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Why You Need a Content Marketing Specialist, and How to Choose One That’s Right for Your Needs

BY: Robin Riddle

Let me start off by saying that I love a good analogy. I think it’s a highly effective way to make a point by using an exaggerated but relevant example to demonstrate a contradictory point.

In this instance, imagine that you have an issue with your teeth. Would you go to your doctor, who has medical credentials and with whom you have established a good level of rapport? Or would you go to somebody who has training for, and experience with, dealing with teeth? Most likely you’d say the latter. So while lots of different types of agencies can claim that they create “content,” in this instance, the content marketing agency is your “dentist.”

Agencies best serve their clients when they have a clear swim lane that’s squarely within their area of expertise. Sure, sure, any agency can hire an editor to run your content and copy operations. But producing highly effective content marketing is much more than writing a few snappy headlines and copy.

For starters, any good content marketing program should be based on a documented strategy. A common pitfall is using an advertising or promotional strategy for your content marketing efforts. And while your gameplan may share insights — and be based on data — the importance of a detailed and robust content marketing strategy cannot be shortchanged.

Second, great content marketing is not PR or advertising. Those tactics are highly effective and a valuable part of the mix, but they are different from content marketing. You need a partner who understands this and can create content that works to complement those tactics.

Next, great content marketing should neither be overly promotional nor purely in the service of customers’ interests. The former is where advertising comes in and the latter is pure play editorial — the type of content a publishing company creates. Content marketing, when done well, aims to hit the center ground between those two areas. It is audience-first in that it aims to solve a customer’s concern or question but is also created around a subject where the brand has authority (e.g., they sell things in that area). In other words, the content helps customers make decisions about which of the products or services is right for them, among the offerings from the brand. This latter point might seem obvious, but we see plenty of examples where brands are creating content that’s outside their right to voice.

Finally, to deliver content that really engages it needs to be created using journalistic best practices. The piece needs a good hook and should be clearly and concisely written (there’s no ideal length, by the way — even Google will tell you that). The piece should aim to resolve and educate the consumer and provide an answer to the question they were searching for. It should not be stuffed full of SEO keywords to try to optimize your content for strong search performance (note: Google’s most recent update is rewarding content created this way — which is a best practice we’ve been advocating for years).  

So, how do you choose a new agency to create content for you? Simple: Our advice is look for a company whose core service is in the area you need. In this example, you need a content marketing agency. Look for a business founded around creating content and that has the personnel and experience to deliver against that. Look for a company that has an editorial culture running through it with people on the team with publishing backgrounds. Look for a company that has access to and can use digital insights to help create content that tells a story and resolves customers’ needs (pro tip: This is how to maximize your SEO results).

Hopefully if you’ve found this article (especially through SEO) and read this far, it means you are looking for a new agency or simply some outside help to create award-winning content. If that’s the case, then please hit me up (and for the record, I don’t do dental work). 


Robin Riddle is the Chief Strategy Officer at Foundry 360 and leads content marketing strategy development. He works across B2B as well as B2C and specializes in financial services, insurance and health care. Prior to his time here, he led content marketing businesses at both The Economist and The Wall Street Journal.

A passionate advocate for the value of content marketing, Robin is also heavily involved in industry issues and speaks at many events on the topics of content marketing and native advertising.

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