Tag Archives: Professional Content Marketers

Your Guide to Hiring a Content Marketing Agency

 

Business sketchAt Grammar Chic, we are obviously big believers in the content marketing process, and strong proponents of content marketing outsourcing. Even so, we understand that it can be a little bit daunting. If you have never worked with a content marketing agency before, you may have serious questions about price; about the kinds of results you can expect to see; and about what working with a content marketing agency is actually like.

One of our goals is to demystify the process, and to make it as inviting and as appealing as possible. We want to answer as many of your questions as we can, and hope some of the following resources will be of use to you as you think about making the leap to outsourced content marketing!

Understanding the Benefits

A good place to begin is with understanding the benefits of outsourced content marketing—benefits that might include a higher level of marketing acumen, a greater ability to capture the voice of your brand, and more.

Plus, as we noted in one previous blog entry, outsourcing your content marketing can actually help you save money! The reason is that “doing your own content marketing can take so much time, it ends up being less cost-effective than you might think. When you’re constantly focused on Facebook and Twitter, you’re not doing the other things that add value to your brand. While outsourcing your content marketing will certainly require a financial investment, you may well make up for it with what you gain in productivity.”

Finding the Right Match

Once you make the decision to hire a content marketing agency—for whatever reason—you have to start thinking about the kind of content marketing agency you want. They come in all different shapes and sizes, and it is important to think about fit: Not just the biggest or flashiest firm, but the one that is best positioned to meet your needs.

This means finding a firm with the right personnel and adequate technology, as well as browsing reviews and recommendations. Here is our full take on finding a content marketing firm that meets your needs. Something else to note: You also want to find an agency that is dedicated to ongoing improvement.

Interviewing Your Agency

Once you find a content marketing firm that you think might fit, it’s best to have an interview to make sure everything clicks. “Like any relationship,” we once wrote, “this one is going to take some work if you really want it to succeed over the long haul. In particular, it’s going to require some communication—and we recommend that you begin that communication on day one.” Make sure you ask about communication standards, results, reporting, experience, and whatever else will enable you to feel comfortable and make an informed decision.

Of course, our own team is always around to answer questions or help guide you through this process: Reach out to us today at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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10 Questions to Ask Your Content Marketing Firm

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Hopefully, the relationship you form with your content marketing agency will be a long and fruitful one. Like any relationship, though, this one is going to take some work if you really want it to succeed over the long haul. In particular, it’s going to require some communication—and we recommend that you begin that communication on day one.

In fact, we recommend that you start it even before you put pen to paper and sign a contract. During your initial consultation with the content marketing firm, be engaged enough to ask questions; use the answers you’re given to evaluate how well the firm might meet your needs, and how comfortable you will ultimately feel working with these people.

What questions should you be asking? We’ve got 10 questions that we love hearing from our own potential clients—ones that we feel establish a good foundation of mutual understanding.

  1. How long have you been doing this? Content marketing hasn’t exactly been around forever, and you’re not going to find a 100-year-old agency, but you still want to get a feel for the experience level you’re working with.
  2. What does your clientele look like? What kinds of businesses or verticals does the firm typically work with? Is it a firm that specializes in healthcare marketing, or in marketing for real estate professionals?
  3. How do you continue learning? The best content marketing companies will be dedicated to ongoing self-improvement. Ask about their standards of training and professional enrichment.
  4. What about reporting? How often will you receive updates on your campaign’s progress—and in what format?
  5. Who is my contact person? Learn the names of all the people you’ll be working with directly; get a feel for who you should address questions to; learn something of the chain of command.
  6. What will a successful campaign look like? What are the company’s standards for a job well done—and do they match up with your own?
  7. What about technology? What platforms and tools does the company use? Some of this may be proprietary, but hopefully the firm can fill you in on some basics.
  8. What will my involvement be? Will the firm expect you to approve blog topics and content? Find out about the level of commitment and oversight you’ll have.
  9. How often will we talk? Will members of your content marketing team be available when you need them?
  10. When will we review the campaign? At what point will you have a chance to evaluate progress and make course-corrections, if needed?

Ask the right questions of your potential content marketing firm—and ensure a foundation of clear communication. To ask us these or any other questions, visit the Grammar Chic website at www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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4 Content Marketing Tips You’re Probably Not Expecting

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Small business owners who regularly read up on content marketing strategy probably feel like they know the script by now: Post consistently. Make sure the quality level is high. Use hashtags and calls to action. Offer value, and always put yourself in the reader’s shoes before posting.

