content strategyGuest post by Brandon Andersen

Losing a client sucks.

Losing a client because of something you could have easily addressed is worse.

But when it comes to demonstrating actual business results, many agencies scramble to pull together whatever they can to prove success. This often results in showing vanity metrics that don’t tie to bottom line results.

So brands move on to the next agency that promises them something shinier or cheaper.

Are you essential … or a commodity?

Agency life is tough. That one big client you have had for five years and makes up 50% of your business finally decides that the grass is greener on the other side, and they leave.

Or you land a big new client, only to have them jump ship at the end of a short contract for a cheaper agency.

Suddenly, you’re not worried about growing your agency, you’re worried about just staying in business.

If your differentiator amongst your competition is that you have better rates or more industry expertise, you don’t have a solid foundation for keeping clients. Clients don’t stay with a cheaper agency or one with more industry expertise if they aren’t getting and proving business results.

Proving you’re essential

Put yourself in the shoes of one of your clients. If the agency you hired was only hired to write content, how hard would it be to switch them out with another agency?

Probably not very hard.

In fact, if the new agency has a similar degree of experience in your industry, the transition could be almost seamless.

While we could argue that content writing is not a commodity (I don’t believe it is), many executives and bearers of big checkbooks may disagree.

In this scenario, do you want to be a content agency? Probably not.

Now, imagine that your agency had laid out an entire content strategy for you at the beginning of the project. They executed that strategy and show you with objective data that they’ve accomplished or even exceeded the goals they set out to accomplish.

Could you easily swap that agency out for a new agency?

Probably not.

A new agency would have to dig in and develop a new content strategy (you can’t use the old strategy, it’s already been executed). That process could take time, and have a high opportunity cost.

Plus, why would you replace an agency that promised to deliver you something and then met or exceeded it? Are you really going to risk those results to get a slightly better deal? If you haven’t been in that situation yourself, I can tell you from experience that you would not roll the dice on someone else.

The content agency that can create a robust content strategy, align those results back to business objectives, measure those results and execute on that strategy has a huge advantage over any competitor.

So why doesn’t every agency create these robust content strategies and measurement programs?

Strategy and measurement are hard

Creating a robust content strategy takes a lot of time, resources and overhead.

Many agencies don’t have a dedicated analytics team they can lean on to do deep dives into a client’s content or setup ways to measure results. Without this expertise, they are immediately at a disadvantage against other agencies.

If you have the resources, you can build out your own data driven content team. It takes effort, but it differentiates you from the myriad of other agencies that pay lip service to metrics that matter. Bringing on data analysts and transforming the culture of a team may be too much work to take on in the short term though.

Another option is to outsource your content analytics to a vendor. Solutions such as Ceralytics provide content analytics for agencies (shameless plug). Other vendors like Databox help agencies pull together reports. You can also invest some time in learning Google Analytics and setting up custom dashboards. While the last two are tools to learn instead of full solutions, they at least get you moving in the right direction.

The rewards are sweet

To make your agency thrive in content marketing, you need to be a strategic partner to your clients, not just a group of writers.

This will give you the strategic differentiation you need to win new clients, and retain old clients, which are worth their weight in gold.

Image: burak kostak via Pexels

brandon andersenBrandon Andersen is Chief Strategist at Ceralytics, a content intelligence platform. A self-described content marketing junkie, Brandon is always looking for new ideas and brilliant uses of content that tells a story.