How to let go – but still get results
When I first opened the Writers Sydney office, one family member was sceptical.
“You mean people will pay you to write about their businesses? Why can’t they just do that themselves?”
Clearly, that person had never worked in a communications or marketing department.
Ten years later*, it’s fairly obvious that no one has time to write it themselves. Marketing managers are now expected to be the voice of the customer, the custodian of the brand, and the go-to for shiny new ideas the CEO just made up. They’re under pressure to send personalised, on-brand messages that cut through 124 different channels and respond to 48 different online behavioural triggers. They need to execute award-winning creative with ever-shrinking teams and budgets – and in their spare time, learn the idiosyncrasies of yet another new martech platform.
Plus, did I mention how many meetings they’re in every day?
So no, they don’t have time to write. But unfortunately, what they need more than ever is very, very good words.
Words that inform or persuade their customers, their colleagues, their direct reports and their boss. All those online articles, social posts, websites, PowerPoints, proposals, video scripts, media releases, marketing business cases (and even emails) need words.
And that’s why they’re increasingly finding it easier (and quicker) to outsource those words.
Outsourcing frees your time…
Outsourcing is just another way of saying ‘let’s delegate/offload this to someone outside our organisation’. When it’s done well, it allows you to take back your time. It gives you headspace to focus on what you do best. It can also give you a valuable external perspective on the problem at hand.
… but outsourcing does not free you of responsibility
However, you’re not off the hook completely. As HBR points out, successful delegation demands your willingness to be essential but not involved. And there are just two things that make you essential in an outsourcing partnership:
1. A really awesome brief
If we only have half the information that’s in your head, we can only do half the job. Yes, it takes time to write a clear, articulate brief. We do expect you to explain who we’re writing to, why and what the key message needs to be. Sometimes, through that process, we might both realise what you need is something completely different – potentially saving time and budget.**
2. Help herding your people through the process
Please avoid giving 26 different people permission to sign off on the output. Nothing kills great copy faster than feedback-by-committee, especially when Larry in sales doesn’t like using the word ‘and’.
Not sure if you should outsource?
We love a good matrix here at Writers. So here’s one to help you work out whether it’s worth outsourcing your words – and who you should look for.
- Is it urgent, but of low strategic importance? Get a writer onto it, and give them a clear (but realistic) deadline.
- Is it highly important, but less urgent? Make sure you have a strategic, seriously smart writer who can put their time and expertise to work.
- Is it urgent and highly important? In theory this is something you should be writing yourself – but you could ask a trusted writer to ghostwrite it for you.
- Is it not very urgent and not very important? Let’s be honest. Why is it on your list?
So what’s on your to-do list? If it involves words, we can probably help.
* Yes, it’s our milestone birthday. Feel free to send gifts.
** Looking for a shortcut? In our experience, when you keep giving us consistent work we can get quite good at reading your mind.