When it comes to B2B marketing, picking a partner to help you create a high-performing content marketing strategy can be tricky to get right.
You need to know that the agency you work with really understands your business objectives, your context and clients. You need to work with someone whose success you can track, evaluate and learn from. You need to work with someone who appreciates how and why engaging corporate customers is a fundamentally different challenge to selling directly to consumers – but doesn’t lose sight of the fact that you need still need to be engaging.
The last of these is crucial. Many businesses who are new to the field tend to veer in one of two directions, neither of which is conductive to a successful content marketing strategy.
Either they try to emulate a specific B2C campaign that comes across as too lightweight or inappropriate for their product, service or customer base, or they become so worried about looking unprofessional that they stuff their content with corporate jargon and make something no one will ever read, watch or listen to. An even more disastrous (but all-too frequent) approach is to leap between these two extremes, ending up with a Frankenstein’s monster of inconsistent messaging that confuses your customers and does little for your brand.
The point of working with an experienced B2B marketing agency is to avoid making these mistakes. That means finding an agency that you trust to navigate these challenges – and then trusting them to do precisely that.
So how do you figure out whether a content marketing company really knows their onions? Ask them four simple questions.
1. How Do We Know that You Really “Get” Us?
The content you produce will have to embody your brand identity, personality and voice – and so whoever you work with needs to really understand who you are and what you stand for. It will take a little while to get exactly right, but if an agency has helped brands like you to achieve aims like yours in the past, that’s a good sign they’re a good match.
That said, be smart about how you ask the question. Obviously, if you’re an IT services firm that wants to increase lead generation and an agency has only ever worked with fashion brands, that’s a bad sign. But an agency that used a content marketing campaign to help, say, a law firm or a fintech to successfully generate B2B leads will likely be a better choice than one that has worked with IT clients on a totally unrelated project with no lead generation at all.
2. Who Will We Be Working With?
Developing and implementing a content marketing strategy means getting into a long-term relationship with a team of people who will almost become an extension of your own and know your brand inside-out. You need to know you’re a good fit.
Bigger agencies might have an impressive roster of clients, but the person who pitches the ideas and gets you on board is rarely the person who’s involved in your account day-to-day. A boutique outfit, on the other day, should be able to introduce you to your project manager or producer and talk you through samples of work from the writers, designers, videographers and others who will actually be making your content. It sounds nit-picky, but it’s worth it.
3. How Will We Know It’s Working?
A B2B marketing company that’s creative, enthusiastic and bursting with ideas is a great partner, but don’t lose sight of why you’re doing all of this in the first place. Lay out exactly what it is you want to achieve, whether it’s a sales target, lead generation, or softer targets like reputational growth, and ask them how they will a) tackle each problem and b) how they will measure success. You should be able to see examples of hard figures and metrics.
Bear in mind, too, that any agency worth its salt will ask you what your business goals are and shape their pitch around it. If they aren’t results-focussed, don’t expect results.
4. Why Do You Want to Work With Us?
You know what? Hardly anyone asks this. And they really, really should.
At the end of the day, you’re entrusting an agency to tease out everything that’s great about your brand, establish you as a leader in your field, and sell what you do to your clients. If they aren’t convinced or passionate enough about what you do, or excited enough about how they’re going to do it, to make the case to you, how are they going to persuade anyone else?
Want more great tips to help you get started on your content marketing strategy? Download the B2B Content Creation Masterclass below.