Some businesses have the resources to build in-house marketing and sales teams. For others, though, it's more sustainable to hire from outside, especially for one-off marketing projects. However, finding the perfect partner is easier said than done.
It's never easy deciding on an agency partner for your content marketing. Ideally, you'd want to work with people who don't take a transactional view on things. You want someone invested in building your brand, not a person who merely wants to tick the boxes and produce an output. Here are questions that should help you determine if the agency you're considering is the right one for the job.
A good agency won't be content sitting and answering your questions about them. They'll also want to determine if your goals fit in with their skill set. They are also particular about culture fit, budget fit, and other things that will affect how well they can deliver.
Work with a team who isn't shy about discovery calls or asking you a couple of questions before you begin. These types of agencies want to be sure they can deliver results. They want to understand your audience and business before diving into a project.
The best partner agencies are ones who are clear about what they can and cannot do. They aren't in the business solely to earn money, even if that's a significant motivator for any enterprise. Instead, they tell you point-blank what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Your ideal agency partner is someone who looks after you. They'll be glad to refer you to a consultant or another agency specializing in what you need. If a prospective agency partner refers you to another one, you're sure that they aren't just after boosting their bottom line.
In the process of looking for the best agency, or the one that offers value for money, you might lose sight of what truly matters. Agencies aren't their brand—even if you find their message compelling online, it's no guarantee that what they offer suits your business.
You need to ask them how their frameworks or strategies can help you or be customized for your business. For example, publishing two short posts a week is enough to sustain SERP rankings in many cases. For specialized, niche industries, however, 2,000-word posts are more appropriate. Your would-be partner should be able to adapt their offerings.
When deciding on a partner, one way to determine fit is to ask them for strategic advice. Doing this lets them show you their process while allowing you to gauge their devotion to getting your business. It also gives you a glimpse into their ability to stay in the loop on industry trends.
Prospects who provide a generic perspective or something irrelevant to your offerings aren't worth hiring.
You need to ask for proof that your would-be partner has produced success for others. A large following or engaged fans on social media are nice, but this has to translate into wins for your business at the end of the day.
Don't just ask for samples of their content—see if it drives results for their clients, whether in traffic, leads generated, or sales. If they have case studies and client testimonials, all the better—you want proof that you are working with people who have helped others reach their goals.
You could even ask them to give you the names and contact information of previous or current clients. A company with a strong track record will have the portfolio and success stories to back them up.
Besides producing results for others, it's good if your partner agency has worked specifically in your industry. Often, your content and messaging are what prospects first see when they research your company. It represents you to your customers and clients. Every word that comes from your blogs, social media posts, and emails is a representation of your brand.
If you hire an agency with zero experience in your niche, they will find it hard to speak in a way that resonates with your target market. Hire an agency that knows what makes your customers tick—otherwise, they might end up harming your brand and leaving the wrong impression on your readers.
This isn't to say that you should only hire an agency with industry expertise. You can hire someone who hasn't worked in your niche—just make sure they have a process for working with industries new to them. They should also know how to explain those processes to their clients.
Some content marketing projects require specialized technology. Usually, agencies use their own stack of tools and pay for it themselves. In some instances, though, they might recommend using products that the client would have to pay for.
Content or project management tools like Google Workspace and Slack are part of any agency's list of constants. However, they might need third-party tools that they don't regularly use. For example, they might request that you provide access to content distribution tools like Hootsuite and Buffer or monitoring tools like Google Analytics and Socialbakers. You need to get clear on what they would require for them to do their jobs properly.
Don't settle for hiring a content marketing agency for the sake of it. You need a partner who will care about your content and want to see you succeed. Asking these questions is the first step in getting to know your would-be agency partner. Hopping on a discovery call or requesting a strategy session should give you a good impression of what they need.
Clarify your content strategy when you team up with Ranked. We provide data-driven weekly content for more than 2,000 enterprise and agency partners, helping them build a solid online presence for their brands. Get in touch with the team to learn more or start your free trial today!