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June 17, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
In marketing, content creation and development are key focuses. The messages and images get the audience thinking, talking, and buying, right? But great content can’t be great with a poor strategy behind it. A content provider knows and understands that it’s not just about pumping out piece after piece and dropping them into the internet void. There’s a sense of ownership and authority that comes from “providing” content rather than just creating it.
Putting the information in front of someone, in the right place at the right time, does just as much, if not more, for conversions and sales than snappy one-liners and persuasive closing arguments alone. Today, we’re discussing how your brand can go from being a content creator to a content provider with topics like:
Content providers are companies, agencies, or individuals that supply top-tier content to a client or a designated audience. Some content providers serve as a go-between for the content creators and the audience, like a distributor or a hosting service. In these cases, the content providers take pre-written or already created material and prepare it for publication. They handle the distribution of content. Sources like Spotify or Shutterstock are examples of these types of content providers.
Another kind of content provider is an agency with its own team of writers, editors, other creatives, and strategy professionals who develop content for clients and handle publication and distribution. CopyPress is an example of the second type of content provider. We offer creative services to our clients and help prep their work for publication on their own websites or content syndication to other sources. We’re also content providers for our own materials. Things like our blog, knowledge base, and resource library share content created by the CopyPress team for our own B2B clients and audience.
Image via Unsplash by @freegraphictoday
Based on that definition, the second option especially, doesn’t that sound like a content creator? How is being a content provider different? The term “top-tier content” is the clue. It’s what separates content providers from content creators. To create means to bring something into existence. But just bringing a piece of content into existence doesn’t mean it’s good. It might not even apply to anything your clients or their audience want to see.
But to provide something means to make it available for use or to prepare it for a future event. So when you’re a content provider, you’re creating something useful for their clients and their audience. You’re creating and distributing content with a purpose. And that’s what good content agencies strive to do. They want every piece of content they develop to have value and serve not just a target audience, but their clients’ business goals, too.
Some reasons companies turn to content providers to help their marketing strategies include:
Some B2B companies may lack the resources to create, publish, and share their own content. It could be because of a small staff, budget cuts, or working in the early phases of business development. Either way, they just don’t have a way to make content internally. These companies recognize that fact and know that the quality of any content they share has to be high. Otherwise, any time or money they put into content creation is a waste.
That’s why businesses turn to content providers instead. With a content provider, clients know they’ll get pieces developed with a purpose, without the hassle of finding their own internal team or freelancers.
Some companies may need a boost in getting their content in front of the right people. Working with a content provider that has clients in similar industries and already shares content in their niche is golden. These creatives and strategists know how to write, develop, prepare, and expose their pieces to the right people. That helps with brand recognition and lead acquisition.
It’s like using social media or engaging in other partnership agreements, like guest blogging. The more places companies can get their content to appear, and the better that content is, the better chance they have at getting more business.
Content providers are the experts in creation, publishing, and distribution. They’re skilled in all areas of SEO, like technical and on-page types, to make sure the client’s content reaches the widest audience possible. Companies rely on content providers because they’re skilled in not just creation, but also strategy. This full-service attention gets their pieces ready for audience consumption in a way that benefits both the clients themselves and their potential leads.
Some of the most important questions a content provider asks are “what’s in this for the client?” and “what do they get out of working with my company that they can’t get doing the work on their own or partnering with anyone else?” Here are the steps your organization can take to become the trusted resource for creating and providing content in any field or niche:
Companies look at a content provider’s track record with content creation, publishing, or hosting content to know what to expect when they sign with the service. You need to market your agency the same great way you help your clients market theirs to showcase what you can do. Use testimonials from your satisfied clients to encourage new ones to trust your brand. This helps show you have knowledge and experience in their niche and know how to handle the specific content needs that come with their line of work.
But what if you’re looking to expand into providing content for new industries or niches? What if you don’t have experience in those verticals yet? Just because your agency doesn’t have experience in certain areas doesn’t mean your team members don’t. Supplement your agency experience with individual wins. Have your team members studied or worked in content development in other industries? What unique features do they bring to your company that elevates your agency from content creator to provider?
