A content marketing agency can be many things to its clients – key advisor, high level strategist, creative guru, promotional planner or plain old sounding board. When selecting an agency to work with, it’s important to establish what you want them to be for you.
In the B2B world content continues to play an important role – both in capturing the attention of prospective buyers, and keeping existing customers engaged. Figuring out what your target audience wants to know about, telling stories, sharing insights and useful information is a key requirement for any marketing team.
You can put content marketing into the hands of an internal team, or hire an agency to either assist you or handle everything. The answer doesn’t just come down to time, budget or resources. Even an organisation with plenty of skilled resources and time to deliver a content strategy inhouse might find an external agency can give them that extra edge or take their business in new directions.
Small-to-mid size organisations may not have the time, talent or budget required to do it all. In this scenario, a content marketing agency can take over the entire operation or be on hand to help generate leads, increase brand awareness, devise strategy, provide digital expertise, manage customer lifecycle or streamline content workflows – whatever’s needed!
An inhouse team will initially have a deeper understanding of your brand and are closer to the action. But they might have other priorities to deal with which will take them away from the core process of creating and delivering timely and relevant content across multiple channels.
How many times do you see outdated blogs and articles on websites, big gaps in output whether across social media, websites or emails, even from larger companies? We see it less than we used to, but we still see it.
Doing everything in-house can lead to tunnel-vision, even for larger organisations. By working with a specialist agency, you get fresh thinking, new ideas and the combined experience of marketing experts who have learnt what works and what doesn’t and are tuned in to the latest thinking in the industry.
There might be areas where large organisations have blind spots (for example, animations or interactives), or they might want to focus on the larger marketing strategy rather than the nuts and bolts of keeping content flowing into the right hands, at the right time.
On the flip side, an external agency can offer a more strategic, bird’s eye view of your marketing content, leaving an internal team to focus on the nitty gritty of getting the information and messaging right. In this scenario, the marketing agency would mine the information from the company experts and turn it into something real, tangible and engaging.
Marketing isn’t a one-size fits all game. Fortunately, there are agencies that specialise in particular industries, such as pharma or (in our case) B2B tech. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking you have to work with a local agency – if the past year has taught us anything it’s that collaboration can happen just as well virtually as it can in person. Familiarity with your market is essential and the agency should be willing to invest the time to grow their knowledge.
Look at the length of time an agency has been working with its clients. And who those clients are. You’re looking for an agency that can retain clients for longer than one or two key projects and can demonstrate that it has grown with a client and has been trusted across multiple projects, even as a client pivots and evolves.
A good agency keeps its clients in the loop. Ideally, you want to be in direct contact with the people that will be working on your account and have a cadence of communication that meets your needs. Not only does this provide a more pleasant, transparent working atmosphere, it will also save time, stress and money in the long run.
The beauty of working with an agency partner is the ability to tap into both niche and wider expertise. An agency that can deliver a wide variety of content formats including animations, videos and interactives alongside blogs, whitepapers and eBooks can make life easier. A broad range of experience amongst an agency’s writers, designers and marketers offers a more versatile, richer service. This is particularly true if an agency can demonstrate experience on both client and agency-side – empathy and a real understanding of how you work can make all the difference.
A content agency should bring new ideas to the relationship, not just wait for a brief to arrive. A good agency understands your business and delivers new ways for you to achieve your marketing goals. One of the key trends we see at Marketing Fusion is towards buyer enabling content – that truly focuses on meeting the needs of the buyer as its primary goal. It’s just one of the ways we help our clients to innovate and stay ahead of the curve.
Finally, good old gut instinct is a tried and tested indicator of how you’ll get on with an agency. If all goes well, these people will become part of the fabric of your marketing, who you’ll speak to most days and who will take an interest in not just your brand or services, but also your wider business goals.
Ultimately having a content marketing agency you can pick up the phone and call without hesitation, knowing they’ll immediately “get you”, is like gold dust.