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How Clients and Agencies Should Approach Content Collaboration

The Cutting Edge | Client & Agency Collaboration Dear client,

The assumption that a marketing agency can single-handedly fix your content marketing woes is...well, it's impossible. That's like asking a personal trainer to get you ripped while you sit in a recliner enjoying a bag of Fritos.

We regret to inform you that producing great content requires a ton of work from both of us. But that's okay, because this is our chance to unleash your thought leadership and build a truly effective inbound marketing strategy.

The goal of any agency-client partnership should be to work together to create the best possible content. Here's how we can get it done.

Collaborate on content strategy

Developing a comprehensive content marketing strategy is one of the most critical aspects of the entire campaign. Without a solid roadmap that lays out where the client wants to go and how to get there, we're all liable to drive this thing straight off a cliff.

While the majority of the strategic work lies in the agency's hands, understand that you're the most important piece of the puzzle. There are two key areas where your help is needed most in developing the strategy.

Brand voice and messaging guidelines

Nailing down brand voice and messaging guidelines is key to understanding how we create every piece of content going forward. So let's get aligned on the following points.

  • What to say
    • Are there any specific messages, hero statements, taglines, etc. that the agency should include in our content? How often should we use them? Why are they important?
  • What not to say
    • Conversely, what kinds of messaging, buzzwords, or phrases are totally off-limits? Why do we want to leave them out?
  • How to say it
    • Settling on a specific tone for your content is huge - do you want to sound like a thought-leading expert to your audience? A helpful professional? A friend? Whatever happens, just try not to sound like a robot.

It's likely that that these guidelines need to be tweaked over time - and that's to be expected. That said, if we give the proper amount of time and energy to this step on the front side, we're more likely to build and maintain a strong, consistent brand voice throughout the duration of the campaign. 

However, if at any point you think the agency's content team doesn't quite understand your brand's messaging, make sure you clearly communicate how we need to improve. Request a call with us, set up a cadence meeting - remember, we're partners!

Buyer Personas and Buyer's Journey

This step is almost entirely on the client. Only you truly understand who you're selling to and how they're arriving at a purchasing decision.

  • Buyer Personas
    • We start by giving you the guidelines to determine what kinds of people are buying from you. Once you get back to us with a detailed account of this information we can build profiles of your individual buyer personas - who we then target with our content. If you can't provide this information, we're not sure what to tell you (besides "this might not be working out").
  • Buyer's Journey
    • Once we establish your Buyer Personas, the next step is to map out the digital path these individuals take to buy from you. Every piece of your content that already exists or that needs to be created should be mapped onto each stage of the Buyer's Journey - from total unawareness to purchasing decision. Therefore it's essential to first answer the question: how are these people getting from A to Z and buying our shit? You have to help us understand the process so we can create an effective strategy.

Even though branding guidelines, Buyer Personas, and the Buyer's Journey aren't the only slices of the content marketing pie, they are the slices that the client and the agency should be eating together. And seriously, if you really like pie - and you're clearly the pie expert here - you should probably eat most of it. 

Write your own content 

Think the pie analogy was weird? Same here. What I was alluding to was the notion that you should be writing your own content.

Why? Because you know your industry, your organization, your products, your services, and your buyers better than anyone else. Despite what all those self-aggrandizing content marketers out there might say, we can't just slide right into your domain of expertise and churn out perfect content. And why should we even try? Content that's clearly been written by a marketing ghostwriter is transparent and inauthentic. Is that the brand messaging we want to convey? Nope.

What we can do is understand your branding and develop a robust strategy to help you create badass content.

But I suck at writing and I don't have time to do it, you might be thinking. I get it. But you hired a marketing agency for a reason - to help you create a ton of content. And the best way to do that is this: we strategize, you execute. 

Here's how we build this process into our content strategy.

What we do:

  • Start with SEO research
    • All content we create together should be built around target content topics that we determine are relevant to your business. Our SEO team does the initial research to determine specific keywords that are relevant to your content topics and that rank well with searchers on a monthly basis. We then use these keywords as the basis for our planned content - usually by including them right in the title of the piece. And this leads straight to the next step...
  • Create a detailed outline
    • We then build you an outline. Not just a short bullet list with a few key, we'll give you an actual document to work with. We give you the title, the Buyer Personas you should target, the stage of the Buyer's Journey in which the piece will live (and what that means), a target word count, a synopsis of what the piece should say, its call to action, and a bulleted list of what to cover. This will give you a crucial baseline of research and content to build from.
  • Edit, optimize, publish, promote
    • Once we receive your draft, it's time to beautify. We'll edit the content, optimize it for SEO, implement any multimedia or design tweaks, publish it, and set up promotion tactics so your followers see it. 

What you do:

  • Create a draft
    • Once you receive the outline and guidelines from the agency, it's your turn to create. Just go for it. Even if you're the worst writer you know, this is your chance to unleash your expertise. This is your content, so own it. And don't worry about editing - we'll take care of it. All we ask is that you leverage your industry knowledge and create an authentic draft that we can use. 

Let's start collaborating

If you're still wary about creating your own content and strategy, don't be. We're here to make the process as painless as possible (well, there might be a little bit of pain). So let's get started - get in touch with us to see how we can jump-start your content marketing journey.

Revenue River

HubSpot Website Design Impact Award Winner