The Agency Race for Content Services

By Steve Lazuka, Zerys for Agencies

Content marketing is a high-growth area for businesses, with sixty percent of marketers expected to increase their content marketing spend in 2012, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

As more businesses – large and small - realize the value of content, the demand for qualified partners continues to grow: partners that can deliver content, but can also guide the editorial strategy that ties actions to business goals.

It’s a race for PR, marketing and digital agencies to deliver the full range of content services that drives results, while weighing the costs, time and talent required.

Taking the Lead

You may already offer writing services – but is it a profitable part of your business? Is it efficiently managed? Do you have the time and capacity to direct the full content strategy and integrate with your clients’ additional marketing efforts?

But most importantly, are your clients seeing the value in your content, and are the returns keeping them happy and loyal for the long-run?

To deliver the quality, volume and value that drive ROI for your clients, it takes the right writers, tools and price points. You also need the capacity to scale your content as client demand increases, and to give your agency room to grow.

The key is calling on what you already do best as a professional communicator:

  • Build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with a strong network of writers. See them as partners, not vendors, and extended members of your team.
  • Leverage technology to effectively and efficiently manage projects.
  • Serve in the strategist role and tie to other integrated campaigns. Analyze, report and refine your strategy regularly to meet the changing needs of your clients and agency.

 

Priced to Win

While market conditions may have driven down the cost of content, that doesn’t mean you can sacrifice the quality needed for optimized, original content that will drive results.

My experience is that most agencies, and their clients, want to pay the writers a value-based rate they can agree to, but that remains affordable to offer scale.

Charge too much and competing agencies may outbid you. Charge too little and you may lose money for the time you’re putting forth. But you have to start somewhere, so launch a beta campaign with a trusted client, or your own agency as a test. Track the time and costs involved to establish baseline pricing that works in the ranges of your clients and prospects.

Content campaigns that connect activities to traffic, leads, conversions and retention will ultimately have a higher perceived value. This is where your role as “content strategist” is more important than ever. Demonstrated results will drive your ability to deliver content services at higher rates, and contract with higher quality writers.

Content Distribution Strategy

Once you reach the perfect price equilibrium, it’s crucial to implement a dynamic distribution strategy.

In the age of digital journalism, readers are constantly bombarded with information. So, once you have captivating content, distribute strategically.

One tactic is to distribute a press release via a newswire with substantial reach promoting current content with hyperlinks back to your website. Don’t be afraid to send readers to landing pages, demos, or other pages with strong calls to action.

Also, be sure to utilize a fully integrated social media strategy, from which you can build a loyal following and generate leads. Social media is the perfect venue to build your online brand image, and lead prospective customers back to your website. Post links back to your original content from your outlets with eye-catching headlines.

Don’t overlook the distribution process. The Internet is too vast to simply post content and hope that readers will stumble onto your page.

The Road to Content Success

There will be obstacles along the way. Small businesses, who need content the most to level the playing field, may find challenges in balancing time and available budgets to get started, and perpetuate over time. You must serve as a trusted partner, willing to try new ideas and stay patient as things get moving.

It won’t happen overnight; it’s a true marathon for those agencies willing to enter the race. Those that put in the work, and commit to continual advancement in content services, will reap the rewards, and be prepared for new opportunities down the road.

Steve Lazuka is the founder of the Zerys Content Marketplace and Zerys for Agencies. Follow Steve @SteveLazuka.

About Zerys for Agencies

Zerys for Agencies is a powerful content project management tool and writer marketplace designed specifically for marketing agencies. Zerys offers a customizable, private-labeled solution that allows agencies to manage all their clients’ content projects from start to finish. Zerys was founded in 2008, and is now used by thousands of businesses and hundreds of marketing agencies.

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