These are good, if conventional, content marketing tips. We’ve regularly championed each of these practices, and stand by them. But for today, we want to offer a few quick tips that you may not be expecting from a content marketing firm. These tips are, for the small business owner, just as essential.

  1. Cut some of your social media accounts.

We’re all for spreading your brand across as many platforms as possible—unless you’re spreading yourself too thin. Some small business owners may lack the time needed to really invest in each platform, meaning they’re either half-assing it or else repeating themselves too much. If you only update each platform once a fortnight, you’re not getting much value; if you automate your tweets to populate all your other social channels, there is no reason for anyone to follow you on more than one platform.

So cut some things—strategically. You probably need Facebook; if you’re a B2B company, you can’t do without LinkedIn. But maybe your Google+ page or your Pinterest account can be cut out without your brand taking too great a loss.

  1. Post less frequently.

Note that we’re not telling you to post less consistently. You should probably be posting to each social platform once a day, give or take, or else you may find that your presence there just isn’t reaching anyone. If you’re posting a dozen Facebook posts every day, though, we can all but guarantee that the Facebook algorithms are hiding some of them, and you’re diluting your brand’s message regardless. Better to focus on one or two killer posts than take the scattershot, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach.

  1. Sell more.

We’re constantly telling our content marketing clients that social media shouldn’t be all about sales; if you’re just promoting all the time then you’re going to turn off your users. At the same time, though… well, promoting your company is kind of the point. Even when you’re not directly selling, you should have your company’s basic value proposition in mind—and if 90 percent of your posts are non-promotional, you can and should make sure the other 10 are a little more direct.

  1. Ask for help.

Content marketing is meant to be persuasive, but there is something to be said for taking a straightforward and earnest approach. Sometimes what you really need is for your followers to share your page, invite their friends, or leave positive reviews; and sometimes the best way to make it happen is just to ask them, candidly expressing your need.

For small business owners, these tips may seem a little bit off the reservation, but make no mistake: They’re all essential to a robust content marketing strategy. To learn more, we invite you to contact the Grammar Chic team today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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When is it Time to Hire a Content Team?

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The launch of your small business might go hand-in-hand with the development of a business Facebook page, or perhaps a corporate Twitter account. Some entrepreneurs really start their new business right by implementing a blog and a full-fledged content strategy. As your business grows, however, so do the demands on your content marketing—and on your time. As such, many business owners eventually reach a point where they realize they cannot go the DIY content marketing route any longer; they need to outsource it to a content marketing professional.

But when do you know that you’ve reached that point? What are some of the telltale signs that it’s time to call someone like Grammar Chic?

Here are some dead giveaways:

You simply don’t have time for content marketing any more.

Remember that content marketing isn’t a one-time thing but the cultivation of ongoing relationships with your clients—and as with any relationships, your content marketing relationships require time. It’s imperative that you have new content posted daily, and that you plan well in advance with an editorial calendar. If you don’t have the time to invest in content development any longer, it may be time to call in the A-Team.

But it’s not just content development that can eat into your time. Actually posting content takes time, even if you’re automating it with something like Hootsuite. And nurturing relationships, interacting with followers and fans through social media, can be a full-time job in itself. If these responsibilities are distracting you from things like sales and business development—or, more likely, they’re simply falling through the cracks—then you may need to outsource.

You’re running out of ideas.

You know your business better than anyone else, and you’re certainly an expert in your niche—but we’re experts in obtaining blog topics for any company and in any field. When inspiration is hard to come by and you feel like you’re just repeating yourself, call in the professionals.

You’re losing sight of results.

Early in your business, when you just have 50 Facebook followers or so, it’s easy enough to tell when you’re growing your fan base and generating some social interactions. The deeper into content marketing you go, however, the harder it can be to track ROI. That’s when you call a team like Grammar Chic.

You’re losing sight of content marketing’s many changes.

Content marketing changes daily—and if you’re not able to keep up with reputable content marketing blogs, then you simply can’t stay abreast of significant trends.

You realize you’re not the world’s greatest writer.

We don’t want to sound harsh about it, but: A lot of entrepreneurs will happily admit that writing is not their primary gift. When you reach a point where you feel like you need a full-time, fully-committed writer on your account, that’s when to call Grammar Chic.

