The most successful B2B content marketing teams outsource a portion of their work, according to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Some marketers could even argue that outsourcing is an essential part of growth—looking at large enterprises from the research, nearly 75% partner with marketing agencies and consultants.
Outsourcing makes sense because there are clear benefits and many content marketing tasks ripe for outsourcing. But to reap the advantages of outsourcing, you must prioritize onboarding.
Failing to prepare your outsourced marketing support through an effective onboarding approach costs your team time, money, and patience. Here is how you can help your consultants thrive, based on our team’s decades of partnering with B2B brands.
How To Effectively Onboard a B2B Marketing Consultant
No matter what marketing task you’re outsourcing, start your working partnership on the right foot and help your consultant deliver on your brand needs by following these tips, including insights from a few of our friends in the #ContentChat community:
Establish A Marketing Strategy Before Engaging Consultants
Tod Cordill, principal of Moderno Strategies, says “a common problem is that nobody is driving the ship. Companies that don’t have a documented content and digital marketing strategy will not achieve desired results by hiring contractors specializing in content writing, SEO, design, and digital advertising. Be sure that someone on the team, either internal or contracted, can define the overall go-to-market plan and help prioritize the individual tasks.”
Create, Discuss, and Sign a Working Agreement
Before starting any work, meet with your consultant to document an agreed-upon scope of work. Explain everything they need to know about their project, including payment terms, invoicing, and whether their work must remain confidential. Talk through any questions or concerns. Once everyone understands and agrees with the conditions, you can both sign the contract. Rocket Lawyer’s independent contractor agreement template is a solid base to customize for each project.
Set Communications and Technology Expectations
Will you provide a company email to your marketing support? Do you require consultants to use that email to access internal systems? How do you prefer to share information? What are your workflow management and communication tools? Address all of these questions before starting the project.
Tod says it’s vital for teams to clearly explain any time of day availability expectations before the contract is signed, especially given the dramatic increase in work-from-home arrangements.
Provide All Relevant Logins
Give login credentials for any tools or platforms you require your consultant to use. For example, some teams manage this with a restricted Google Document with select account details and passwords. You can also use a password manager like LastPass that allows you to share encrypted login credentials.
“It can take a week or longer to obtain administrator access to accounts created by ex-employees or previous digital agencies” Tod warns. He says that while you may not even know all of the relevant accounts made on your behalf, provide access to all that you are aware of, including social media accounts, Google Analytics and Search Console, and all ad platforms.
Supply Brand Guidelines and Style Documents
Share brand guidelines and content style documents that explain—and ideally showcase—your desired tone and style. Store these documents in a shared folder so everyone can access the latest information effortlessly. If you have templates in Canva Pro the consultant will need to use, add the consultant to your team and share those templates with them.
Share Strategy Documents
Help your consultant get up to speed on your marketing strategy by sharing relevant documents and resources. These can include competitor battle cards or analyses, a content inventory, your customer journey map, a customer list, investor pitch decks or presentations, your annual marketing plan, key audience personas, a press kit, an SEO keywords list, your CRM marketing dashboard, your most recent sales presentation deck, a partner list, etc.
Caroline “Cazi” James, a principal at the B2B technology public relations agency Aircover Communications, reinforced this step’s importance in a recent conversation. “Most emerging tech companies have created a messaging house which clearly articulates their values and goals,” she said. “They have a well-defined explanation for ‘why they exist,’ that lays out the problem they are solving and how they’re doing it. A company needs to make sure they’re on the same page of understanding as their external consultants, and ensure everyone agrees on the creative, assignment, and expected outcomes. This open communication will help give the B2B marketing consultant the space and confidence to get the job done.”
Tod advises you to be mindful that not everyone needs certain proprietary information, such as a detailed customer list with contact information or sensitive details. However, it’s important to “trust the virtual team you’ve built and ensure they have access to all the information needed to be effective,” he says.
Introduce Freelancers To Your Internal Team
Your team will work better together if they understand everyone’s role. Introduce everyone through email or on a call and briefly explain how they support the team. Ensure that your freelancer knows who to contact for various support needs and how to reach them. On the internal side, explain to your team how they can best work with your marketing support.
Use Templates To Streamline Marketing Deliverables
Templates remove hurdles for your contractor and ensure they deliver a complete project. Or, if they miss key template elements or fail to use them all together, you will spot their lack of attention to detail that much easier. Either way, it’s a win.
You can use our free content marketing templates to fast-track your work:
- Blog content audit template
- Content planning form template
- Editorial calendar template
- Marketing SWOT analysis template
- Social media channel audit template
- Thought leadership plan template
- Thought leadership platform template
Connect Consultants with Subject Matter Experts
While yes, some of the best writers can craft engaging content without source material, that’s a wildly inefficient way to work with marketing consultants. Instead, connect your marketing support with internal subject matter experts who can lend necessary insights and an authentic voice that will help them deliver better work faster. Ongoing access to one or more subject matter experts is crucial for ghostwritten content and thought leadership activities.
Set Regular, Dedicated Time Aside to Collaborate
Maureen Jann, CEO and chief marketing strategist at NeoLuxe Marketing, reinforces that marketing strategies are not a “set it and forget it” type of document. She says, “It’s highly likely that your business is shifting quickly and you’ll want to make sure to keep your marketing partners in the know. Whether it’s an all-consultant round-up collaboration session to share the latest and greatest evolution of your business strategy or a solo meeting to communicate the big points, when your consultants are in the know, they can revise strategies, make suggestions, and offer insights. By creating space to connect, you’ll get the most out of the money you’re spending and ensure that whatever your partners are doing for you will have adequate depth. They will also be able to respond more quickly to the business needs of the organization.”
Develop Thriving Marketing Partnerships
As you continue finding new marketing support people and folding them into your team, you will see just how valuable it is to prioritize a comprehensive onboarding experience. And hopefully, you will soon have folders filled with templates and resources that help your marketers create amazing work for your team.
If your content marketing needs have grown more than you can handle, or if you need an expert team to refine your strategy and uncover new opportunities, we’re eager to see if we can help. Learn more about our consultancy and the types of relationships we look to build, and start a conversation with us today.