Maybe you’ve decided that your content marketing efforts aren’t really going anywhere or you need some outside help. If you’re an organization that decides to partner with an outside expert (be it a large or small agency or even a consultant) to develop a content marketing strategy, the content itself, or your promotional plan, it is important to establish a collaborative process up front that will build a strong foundation for future efforts. In this article, we’ll talk about the best way to build a relationship with an outside vendor…
Set Expectations Early
As an Account Manager at Vertical Measures, I understand firsthand the importance of providing quality work and ensuring our clients enjoy their experience with us. Being a good content marketing partner/agency is just as important as being a good content marketing client. When you hire someone external to support your content marketing efforts, you enter a mutually beneficial partnership.
As we look at the beginning stages of working with an agency, in my opinion, the project kickoff meeting is the most critical part for the agency and client to establish a working relationship together including roles and responsibilities, objectives, timeline and how they will measure success.
Here at VM, we can spend countless hours doing research on a client – from branding to current marketing efforts. However, I’ve found there are definitely some questions you cannot answer until you ask the experts (i.e. the client!)!
If you’re preparing to launch your content marketing efforts alongside a partner, here are a few primary questions you should be prepared to answer when determining your overall strategy and how you will measure results. (If you cannot answer these five questions, then you should reconsider your primary goals. It helps to take a step back to define what you must achieve to help your organization address priority issues).
- What are your current marketing goals? Be sure to set SMART goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timebound
- Do you have a documented content marketing strategy or is this an area you need help with?
- Are your current content marketing efforts positioning your brand or business as the leading informational expert in your niche?
- Have you identified content leaders within your organization and how their departments contribute to the overall message of your company?
- Do you know who your audience is? What content marketing efforts do you currently have in place and on what channels?
By following these simple steps you can provide your agency with the information they need to build a successful campaign or project to help you reach your goals.
Provide Consistent Feedback
As a client working with an outside vendor, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that your audience receives messaging that resonates with them at any given time in the marketing funnel. When you approach content marketing, it is important to consider your audience when giving feedback to whoever you’re working with. Keep them in mind at every phase of the process.
In a world of deadlines and constant communication, it is helpful to remember to take your time when evaluating pieces of content during the creative and approval processes. Since it can be quite daunting to know where to start when you’re looking at copy or design, we have a few tips below to consider during the feedback process to help make you a good content marketing client.
Five Easy Tips to Provide Consistent (And Effective) Feedback on Content:
Identify what stage of the review process you are in. Is it the first draft, first round of revisions or creative review stage? Both require a different set of eyes to review.
1. When reviewing an outline, most agencies are looking for approval or feedback on the content. Although an outline can typically be copy-heavy, clear feedback on the theme, section, information and the order in which it is presented are important factors to consider when reviewing.
2. Getting this right during the outline stage prevents massive rework during the creative development stage as the outline is essentially the framework for the creative team to begin the design process.
3. During the second round of revisions, most agencies will accommodate basic copy edits (swap a word, remove a line, move a sentence, change a number, etc.). It is important to confirm copy in this stage before creative is designed.
4. Once creative is ready to present, consider providing your agency with minor design feedback including changes to color, fonts, layout adjustments. This is not a time to change the overall concept or direction unless a campaign or project goal has changed.
5. Trust your agency’s creative team. They went to school to learn about typography, logos branding and more. They are masters in design and will make the best choices for your content marketing efforts.
It definitely helps to understand what type of feedback to provide and when. I’ve seen multiple rounds of revisions outside of a scope of work creep up on a client’s budget. Providing effective feedback from the beginning and in the appropriate stage of revisions can help save your marketing dollars. When in doubt, reference your documented content strategy to remind you of key marketing messages, audience demographics and primary objectives of your campaign or project.
By developing the proper relationship with your agency or partner, creating a foundation based on sound strategy, and opening up lines of feedback from the beginning of your project, you’re setting yourself up to see a great return on investment and will be able to convince your boss of success!