There are worse outcomes for Valentine’s Day than being spoilt for choice. For the singleton, I mean. For couples that just means a host of uninspired choices that are sure to spoil your wallet and wouldn’t actually present the same problem on February 15th.
But when seeking a suitor, choice is your weapon. This year, corporations and companies big and small are very much in the business of courtship. They’re all looking for that special kind of date – the content marketing agency – to fulfil their deeper desires. Trying to find the perfect match in a content marketing agency bears the hallmarks of any good speed dating session. Who you pick to marry your marketing efforts depends on what you want to get out of the relationship, so here’s a Southerly Valentine’s Day guide to meeting your next content marketing mate.
What you need + what they have = a good match
It’s the simple equation for the perfect match, but it conveys a deeper, more fundamental issue about being a good fit for each other. It might seem obvious to fit content marketing goals around your current marketing activities, but you must continue to ask yourself this on a regular basis during the dating ritual. It’s easy to get swept away by uber-coolness or a ‘quirk’ where perhaps your business wasn’t looking for it. Content marketing is as much about gauging the right tone and voice as it is about creating a long-term SEO and social media strategy.
Quite simply, you and your potential agency might agree completely on the best technical strategy moving forward, but there could be no cohesion whatsoever in how you communicate. If you’re the serious type and they insist on just joshing around, or you’re looking for a fun, bright new dimension to your business and they just seem a little drab, then it’s time to press that buzzer and move on.
Are they big spenders?
Budget is always a huge consideration. Maybe you’re the dirty diner type while they just want to go out fine dining. An honest agency will offer the tastiest options and a choice of where you want to go at the price that suits you, not them.
Do they have a range of different clients for whom they’ve tailored different content marketing strategies depending on how much the client wanted to achieve or spend? You may be looking for one aspect in particular and not the whole package; their portfolio should show professionalism and competence as much as flexibility in this regard.
Do they walk the walk?
It’s all very well and good a content marketing agency talking about how much they know about their industry, but make sure it isn’t a load of hot air. If they’re using strong, up-to-date content marketing and SEO tactics to bolster their own site and branding then that’s a sure sign they know their stuff.
Furthermore, are they being talked about in a positive light elsewhere? Perhaps they’re up for awards or have received high praise on third party review sites.
Do they scrub up well?
A good design studio is a mark of a good agency, and a well-turned-out website devoid of dated design trends lets you know they mean business. Do they invite you in with pretty looks and confidence-inspiring, easy-to-navigate features, and responsive web design, or do they have a messy website that says nothing unique about them personally?
Do they talk the talk?
It seems pertinent that a content marketing agency should be blogging about content marketing, social media, and the like. They should be talking about stuff that is going to interest you – answering your questions about content marketing before you’ve even asked them. They should also be interesting, telling unique, funny or emotive stories that engage and inspire.
No one likes a recluse, either. They should have a viewpoint on topical issues in their, and ideally your, areas. They should know about the latest goings-on in the industry, the latest trends and fashions, and be reacting to them.
Also, are they forthright enough? Once you have what seems a good fit for a content marketing agency, you should be confident they’re not just yes-men bowing to your every move. Do they stand up for their principles and the advice they’ve given you if they think it is in your best interests?
Are they overcompensating?
Yeah, sure they’ve got 50,000 Twitter followers and 100,000 Facebook likes and every Google+ post gets 36 +1s. These guys must be all of the amazing, right? Wrong. First of all buying followers, likes and shares in social media can be fairly big business these days, so that’s no viable indicator. What matters is how many meaningful interactions this agency is making.
You want the guy about town. You want the agency making real connections, gaining positive reactions and engaging with clients, customers and commenters in ways that inspires confidence. It’s not the size of your audience, it what you do with it that counts.
Do they measure up?
Does your potential suitor know the measure of their success? They might boast a big game, but if they are not using the most up-to-date techniques and SEO tactics to measure the conversion rates for their clients, the point is really rather moot. Move on.
Are they a good listener?
This is an absolutely crucial question. Do they talk about themselves or do they want to get to know you and your business better? What turns people on to you and your brand, or conversely what turns them off? Do they ask you about your business life and how they might fit into that world? Do they make suggestions that don’t go against your brand values but in fact enhance them, for instance using a particular social media channel you wouldn’t have previously considered?
Moreover, how would they fit into your marketing future? The key question here is: do they run a comprehensive content marketing strategy workshop that looks at your business, your marketing goals, your company’s position in your industry, and that identifies how they can expand on these points?
Do they look to a bigger future together with you? Don’t forget you’re not after a one night stand here; we’re talking a perfect match for long term happiness. They should map out their complete content marketing strategy for you.
Ultimately it’s a question of trust. Your content marketing agency perfect match will look good and sound great, will listen to your story and take your needs (and budget) to heart, will show some engaging flair and that extra je ne sais quoi, will show real knowledge and intellect about their industry and yours, and will have all the measurable marks and history of being the best suitor to all they encounter.