How to Hire A Content Marketing Company
The content marketing company that you hire may be responsible for everything from your content marketing strategy through the creation and sharing of the content to achieve your company’s marketing goals. Content marketing companies vary from small, one or two-person agencies to groups within global agencies dedicated solely to content marketing. The right content marketing agency for your needs depends a lot on the fit between agency and client and establishing clear expectations for the relationship from the start.
How to Find Content Marketing Companies
Content marketing companies go by a variety of names. When searching for content marketing companies, begin with your colleagues. Ask who they recommend. If you can’t find a firm that way, ask among professional organizations or groups to which you belong.
Good content marketing agencies possess the following qualities:
- They love storytelling: At its heart, content marketing is storytelling. The brand story may involve light bulbs or sending a man to the moon, but there’s a story somewhere, and your agency will find it. Good content marketers are passionate storytellers.
- They love to learn: It’s not just about telling a great story. It’s also about learning your industry from the ground up. They may be familiar with it already, but it’s not necessary. Content marketers are inveterate learners, also eager for new facts, knowledge and insight to help them distill the brand message.
- They are good teachers: Content marketing is also directly related to teaching. Teachers can make any story interesting, but they also know how to pace and share information in ways that will best
Finding such a firm takes time and effort. It is helpful to create an RFP, or request for proposal, with the criteria for your content marketing agency outlined and in-hand so that when asked, you can share consistent information with different groups bidding on the project so that everyone has consistent baseline information from which to build out a proposal for your project.
Questions to Ask: How to Hire a Content Marketing Company
When it comes to learning how to hire a content marketing company, starting with these questions can help you find a great fit for your needs.
Some agencies are great at strategy, while others prefer to leave the strategy to you and initiate the tactics instead. Find out in advance whether you are expected to create the strategy or if they are willing to do it for a fee.
You’ll want to meet (or at least talk to) the team tasked with building your content marketing campaign. Their creative approach to your brand will represent you online and must reflect who you are. You’ll also need to feel comfortable with your project manager, since you’ll spend the most time interacting with the person tasks with being the ‘traffic cop’ over your content and deadlines. While it’s not essential that the team has a deep background in your industry or products, it’s a plus if they have worked with similar brands before.
Certain tools such as HubSpot, Marketo, and others provide deep analytics on your content marketing plans. Your free Google Analytics program is going to seem like kid stuff in comparison to the data available from these companies. Many of them can be added onto your existing website easily. Find out in advance which tools potential agencies use, and why they recommend them.
Marketing tools aren’t cheap. Once you’ve invested in them, you’ll want to keep them for a long time to come. If you depend upon your agency to run all your figures, you may find yourself keeping them on long after their initial tasks are complete. They should train you or people on your team to use these tools so that you can eventually take over the reports.
Ask about goal-setting and metrics right up front. You want to know how your project will be evaluated, measured, and judged. What does the agency consider a success, and do you agree with them? Is it a reasonable benchmark or do you feel it is unreasonable to expect such success within the timeframe given for the project? Talk about traffic goals, brand awareness, customers, leads and other metrics that are important to you. Ask how they plan to measure these metrics and at what point they provide reports to show progress towards goals.
You’ll need to find out who owns the rights to the content created under the project agreement. You’ll want to own the rights to all of the content so that there are no questions of licensing later on. Also ask who will create infographics, where they will license stock photography, and other create elements for the campaign. All licenses should be in your company’s name to avoid potential copyright questions later on.
Some content agencies outsource SEO services or have an SEO specialist on their team. You’ll need some basic keyword research and SEO services to accompany your content marketing tactics in order to get the best results from your campaigns. If they do not provide SEO services, they may expect you to provide them with keywords, so you may need to contract with a separate SEO firm. Few agencies do both SEO and content marketing well, so find one with a strong content marketing component. You can always subcontract the SEO portion, or find your own freelancer to work on your SEO strategy and metrics.
An in-house content manager can help you merge your content marketing strategies with other digital initiatives. They can also be the shepherds, brand guardians, and idea generators who work with your content marketing agency. A specific person tasked with managing the relationship is helpful, but whether or not you need a specialist is up to you and to the scope of the project at hand. The bigger, more complex the project, the more you may need a dedicated content manager.
This is where content marketing projects can blow their budgets, so pay attention here. Most websites aren’t designed for a good content marketing initiative. They have limitations that need to be addressed before content marketing can be launched. Depending on how old your site is, what platform it’s build on and what you already have in place, you may need a few coding tweaks or a major redesign. A new, bigger call to action button, forms to download content and capture opt-in email addresses and more may need to be added. Ask for an estimate of changes needed to enact the content marketing plan before you embark on it. Make sure you understand whether costs are included or not, if you need to hire someone on your own, and who, if anyone, from the content marketing agency will be able to access your site.
Once you have all of the answers to your questions, you’ll need to sort through the list of potential agencies to find your best fit.
Ask for and check references. Because content is a visible medium, ask for published samples. Not which ones you like and which do not fit your brand. Most agencies can produce content along a wide spectrum of brand attributes ranging from conservative to zany, so some samples may not be entirely reflective of their capabilities. But if you see a style you really like or one you really dislike, make a note of it.
Set a budget and share that budget with the content agency. It is very difficult for an agency to create a project proposal without knowing your budget threshold. You may have a small budget in mind and they return a plan where the sky’s the limit – or they may underestimate how much you are willing to commit to the project and don’t build in enough resources to help you achieve your goal. Either way, you’re short changing yourself if you don’t disclose a budget up front.
Even after you start the search for an agency, take time now to get to know your customers. Building sample customer personas, or imaginary portraits of your ideal customer, will help your agency target them and build creative ways to reach the market.
Content marketing educates, informs, and teaches while it builds brand awareness for your company. With the right content marketing agency by your side, you’ll be able to reach more people than you dreamed possible. It’s an investment in your marketing that works long-term to help you acquire, retain and build a loyal customer base. Choosing an agency is the first step in a long, productive process.