And you can reach us at 803-831-7444, or via www.grammarchic.net.

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Content Marketing is a Team Sport

Businesspeople working on laptop in an office.

There’s a reason they refer to it as social media: It’s not a solitary pursuit, and was never meant to be. It’s all about relationships and interaction. That’s true of social media as a pastime, and it’s true of social media as a marketing tool.

So hear us when we say this: One of the biggest misconceptions about content and social media marketing is that it can be done by just one person—that you, as a small business owner, can succeed in content marketing all by your lonesome. You just can’t.

You need, of course, the involvement and engagement of your customers and consumers. Depending on the scope of your project, you may also need the help of outside content marketing consultants, like the Grammar Chic team.

And you need full buy-in from your team.

Here’s what happens when your team members aren’t on board with your content marketing endeavors: They don’t participate. They don’t like or share your company Facebook posts. They don’t encourage their friends to follow the company Twitter account. They don’t provide any kind of help with your content development, beyond what you flat-out require of them—and even then, they offer their services without real enthusiasm or heart.

That’s not really viable, long-term. To make content work, you need your whole team to be united behind your vision and goals. You may still be doing the bulk of the work yourself, or you may have a designated marketing person who does it, but everyone needs to understand it and even show some enthusiasm for it.

The question is, how do you make that a reality? How do you get full team buy-in on your content marketing endeavors?

A few suggestions:

  • Articulate a vision. “Hey gang, we’re going to start a Facebook page” does not count as a vision. What you need to do is communicate why you’re getting into content marketing; what you hope to accomplish; and how your content marketing will reflect and support the overall goals of the company.
  • Make it clear from the get-go that content marketing is a process, something that you’ll be investing in over the long haul—not something you expect to yield miraculous results overnight.
  • Educate your team members. Remember that some may still be skeptical or unclear on the benefits of content marketing.
  • Make it clear that everyone benefits from a successful content marketing program—that it enhances the company’s reputation and prestige, helps sales, and all-around supports the company’s operations and vision.
  • Make a special effort to recruit those who are enthusiastic and supportive of your content marketing ideas; if you have an employee who is really passionate about it, enlist him or her to help in a more direct way.
  • Know what your goals are, and provide regular progress reports—proving to your team that, yes, content marketing matters, and you’re getting results.

For help with education or effective strategizing, you can always reach out to the Grammar Chic crew: Call 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net.

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Nobody Will Read Your Boring Business Blog

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Here’s a quick activity for you: Say you were scrolling through Google and saw each of the following blog titles listed. How many of these would you actually click on to read?

  • The Basics of Actuarial Accounting
  • 5 More Tips About Content Marketing
  • How to Be Better at Business
  • Working with Vintage Doorframes

Your mileage may vary, of course, but we’re going to go out on a limb and say that most of you probably wouldn’t click on any of those titles. Why? Because they’re boring. And nobody willingly chooses to read boring writing. If a blog headline tips you off to the fact that the content is likely to be dull, repetitive, or lacking in color, you’re simply not going to wish to read further.

Making Decisions

We all do this; as a reader, you make daily choices about which online articles you open and which ones you don’t. And if you do it, you should expect that your own readers will follow suit. To put it another way: If you don’t read boring content, then nobody else is going to read the boring content that you produce on your own blog.

This is the most basic and obvious of points, yet it’s one that many DIY content marketers and business bloggers take for granted. This is especially true among those business bloggers who are not necessarily writers, first and foremost. For the non-writer, it can be overwhelming just to try to get the necessary information onto the page, organized in a readable fashion. Adding color, humor, personal anecdotes, the things that make writing really interesting and varied—that’s all but forgotten, much of the time.

Keep Your Content from Boring

How can you make sure your written content doesn’t bore? This may seem fairly subjective, but there are a few specific actions you can take:

  • Stop and take the time for honest appraisal. Do you think the content is boring? Would you read the blog post, based on its title? If you think it’s boring, then it is basically a guarantee that your readers will, too.
  • Brainstorm four or five title ideas. Force your brain to think outside the box a bit, and go beyond the obvious. Evaluate your titles and decide which one is the most attention-grabbing.
  • Make sure the tone of your content reflects the title/headline. You want to be interesting, but not misleading!
  • Think about your buyer personas. What are the values that your buyers are looking for? What kinds of problems are they looking to solve? How do you make your content interesting specifically for them?

