How to get to work with your content marketing agency...
...if you want to make sure your content marketing actually works.
You don't sign a contract with a B2B digital marketing agency; you sign an oath of allegiance.
Ultimately, you fail or thrive together. So, link arms, swear bonds, and bring them in.
If you insist on keeping your agency partners at arm's length, they're unlikely to help your B2B business grow - or give life and limb for its success.
The best digital marketing agencies will not only ask but demand to get their hands dirty exploring the depths of your business: to understand your needs and the needs of your customers.
A tip from our Tribe to yours - only work with B2B marketing agencies who care enough to roll up their sleeves and dig in.
B2B decision makers spend more than 70% of the purchase cycle engaging with content before ever reaching out to sales representatives. They're looking for something more than a repetition of a well-worn sales pitch. Make yours have value, hold water and be consistent.
The relationship with your agency is the foundation of memorable and motivating content marketing. And this blog is one of two on how to make that partnership as productive as possible.
Wait: Why can't we do B2B marketing in-house?
In short: you can. But look yourself in the eyes and ask: is it effective B2B marketing?
If you have the expertise in critical areas - and the time to produce content and execute it effectively and consistently, you can handle marketing within your team.
But if the steps below are an afterthought in your overall business strategy or not included in the strategy at all, investing in a B2B content marketing agency is a must (the role of a B2B marketing agency is explored in more detail here):
A content strategy aligned to your goals, to stand out from competitors and responsive to changing trends (both in your sector and in digital marketing)
An omnichannel strategy, optimised by content appropriate for each audience segment
An SEO strategy including keyword research, optimisation and blog building
KPIs and audits of the contents' impact across channels linked
Alignment of sales and marketing teams
And - eyes on this final point, ‘cos we can't say it loudly enough: B2B content marketing that creates content that your clients WANT, not what you think they do.
Only two-thirds (66%) of content marketing programs prioritise their audience's informational needs over their organisation's sales/promotional message.
Stop talking about yourself - start solving your client's problems.
If you can't see the impact of your marketing efforts, quantify what those efforts are, or see your sales pitch and marketing as the same thing… you might need support. 60% of B2B brands get some form of help with their marketing from external sources for a reason.
If you're ready to reach out to B2B digital marketing experts, take a read of our previous blog - How to choose a great B2B content marketing agency…
Got your partner? Great. Now let's get to work.
The First Date: Getting to Know All About You
First up, you've forgotten what you know. And what a marketer will find interesting, you might dismiss as commonplace.
You're so in tune with your business and the sector that you've potentially forgotten the knowledge base you've accrued.
To get your agency singing, not only in harmony with you but able to help you write the score with your content, see the initial phase of your relationship as just that… first, second and third dates - where everything is on the table, and you're - hopefully - enthusiastically looking forward to the next meeting. To share and for your agency 'other-half' to learn.
Your agency contacts should become students of your sector. Studying up on you and all around you. (This stage can be shortcutted with appointing an agency in your niche, but a willingness to learn fast and fail forward on the content created is the crucial skill you're looking for.)
So, number 1- you don't know what you know: wear your heart on your sleeve and share everything. Great content marketing begins with knowledge harvesting - and your agency can only sow what you let them reap.
B2B Content Marketing Strategy: The Basics
Agencies worth their onions will guide you to aspects of the detail they need to learn your business best. We've highlighted the essential elements of any robust content marketing strategy:
What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for? Why is that important? How are you solving it?... the value prop
Essential buyer insights: Priority initiatives, success factors, barriers, buyers' journey, decision criteria
Who are your competitors? And are they talking to the same audience?
This due diligence matters more in the B2B marketing space. Why? ‘Cos every answer is a tad more complicated than for B2C marketing.
Getting your informational ducks in a row will help your marketing agency get quacking (sorry) more quickly.
Let us walk you through the process.
1) Who are you?
Define who you are, what you do and what you stand for: and the problem you solve.
Sum it up in one or two sentences. And 'voila' - you have your value proposition.
This statement should be concise and speak to the challenge(s) you're addressing for your clients. But, the more info you can fuel your agency with the better - think brand values, tone of voice, brand personality, messaging structure, benefits and features.
2) Who are you talking to?
Your B2B audience will likely be made up of multiple personas who are all stakeholders in the buying decision: so, who are they? And do you have their individual essential buyer insights (priority initiatives, success factors, barriers, buyers' journey, decision criteria)?
Note: the problem you're solving for a CEO might be different to that of the salesperson, but both could count in the decision-making process.
3) Who's the competition?
Who is offering a similar product or service to you…? You probably know this, but have you explored how they speak online? What channels do they use - and, more importantly, what impact is their messaging having on sales and engagement?
Your relationship with your B2B marketing agency should be long-term.
To make yours go the distance, stay alert for our next blog - embedding the relationship with your new content marketing agency. And if you like what you see, join us as we Buzz about all things B2B marketing in our regular mailer drop… tips, tools and trends to get your marketing in top-notch shape.
We'd love to chat B2B content marketing - get in touch!