In a strategy or discovery call between a client and a content marketing agency, both parties often avoid discussing too many questions. The agency may be afraid of losing the sale, or the client may be in a hurry. Unfortunately, that behavior can lead to confusion and ambiguity down the road.
Content marketing is not about the buzz du jour or fly-by-night industry tactics. It needs an effective, long-term content marketing plan.
By knowing the content marketing questions to ask upfront, you can avoid future frustration on both ends. And you’ll ensure you’re taking on a partner with whom you’ll be able to work well moving forward.
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Basic content marketing questions
Please describe your company/products.
How did the company begin? Why was it started? What’s the company’s value proposition.
What’s your role in the company?
How did you first get involved? What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Where does your company stand today?
Company revenue, growth rate, number of employees, industry, location, structure, etc.
Who are your target audience and content niche?
Demographics include information such as age, income, education level, etc. Are they local or global? Why are you targeting these people? What impact do you hope to have on your audience? How will our content help them?
What are your seed keywords?
What are the 5 to 10 of the most relevant, essential, important keyword phrases within your niche?
Where can I learn more about your company?
Apart from the website, what current/rough materials, marketing collateral, etc is available for us to review? Is the website information accurate?
Any competitors, similar brands, or inspirational websites?
What are our competitors doing? What do you like or dislike about their content marketing?
Content marketing questions to understand the current situation
What’s your current approach to content marketing?
How was it being addressed so far? What processes are currently in place? What is your main source of traffic, leads, and customers?
What tools/resources do you use at [company]?
What do you use for content planning, creation, publication, and distribution?
How has been the experience so far with content marketing?
What do you think of it as a way to grow your business? Are you happy with your current content and results? Why?
What has been your biggest success in content marketing?
What are your accomplishments in content marketing? Why do you think it was a success?
What are your problems, challenges, and setbacks in content marketing?
What do you think people struggle with the most, mistakes or false assumptions they make? Why? What do you wish you had known before you started? If you were to start all over again, what would you do differently?
Content marketing questions to understand future expectations
Why do you need a content marketing agency?
Why is it a priority today? Why hasn’t it been addressed before?
What are your organization's goals for the year?
What’s your #1 reason for wanting to create content (as a business)? What’s the outcome or impact you envision creating for yourself as a result of this campaign?
What content marketing strategies do you intend to follow to meet these goals?
What would you say is the #1 key to success in content marketing?
Do you have a documented content strategy?
And what about content briefs, and a brand writing style guide? Do you have a content calendar and topics for the next 3-6 months? Or would you need help with these things?
What type of content do you need/publish the most? Why?
Which types of content are performing best and worst on your site? Which types of content are we missing?
Is business blogging part of your content strategy?
Do you need/publish a regular stream of content per month? How many articles (approx) are you looking to publish per month? How often?
What is the scope of work?
All the pages or specific pages? Do you need new content or an update to existing content? Why? Do you also need content promotion services? For example, link building, social media, SEO, and PPC.
Are you looking for graphics for this project?
Articles with images get more views as opposed to those with no visuals.
Content marketing questions about workflow/process
What information will you be providing for each assignment?
Topic, objective, keywords, points/outline, publishing site, target audience, word count, target dates, similar content, writing style, etc.
Is there any extra work involved?
Are there any parts you plan to do by yourself? (such as uploading/publishing to the site)
Would we need to interview people inside/outside the company?
Whether the company will provide contacts or we’ll be expected to dig them up.
How do you envision we submit the project and assignments for your review?
For example, CMS, Word document, WordPress, directly to your site, or PDF. And how and by whom will the final version be published? When?
What attributes/qualities do you look for in your content?
Any preferences in terms of content format/word count?
How closely do you prefer to work?
Do you want daily/weekly check-ins? In-person / email / meeting? What is your preferred method of communication? Can we expect regular feedback on the deliverables?
Who are the internal stakeholders involved in the approval process?
Who needs access to ongoing reports and stats? What level of data do they need, and how often do they need it?
Content marketing questions about time and budget
What’s your timeline for implementation?
Expectations in terms of timeline/deadlines and budget range? Expected delivery dates?
Is this problem funded?
Do you have a budget of at least $X per month?
Our fee includes X round of rewrites.
Additional edits would cost extra. Is that okay?
What is your payment method?
Can you pay via direct wire transfer to an international bank account?
Are you okay with processing payments on a weekly or biweekly basis?
End-of-month payments may not work for us.
Content marketing questions to understand expectations from vendors
Do you work/have you worked with other freelance content writers or content marketing agencies? Why?
How did it go? Did they meet your expectations? Why or why not?
How do you find content vendors? How did you hear about us?
Who referred you to us? What did they say? What do you look for before working with them?
Do you have written decision criteria for choosing a vendor?
Who compiled these criteria? Who else will be involved in choosing a vendor? What is their role?
What’s the process for actually purchasing the product/service once you decide on it?
Are there legal or procurement reviews? Is this a competitive situation?
What are potential obstacles, bottlenecks, or hoops?
How can a vendor help make this easy?
Is there anyone in your social or professional circles who would benefit from the services we provide?
If you’re happy with the outcome, would you provide a testimonial or LinkedIn recommendation for us?
What are the expectations about credit?
Can we use your work as an example on our website? For blog posts, who will own the credit for the work? Is a byline given?
There is no shortage of agencies and freelancers to help you start content marketing. While some of them provide sound advice and guidance, remember to evaluate your organization’s unique circumstances before taking action.
To develop a content strategy, you require honest assessments of your current state of business and considerations of where you want to be in the future.
Content created for the sake of content or to meet some self-imposed publishing schedule isn’t enough. Your content needs to serve your business by supporting corporate goals.
So the next time you sit down for the first strategy session, make sure you’re addressing the fundamental content marketing questions. This communication will get you on the same page before you move forward.
Did we miss anything? Did you try these tips? Do you have any questions or comments? Share your thoughts below in the comments section.