What if your company’s secret weapon never had any ammo?
Many businesses of all sizes rely on marketing firms to help grow leads, boost engagement, and pave the way towards expansion. But not every content marketing firm was created equally!
The good news is that you can hire an amazing firm by following a few easy tips. Keep reading to discover what these tips are and why each one is a game-changer!
Areas of Specialty
As we said, not every content firm has been created equally. And not every firm does the same kind of marketing.
For example, some firms still specialize in traditional advertising. This may be a great solution for a local business looking to make a name for itself.
Other firms are better at public relations. This can be a good solution for midsize or larger companies that need more help managing public perception than in marketing goods and services.
Finally, some firms focus on digital marketing. Such firms (such as Digital Shift) offer the best bang for your buck because you have an opportunity to reach a global audience across a variety of digital platforms.
Patience Is Key
Some managers make the rookie mistake of seeing content marketing companies as magic bullets for all their problems. However, you should know that they certainly are not as fast as a bullet.
What we mean is that good marketing takes time. It takes time to come up with strategies, integrate marketing with your other teams, and actually create engaging content.
And once all of that is in place, it will still take time to see results. If you are trying to boost your SEO, for instance, it may take many months for you to see the results you want.
This is why it is so crucial to embrace KPIs along the way towards your larger goals.
KPI: As Easy As A, B, C
You should already be using KPIs to measure progress towards sales goals. Before you hire a content firm, it’s important to develop KPIs for your marketing goals.
As we said before, it’s completely unrealistic to expect to meet your primary goals overnight. Instead, you should take those goals and split them up into monthly and quarterly KPIs that build towards annual goals.
Be sure to develop these goals in conjunction with the marketing firm. This is a good idea because they can help develop more realistic KPIs. Furthermore, it gives you a chance to see their experience in customizing marketing campaigns and goals for specific client needs.
Of course, you’ll want to know more about how well the company performs before you hire them. That’s why it’s important to research their experience with your specific industry.
By now, you should have already narrowed down what kinds of marketing agency you need. However, not all agencies of the same type have worked with companies that share your field.
It’s definitely worth taking the time to find a company with specific experience in your niche. You’ll end up with more effective marketing, and you may even walk away with added insight into your competitors’ strategies!
Talking ‘Bout Their Reputation
Word-of-mouth has always been the best way to discover a company’s reputation. It’s not enough to see what a company has to say for themselves; you want to know what people are saying about the company!
The explosion of internet access and the advent of social media has also made this part very easy. In just a few minutes, you can usually pull up a good sample size to tell you how customers feel about this marketing company.
If the company uses social media, pay attention to how they address things like customer complaints and concerns. This is basically a “sneak preview” of how they will try to solve any problems that you bring to their attention, and social media influence is more important than ever.
Branding: Grow, Show, or Sow
Content marketing firms can do wonders for your brand. Before you hire a firm, though, you must figure out what your brand goals truly are.
For example, some companies struggle with internal branding consistency. In this case, the marketing company’s first goal will be to help illustrate your brand and what makes it unique to every level of your organizational chart.
Other companies want to get better results from existing brand opportunities. This includes taking stale social media accounts and turning them into engaging online communities for your biggest fans.
Finally, some companies simply want to grow their brand. This usually involves finding dynamic new ways to market your business, up to and including discovering and catering to new demographics you might be overlooking.
Over time, you might need a content marketing firm to do each one of these. But it’s best to focus on one major goal at a time, so make sure your own company has a game plan before you hire anyone.
It’s important to understand what a firm’s specific content marketing tools are (more on this later). However, it’s also important that you understand what their chief communication tools are.
Do they prefer to communicate via text and e-mail? Or do they want to do old-fashioned conference calls?
Alternatively, they may be app-driven. This includes marketing firms that want to communicate using tools such as Slack and Trello.
It may sound like a small thing, but you want to make sure your company and its key players are comfortable with this communication technology. If communication breaks down, then your marketing opportunities will be doomed from the start.
Spoilers: every marketing company will promise that they will grow your business. When they say this, then offer them these three, simple words: “show me how.”
The best content marketing companies will be fully transparent about their past and about their procedures. They shouldn’t hesitate when it comes to outlining their preferred strategies and their specific ideas for your company.
If they choke on the question, though, this is a really bad sign. It means they are more focused on getting a contract from you than they are on delivering on what that contract has promised!
In some companies, the marketing and sales team function as a single unit. However, in most businesses, sales and marketing are considered different departments.
Your company having a separate sales team means that you’ll need to do additional homework and prep work. Specifically, you’ll need to know how the marketing company will integrate with your sales team and whether there is good chemistry between those two departments.
Take it from us: that chemistry is the key to creating ongoing and profitable relationships between your company and the marketing company.
Earlier, we talked about the importance of tailoring your KPIs to major annual goals. If you haven’t done so already, it’s important to define those overall goals and how you intend to reach them.
For example, it’s easy to say that you want to boost customer engagement. But does that mean better social media marketing, better CRM use, an SMS campaign, or something else entirely?
Your goals should be tied to your demographics and should be relatively realistic. If you end up exceeding expectations after that first year, you can always up the ante for yourself in the second year!
Proof, Meet Pudding
We have discussed some of the many ways you can verify a marketing company’s history and their quality. Here is the absolutely simplest one, though: go visit their websites and social media accounts.
First, you’ll want to verify the quality of their design work. If they will be redesigning your own website and theirs looks like a relic from 1999, that’s a bad sign.
Second, you’ll want to check how easy it is to navigate their site. Make sure it’s easy to navigate via a mobile device as well as desktop PC because that’s how the majority of your users will visit your own site.
Finally, look at about a month of social media posts. Do they change up what they post and encourage engagement, or is every post like a repetitive ad?
If everything looks slick and professional on their end, then you can probably trust them to handle your own online presence and online marketing.
Budgets and Balance
The biggest question of all should happen before you ever pick up the phone: what does your content marketing budget look like?
Sometimes, aggressive companies want to expand fast and throw every available dollar at marketing. Most companies are more conservative, though, and must operate from a fixed budget.
Such a budget will determine the marketing companies you can afford to hire. It will also dictate whether you are hiring firms for specific tasks or as part of an ongoing retainer.
Hiring a Content Marketing Firm: The Bottom Line
Now you know how to grow your business with a content marketing firm. But do you know how to grow your personal brand online?
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