Marketers and agencies have historically done a poor job at content marketing—and they’re still not winning points. Many agencies do not establish a content marketing strategy upfront—instead jumping straight into a traditional marketing habits – the discovery process, information architecture, website design, SEO, or paid media campaigns. Why the disconnect?
  • Different skills mean different goals. Publishers provide editorial meant to educate, inform, and entertain an audience independent of selling something directly. That’s the essence of content marketing. By contrast, traditional marketing is based on an advertising or campaign mindset—getting across a non-editorial sales or brand message in a limited amount of time. It’s important that the content marketing team has the skills to get your content out there.
  • Long-term planning over short wins. Marketing agencies often obsess over short-term wins to prove immediate value. Areas like website design/redesign, paid media, and marketing campaigns bring immediate excitement and short-term results. Content marketing doesn’t work that way. Like any publishing vehicle (such as a magazine, trade publication, or podcast), content marketing works best with a long-term, sustained effort.
  • Copy is King. Many marketing agencies let inexperienced writers or people with non-writer job titles create website copy, ad copy, and blog posts. And content quality suffers. Your audience can read between the lines and they know good content over bad content.
The good news? Over the last few years, the Darwinian nature of marketing agencies has worked its magic. More and more agencies understand how content marketing works. In 2017, the best ones will get more business over agencies that remain stuck in the mindset of short-term marketing success. If you’re still not convinced, then think about the upcoming demand for content that will inevitably accompany your marketing agency’s client work in 2017.
  • Video content: High video quality is expected. But what will you communicate? How good are your video scripts? What will your audience gain from watching your video?
  • Social media content: Too many agencies still just lazily pump out random updates and links while using hope as a strategy. Who is writing your social media content? How is it tied into your content strategy? Are you relying solely on organic content to get your message out there or are you budgeting for a paid social media plan?
  • Mobile content: As mobile technology matures, it becomes all about the content. What content works best on mobile? Are you following content best practices to match the mobile experience? Do you understand your user?
  • SEO-friendly content: SEO looks more and more like content strategy as time marches on. If you are still valuing keywords over good content, then your SEO will suffer.
Content marketing roots itself in media and publishing, which requires a complementary yet completely different philosophy and set of skills than marketing. In 2017, marketers will be forced to better understand content marketing because of competitive pressures. Will your marketing agency step up and respond to your clients’ valuable need for content? If not, then others will.