How to choose a content marketing agency for B2B marketing

Posted by Andrew Rogerson | 25-08-17


Our recent series of blogs on thought leadership has looked at how to create effective content. In the last instalment, we explore the success factors that make an effective content marketing agency.

So far, we’ve established that business leaders value thought leadership. They use it to keep on top of business issues and inform their decision-making. And they’ll reach out to your firm if your content hits the mark.

But we’ve also seen that very little of the thought leadership out there actually cuts through. Executives read less than a third of the material they’re sent.

With share of voice at such a premium, a good content marketing partner is worth its weight in gold. So how do B2B firms find an agency that can get their thought leadership heard above the noise?

Choosing the right partner

Grist’s survey of 150 senior client-facing executives at leading professional services, financial services and technology firms examined what they look for in a content marketing agency. Their top five requirements are:

1. Sector expertise

Our research found that sector experts have the most influence on senior executives after their clients.

Little wonder, then, that firms want to work with agencies that have extensive experience in the sectors they target.

With relevant sector experience, your agency can hit the ground running. They’ll have contacts in the right industries, and add value to your marketing campaigns by drawing on the knowledge they have at their fingertips.

2. Editorial skills

These days, all agencies will say they ‘do content’, whatever their specialism.

PR, marketing and digital agencies, strategic consultancies, search providers and blog shops have all added ‘content’ to their list of services.

But client-facing teams are looking for real editorial skills and expertise. Your chosen agency should be able to craft content that provides real value for your target audiences, and supports your business objectives.

3. Industry journalists

An effective way to combine sector expertise with editorial prowess is to bring in the skills and knowledge of niche writers.

Journalists that specialise in your target industries will understand the landscape in which you operate. They can help challenge, inform and validate the thinking behind your thought leadership themes. And they can couch your ideas in the language of the audience you want to engage.

4. The authority to handle senior executives

Subject-matter experts are essential to the process of creating authentic thought leadership.

They have the expertise required to produce outstanding technical content, but may lack the writing skills to really make it shine. That’s where your agency comes in.

However, your experts are likely to be time-poor, and won’t always be the easiest people to deal with. They may also be wary of external input.

Your agency should have the authority and credibility to earn the respect and co-operation of your senior people. They should be skilled at interviewing your experts, and know how to handhold them through the content creation process – while keeping the demands on their time to a minimum.

5. Creative thinking and added value

To add value for your clients, your thought leadership has to deliver more than compelling words and interesting graphics.

A strong content agency will act as a powerful source of new ideas, angles and approaches, based on a thorough understanding of your clients and the channels to reach them through.

And they’ll know how to present those ideas in creative ways that will capture your audience’s attention and start profitable conversations.

Want to know more?

Grist specialises in high-impact thought leadership campaigns for B2B firms. Why not get in touch directly to discuss how we can help you create and deliver your next thought leadership campaign?

Andrew Rogerson

Written by Andrew Rogerson

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