How to get the Best out of your Content Agency

Aug 29, 2017

As marketers you’re entrusting your content agency with your brand’s storytelling so the relationship you have with your storytellers is key to its success. Business Unit Director Lauren Brabant earmarks 11 things to do to set the relationship between brand and agency into winning mode.

Imagine you employ someone to write your biography. Top of your list would be to make sure that your biographer ‘gets’ you… and for that, you’d be feeding them as much about yourself as you possibly can. This chemistry and the relationship is just as important when it’s between a brand and the content agency. Storytelling is intrinsic to successful content strategy, and stories – if they are going to be good ones – come from a deep understanding of what it is the brand is trying to achieve and what customers want to hear.

Content marketing is about consistently connecting with customers, so it’s important that the brand marketing team and the content agency invest time and energy to establish a relationship based on partnership that runs deeper than traditional client-supplier dynamics. Information sharing and respect for processes are key.

Part of the team
Consider the content agency as an extension of your team, a group of people that you can rely on. By devoting time and energy to the relationship, any challenge can be overcome. Getting it right is quite simple – if you follow and adhere to these basic principles.

Build a partnership
Content marketers are creative, passionate and often sensitive people who thrive when they feel as though they work with you rather than for you. Nurture collaboration and synergy through partnership. The more the content team working on your brand feels a part of your organisation, the more they ‘get’ your business and the better the output.

Define expectations clearly
Try to get your content team into your head: define what success looks like to you, map out what you’re looking to achieve. The better your storytellers can understand what you want, the more effectively they can deliver.

Share as much information as possible
Don’t be afraid to overload your content team with information, even beyond the current jobs in the system. Help them understand your broader business challenges so that they can support you through the way in which they service your business as well as the delivery of work.

Ensure there is internal alignment
Make sure that all stakeholders in your organisation are on the same page – before briefing the content agency. Being aligned is fundamental to ensure efficiencies and doing it upfront, before briefing the content team, saves a lot of wasted time down the line. Along the way, consolidated feedback is essential to being efficient as it cuts down on the number of reverts and wasted time.

Provide thorough, well-written briefs
Ensure your briefs clearly define your goals and expectations. Include any critical information required to complete the work. Give references and anything else you think will help the content creators understand what you want to achieve.
Allow for the right amount of time to be dedicated to any job.

Allow enough time to do good work
Failing to plan is planning to fail. So plan to succeed by ensuring there’s enough time to do the work you’re requiring. Content agencies will always do their best to take into account the business pressures that you have and push to get work out timeously. However, some tasks, by their very nature, do require more time in order for the work to be correct. Allowing additional time upfront can give you a better overall result and can mean less time later down the line. Ensuring that production timings are adhered to means less rushing and avoiding costly challenges too late in the process.

Be as accessible and responsive as possible
Being always on rather than campaign driven, means that content marketing requires regular attention – whether it’s for briefing sessions, feedback, planning or strategy workshops. The ideal is a brand marketing team that is accessible and responsive. Many brands have an in-house content marketing coordinator who is content savvy and liaises with the content agency – one of their key roles is to ensure that feedback and approval is given timeously, especially when deadlines are pressured… this goes a long way to helping the content team deliver the highest quality output.

Give detailed and specific feedback
Constructive feedback is fundamental to your content team producing work that meets your expectations. Ensure that your feedback is clear, concise and unemotional. If you disagree with what has been presented, make sure that the content team understands exactly why you disagree. Unless the problem is spelled out, the chances are the solution will continue to scooch out of reach. In addition, feedback that is harsh and without reason can be incredibly demotivating to a passionate and creative team.

Establish clear rules for cross-agency integration
One of the cumbersome elements of marketing now is that brands have multiple agencies doing their work. You’re ultimately all on the same team, so set clear boundaries on scope and responsibility so that all agency partners have the authority needed within their scope to succeed. There is also plenty of opportunity for collaboration so try to establish a culture that fosters open and productive working relationships among agency partners.

Schedule regular assessments to evaluate progress
Regular high-level catch-ups with senior management from your content team means that you can consistently assess the partnership and address any challenges before they become real issues. In addition, formal assessments of both the agency and client can be incredibly beneficial to the ongoing relationship.

Many of these pointers are basic management hygiene, but we all know how things can slip when pressure is coming from multiple areas in the business. So here’s the takeout list – every now and then it’s worth coming back to this list and just making sure you’re ticking all the boxes:

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