Content Marketing

How to find a content marketing partner

By May 28, 2014 No Comments

“My husband treats me like an employee. He wants the house clean, the yard mowed, the cars serviced, the bills taken care of and he wants no part of any of that. If I need him to sign something, talk to someone on the phone if it is something in his name, I get a lecture on independence… He doesn’t want to discuss any topic of conversation that I come up with and talks over me when he says something that needs a response…”

This post comes from WrongPlanet.net, a US-based relationship community and forum, but what if it came from a marketing agency describing its relationship with a client?

You’d advise the agency to ditch the client, right? But before I’m responsible for a messy client-agency divorce, let’s look at how a content marketing business partnership can be formed on a foundation that’s built to last.

The clue is in the phrase ‘business partnership’. To get maximum return on investment from a marketing agency, a major company needs to approach its recruitment strategy in the same way it would find a joint venture brand partner, not the head of its content strategy team.

Recipe for a long and happy marriage

Identifying your agency partner: Just like affairs of the heart, there is no magic formula to finding a content marketing partner, nor keeping that relationship going. But there are certain steps that can be taken to ensure your choice of partner is a match made in heaven that will grow into a long-term, fruitful marriage.

Start by working out what you want from the relationship. If your content marketing strategy isn’t working – or not delivering the metrics you hoped for – do you want the agency to run your content marketing strategy, or just use its expertise to deliver a specific project?

Once you’ve worked out what you want from a long-term content marketing partner by taking the strengths of your own marketers into account, write it down and put together a brief.

Just like the dating game, you are unlikely to find your dream partner if you make your requirement too specific. There aren’t too many Benedict Cumberbatches or Rihannas out there, so it’s advisable to target an agency that you share some common ground with. Has it a track record of work in your area of expertise? Or has it delivered projects similar to the ones you want it to do for you?

Now you’ve identified your match made in heaven, how do you attract their attention? Go to where they hang out by visiting the online communities they are active on. Or, better still, make the first move and give them a call.

The dating game: Nobody ever said the dating game was easy and it is possible you might have to kiss a few agency frogs before you find a prince. So before you march the first agency you make contact with down the aisle, you will not only need to find out if your agency partner can actually deliver your requirements but also whether its content marketing expertise can produce work you had not thought of.

In other words, during the pitch process does your potential agency convince you it is a go-to partner? Does it spring a surprise in those early meetings by suggesting doing something new and disruptive? And more importantly, does it make its point of view clear and back those opinions up with data and research?

After the honeymoon period: I’m sure the woman complaining about her husband at the start of this blog experienced a host of hearts and flowers at the start of her marriage, but to ensure your content marketing partnership doesn’t turn sour it will need both parties to work on the relationship to keep it fresh.

But unlike a marriage between two loving individuals, a relationship between a brand and an agency works best when there is an element of disagreement. Think about it. If you always agree with your agency’s suggestions you might as well be doing the work yourself.

Measure the love

A content marketing partnership is a coming together of equals, and to measure whether your agency is still the go-to partner you so willingly fell into bed with ask yourself the following questions…

Is my agency partner a content adviser, rather than an order taker?

Does my content marketing agency make a worthwhile contribution to strategy and planning discussions?

Does my agency partner focus on how to spend my content marketing budget, rather than on results?

If the answer to all those questions is a resounding yes, then it’s time for a heart to heart…

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