How to Know if You Need to Hire a Creative Content Agency

by Katy French

Content marketing isn’t easy to do alone, especially when you’re facing increasing pressure from higher-ups while trying to keep up with ever-changing industries and technologies. That’s why a creative content agency can be a huge help to improve your strategy, streamline your process, and help you hit or surpass your goals.
But it can be hard to know when it’s time to hire an agency. 

We’re here to make things easier for you, so today we’re breaking down everything you need to consider to decide if you need to hire a creative content agency. We hope these tips give you the perspective and confidence you need to make the right choice for your brand.

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Step 1: Take Stock of Your Current Situation

A healthy content marketing operation requires many elements. Sometimes you’re lacking in one area or the other, which is why you can’t function as well as you should. When assessing whether or not you need to hire support, you need to take an objective look at how you’re stacking up in the following areas.

  • Team: We’ve talked a lot about how to build a strong content marketing team. You need different people to manage many things. That can include a marketing leader, marketing manager, SEO expert, managing editor, copy editor, writer, designer, developer, distribution strategist, or more. When we talk about teams, we don’t look at it through the lens of job titles but through the lens of job roles. One person may wear many hats (as every marketer does). What’s important is that the person in charge of that role has the capability and expertise to perform it well. If you have gaps in your current team, you may need an agency to fill them.
  • Resources: A lack of resources is one of the biggest issues marketers face. Think about the tools you use and what your infrastructure looks like. Do you have the knowledge, time, and budget to effectively get things done? A content agency can help you make the most of what you have and give you much-needed support in key areas. 
  • Infrastructure: No matter how large your budget or team, your infrastructure can have a huge effect on your success. If you’re siloed, overloaded, or inexperienced, your production pipeline may be halted or interrupted, preventing you from creating what you need.
  • Pain points: When you hire a creative content agency, you need to be specific about the type of help you need—or at least be able to communicate the things you’re struggling with. These are some of the most common issues we see our clients face:
    • Creating the right content
    • Creating content consistently
    • Differentiating your content
    • Optimizing for SEO
    • Creating quality content
    • Aligning content to buyer journey
    • Bridging marketing and sales
    • Workflow issues/approvals
    • Keeping up with new technologies
    • Internal alignment

You may be struggling with one, some, or all of these issues. If you’ve continued to face problems in any of these areas (and found little resolution internally), you may want to consider bringing in outside help.

Step 2: Ask the Hard Questions

As you assess your operation, ask yourself the following questions to determine whether or not extra support may be useful.

1) Is Your Content Strategy Working?

It seems like an obvious question, but it’s by far the most important. We’ve seen large operations flounder, and we’ve seen small operations do great things. Size doesn’t matter. Results do. You may have a million-dollar budget and a well-documented content strategy, but if the stuff you’re producing just isn’t connecting and you don’t know why, an expert eye might help.

A creative content agency can help you regroup and re-strategize, spot opportunities, propose alternative solutions, or revise your game plan. Even if you plan to execute that plan in-house, they can help jumpstart your strategy to ensure success.

For example, when Dropbox asked us to help revamp their recruiting efforts, we realized they needed to rethink their entire strategy. After diving into research and retooling their approach, our fresh content strategy helped them increase market perception 7%.

2) Are You Using Your Budget Wisely?

Budgets are one of the biggest problems in content marketing, but budget size is not always the problem. We’ve seen some very scrappy marketers build strong content operations—sometimes with only two people on staff. We’ve also seen global brands with enormous departments struggle through campaign after campaign. If you don’t know where to spend your money, how to allocate it, or how to maximize your spending, then you might need a creative content agency to help you strategize and stop the bleeding. 

For example, after years of underperforming, Teach for America asked us to craft a strong paid media strategy to reach new recruits. With a fresh perspective and strategic targeting, we helped them surpass their paid media goals by 124%.

3) Are You Working Effectively?

Creating quality content can be a heavy lift; it’s no surprise it’s one of the biggest challenges for marketers. This happens for plenty of reasons. Sometimes brands are too ambitious; sometimes they just don’t have the resources or internal production processes. Regardless, if you’re struggling to hit deadlines, align your team, or maintain a steady cadence, you’ll continue to struggle to find and build your audience. 

No matter the root cause, a creative content agency will have a well-oiled production process to help you create the content you need—on time and without the headache. 

For example, to help Course Hero provide valuable content to their student audience, we created a streamlined process to create 600 study guide infographics over the course of 3 years—a huge feat that would have been nearly impossible for them to tackle on their own.

4) Are You Telling a Strong Brand Story?

Just because you’re creating content doesn’t mean you’re telling a clear and compelling brand story. (In fact, one of the most common problems we see in our clients is a lack of clarity or consensus about their core brand story.) A creative content agency has both the perspective and expertise you need to distill your story, craft compelling messaging, and translate it into a cohesive content strategy that gets real results.

Note: Even when brands do know their story, we often see them struggle to tell that story well via the content they create. This is especially true if they don’t have the resources or knowledge to produce that content at a high level.

Every type of content requires specific expertise to produce. A creative content agency is full of skilled experts who know how to work effectively, follow best practices, and optimize content for your audience.

For example, when we helped VideoAmp realign their brand and story with fresh messaging and a strategic website redesign, we helped them increase their MQLs 850%—in one month.

5) Are You Familiar with the Latest Best Practices?

It’s hard to do everything well, and sometimes it’s hard to admit that we’re not as educated or skilled as we’d like to be in certain areas. Ego aside, it’s better to bring in reinforcements than continue to work ineffectively. (This is especially true as AI continues to transform marketing processes and more tools have hit the market.) If there are things you know you need to brush up on, areas you know you have blindspots in, or tools you haven’t had the time, energy, or brainpower to really invest in learning about, it might be smart to use an agency as an extension of your own team.

Step 3: Decide If You Should Hire a Creative Content Agency

If you have the budget to do so, now it’s time to analyze how and where you can improve your operation—and if you can do it yourself or not.

Keep things in-house if…

  • You have clarity and alignment among your team.
  • You have an extremely limited budget.
  • You know to execute your strategy (but just need extra tools to do it).

If you know your core issues and have clear solutions for them, you should keep things in-house. But as you progress, challenge yourself to expand your knowledge, improve your skills, and experiment more. (Start with our free resources library to get tools, templates, and tips to improve your marketing.)

Use a creative content agency if…

  • Despite your best efforts, your marketing has become stagnant.
  • You have a healthy budget and need to maximize your ROI.
  • You need to build (or rebuild) your strategy to align with your current goals.
  • You have a clear strategy but need help effectively executing it.

If you do plan to bring in an agency, it’s important to find an agency that functions as a true extension of your team—not as a replacement but as support to fill in the gaps and build on what you’re already doing. They should be able to execute your work, guide you, and use their expertise to find the absolute best solutions for your brand’s problems. If you’re ready to start your search, find out what 12 things to look for in an agency, learn more about what it’s like to work with us on a content strategy, or reach out directly.

Above all, whether you decide to use a creative content agency or go it alone, the most important thing is to stay educated about marketing best practices, trends, and more. If you’re looking for more expert advice and insight, you can start by subscribing to the Best Story Wins podcast, where we talk to industry experts about how they’re winning hearts, minds, and market share.

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