In this post you will learn the three skill sets to consider outsourcing to supplement your marketing team’s capability and why they are critical in your evaluation criteria, not only when first selecting your content marketing agency but also throughout your working partnership.
Our recently published eBook, The Content Marketing Mandate, outlines the 4 capabilities every firm’s marketing department must have and the 7 skill sets needed to fully execute on a content initiative. When evaluating these skill sets, I’ve found 3 of them are often best outsourced to a content marketing agency. In fact, these are the three criteria you should also be evaluating your agency on during your agency selection process and throughout your working relationship.
Research + Content Development
This is a skill where ideally client and agency complement each other. A firm’s task in content development should first be knowing where to source good content from (a subject matter expert, a client engagement, a research study) and second having the ability to extract that knowledge in its raw form to provide to an agency. A good content marketing agency, on the other hand, should be really good at two tasks. First is a strategic roadmap. The agency should be able to understand the what’s provided (be it research, a lessons learned document, or even a transcribed interview with a senior principal) and have a pulse on how to organize the story into a multi-dimensional format in order to structure and deliver the it in a timely and meaningful way. Second, the agency should have the ability to repackage that information into both useful and easily consumed formats ranging from online articles, trade articles, social content, ebooks, infographics, presentations, tools, video, email, etc. Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating agency partners in this area:
- Do we need someone to do the marketplace research? If so, what type of research do we think we need?
- Do we already have research or insight in its raw form and we need someone to help us get it to market?
- Are we already pretty good at producing a few types of content (research reports and blogs, for instance), but we’ve struggled to repurpose that content into different formats for different purposes?
Gone are the days of your online presence being a static website that you passively support. Today, websites need to constantly evolve and be proactively adapted if your goal is to have your digital presence work to generate new leads for the firm. And to achieve this objective, a website also needs to integrate with a host of technologies such as email systems, automation systems, digital asset management systems, CRM systems, and analytics systems. A good content marketing agency has a solid handle on how each of these systems should appropriately work together and what insights should be drawn to constantly evolve and improve your entire web strategy. The best agencies spend a lot of time researching, testing and using today’s marketing technology. Some questions to ask yourself when evaluating agency partners in this area:
- Do we even know what marketing technology we could be using and what it could be doing for us? Do we simply need help identifying the right technologies?
- Or, have we already invested in a handful of marketing technologies, and we’re struggling to get value from them? In this case, do we need advice on how to use the technologies we already have?
There are two types of design, each of equal importance. Graphic design and production design. Production design is what is generally handled in-house. However, it can also be an outsourced component if you don’t have the privilege of having in-house designers. Its purpose is usually to produce content assets quickly and consistently often utilizing available design templates. These assets come in the form of presentations, proposals, case studies, sell sheets, etc. Graphic design is often a specialist skill that is rooted in deeper thinking. Its purpose is to produce highly engaging creative that hooks an early stage buyer in their research phase to want to learn more about your brand. Because of that, the creative needs to relate to both the cognitive and emotional psyche of that person. It often is concept/idea driven and comes in the form of integrated campaign work for either advertising purposes (print ads, online ads, email, etc.) or content marketing purposes (ebooks, research reports, infographics, blogs, articles, video, etc.). Graphic design is a skill that gets better the more it’s performed and is a skill where agency creative teams excel. Some questions to ask yourself in this area:
- Are we used to primarily designing within constraints defined by rigid tools such as literature templates?
- If so, do we have the design skills necessary to create high quality thought leadership for clients that are at a much earlier stage of their buying journey?
Where To Go From Here:
Read the Content Marketing Mandate: Spend the 20 minutes to read our latest ebook and assess and evaluate your marketing teams capabilities and skill sets. Determine where you’re weakest and look to supplement those weaknesses through either training existing staff, adding new staff, or partnering with a quality content marketing agency.