Find an up-and-comer with a proven, albeit short, portfolio. There are some fantastic copywriters in the 2-5 year experience range, and you’ll pay far less for their services.
- Hire out only your primary landing page. This will maximize your bang for the buck while simultaneously giving you an ROI analysis for future decision-making. Have your team’s best writer craft the other pages using resources from KISSmetrics, Quick Sprout, Copyblogger, etc.
- Get in the habit of A/B testing your copywriting changes. More importantly, understand when to call the winning test.
2. Infographics, Video, & Other Artistic Media
Advanced media is probably best left to the pros…
Content marketing is the name of the game nowadays. Consistently creating high quality content is a surefire way to get eyeballs to your site. In a departure from direct-response marketing, content used to build your audience is more of a branding effort.
The goal isn’t immediate response. The goal is establishing yourself as an authority in your field and a creator of exceptional content relevant to your target audience. As such, the quality of the media you produce is directly correlated to the status of your company in the eyes of viewers.
Average infographics and videos don’t automatically propel a business into prominence. The media must be outstanding. Take a quick look at this infographic, published recently on KISSmetrics.
This infographic is extremely well done. It offers unique, compelling content within a nice, colorful display, but that’s not why I’m highlighting it. As far as graphics go, this is one of the simplest infographics you’ll ever see. I could create any given piece of it within a few minutes using MS Paint. And yet, author Barry Feldman employed the services of a design team in creating this graphically simple piece of media.
Why? The answer is that it takes a trained eye to put a quality media piece together. I could easily reproduce this exact graphic, but could I ideate the design from scratch? Could I come up with a compelling color scheme, account for proper spacing, and piece together all the various elements that make this graphic successful?
Probably not. That’s not my specialty. It’s better to hire out quality pieces, even simple ones, than create your own lacking pieces of media. YouTube is full of dull lawyer videos and blurry chiropractor commercials with single digit views. Unless you have an artistic wizard on your team, these forms of media marketing are better left to the experts.
What You Can Do On A Budget
Fortunately, landing high quality videos or artistic infographics on a budget is as simple as visiting the tech or art departments at your local college. There are thousands upon thousands of artistic, tech savvy students who’ve spent years producing high quality media for their schools, churches, clubs, etc. and are looking to add businesses to their portfolio.
Many tech professors are actively seeking to establish these types of relationships with local businesses. At bigger schools, you’ll even find a mountain of professional equipment available for use. Do yourself a favor and take advantage of this plentiful talent.
3. Long-Form Content
While all content should be done at the highest level, certain projects take higher priority. Long-form content is at the top of this list.
KISSmetrics recently published an in-depth look at why you should produce long-form content, but I’ll list the highlights here:
- It gives you a relevant product to promote
- It gives you something tangible to send out through your network
- It gives you higher rankings in search results
- It increases time spent on your website
- It increases your success via social channels
- It helps establish your authority on a topic
That’s a compelling list. Anything with this level of upside should be taken extremely seriously. Long-form content has the capacity to serve as a flagship of your company, a central piece of valuable info that consistently builds your audience over time. People consistently visit Quick Sprout’s blog because of the unparalleled collection of in-depth marketing guides, covering everything from SEO to link building to landing page optimization.
Unlike a regularly scheduled blog, long-form content is a one-time investment that reels in long-term benefits. It’s worth the investment to do it right. 7 years ago, you may have gotten away with a quickly thrown together ebook. Competition was much thinner and creating long-form content wasn’t yet a regular practice of the average firm.
Today, this content is everywhere. Here’s a list of 30 ebooks dealing only with digital marketing. The good news is your specific niche probably doesn’t have a lot of content in this category. By creating a comprehensive guide on a relevant topic in your target market, you can establish your authority in the field.
The “bad news” for marketing teams is that your readers have almost certainly read ebooks, white pages, and other forms of lengthy content before. They understand how a quality piece looks and reads. If you offer poor content or poor design, readers will stop reading and leave your site with a negative impression.
An expert content creator can craft something that excites readers, and if your free content is exciting, people will assume that your premium content is worth the money. If it’s below average, they’ll assume the same is true of your premium content or services. This is why long-form content is better left to the experts.
What You Can Do On A Budget
Having an expert help conceptualize a piece from the beginning is preferable, but that will cost you the most money. Alternatively, craft a detailed outline using your expertise on the topic and have the best writer on your team put together a first draft.
You can then hire a developmental editor to make your piece gold at a much lower cost. This option requires a bit more work on your end but has the potential to result in an equally excellent product.
Hosting events allows for extremely targeted marketing and is a highly under-utilized channel for regional firms. For national firms, high-profile events allow you to connect with influencers in your industry and publicize your brand.
The question is: have you ever organized an event? If the answer is no, this type of undertaking is better left to the experts. If the answer is yes, you’ve already hired an event planner without needing to read this article.
An event is a highly complex affair to host, even for gatherings as small as 50 people. The more people attending, the more variables to account for. Without prior experience in event planning, you are probably completely unaware of the plethora of details needed to facilitate your event.
Moving away from the administration side of things, think of your event’s success like a college party. Some of the parties you attended were massively successful. The energy was electric, the flow was perfect, and you left the party on an emotional high. Now think of the less-than-enjoyable parties – the ones that fell flat. For some, you could point out obvious flaws. For others, you don’t know exactly why the party failed, you just know you walked out bored.
Marketing events are very similar. It takes a trained hand to build energy, create natural flow, and end the night with a high. The best event planners charge as high as 40% of the event budget, because they have an almost magical ability to make every event a wild success.
Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out that type of money. Great event planners can be found for 15-20% commission, and handing the reins over to the right manager can be the best decision you’ll make this year.
What You Can Do On A Budget
Unless you have event planning experience, failing to hire a planner is really not an option. A lot of great planners entered the market during the .COM boom and have struggled to stay in business since the crash. You’ll have to dig, but you can find some pros at 10%. Any lower, and you aren’t getting a professional.
If you need to, scale the event budget down to make room for a planner. Your team can do the grunt work themselves if you want to avoid paying for a full-service event manager. Worst case scenario: hire someone to simply plan out the event and provide minor oversight of the execution. Have your team handle everything else.
As a content creator, I’d love the ability to produce entertaining videos, engaging infographics, compelling copy, fascinating short stories, and bestselling novels. And far down the road, at the end of my life, I might just have the privilege of saying I mastered two or three of the items on that list.
Today, however, I understand that my first priority is excelling at one thing. The less time I spend elsewhere, the more I can invest in mastering this singular pursuit.
As a marketing team, you have to know your strengths and weaknesses. As a team director, your primary role is understanding the skills and gaps within your team. It’s possible a skill set on this list might be present within your team. Adding a dedicated specialist to your team is certainly an option is well.
Ultimately, you want excellence across every marketing channel, whatever it takes to get there. If your team can produce the highest quality in a competitive channel, perfect. 9 times out of 10, however, you’re better off leaving the above marketing channels to the experts.
About the Author: Jacob McMillen is a copywriter, blogger, and small business marketing specialist. In addition to launching sales growth via expert copywriting, Jacob enjoys reading exceptional books and pretending to think in his spare time. Connect with him at JacobMcMillen.com.