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From the Trenches

7 Signs Your B2B Content Marketing Partner is the Real Deal

Mike Sweeney | March 29, 2021
B2B content marketing agency

You’d think finding a content marketing partner would be easy considering the sheer number of agencies available. And while it’s true that identifying potential B2B content marketing agencies to pursue is straightforward enough, actually hiring the right agency when they’re all asserting excellence is challenging.  

Worse, selecting the wrong-fit agency is often more painful than even the most arduous search. All of that time spent hiring, onboarding, and training your new content strategists just to start all over again is a real blow to your morale and your budget.

To avoid being duped by a less-than-stellar agency, look for these seven signs of a legit content marketing agency.

1. B2B Content Marketing Agencies Prioritize Content Quality    

Both humans (your clients and prospects) and machines (Google) are more discerning about the quality of the content on the internet by the day. Why? Because the internet is saturated. Like metric asstons of content saturated. With so much content available on every imaginable topic, readers can afford to be picky. 

In fact, Google’s algorithm is so refined that it actually rates the authority of your content with expertise in mind. Only the best content rises to the top of Google’s search results and wins the battle for clicks and readership. 

This is not unlike the way people consume content. A superficial scan of a blog reveals, in their minds, whether it’s worthwhile. If the content doesn’t immediately seem helpful, insightful, interesting, and so on, they’ll move to the next search result before your first H2. 

It almost goes without saying that your content marketing partner must prioritize high-quality content. 

Similarly, your agency partner should never focus on quantity above all else. After all, your content must prove your unique expertise — to Google and to prospects — to set you apart from the millions of posers writing total crap online. 

2. They Understand Your Sales Process 

What’s the point of content marketing if it doesn’t generate any revenue for your business? Content marketing needs to be a part of your larger marketing strategy. And, at the end of the day, your marketing strategy’s purpose is to contribute to revenue generation.

So when you’re in talks with prospective agencies, be sure their team understands the sales side of business. Are most deals generated via inbound or outbound? What is the average deal size? If SaaS, how many seats are typically sold in the initial deal? Answers to these types of questions will ensure the agency can create content that moves the sales needle. 

Content creation needs to be about more than just writing for the sake of writing. Because when your content marketing partner really gets your prospects and empathizes with their issues, they can frame content that resonates with your ideal client persona.

This means more closed deals for you.

3. They Know Content Marketing is Part Art and Part Science

We’re not a content factory. We’re not churning out canned content, and you definitely won’t get $200 blog posts from us. That’s because our stuff is detailed, custom, and sophisticated. We’ll tackle complex topics for you, and the writing will sound beautiful too. And that’s the art part of writing. 

That said, great content marketing strategists understand the science side of content marketing too. SEO, analytics, distribution — all of the post-production activities that help your content perform are equally as important as the sentences themselves. 

Just as your content marketing agency partner needs to understand business and sales language, they also need to achieve this perfect art and science balance in your content. After all, what’s the point of writing a blog post no one will read and that won’t ever generate leads?

4. They Embrace Complex Subject Matter

If you want that genuinely sophisticated content we mentioned, you better hire content strategists who aren’t afraid of complex subject matter. 

Many agencies pursue purely ‘sexy’ brands — think showy software firms and popular mainstream products. These agencies are unsure if they can get more complicated, nuanced messaging right, so they play it safe with their client base. 

But Right Source runs toward really niche industries because we know these are the traditionally under-serviced firms that need help the most. Look for an agency that’s up for any challenge. 

5. They Have Experience in Your Industry  

We have zero full time writers on staff. It sounds shocking, but our logic is sound, we promise. 

Because so many of our clients are in complex industries, like telehealth or cold-formed steel framing, we’d never assign a generalist writer to craft content on specific, difficult topics. Instead, we source content marketing strategists who have experience writing about the subject matter at hand. While many firms like yours outsource marketing functions, we’re unique in outsourcing tailor-made writers for all of our clients. 

This model is a strong differentiator for us and advantageous for you for two particular reasons:

  • A content creator who has a handle on your industry can dive right into the meat and potatoes of your specific business. On the other hand, a writer with no topical experience will have to start from scratch, learning basic lingo before advancing to the intricacies of your company. 
  • Your internal subject matter experts will be more comfortable speaking with a content creator who knows what she’s talking about. Imagine a writer with laymen-level understanding of cancer interviewing a top oncologist for a white paper. It won’t take long for that doctor to lose patience. 

It comes down to this: You wouldn’t want a sports journalist covering the arts and culture beat, right? Don’t hire a generalist writer to create your specialized content. 

6. They Review and Bolster Your Messaging First

A tactful B2B content marketing agency would never accept your positioning or messaging as is and move right to content production. The right agency partner recognizes that content marketing is only as successful as the strategy that informs it. 

Even if a client is advanced and does have solid messaging, we’re going to insist on reviewing it. After all, you never know what a fresh pair of eyes will reveal. 

Why is establishing messaging before writing content vital? Because content that flows from inadequate or poorly thought-out messaging is always going to be flawed — and it will flounder. All of your content topics should be rooted in consistent messages and themes. Otherwise, your content will lack direction and it won’t contribute to your larger business goals.

7. They Walk the Content Marketing Walk 

Beware of B2B content marketing agencies that aren’t following their own advice, especially on messaging. You can find evidence that they’re walking the walk by reading the content on their own site and judging its quality and depth. 

More importantly, observe your prospective content partners on their sales calls with you. A skilled content marketing agency should be nailing their own messaging while confident and comfortable talking with you about their business. 

How can you expect them to better your business if they can’t even optimize their own?

The Short of It 

Content marketing is truly valuable; it can drive results for your business. But only if it’s done well. Use these seven signs of a successful B2B content marketing agency to ensure you select a partner that will elevate your content beyond just writing. 

Related Resources

About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.