How to Spot a Snake Oil Content Marketing Firm
Content marketing services are going to be big with businesses this year, even more so than last year. The buzzing trend will not only encourage good, solid consultants and agencies to offer content marketing, but it will also encourage awful firms to provide "content marketing" or to pose as a "content marketing firm." Need help telling the difference and to ensure you're getting content marketing services that will help you and not just the provider? Here's how to spot a content marketing firm that will ultimately deliver nothing:
The Content Marketing Firm Wants to Spin the Message
Content marketing isn't PR, where you're spinning your company and message into the best possible, delaying telling the truth if it's not good, staying silent to avoid negative press, and not being upfront and honest with your customers. Content marketing is the exact opposite. It's about showing potential customers your true colors, admitting to mistakes when they are made, and presenting a message that's trustworthy, not just something that makes you look good.
Any "content marketing firm" that wants to offer you the former and not the latter doesn't have your best interests in mind. Content marketing is about connecting with potential customers and giving them the information they need, not tricking them.
The Content Marketing Firm Doesn't Care about Its Writers
Be weary of any content marketing firm that doesn't seem to treat (or pay) its writers well. This could be tough to detect, but look for signs like incredibly low rates ($15 an article is great for you, but not that awesome for the one writing it) and crowdsourcing of articles. One of our business blogging competitors allows writers to write a post they may find best for a client, then allowing the client to pick the one that they like best and leaving the rest in the dust. What if you were that writer who spent the time to write that post only to not get chosen? That writer doesn't get any compensation for that work, and might be stuck with a blog post he/she can't use elsewhere. It sounds great for the client, but how many writers will produce great work and stick around when they may consistently get the short end of the deal?
We warn of this one because writers who aren't treated as professionals won't create professional work. This means you won't get the best work possible, or deadlines might be missed as the firm has to fine new writers to replace the ones that left.
The Content Marketing Firm Doesn't Follow Current Best Practices
This one is the most important, as best practices can shift every few months. If a content marketing firm is committed to delivering the best possible content and the best possible service, it would be aware of those shifts and would showcase how their services adapt and follow best practices. Avoid content marketing firms who follow these outdated best practices and still stand by them:
- Writing blog posts and other content around keywords for the sake of ranking for them
- Writing blog posts that are fewer than 450 words
- Emphasizing link building instead of link earning
- Won't take the time to understand your audience, industry and/or customer base
A Good Content Marketing Firm
With all this in mind, what makes a good content marketing firm? What kind of firm should you choose? You should choose a content marketing firm that's committed to creating content that will offer value for your potential customers, not to build rank and to game the search engines. You should choose a content marketing firm that can do both quantity and quality, since both are needed to do content marketing well. You should choose a content marketing firm that wants you to stand out, to be a thought leader in your industry, instead of just having content on your website. You want a content marketing firm that will do work that's on the next level; that will take you to the next level.