Be transparent about what your team can do without giving away all their contact information, especially if you use freelancers. Leads want to know what to expect from working with your team, and you should be honest with them about it. But being too open may encourage people to go straight to the freelancer source rather than work with a middleman, your agency.
The creative team is the backbone of any content agency. They directly influence the difference between setting your company up as a content creator or provider. Attention to detail, thorough research, and understanding of an industry or niche all influence the quality of the content you provide to clients.
Whether you use in-house creatives, freelancers, or a combination of both, it’s important to put time and effort into finding the right people for each job. Ask for test pieces, previous work samples, and references when hiring your creatives. Their writing or designing should be top-tier, but so should their industry knowledge and research abilities. While finding creatives, interviewing, and onboarding new people can be time-consuming, it’s worth it. When your clients see the results a curated team brings, you’ll thank yourself for the prep work later.
You can’t be a content provider if you don’t have any clients. Agencies looking to sharpen their skills and reach provider status likely already have clients as a good starting pool. These are your test subjects. You can work with them and use their content to move into the “provider” space of content marketing. But if you’re a new agency or you’re looking to expand your offerings into other niches, put in the work to find and develop content partnerships.
Developing these relationships relies heavily on networking. You need to go out and find people in need of content services where they’re looking for solutions. That includes working on your own inbound marketing in places where they spend time: search engines, social media, and their email inboxes. Digital and content marketing is one way to do it. Create pieces for your own content marketing to promote your business. This technique serves as a real-world example of how your agency helps theirs. If it works for you and brought their business to your agency, you can do the same for them, right?
Taking part in podcasts, webinars, and online courses is another way to network. You can also attend industry events like conferences. Once you build your client base, it may be easier to find new partnerships through word-of-mouth marketing or recommendations from your current clients.
Related: Inbound vs. Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?
What are your clients’ goals? Who is their target audience? What returns do they expect from working with you? To transition from content creator to provider, you have to know your clients’ wants and needs, inside and out. Take the time to meet with each company’s leaders, marketing team, and other representatives. Hold chat sessions before, during, and after a content campaign. Connecting and communicating regularly lets you know what they’re pleased with, what’s working, and what areas of the process to adjust.
For example, with every CopyPress client, no matter their needs, we schedule an alignment phase where we test a campaign before launch. It includes crafting test pieces, taking client feedback, and adjusting the living style guide document. This helps up make sure our team understands the client’s audience, goals, and desired output so that our visions align and they get exactly what they expect with every campaign.
Remember why your clients are looking for a content provider. Their team is small, and they have limited time. Don’t bog them down with a long, complicated ordering or onboarding process. How can you make the sign-on process easier for new clients? Can you have them fill out a form so you get all the details exactly right? Is there a way to streamline the service selection process to make it easier or quicker?
Keeping your clients’ pain points in mind when developing your agency strategy and framework helps make it easy and intuitive to work with your company. When you make it so simple, why would they go anywhere else?
Each client has a unique set of content creation and publication needs. Some may want to use your full services, from ideation to tracking metrics. Others want you to prep their pieces for publication with editing and quality assurance checks. Some may want to work with programming specialists to get their content ready for the web and put it live on their websites or blogs. You need to keep in mind how your tools and systems integrate with those your clients may use for any development and publication steps you don’t handle.
At CopyPress, we account for these kinds of provisions with our proprietary content management system (CMS), Dante. It uses specialty application programming interfaces (APIs) to share and distribute content to the right internet sources, like WordPress. There are also options to download content in a variety of file formats for publication offline, or for niche hosting locations.
Similar to simplifying the ordering process, being a good content provider means reducing the work the client has to do to access your quality services. You want to make not just your content, but also your workflows, tools, and customer service so inviting, intuitive, and stress-free that it makes little sense for the client to use any other content provider agency.
Part of providing quality content is helping your clients stay competitive in their industry or niche. This sets your agency apart from content creators. You put in research; you develop pieces with a target and a purpose in mind. Competitor research doesn’t have to be hard. It just has to be thorough. It includes processes as simple as checking search engine results pages (SERPs) to see who ranks higher for what keywords.