Remember that informative content is not enough. If people don’t read it, then it doesn’t do you a bit of good—and people aren’t going to read it if it seems boring!

To learn more, contact the Grammar Chic, Inc. team today at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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When You Don’t Have Time for Content Marketing

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Content marketing is more widespread and more accepted with each passing day. Even so, many small business owners remain resistant. Some hold out because they feel like they can’t afford it, and some because they’re not yet convinced of its merit. In our experience, though, the single most common objection to content marketing is this: I don’t have time.

For those small business owners who believe they lack the time for content marketing, we have a few points of rebuttal:

  1. To begin with, nobody ever said your content had to be epically long. There is a movement among content marketers toward “long form” content—content that tops 1500 words—but written content absolutely doesn’t have to be so lengthy, and in fact pithy and straight-to-the-point blogs and social media posts tend to be best for engaging consumers.
  2. Quality is more important than quantity. Don’t feel like you have to write ten blog posts every day. One per week can be highly effective, assuming you take the time to really nail it and make that blog post count.
  3. There are many forms of content that can be relatively easy to put together—quick lists, crowdsourced content, answers to questions from your inbox, and so on.
  4. Content curating is always an option, and in fact we believe it to be essential. Don’t have time to draft an original blog post today? You probably can find a minute to link to a relevant blog from a colleague, or a pertinent article from Forbes or The New York Times, or simply a YouTube video that correlates to your industry.
  5. If you habitually find yourself scrambling to put content together at the last minute, your problem may not be a lack of time so much as a lack of preparation. Putting together an editorial calendar can help!
  6. You can also enlist the help of guest bloggers, whose authority and perspective will enrich your own content platforms.
  7. For that matter, those small business owners who truly do not have the time to spare on content marketing can always simply outsource it. In fact, this is one of the very best reasons to contract a content professional: You get better results, and don’t have to invest all the time in it yourself!

To learn more about working with a content marketing strategist, and how it can free up your time for other tasks and competencies, contact the Grammar Chic team right away. We’re available at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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How to Work Well with Your Content Marketing Team

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More and more small business owners are outsourcing their content marketing needs; rather than do it all in-house, they’re enlisting the time and talents of professional content gurus. We believe this is highly advantageous—but then, you probably knew that already.

What you might not know is how best to work with your content marketing firm. How do you make sure you’re getting the kind of messaging you want without hindering the process? How do you relinquish control of your business baby and let the marketers work their magic? How can you make sure you’re involved and invested in the process without it taking up too much of your time?

How do you make sure your content marketers get results?

A few tips come to mind.

  • First and foremost, talk to them. Make communication with your content marketing team a major priority. Speak with them regularly, and not just via e-mail. Phone conferences are significant. If nothing else, insist on a kick-off call and some meetings to go over possible content angles, and simply make sure you feel comfortable talking with your content marketing professional. Some tips on preparing for your initial consultation can be found here.
  • Communicate your goals. In order for your marketing team to get results, they’ll need to know what kind of results you’re looking for—increased website traffic, a more visible Facebook presence, thought leadership, more conversions, a better educated clientele… the possibilities are endless. Decide what you want, and communicate it clearly.
  • In addition, set deadlines. Talk with your content marketing team about a reasonable timeframe, and then make sure your expectations are aligned.
  • Send examples. Do you have a competitor or peer who does content marketing very well, or who strikes a tone or a style that you’d like to emulate? Send those examples to your marketing professional. It will help!
  • Try your best to respond to e-mails and phone calls promptly. If your marketing team is trying to reach you for approval about a particular piece of content, it is likely somewhat time-sensitive. The quicker you can respond, the better your content campaign will go.
  • Listen to your content marketers. They’re going to bring creative ideas to the table, ones you may not have thought about. You don’t necessarily have to go along with all of them, but at least listen to them and give them their due weight.
  • And finally, respect your content marketing team. Let them do their job—and remember that, while you know your business better than anyone, your content marketers know their field just as well, and can get you the results you’re looking for.

To contact our content marketing experts, reach out to Grammar Chic today: www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

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Questions to Ask Before Scaling Up Your Content Marketing

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Content marketing is an ongoing commitment, one that gains traction and grows in its effect over time. As your company’s content marketing becomes more and more successful, you may decide that it’s time to scale it up—to invest more in branding your business on the Web and reaching out to customers through social media channels.

