8 min

Why you are not happy with the content your agency is creating

By David Lee

 

 

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT


We've all been told by the experts and gurus that the reason why content is king is because it forms the foundation for all of our marketing efforts,

Right? For more than a decade, we've been told about the importance of SEO and how content will drive organic traffic to our website.

We've also been told that good content is the anchor for social media platforms such as LinkedIn. A well -written blog article can usually generate three to five pieces of social media content.

And of course, good content that helps educate people about their problems and how to solve them.

Well, this can be used by our sales team as collateral in their sales process.

 Good sales content explains what you do, what makes you different, and why they should buy from you.

And I'm going to tell you, all of this is absolutely true.

We haven't been lied to.

So we've made content marketing a pillar of our marketing strategy.

And if you're like most companies, well, you've hired an outside agency to do the writing for you because you're

  • an executive,
  • an engineer,
  • a production manager,
  • a customer service rep
  • or a salesperson.

You have other things to do!

And content writing?

Well, that's not part of your job description.

It's not how you get paid and it's not how you get bonuses.

So you've hired an outside company to do the writing for you.

And yet when you read the content they write, you're not really happy with it.

Most of the time your reaction is something like,

"Yeah, okay. It uh....passes the basic checkboxes."

  • It's accurate,
  • it's educational,
  • it's free from grammatical errors.

And let's be honest, unless you found something really wrong with it, you're way too busy with other stuff.

So, you know, as long as it passes those basic checkboxes, you've probably approved it and it got published.

If you did find something wrong, well, then it's a series of back and forth corrections as you try to explain to the copywriter what you really want the article to say.

So every month your agency fulfills a statement of work.

They write the eight articles or however many the contract says.

You're kind of happy because you're getting more articles on your website and you're seeing the number of blogs grow and

they're happy because they're invoicing you.

And so this continues month after month after month until one day you ask your sales team, "Hey guys, are you using any of this content in your sales process?"

And they kind of look around at each other and say, "Mo, not really. It's not that good or helpful."

Or maybe your marketing manager fires up Google analytics and starts looking at the performance of the blogs and then starts looking and saying, huh, well, yeah, the articles are generating traffic, but the visitors aren't sticky. They're not reading the content or engaging with the website.

Or maybe you start skimming through the article yourself and after reading a few, you realize that, huh, there's nothing in here that I didn't already know or isn't common knowledge within my industry or gosh, I just saw something similar on one of my competitors website.

Does that sound familiar?

Well, I'm here to tell you

  • it's not the content writers fault.
  • It's not your agency's fault and
  • it's not how your contract was written.

It's the process.

It's the process we've been all using for over a decade.

It's obsolete.

It no longer works, especially for B2B companies.

Now I am a big fan of Dan Sullivan - the author of Who not How.

I'm a big believer in that we should all be working within our zone of genius.

But in our zeal to be to become more efficient and only operate in our zone of genius, we've made a critical error.

We've removed ourselves from a content writing process.

We expect the content writers who we hired will have both the domain knowledge of our industry and the tribal knowledge of those who work in our company.

And those people are our subject matter experts.

These are the people who day in day out work with your clients.

They have firsthand knowledge of your customer's specific problems. They know what products and services make your company unique. They know why your clients buy from you and not someone else.

But who, not how, right? We've misinterpreted and farmed out and outsourced the entire content creation process to someone outside of our company.

You're familiar with the process and it goes something like this.

You create a list of topics and for each topic you fill out a form, a content brief.

They do all the heavy lifting. They research the topic, the problem and the solution.

And because it's 2024, they're probably using ChatGPT.

And then they write the article.

And they're still probably using ChatGPT because it's easier to edit than create. And after all, they have a production schedule to meet.

So they write or rather maybe edit the article down to the agreed upon number of words.

And then the third step is you review it.

If it's acceptable or maybe you're too busy to make corrections, then it gets published.

If it's not acceptable, then you have a series of back and forth emails and meetings.

Usually the contract limits the number of revisions you get. And this process could take a week or so, at least until you run out of your agreed upon revisions or you've had enough and you just say, it's good enough, publish.

Nowhere in this process is the content writer getting access to the knowledge, experience, and expertise of your team.

At least not to the very end.

So is it any surprise that the content they give you back is generic, uninspiring, and reads very suspiciously like something out of Wikipedia or Chad GPT?

Look, if you want content that clearly demonstrates what makes you and your company unique, then you need to be a part of the content creation process.

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't mean you actually have to write the content, but you need to give the content writers more than just a briefing.

Here's a different process that does not create commodity content and isn't sourced from Wikipedia or chat GPT.

By the way, this is how we write content for our clients.

So this is not me in some academic ivory tower.

This is a field and battle tested process to create content that you, your team, clients, and prospects will be happy to consume.

The major difference is you're involved in the beginning, not at the end of the content creation process.

And this is how it works.

First step. We together schedule a 30 to 60 minute interview. The actual length depends upon the complexity of the topic.

We then interview your subject matter expert.

Now, the subject matter expert can be different people in your company.

It could be an executive if we're writing a thought leadership piece.

It could be an engineer if we're writing a white paper about a very specific technical product.

It could be your production manager if we want to write an article on your manufacturing or quality control process that demonstrates how you get exceptional results that no one else can match.

It could be your customer service team if we want to highlight how easy it is to work with you, or we need to provide an in depth how-to article.

It could also be your sales team if we need to write a case study or a customer success story.

In the interview, we record and transcribe the conversation.

Now the interview has to be someone with consulting or investigative journalism experience because he or she needs to ask probing questions to get down to the root cause of an issue. And they also need to be able to take out the technical jargon out of the conversation.

For example, when I worked at Toyota Motor Sales, I learned about Toyota's 5 why's technique. It's a technique that asks why five times in order to get at the root cause of the problem.

Its also important that unless its a very technical article, the topic needs to be explained in layman's terms.

So the first step is to conduct a transcribed and recorded interview with your subject matter expert.

The second step is, well, to write it.

Now, sometimes this could be the same person who did the interview, but more often than not, being an expert interviewer does not necessarily mean you're a good writer. Sometimes you do run across at Unicorn like an investigative journalist who can run a good interview and be a great writer at the same time.

The third process is approval.

Now I say approval and not review here because other than organizing the content into a compelling story and doing some SEO optimization, all the material is from you.

There's no external research or first draft using tools like ChatGPT.

So there's no need to review for missing or incorrect information because a source is you.

By being part of the content creation process from the beginning, the source of the content is you and your team.

After all, you're the experts.

You have the experience.

You have the perspectives.

You know your customers' questions and problems,

and you know how your company solves them.

If you're not happy with the content your marketing agency is producing, it's not the content writer.

It's the process.

Make sure that you and your team are part of the process from the very beginning. Take those 30 minutes to do that investigative interview and don't just fill out a content brief. you and your team, not Wikipedia or ChatGPT.

I know from firsthand experience that by changing the content writing process to an interview style, you, your team, clients and prospects will be much happier with the content your marketing agency is producing.

I hope this was helpful for you.  Please visit us at dowhat.works for more information and some other great content on marketing, sales and how to get marketing results faster.  I'll see you next time.

David Lee

David Lee

Leveraging 20+ years of experience with Fortune 500 companies including Toyota, Beckman Coulter, and Deloitte, I craft data-driven website and content strategies to help companies compete and win in the digital age. Explore my insight articles to learn what works and how to craft winning strategies and tactics to move the revenue needle for your company.

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