Insourcing: The Secret to Content Marketing Success (with Tactical Tips)
It’s a content marketer’s dream: having too much content. Think it’s impossible? Think again.
Before I discovered the power of insourcing, I struggled at times to fill a content calendar with relevant, useful, customer-driven topics that would nurture prospects, fuel SEO strategy and drive organic traffic. After all, I was just one person, right?
I’ve worked on lean, mean marketing teams, always wearing many hats — chief among them: content creator and blog owner.
At International Medical Group, a global travel medical insurance firm, I launched the company’s blog and social media channels. At Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit STEM education organization, I was responsible for the blog and maintaining our database of content contributors.
And at STANLEY Security, a global provider of integrated security solutions, I launched the company’s blog and created a program that would forever change the way I approach content development. It’s called the STANLEY Influencer Program and it’s my secret to content marketing success.
No, it’s not about riding the coattails of Instagram influencers. It’s about adopting the insourcing approach and leveraging our own internal subject matter experts, who are arguably the best brand ambassadors a company could find.
What Is Insourcing and Why Is It So Powerful?
Insourcing content is the process of using your company’s own subject matter experts to fuel your content engine. When led by a content marketer and championed by company leaders, it’s a powerful approach that can significantly help you scale content creation and quickly elevate your company as a thought leader in its industry.
Insourcing content is the process of using your company’s own subject matter experts to fuel your content engine.
That’s exactly what the STANLEY Influencer Program has done at STANLEY Security. In tandem with the launch of the company blog, I developed this program to alleviate the burden of content creation falling on one person (yours truly).
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve outsourced content plenty of times, always with the same mediocre results. After painstakingly outlining a content brief — complete with objectives, keywords, resources and an article summary — I almost always found myself spending more time editing the piece than it would’ve taken to just write it.
No matter who the agency or freelancer is, there’s just no better source of information than a company’s own employees (most of the time, anyway). It’s often not a matter of being a good writer. It’s a matter of knowing the ins and outs of the company, the pain points of its customers and the challenges that it’s uniquely positioned to solve.
A poorly written article chock full of useful, interesting information is far better than a well-written article that doesn’t accurately reflect your company. Grammar can be easily and quickly fixed. Overcoming a writer’s lack of knowledge on a topic isn’t such an easy task.
5 Steps to Develop an Insourcing Program That Works
Before you scroll down to my steps to implement an internal influencer program, read this first: Insourcing is most effective when your company has created a culture that values content. One in which the sales team knows how to leverage thought leadership content in lieu of (or at least in addition to) traditional sales collateral.
Insourcing is incredibly successful if your marketing team has a champion among the sales organization — a leader who can help show the value of A) the content and B) becoming a content contributor.
When you’re ready to launch your own influencer program backed by the insourcing approach, follow these steps:
- Create a program framework — a simple document that outlines the goals of the program, rules of engagement, how to participate, perks of the program and how you’ll track performance.
- Define the criteria for accepting candidates (more on that later).
- Socialize the program and gain leadership buy-in. Support from key stakeholders is critical to ensuring the success of the program.
- Create application and nomination forms that formalize the process and ensure you’re only accepting candidates who will offer tremendous value to the program. They don’t have to be fancy; I used Google Forms. Be sure to set up email alerts, so you receive a notification when someone has been nominated or has applied.
- Launch the program! However you share information internally — intranet, email, Workplace, etc. — be sure to regularly share reminders about the program. Nominate your top candidates, so you have a pipeline of writers at the ready, and encourage executives to do the same.
The Best Candidates for Insourcing Content
True, not every employee will be a good candidate for your influencer program. I set my sights on mid-level managers and frontline salespeople, but I’ve also found tremendous success with VPs, consultants, product directors and more. The key is establishing the right criteria for accepting candidates.
The key is establishing the right criteria for accepting candidates.
Below is the criteria I developed for the STANLEY Influencer Program. If an applicant or nominee doesn’t fit 75% of this criteria, I don’t accept them.
- Passion: Do you love your area of expertise? If you’re going to be writing, speaking and sharing about a specific topic, it’s essential that you’re excited about it and your passion shows.
- Experience: Understanding the industry is key, and the inner workings of tactics and strategies in your niche is essential.
- Quality of content/communication: The ability to communicate your ideas effectively — either through written content or structured interviews with the content team — is critical.
- Consistency and timeliness. Regular participation in the STANLEY Influencer Program is necessary to help build the STANLEY brand as well as your own.
At STANLEY, we now have nearly 30 influencers in the program and, in 2020 alone, they helped write 65+ blog posts. This program helped me drive a 50% increase in organic web traffic year-over-year and a 65% increase in marketing-qualified leads — in just one year.
As a result, STANLEY now owns the share of voice for our industry, and our competitors/peers even look to us for insights. All of this is because we leveraged the power of insourcing.