If your association needs help bridging the staffing gap or creating effective, engaging communication plans, outsourcing content management could be a viable, cost-friendly option. Here are some guidelines to help you understand what the outsourcing process looks like for your association.
When is it time to consider outsourcing?
You may want to think about outsourcing all or some of your content creation and management functions if your association needs a fresh set of ideas, can no longer manage its current workload with in-house staff and volunteers or simply wants staff to focus on other areas of association management without sacrificing a robust communications strategy. Outsourcing content can also be a practical option if your association’s bottom line is in question. However, the right time to outsource depends on a variety of factors, so it’s a good idea to start by comprehensively assessing your association’s needs. We hope you find the following questions and considerations helpful.
*** READER NOTE: To learn more about content management outsourcing, view our related webinar featuring Liz Richards, CEO of the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association and Jill Andreu, VP of Content Strategy & Development, Naylor Association Solutions.
As Naylor’s ongoing polls and surveys show, many associations struggle with content relevancy, communication integration and data optimization, not to mention learning more about their members. In many cases content staffing has not increased sufficiently to keep pace with the ever-increasing communication workload, tools and channels at today’s associations.
Associations also face unique communication challenges according to their size. Our Association Communications Benchmarking Report recently found that while small associations tend to struggle with mobile strategy and social media engagement, mid-size and large associations have trouble customizing member communications and engaging new members.
Outsourcing can help you address all of these challenges.
What type of outsourcing is right for me?
Outsourcing partnerships come in a variety of forms from serving as an “extra pair of hands” that takes direction from you team to a full-service role. Assess the needs of your association carefully to determine how much outside content help you really need (and can afford). Whichever approach you select, make sure to maintain a consistent editorial voice across all of your communication channels.
Areas to outsource can include anything that involves creating content, such as:
- White papers, eBooks and infographics
- Social media
- Print and digital magazines and/or journals
- Video development, promotion and tracking
If you decide outsourcing communications is right for your association, the first step is to explore your options. Consider how this decision ties into your association’s long-term strategy and goals, choose which pieces to outsource and decide what type of financial commitment you are ready to make.
What should I look for in a partner?
Your outsourcing partner should clearly understand your organization’s communication goals and values and should be able to create the content that your members truly need and want. Characteristics of a good partner should include industry expertise, honesty, integrity, flexibility and thought leadership.
During the request for proposal process, make sure to share your objectives and encourage creativity. Have at least one face-to-face meeting with potential partners, and evaluate potential ROI before making your decision. Keep in mind that the end goal is to select the partner that can help your association reach its communications goals today and into the future.
What does content outsourcing actually look like?
Once you’ve selected your partner, outsourcing should be a combination of content and value. This may involve:
- Transparency and clear plans to ensure success
- Follow through, consistency and innovation
- Constant monitoring and measurement
- Annual progress reports
Outsourcing allows your association to focus its time, attention and resources on its core activities and spend time setting new goals. By creating value for associations, outsourcing creates value for members and contributes to greater member engagement.
Again, to learn more about content management outsourcing view our full webinar here.