Have your worked with an agency that left you wanting to pull your hair out and scream? Not all content creation companies are created equal and you get what you pay for. Don’t expect to jump at the offer of a cheaper agency and get the best results. But, do look for fair pricing and quality work. How do you tell if your agency is providing true content marketing services? You read to the end of this post.
Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”1
According to expert content marketers, there are three reasons why businesses use this strategy as one of their primary marketing tactics. They are: to increase sales, save money, and find ideal customers/develop brand loyalty.
If you’ve read this far and find yourself wondering “but I get tons of information all day and most of it’s junk, what makes content marketing so special” consider the definition of content marketing again. Look at the words “valuable” and “relevant.” The reason content marketing works is because people do want more information, they just don’t want junk. True content marketing is the practice of providing valuable and relevant information.
For content marketing to work and be considered true content marketing, the content that’s created and marketed needs to valuable and relevant.
So, the easiest way to answer the question “is your agency providing true content marketing services or are they just posting internet memes” is to look at the content they create. Is it valuable and relevant? If it’s not, it’s the equivalent of junk and you just littered all over the internet. No one’s going to fall in love with you or give you their hard-earned dollars. Cut your losses and move on to a better agency.
Good content marketing is strategic and informed promotion of content that’s valuable and relevant.
The litmus test for good content is whether you’d spend 10, 15, 30, 45 or more minutes reading it. Do you dogear the email to read it later when you have more time? Do you re-read a newsletter or blog post multiple times? If the answer is yes to all or any of these questions, it’s good content.
Maybe you’ve been on the agency rodeo a few times now and you’re sick of the low-quality work that gets pumped out of your current agency and you don’t want to waste your time anymore. If that’s the case, there two ways to assess content marketing services as you’re shopping around for a new agency.
Content creation is one of those jobs where the interview is just to make sure you’re not a crazy person. Content creators get the job the moment they produce a stellar portfolio. You should approach “interviewing” each content marketing firm in much the same way. Ask them to put their money where their mouth is and show you their work.
When they show you samples of content they’ve created, read each piece and ask yourself, does the content share valuable and relevant information? Do the pieces of content relay tips that you’d actually use if you were the customer that came across them? Is the information actionable—can people use it to help them succeed? Would the information that’s presented help someone to improve their lives? Would it teach them something interesting or open their eyes to a new way of looking at things? You get the idea.
If you read their content and it feels like what they’ve presented is just another piece of junk that’s a regurgitation of the 900 other versions of content on the same topic, move on.
But, be kind—it’s incredibly hard to create relevant and valuable content. Hence why companies that create good content charge more. Content of value requires times and expertise to create. In fact, most people will read this post and still underestimate the sheer amount of time, research, and craftsmanship that goes into creating truly valuable content.
Content marketing should never be something that’s done in isolation. Blogging provides the best example of what this means. You can create the best blog post in the world but if it’s not promoted, then no one will see it, and it won’t do anything to help you achieve your goals. Content marketing, like all other marketing, cannot be done in a silo.
Sometimes agencies will advertise that their content marketing services are part of their overall online marketing services but are dodgy when it comes to providing specifics about how. Run!
Agencies that are confident in the quality they provide won’t hesitate to tell you how their content marketing services fit into their overall marketing agenda for your business. They know—as all great content marketers do—that you don’t lose business by giving away such “secrets.” Consumers feel more comfortable with their service providers when they’re told such details.
If agencies talk about social media marketing, blogging, SEO, PR, PPC ads, and inbound marketing, content marketing must be a central part of those strategies, and they will need to have a plan for how to approach content marketing in those areas.
Now that you know what to look for in a content marketing agency, it’s time to decide whether you should switch to a new agency. You’ll want to switch if the agency doesn’t produce content that’s relevant and valuable. Likewise, you’ll want to switch if there’s no real strategy behind how your content is being used.
However, it’s always a good idea to see what can be done to improve a situation before jumping ship. So, talk to your account executive about your concerns. If after such a discussion, they’re still not producing good content and/or they’re still not addressing your concerns, then it’s time to move on. Of course, you always want an agency that communicates with you as often as you need/to the extent of what’s appropriate.
And, if you’re shopping around and not yet committed to an agency, don’t settle with one whose answers don’t live up to what we discussed in this post. Remember, cheaper is not always better.
A good content marketing agency will save you time and maximize your reach, allowing you to better manage your bottom line while building brand loyalty with a stronger overall marketing program. With a variety of content marketing firms to choose from, you’ll want to do your due diligence vetting them before signing on the bottom line. And as always, listen to your gut. A good content marketing agency will feel like your favorite pair of jeans, comfortable.
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