Ask the average marketing professional who’s best suited to be creating content for his or her organization and you'd hear, “We are.” After all, a company’s own people know its products and target audiences better than anyone, right?
But an experienced inbound marketing firm with professional writers, designers and technicians on staff can do a hellavu job creating it, too. Its clients may be the best equipped to discuss its products and customers, but 1) not everyone internally will have the writing, design and production skills necessary, and 2) very few, if any, of them have the time.
We create the content for most of our clients and regularly create content about industries as diverse as commercial whey protein ingredients, consumer and business insurance, employee stock ownership plan consulting, fire and emergency apparatus, industrial blades and components, and supply chain management (to name a few). In our role as an inbound marketing agency, we must be able to write intelligently, providing insights and demonstrating expertise and empathy as near as possible to that of the people on the client team.
How Can An Outside Firm Create Content For Your Company?
Not every inbound agency can act as an extension of the client’s marketing team because many don’t invest the time necessary to fully learn the client’s business. If you’re considering engaging a firm to take on your organization’s content creation, use the guidelines below to make sure you’re hiring people capable of stepping into your shoes and connecting effectively with your prospects.
Insist on experience. This means not only experience writing and creating diverse content, but experience with a number of different industries. An inbound marketing firm that’s written for multiple industry types understands nuances of business models, value propositions, vertical markets, go-to-market strategies, sales processes, customer types, prospect mindsets, etc., and is able to rigorously process and integrate what they learn about your business with relevant experiences that help establish meaningful context for your content.
Make sure they have a process that immerses them fully and quickly into your business. That process should be a formalized and linear approach to learning; ours looks something like this:
Learn from their customers. With clients’ help we identify a number of current customers and, sometimes, former customers, and interview them to find out why they purchase your product, what they like about working with your organization, what competitors they considered before choosing you, what your greatest area of value is to them, what aspects could benefit from improvements, and more. These interviews are often very enlightening to our clients, who may have never heard this kind of input from their customers before.
Dig into their targets. We work with clients to understand their best prospects – those mostly likely to need, value and benefit from their product. Simply knowing who they are isn’t enough; we look at prospects’ roles within their companies, what motivates each of them professionally, internal and market hurdles they face, types of pushback and objections clients could face as we try to sell to each target, and what their purchase process is. We even consider education, demographics, career track, and compensation.
Understand their current situation and position in the market. It’s important to know what a client’s current situation is if we’re to create content to help improve it. We carefully assess the nature of clients’ markets (Emerging? Mature? Consolidating?), how competitors are performing, how their product compares to others’, etc. We also evaluate the client’s current positioning and help evaluate its appropriateness. What’s their true competitive advantage? How should positioning adjust as they shift their target focus? What objective evidence or customer testimony can they offer to support an elevated positioning?
Evaluate business opportunities. We spend a good deal of time talking with clients about where they see opportunity in the market and provide our own perspective based on what we’ve learned. Together we might identify underserved segments, niches where competitors are weak, new vertical markets that might represent potential growth, etc.
Do a thorough review of competitors’ activities. Competitors’ online presence and activities, social media engagement and promotion, traditional marketing efforts…because inbound marketing focuses on creating and promoting content via email, website and social media, a solid understanding of what others are doing will influence our own approach.
Content strategy. Armed with the knowledge gathered in these last steps we’re now able to create a platform from which all our communications and content stem, with specific messages articulated for every prospect target. And of course, everything’s optimized for search, because if it’s not, your target may never find the content prepared so carefully for their consumption.
When it comes to content strategy and execution, qualified inbound marketing agencies should be viewed as tools that can provide the leverage to turn a clients’ knowledge, experience and competitive advantage into powerful business attraction agents. Can you do it yourselves as a client organization? Sure, theoretically you could. But in a world that rewards effective speed, and in an online environment where critical content mass creates exponential visibility improvement, the future belongs to businesses that are most astute about creating business leverage through the tools and partners they deploy. Shouldn’t you be in that camp?
Have more questions about content? We answer those and others in our eBook, "Answers To The Top 15 Questions About Inbound Marketing" - get yours now!
Posted by Meg Hoppe Meg provides creative vision to all client projects and serves as the agency's chief content writer. She has extensive experience writing for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. Meg started in advertising and has become a thought leader in digital content creation and inbound marketing.