But there are also in-depth options like providing keyword research for future content or doing social listening to determine what the competition is talking about and how they’re presenting that information to the audience. No matter what level of competitor research you do, use CopyPress’s content marketing analysis tool as a guide. Request this free report for a client to get access to data about how their content compares to that of their top three competitors. It also gives suggestions to improve their backlink profile and a list of content gaps to better provide their audience with the information they are already looking for.
“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”
Director of SEO at Auto Revo
Digital publishing relies heavily on SEO to get the best results. Like their unfamiliarity with content creation and publishing, your clients may not understand how SEO works or its best practices. This is a big draw to show your knowledge and experience here, which affects every industry and niche. Marketing your brand with case studies on how you’ve improved your current clients’ success rates with attention to SEO helps show prospective clients what you can do for them as a content provider.
Related: Family Tree: How Are SEO and SEM Related?
Many content agencies, like CopyPress, use plagiarism detection software to ensure that every piece the writers and editors create is as original as possible. Integrity in writing is important, more so now than ever, with the abundance of factually inaccurate or downright made-up content that circulates on the internet and social media. Yes, search engines like Google have ways to check for and penalize plagiarism online. But it comes with a ding to a website’s credibility and authority, which hurts its reputation and SEO efforts for the future.
Content providers understand how serious this is and how it affects more than just the content, but also sales and customer loyalty. It’s a good idea to build a plagiarism checking policy into your content development services to ensure that anything you prepare for a client doesn’t burn you both. At a minimum, plagiarism can cause a DMCA takedown online, which removes the content from the internet and search engines. At worst, it could cause legal fines and strict penalties for the host service online.
Related: Someone Plagiarized Your Work Online, Now What?
Quality and purpose are two of the main things that set providing content apart from simply creating it. That means the writers or designers don’t work in a vacuum. It takes an entire team and collaboration with the client to make sure every piece is valuable and informational for the target audience. That means prioritizing getting the right editors and quality assurance professionals on your team, too.
Editors and proofreaders are additional layers of protection against grammatical errors, erroneous facts, and plagiarism. Their services help polish up what writers can sometimes miss when they self-check their work. Quality assurance professionals perform the same sort of check for the editors. We use this three-step process at CopyPress when working with all our clients to assure that once a piece reaches them, it’s had at least three sets of eyes on it already.
It also helps to bring the client in on feedback and revisions for any piece. Encourage the client to be as involved in the review process as they’d like to be. Offer revision periods at the writing and editing stages and encourage your creatives to take constructive criticism to make every piece the best it can be. Make sure you mark the review and revision process clearly in your content management system. You may even consider bringing on a project manager to handle this organizational process and meet these kinds of deadlines.
Sometimes, the role of a content provider feels very transactional. It’s easy to view your job through the lens that you pump out content, push it to the audience, and move on to the next piece. If you get too caught up in development and strategy, you may forget about the human side of the business: working with clients. You want to be more than just a content mill or a creation vessel. You want to be a partner for your clients and develop them as trusted information sources for their audience. Do that by nurturing your client relationships.
Clients can get content creation, publishing, and hosting services from many places. They can also go the self-creation route. What’s going to make them want to sign with you? Feeling valued, seen, heard, and understood. The human element of connection and sharing stories with the right audience is what’s going to get them to choose your content-providing services and keep using them in the future.
Related: Audience Retention: Definition and Why It’s Important
People say you can never have too much of a good thing. That’s also true for content. Once your clients see exactly what your agency does for them and the way it increases their metrics, leads, and revenue, they may come back and want more, more, more. The question is, are you prepared to scale up to the content volume they need and still provide services at the highest possible quality?
Being able to scale production up or down to meet the clients’ needs shows attention to strategy and detail. Especially if you’re able to anticipate this request before it happens and prepare ahead of time. Be ready for these kinds of suggestions by adding project managers to your team. They help clients figure out how to increase production at the right scale, then handle the responsibilities of finding more talent and resources to make it happen.
Related: How To Incorporate Project Management for Marketing
Content providing is a strategic process. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay. Instead of dealing with turning your agency into a content provider, leave it to the pros. CopyPress is your agency’s solution for providing quality content to your clients and their audiences. We help B2B companies every step of the way from SEO-focused, highly targeted content creation, publication, and strategy that shows results. Ready to learn more about how working with CopyPress jump-starts content providing for your business? Schedule your free strategy call now.
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