Are you missing out on the benefits of a content marketing programme because you’re worried about the amount of resource needed to create it? An experienced content marketing agency can take away the pain while keeping you firmly in control.
An effective content marketing agency will work closely with its clients to define the best way that content can help them. At the outset they should meet with you to review and agree objectives, requirements and key messages; showing you examples of what has worked for similar firms, helping you target your audience accurately, refining how you can use your content effectively and working with you to define the metrics on which success will be judged.
This planning period is vital. It’s when they should explore the best media to reach your audience, which is often a combination of print and digital. They should work out a timetable for all aspects of the content programme, making sure that each element reaches the right section of your audience at the right time.
Putting in place an effective project plan is the first step in a rigorous publishing process that allows them to do what they do best, but keeps you in the driving seat.
The content should showcase your expertise. As well as acquiring a deep understanding of your business, experienced editors should maintain a strong, current knowledge of your market. This means they can develop your intellectual property into, for example, articles, videos or blogs that have a topical hook or angle that makes them compelling for clients. They will generate their own ideas based on the objectives of your organisation and what is happening in the market, and use specialist journalists to develop them.
An experienced agency will usually organise an editorial meeting where they will work with you to whittle down the long list into a solid core. Then they will flesh out ideas and discuss with you the best format for each article, such as opinion piece, Q&A, etc, as well as recommend the most effective channel for delivery – print magazine, email, podcast etc. They should also agree deadlines for each element of the programme and draw up a schedule for you to agree and sign off.
After the meeting, the editor should craft briefs that specify a topic, angle and storyline, and draw up the content marketing calendar that shows the proposed contents at a glance.
You may have writers that you wish to use or the editor can source journalists with subject expertise. These journalists can interview your thought leaders and, where appropriate, clients and other third-party commentators to pull the stories together.
The editor will then manage the writing process, giving you as much or as little involvement as you like. Usually, edited draft stories are approved by the marketing and communications team before being sent to the contributors from the practice, then to any external contributors. Again, the editor can take on as much or as little of this work as you are comfortable with.
Throughout the production process an experienced agency should maintain work-in-progress documents so they can update you at any given point, either via the editor or your dedicated account manager. The schedule will also have agreed ‘touchpoint’ dates for meetings, conference calls or email summaries. The aim should be to give you maximum control and minimum stress.
Another advantage of using a content marketing agency is the concentration of various skills in one place. The fresh insights of an art director can push the boundaries to create an innovative and exciting design. A professional picture editor can really make a difference and avoid clichéd stock images. An experienced sub will make sure that the text and images are in harmony and the programme has a single coherent voice. And a proofreader will ensure consistency, eliminating errors.
They will work together to produce iterations to circulate, allowing you to feed back and have the agency refine.
An effective content marketing agency should be able to fit around the skill sets and resource you have internally. On the one hand they can offer you a ‘turn-key’ service, where your only involvement might be to put names against ideas and approve drafts. Or you can contribute throughout the whole process.
Either way, the result should be a truly effective marketing programme.