Content Marketing Agency

Posted by Digitally Global on April 22nd, 2021

Content marketing agencies help businesses create content and develop strategies. Such partners are crucial in engaging customers and elevating brand awareness through various products and services, such as blogs, infographics, SEO, and consultancy. 

The Truth About Content Marketing Agency Today

The battle royale to establish or increase budgets for content development and distribution is being fought by both the usual suspects and the uninitiated in our industry, including:

  • The custom publishers, who are actually the pure content marketing agencies. 
  • The ad or the advertising agencies that have a newfound appreciation for branded storytelling outside of media placement. 
  • The traditional media companies that earlier have editorial teams or content divisions who are dedicated to working on the editorial and branded content projects PR organization. 
  • There are agencies that are moving from offer-focused to engagement focus content. These are mostly the direct marketing agencies.  
  • SEO companies that are shelving the SEO business in response to Google Panda and Penguin updates.
  • Social media agencies that are realizing that it’s not the channel, but what goes into the channel that counts.
  • Web content and user experience agencies that are moving away from solely technical website production, audits, and analysis to advise on multichannel content.
  • Digital agencies that are pairing interactive services with consistent content production.
  • Research organizations showcasing industry experts and thought leaders for strategic content and consulting assignment.

Reality Bites

Brands have it tough. We receive multiple calls, emails, and inquiries each day at the Content Marketing Institute asking for content help… from strategy to blog posts, visual content, content distribution, integration, hiring, research, and everything else under the sun. Here’s what we’ve learned: There is good help out there, but it’s hard to tell the partners from the posers.

Below you’ll find some truths about content marketing agencies, and how smart brands should view the outsourced marketing services provider of the present.

Most Content Marketing Agencies Don’t Market With Content

I hear it all the time: the “shoemaker’s shoes” conundrum. Agencies of all kinds have a long history of producing advertising and marketing programs for clients while forgetting to market themselves. No clearer examples of this exist than with content marketing.

Marketing services organizations are notorious for focusing on sales-led marketing programs, where cold calls and sales relationships rule. Whether a lack of resources or a lack of patience is cited as the reason, agencies that offer content marketing services very rarely produce epic content that attracts and helps to retain their own customer base.

Excellent content marketing examples, such as Imagination’s Orange magazine, Pace’s research reports, BrandPoint’s blog, or Story Worldwide’s seem to be the exception, and not the rule (disclosure: these agencies are all CMI clients).

The lesson for brands: Before you hire any content marketing agency, ask to see the work they’ve performed — on their own behalf. Take a deep dive into all of their content. Is it truly great content, or is it “me too” blog content that you can find anywhere?

Most SEO Agencies Don’t Know Jack About Content Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an incredibly important top-of-the-funnel tactic. As Google gets smarter, it’s almost impossible to game the system. Today, getting found through search engines has more to do with amazing online storytelling than most anything else.

The lesson for brands: A holistic content marketing strategy includes up-front planning and multiple goals, which in turn must bring in non-digital channels (such as print and in-person vehicles). SEO is just one very small part that covers a few marketing objectives. Make sure your content marketing strategy goes beyond top-funnel considerations.

Most Agencies are Less Concerned About Strategy Than They are About Execution

The lesson for brands: Regardless of whether you hired an agency to just do content execution, you must ask for a sample of an executable content marketing strategy from them, as well. You at least need to see if they understand the strategic argument for — and more importantly, against — content creation. There may be a time for producing less content, but without strategic guidance, the answer will always be more (and this is just short-sighted).

Most Agencies Still See Content Marketing as a Campaign

Content marketing is not a campaign — it’s an approach, a philosophy, and a business strategy.

Similarly, a viral video — and its resultant success or failure — is not content marketing. A campaign is not content marketing. A campaign can be the result of a content marketing approach, but in and of itself, it is not content marketing. In other words, releasing the long form of a 30-second advertisement is not a content marketing approach — it’s just a clever form of advertising.

Most agencies aren’t built for consistent, long-form content creation and distribution. They’re built for speed; for great creativity that makes an immediate (hopefully) impact. Compare this to what it takes to create content marketing efforts like  Procter & Gamble’s HomeMadeSimple or AMEX’s Open Forum: day in-day out content planning, production, and evolution over a long period of time, with the goal of attracting and/or retaining customers.

The lesson for brands: Be wary of any agency pitching you a “campaign” over a “program.” There is one thing that’s certain with any campaign: It has an end date. Not so with content marketing.

A Review

Even though content marketing is 100+ years old, we are in the middle of a revolution. Total consumer control, combined with an absence of technology barriers for brands, has resulted in a content marketing renaissance. At the same time, it has forced marketing service providers to alter their business models, and their sales speak, to include editorial-based content creation.

While, overall, this is good for the industry, it has created confusion of what true content marketing is — and what the practice of content marketing can look like for both agencies and brands.

And now you know. Good luck!


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Digitally Global

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Digitally Global
Joined: April 22nd, 2021
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