Calling Content Marketing Agencies, How Are We All Different, Really?

Dechay Watts

Written by Dechay Watts on Thu, Apr 25, 2013

In the content marketing world, we spend a lot of time talking to each other. When we launched SPROUT Content in 2009, we spent so much time talking to Junta42 (thank you Joe Pulizzi!), guest blogging and “participating” in the industry that we forgot most prospects we talked to had never heard of content marketing.  Our clients came to us because they needed website content or wanted to rank higher in search engines or to start a monthly newsletter, but not because they needed a “content marketing agency.”

As Joe pointed out in his blog post, 4 Truths About Content Marketing Agencies, all this has changed. Business owners and marketers are actually looking for content marketing services and agencies to help them. On some level it’s great for us because we have decent Google rankings for Content Marketing Agency (thanks to a successful strategy). On another level, the competition is heating up. While we spent the first 4 years in existence explaining that we are a content marketing agency, and defining content marketing, the next phase is turning into “how are you different?”

It’s a great question. Honestly, when we look around at the other “agencies” a lot of us say the same things. From a consumer perspective, it’s hard to tell the difference unless you’re an agency claiming industry focus.  Kudos to you if your industry caught on to content marketing early enough to require a specialized content marketing agency.  For most of us, we claim to offer similar services, experience and results.

Let’s look at 5 examples:

Here are excerpts from five different content marketing agencies we know from either collaborating, simply being in the industry together, or submitting proposals for the same prospects.  See if you can tell who is who. 

Agency #1.

Kuno

Agency #2.

BlueGlassAgency #3.

VelocityAgency #4

brafton

Agency #5

Sprout
How to Choose?

It’s easy to see how a marketer or business owner might have a hard time choosing a “must-have” from the pack. If you dig deeper into each of these sites, you’ll see case studies, free downloads, blog posts and claims to amazing results. For the industry’s sake, we’d like to think all of these agencies are telling the truth.  So, how does someone choose?  Could it be as simple as whether or not you make a personal connection and like the person on the other side of the phone/Skype/GoToMeeting?

Top Questions Asked

Several times a day (thankfully) we get calls from prospects investigating content marketing agencies. Here are the top six questions people ask us and how we respond. We’d love to know how other agencies answer these questions. Maybe there is something in these answers that really sets all of us content marketing agencies apart.

  1. How many people work there? We have 7 people in-house and 6 more that we work with on a regular basis to help with specific content or strategy needs.  We are not a large company, and aren’t looking to become one. We do not have 2,000 or even 200 journalists on staff (and wonder every day how the agencies that say they have this many people define “staff”).
  2. How much content are you capable of producing? (i.e. Can you handle our grandiose needs?) We produce the right amount of interesting, valuable content needed to meet each of our client’s business and marketing goals. All production is based on a strategy and an editorial schedule to keep everyone organized, meet goals, and stay on track. If you want 500 blog posts a month, we aren’t the right fit. If an agency tells you to create 500 blog posts a month, ask them “why?”
  3. Do you do SEO? All of the content we create is tied to an SEO strategy (whether it’s one you bring us from your in-house efforts or one we help you create). However, we are not a content farm and don’t churn out content purely for the sake of SEO purposes because that strategy is shortsighted…and boring. 
  4. Do you have examples of your work?  Yes.
  5. Have you ever had a client in our industry?  Probably, but if we haven’t, our process helps us dive in deep and get to know you and your industry before an ounce of content is developed. We start with a discovery phase, move into strategy and then content development and continual measurement.  Also, most of us come from a public relations background and are pretty good at learning new industries in a snap.
  6. How much does it cost?  Oh, the million dollar question. We custom create each quote for our client partners depending on their needs and goals. Our pricing starts at $1500/month with a minimum 6-month contract.

Regardless of all of the competition out there, we get excited when prospects now call and say they’re “looking for a content marketing agency.” Thanks Joe and all of the other content marketing pioneers for your passion and evangelism. We’re happy to be competing in an industry we love and believe in.

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