The 40 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Content Marketing Agency
Sep 25, 2013
Over the years, we have collected questions our clients have asked us about what they need content marketing to do for them and how we will accomplish their goals. From that list, we have compiled a scoring sheet you can use to gauge your content marketing partner. or at the very least, you’ll have a good basis for starting the discussion.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Centerline Digital is a Content Marketing agency and while we developed this list with our clients, we had ourselves graded and out of a perfect possible score of 200, we scored a 164. We all have something to strive for, right?!
What can this list really accomplish for you? Our goal was simply to give you a starting-point to begin thinking about what you want content marketing to do for your organization. We’re hoping that having 40 ready-to-ask questions will help you think more holistically about it and in the event you are looking to onboard a new agency or evaluate your existing people, you’ll have a good head-start.
Scoring is simple and is based on scale of your confidence.
1= “There’s no way.”
2= “I’m not feeling very confident.”
3= “Maybe passable”
4= “Sounds like they get it.”
5= “I want them on my team.”
Once you’ve added up your scores you’ll have a much clearer idea of how you or the agency scored in your eyes. Of course, keep in mind, this is not exact and is entirely subjective. Again, the key is to develop a basis for discussion so that you can learn more about the agency’s offering and learn a lot in the process.
If you’d like a worksheet of all the questions, you can download the 40 questions via SlideShare.
|Area of Concern||Score: 1-5|
|1||Agency understands what content marketing is and is able to articulate its fundamental properties. They understand how it differs from conventional marketing.|
|2||Agency understands what content marketing can do for your company/brand and they’ve invested in learning about how it can benefit you specifically—not generically.|
|3||Agency can understand, envision and articulate how your company’s content marketing lifecycle should function.|
|4||Agency has helped you learn how to capture all of the benefits of content marketing.|
|5||Agency has helped you learn why the most important key best practices are relevant to you.|
|6||Agency has shown you how to forecast its costs across the organization and best approaches to get it funded initially and how to budget for it over a long horizon.|
|7||Agency has helped you parse through the bullshit and seize on the things that matter to you—specifically.|
|8||Agency has shown you smart ideas how to make it fit into your company’s culture. (When content marketing is new to your organization, it’s like transplanting an organ!) Not easy.|
|9||Agency has shown you how to make it fit into your existing marketing operations framework.|
|10||Agency has shown you how their role as your content marketing agency can play nicely—collaboratively, with your other INTERNAL marketing functions.|
|11||Agency has shown you how their role as your content marketing agency can play nicely—collaboratively with other EXTERNAL agencies.|
|12||Agency has demonstrated the importance of project management (Client and agency-side) in a successful content marketing lifecycle.|
|13||Agency understands and has articulated what it will mean to your company specifically to create and sustain a culture of publishing and journalism.|
|14||Agency can speak comfortably about the process of creating your “best-fit” content marketing strategy. (Extra points if they can show you what they have created for another organization similar to yours.)|
|15||Agency can articulate why and demonstrate how to create a detailed editorial calendar that works—well.|
|16||Agency can help you learn the different types of content to create under specific circumstances before they create it. (Extra points if they have strategy and design execution under one roof.)|
|17||Agency knows why and how to create iterative, ongoing operational and process standards that make content marketing work inside your organization.|
|18||Agency knows how to and is able to clearly articulate why you need to align your content marketing strategy with other digital and enterprise strategies. (Extra points if they can demonstrate past experience with similar companies.)|
|19||Agency is knowledgeable about how to achieve ongoing cost-savings and content production gains.|
|20||Agency understands the role of search (including local) on content marketing and visa versa.|
|21||Agency understands and can articulate the role of marketing automation (i.e., Marketo) on content marketing.|
|22||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of integrating your content marketing into your content management system.|
|23||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of integrating your content marketing into your CRM system.|
|24||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of integrating your content marketing into your digital asset management system.|
|25||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of integrating your content marketing into your organization’s mobile content platforms.|
|26||Agency is capable of designing and creating content for the mobile facets of your overall content marketing mix.|
|27||Agency is able to articulate the importance of mobile content delivery/ asset activation or proliferation (i.e., getting your content in front of the right people of influence at the right time and in the right place.)|
|28||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of integrating your social media and other social marketing initiatives into a larger content marketing program.|
|29||Agency is able to articulate how content marketing fits in with your organization’s digital commerce.|
|30||Agency is able to articulate how content marketing interleaves with analytics and conversion strategies. (Extra points if they can demonstrate similar past experience.)|
|31||Agency is knowledgeable about and capable of extending your content marketing for global consumption.|
|32||Agency understands the power of video and animation in content marketing and is able to make it happen. (Extra points if they have this capability in house.)|
|33||Agency is passionate and articulate about the importance of multi-channel content marketing integration.|
|34||Agency understands the principles of and methods to cycle your organization’s content marketing through a continuous improvement process. (plan>create>activate>measure>repeat cyclically)|
|35||Agency understands why and how to mature and accelerate your content marketing efforts with your executive suite by helping you build the consensus that gets this under way.|
|36||Agency knows how to achieve measureable gains in the content marketing team’s performance and agility.|
|37||Agency can demonstrate how to make content marketing achieve customer relevance at scale.|
|38||Agency can demonstrate how to mature your company’s content marketing governance model over the long term without alienating anyone.|
|39||Agency is capable of helping you to benchmark your organization’s content marketing performance. They need to show you how it get measured and thus continuously funded.|
|40||Agency is prepared to show you how to set a customized plan to scale or grow content marketing based on its success within your organization.|
< 40 – They are not for you. Wish them the best and show them the door.
41-80 – You’re not very confident in this agency. They have some ideas and are probably pretty likable but their lack of experience and operational effectiveness will likely leave you frustrated and in the dark.
81-120 – This is where a bulk of content marketing agencies will land. You may score an agency you love in this range. Keep in mind level of experience for the issues and concerns you feel are most critical to your organization and weight them disproportionately if you end up with three agencies in this range.
121-160 – In this range, the agency is probably a good bet. They’ll have more experience and will likely be able to help you with ease.
161-200 – They’re masters. They’re probably expensive as a result. While you have a very competent agency here, your greatest challenge may be in negotiating their contract.
So how well did you/they do? If you found this valuable or have any ideas how we can make this more valuable to more people like you, let us know. We strongly feel that the more people share (and improve what’s shared) the better we all become through our results.