In episode 71 of the This Old Marketing podcast, Robert Rose shares one of his concerns about the current business climate for content marketing agencies. A number of new players entering the space aren’t necessarily qualified to deliver content marketing initiatives. There’s a lot of talk about providing content marketing as a strategic practice in a variety of different agencies but many haven’t changed their business model.
Jumping on the content marketing bandwagon
Why is this a problem? Most of the established companies claiming to provide content marketing services only look at it as a way to drive more business for themselves. They are not, as Joe Pulizzi says, focused on helping their clients build an audience and create a content brand. Yes, they may be able to deliver brand stories or a particular tactic but, largely, they’re utilising the same disciplines where they’ve traditionally earned revenue. Some of the culprits riding the content marketing bandwagon include:
- PR agencies
- Advertising agencies
- SEO agencies
- Brand agencies
- Media companies
- Social Media agencies
Because brands often have relationships with one or more of these kinds of companies, they often feel comfortable making a decision to give their content marketing business to a trusted partner. Unless that company happens to be a content marketing agency or a publishing company, it’s a good idea to research whether they’ve made an honest commitment to move into content marketing or are just paying lip service to the latest marketing buzzword.
Vetting your content marketing agency
Keep in mind the goal of content marketing is twofold:
- To build an audience of loyal subscribers
- To create content brands your customers would happily pay for
Here are five questions you can ask to see if your current service provider is up for the job.
Do they have marketing experience?
It might sound like a ridiculous question but there’s a big difference between producing content and marketing that content to acquire an audience. Content marketing agencies are able to do both. The best content in the world is useless if no one sees it or you have to continually pay to ‘advertise’ your content.
Hear more about this in episode 26 of the Brand Newsroom podcast:
Can they provide examples of documented content marketing strategies?
One of the biggest success indicators for content marketing is having a documented content marketing strategy. In Australia, only 37% of all marketers say they have one. This means a whole lot of content is being produced without the benefit of the one thing that puts you on a path to content marketing effectiveness.
Does their strategy include all 3 components of content marketing?
Content marketing requires three different tactical components working in conjunction with each other to produce results:
- High-quality, original content
- Social media
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Unless your strategy covers all three of these components, you will not be running an effective content marketing campaign.
Do they have a track record in content marketing?
Your agency may have a lot of impressive wins on the board but is it in the content marketing discipline? Content marketing is a slow burn method of marketing. It does not support a campaign mentality. Results often take months or even years to accumulate before they can be measured for success. What proof can your agency provide that they’ve gone the distance and produced consistent results?
Are they demonstrating content marketing for themselves?
One of the best indicators that a content marketing agency knows how to deliver is by the content they develop to market their own company. Do they have a blog? Is it published on a regular basis? Do they produce other types of content like video or podcasts? Have they created a content brand? Have they been able to build an audience of subscribers through their content? Do you like the content they produce? Is it delivered in a consistent manner? Has it been recognised with awards?
Content marketing, in many ways, is a brave new world. It stands to reason brands have trouble deciding whom to work with and how to select the right content marketing agency. Keep these five questions in mind and remember your ultimate goal is to build an audience and develop a content brand.
What other questions would you ask a content marketing agency?
-by Sarah Mitchell