Each year, brands are investing countless hours and thousands if not millions of dollars in marketing to prospects and current customers with content. Often times, internal marketing teams are finding that they need content marketing agency expertise and support outside of their organization. Working with an agency that specializes in content marketing can provide brands with a more strategic and scalable marketing program that leverages expertise and additional resources that specialize in content. However, agency retainers can be substantial and there isn’t a marketing executive out there that isn’t in search of maximum return on that investment. At last week’s Content Marketing World, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden took the stage to share insights about how brands can get the most out of their content marketing agency. Whether you’re currently on the hunt for an agency to help with content marketing, or if you are in deep with an existing agency relationship, these tips will help you get the most out of working an outside resource to win the content marketing race.
When to Engage A Content Marketing Agency
First, it’s important to determine how engaging a content agency will help your brand achieve your marketing goals. Below are a few examples of signs that you may be in need of an agency partner:
- Building up a large content marketing team just isn’t practical.
- There is a need for expertise that currently doesn’t exist within your organization and you need to create efficiencies.
- You’re looking for an outside perspective that will help challenge your team, evolve your approach and provide validation of the successful ideas the team has implemented.
- Creating additional connections with partners, platforms and influencers is an objective.
- Additional training, insight and education are needed for the internal marketing team.
The different types of scenarios in which you will need outside content marketing resources could include:
- Projects: Short-term, turnkey, campaign, content creation
- Strategy: Research, workshops, recommendations, strategy report, no execution
- Partners: Research and strategy implementation, content at scale, integration, Martech, ongoing management and execution, dashboard reporting.
Setting Realistic Expectations
One of the key elements that determines either the success or failure of a brand and agency relationship is the quality of communication. Both parties need to be up-front about expectations, capabilities and goals. All too often, agencies will agree to or construct ideas that may not necessarily be within their wheelhouse. When that happens, the end result typically does not live up to the expectation set with their client. That is why transparent and honest communication is essential to brand and agency success.
Common Agency Issues
Unfortunately, there are sometimes issues that arise and create a less than stellar experience. Some of the top issues that many brands have experienced include:
- The agency they’re working with just doesn’t “get” their messaging or understand who they are.
- While the agency creates great content, they don’t have expertise about content amplification or promotion.
- The quantity or variety of content that’s needed by the brand can’t be produced by the agency.
The Relationship is A Two-Way Street
The truth of the matter is that both the brand and the agency have certain obligations to fulfill in order for the relationship to run smoothly and successfully. Sometimes agencies are not provided with the proper guidance needed in order to create a successful content program. Additionally, internal brand processes can create bottlenecks (especially related to content approval) and make it difficult for the agency to execute. To help alleviate the issue of “approval black holes”, TopRank Marketing Co-Founder and President Susan Misukanis recommends:
“Confirm the specific process and people involved with the client side approval requirements in advance and include them in the agreement. Be specific and provide ‘plan B’ options.”
For Content Marketing Performance Measurement, Follow An Attract, Engage & Convert Content Model Good content marketing will follow an attract, engage, convert model that is aimed to closely align with business goals and marketing KPIs to provide the most value. Below is a model that Lee shared with the audience during his presentation:
6 Ways to Evaluate A content Marketing Agency
- Be clear on your own goals and resources
- Ensure that the agency provides their approach to content, specializations and differentiators
- Understand how they work and who they work with
- Determine how their team is structure and who leads the relationship from their team
- Insights into processes including strategy, plan, tactics, measurement and reports should be provided
- Ask for recent successes, references and their engagement model
Don’t Settle for A Wrong Fit
Ultimately, some agencies are a fit for certain brands and others aren’t. Make sure that you do your homework and determine beforehand what qualities are most important for your brand. If you’re in need of a new content marketing agency or just want to explore your options, contact TopRank Marketing for a free consultation.
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