There are several ways in which you might go about this. You might spread to new social channels; if you’ve found great success on Facebook and Pinterest, you may feel like you can translate it into success on Twitter and Instagram. You may decide to simply produce more content—posting twice per day instead of just once, blogging weekly instead of twice per month. You may enlist creative professionals to assist you with original infographics, podcasts, videos, white papers, or e-books.

As with any aspect of growing a business, though, scaling up your content marketing needs to be handled judiciously and strategically. Here are a few questions the Grammar Chic team would recommend you consider, before you begin scaling up in earnest.

  1. What are your goals? You don’t want to scale up just for the sake of scaling up. You want to set some specific, measurable goals, so that you can properly measure ROI. What are you trying to accomplish with your content marketing? Who are you trying to reach? Think in terms of sales/referral traffic, but also in terms of buyer personas and meeting consumer needs.
  2. What’s worked in the past? If you’re thinking about scaling up, then you must have seen some success—but what exactly has made your content marketing so effective? Which posts and strategies have helped you reach your goals? Figure out what’s been successful and try to build on it.
  3. What’s working for your competitors? What are your peers and competitors doing that you’re not—and how might you work to fill in the gap?
  4. Do you know how to use the relevant social platforms? Don’t overlook this. If your aim is to branch out onto Pinterest but you’ve never used Pinterest before, you may need to view some tutorials!
  5. Is your team on board? Content marketing requires a full team buy-in. As you think about scaling up, make sure everyone understands what you’re doing and is excited to see the company’s social presence expand!

Our team can provide you with direction and content support as you look to expand your online presence. Reach out to us today: Call 803-831-7444, or visit www.grammarchic.net!

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What Parks and Recreation Teaches Us About Content Marketing

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As we’ve established before, the Grammar Chic team is all about pop culture—and there are few cultural touchstones we’re more passionate about than Parks and Recreation. The long-running NBC sitcom kicked off its seventh and final season last night, a victory lap for a show that’s uniquely beloved by audiences—so now is as good a time as any to reflect on what the show can teach us about content marketing.

Know Hope

Parks and Recreation is set in the world of small-town, local government, following the daily adventures of Pawnee, Indiana’s Parks and Recreation Department. It’s a show about politics, on some level, but you won’t find much in the way of Veep or House of Cards-style cynicism here. Like The West Wing before it, this is a show with a fundamentally optimistic view of government. Amy Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, believes that government can and must work, and that it might even make people’s lives better.

That’s the attitude you have to have as you develop content. Cynicism and doubt will cause you to half-ass it. You have to really commit to the notion that, though it won’t always be easy and you may make some missteps, content marketing can ultimately work. It can enhance your business, and it can even make a difference in people’s lives, if only by entertaining and informing them. If you don’t actually believe these things, then what’s the point of doing content marketing at all?

It Takes a Village

Part of the show’s optimism stems from the fact that, unlike so many sitcoms, it doesn’t derive its humor from how hapless its characters are (except for Jerry), nor from how miserable they are at work (except for April and maybe Tom). By and large, it’s a show about people who enjoy one another’s company, and who like working together—whether they’d ever admit to it or not. And Leslie Knope is the exact opposite of, say, Homer Simpson or Michael Scott: She is great at what she does, and inspires confidence in her team.

Parks and Rec’s team approach is something small business owners can learn from. For content marketing to work, you need full team buy-in. You need everyone to pitch in ideas, to help share and distribute content, and ultimately to understand what makes content marketing so important.

Your Work Won’t Always Love You Back

Finally, one of the darker undercurrents in the show is that Leslie constantly works her butt off for the people of Pawnee, and they tend to respond with either indifference or, in some cases, flat-out ingratitude. She struggles, sometimes, with how much Pawnee seems to hate her, despite her great love for the town.

Sadly, this is an experience you may sometimes have in content marketing. Not every piece of content is going to engage people the way you want it to. Sometimes, you may get frustrated—and that’s natural. However, you can’t let that seep into the work. You can’t throw in the towel or start writing with a cynical edge. Be like Leslie Knope: Keep working hard even on the days when it feels like it’s not fully appreciated.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team can offer it. Contact us at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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