Content marketing is often hyped as a panacea for all kinds of marketing problems.
Can’t rank #1 on Google?
Not enough good quality leads?
Need to build a great brand?
Content marketing is seen as the magic bullet for nearly everything!
In this context, it’s no wonder that every agency, regardless of its specialty, tries to reinvent itself as a content marketing agency. And that can make it very confusing for clients.
If you’re looking for a content marketing agency, here is what you need to know to find the perfect match.
Remind me: what is content marketing again?
If you’re not sure or are simply too embarrassed to ask, check out Jason Miller’s post on the definitions from 25 thought leaders.
You’ll find clever definitions like “[c]ontent marketing is all the marketing that’s left,” or “[t]raditional marketing and advertising is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.”When it comes to content marketing, there are as many definitions as respondents. Click To Tweet
This simply demonstrates that when it comes to content marketing, there are as many definitions as respondents. So before you embark on the agency selection process, take the time to clarify what you are looking for. Is it content strategy? Buyer personas? Content production? Broad content distribution?
Tips for selecting the right content marketing agency
Once you’re clear on what part of content marketing you want to outsource to an agency, you need to sort out the essential requirements from the nice-to-haves using a weighted decision matrix.
Hard vs. soft skills
One way or another, it is always about finding the right mix of hard and soft skills. But keep in mind that these criteria—or their relative importance—vary greatly depending on the agency’s assignment.
If the agency’s mandate is to help you develop a solid content strategy, you’ll need to look at its knowledge of your industry and the staff’s strategic thinking and analytical skills. In addition, you’ll ask questions about the methodologies and processes they use to better understand how they work when they need to create buyer personas, or perform a content audit or competitive analysis.
If, on the other hand, you just want to outsource content creation, your evaluation criteria are more likely to include things like subject matter expertise, strong writing and editing skills, video editing capabilities, etc.
As much as you’d like to take what the agency tells you at face value, you need validate their story. Check their reputation online, including their social media accounts, ask to speak with their clients and request samples of their work.
Bigger is better, but small can be beautiful, right? Do you prefer working with junior copywriters at a big agency or with a boutique agency that may be more responsive to your needs, but may lack the breadth of services?
Clients are often afraid to ask, but it’s a fair question. Is it billing by the hour? Retainer-based? A flat fee per article or blog post? Do you need to pay a portion up front? Are there any hidden fees?
Fit with company culture
An agency’s cultural fit is an important yet frequently overlooked part of the selection process. The culture of the company dictates the behavior of its employees and therefore the quality of the work they deliver to clients.An agency’s cultural fit is an important yet frequently overlooked part of the selection process. Click To Tweet
It is easy to assume that all will go well, but challenges put relationships to the test. Although you can’t avoid challenges, the agency’s culture should tell you a lot about how they would be handled.
When things don’t work out
Each agency has its strengths and weaknesses, and that’s OK. What you need as a client is make sure that you select an agency that meets your particular needs.
Also, when things don’t work out, it’s easy to blame the agency. The agency may be the wrong fit for all kinds of reasons, but it is often a communication problem. No agency can read your mind.Help yourself and your agency by taking the time to fill out a detailed creative brief. Click To TweetHelp yourself and your agency by taking the time to fill out a detailed creative brief.
It may look like an extra step, but in the end, the brief will save you time and headaches.
What do you think? Have you worked with a content marketing agency? How did you manage to find the perfect match? Please share any tips you may have in the comments section.
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