13 Oct 2015

Does Your Content Marketing Agency Practice What it Preaches?

As the old saying goes, “You can always tell the pioneers, they’re the ones with the arrows in their backs.”

I certainly feel that Vertical Measures is truly one of the pioneers when it comes to being a true content marketing agency. Our roots are SEO (thank goodness) but we fell in love with content marketing in 2009 and have not looked back since.

During that time our agency has learned a lot of lessons. We struggled with creating a total culture of content marketing. We weren’t sure if we should post some of the content we created (text and video). It was quite a while before we created our own editorial calendar. We had to learn how to work with clients all over again – content is different than SEO.  Were our clients ready to onboard the content we created? Did they really understand why we weren’t going to create a brochure for them? And so on.

Content Marketing WorksIn 2011 I published my first book on content marketing called Accelerate. Four years later, my son and I published a book based on the lessons we learned over the following four years. It’s called Content Marketing Works for a reason. After many arrows in the back, we feel we truly understand what it takes to make content marketing work for almost any organization.

It’s true, many pioneers have arrows in their back, but they also have the best real estate. I like to think that our agency now falls into that category. We have some great real estate.

I’m Not The Only One

Not too long ago, we published a post which was a roundup of content marketing pet peeves where several of the contributors talked about their frustrations with brands and agencies not even understanding what content marketing is really all about.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Jay Baer – My top content marketing pet peeve is companies creating content that is 100% about them, their products, and/or their services. We already have a name for that kind of features and benefits and bullet points information, and it’s not “content marketing,” it’s “brochure.”
  • Andrew Davis – I get all riled up when someone tells me he or she is a content marketer as illustrated by all the advertising he or she creates. Personally, I do not believe advertising counts as content marketing. You can run ads that promote your content. However, an advertisement — a 30-second spot or a full-page ad — that is not content marketing in my book. I know what you’re saying, “but, Andrew what about an advertorial? Is that content marketing?” ARGH! Now, you’ve got me all riled up.
  • Carla Johnson – My pet peeve is when marketers re-label traditional marketing functions (and processes) with content marketing labels and then say that they “do” content marketing. It’s not about the labels, it’s about understanding the purpose, process, performance and impact that content marketing can have in creating value for the organization, not just selling products and services.
  • Lee Odden – My content marketing pet peeve: SEOs that define content marketing solely as a link building tactic or as a means to reach some other search engine objective – as if content isn’t what attracts, engages and converts paying customers :)

What is Real Content Marketing?

At Vertical Measures, we have developed our own content marketing definition and I think most of the industry experts would agree with it.

“Content marketing is the art of providing relevant, useful content to your prospects without selling or interrupting them. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your prospective customers more informed before they buy. If you deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to your prospects, they ultimately reward you with their business and loyalty.”

As you know, it is a very search centric world. We are constantly searching online – not only from our desktop, but more than half the time we are conducting mobile searches. Before you buy a product or hire a company for their services, you do research. Actually, you do a lot of research – on Google. If you plan to buy a house, you might spend 8 to 10 hours researching an area before you ever contact a realtor. I spent hours researching the best pubs to experience when we went to London. All of your prospective customers do the same.

Hyper Informed Traveler

Consumers WILL spend a lot of time making purchasing decisions when researching online.

Choosing a Content Marketing Agency

At Vertical Measure we absolutely practice what we preach. It’s one of the best ways to learn. We know firsthand what our clients are concerned about. We also know firsthand what the benefits can be. As a result, our agency generates many leads. A lot of leads.

Want to know if your agency really understands and believes in content marketing? Here are several things you can do to find out.

  • Take a close look at their blog. Do they post on a frequent basis? Like multiple times per week? Is it organized and structured well?
  • Now take a close look at their actual blog posts. Are the posts all about them? Is the content useful? Do they frequently use images? Did you subscribe to the blog before you became a client? Why not?
  • Do they have learning resources on their website? Education is a key aspect to helping your prospects and clients make a decision. Does your agency’s website do that?
  • When you take a closer look at the website, is it loaded with stock images?
  • Are they promoting their content through the major social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest? Are they good about sharing content from other sources?
  • How about email? Do they have any type of lead nurture process in place? Did you receive any valuable emails from them?

If the answer is no, to any of these, you have to ask yourself why (or why not)? What is their excuse? Is it too hard? Do they not have the budget for it? Has leadership not truly bought into content marketing? Do they tell you they are too busy working on client work?

To All of That I Call Bullshit!

How can you tell your clients what is good for them if you don’t believe in it enough to execute it for yourself? Yes, content marketing is hard. But we know there is a payoff – a real ROI. So we live and breathe it for ourselves every single day. Our subscriber list grows every single day. We have a steady stream of leads coming in every single day. We teach it every single day. We create it every single day. We share it every single day. Does your agency?

Vertical Measures team selfie 2015