The Content Marketing Agency Playbook

Your clients need content.

So what does that mean for you? Just another scope-extending request that you’re ill equipped to deliver on?

Or… An opportunity.

Delivering high-quality content for clients could be just the type of recurring-revenue high-value service that your marketing agency needs.

Think about it. It’s a win-win: Your clients get the value of a strong follow-through on their engagement with you, and you build a more predictable revenue stream for your agency.

Not so fast…

Are you really ready to deliver on the promise of ongoing content and do it at scale as your client-base grows?

Not without the essential systems and processes to make sure you can deliver without the train barrelling off the tracks.

Systems in Practice: Audience Ops

We spent years building and optimizing our own content marketing agency, Audience Ops. So we’ve put these lessons to the test! (Or in reality, our tests led to these lessons learned the hard-way!)

In order to predictably produce top-notch content for a wide variety of clients (without major headaches, mixed messages, or dropped balls), we needed to establish a highly efficient and effective system that included people, processes, and tools to keep us up and running.

These systems revolve around 3 key components: Our people, our processes, and our tools.

Our People

Let’s start with the first piece of that equation: our people. At Audience Ops, we have creative professionals in the following roles:

  • Project Managers: Who keep content on track and communicate directly with clients.
  • Writers: Who conduct research, brainstorm topic ideas, and actually author the content.
  • Editors: Who read through every piece of content we produce and ensure it’s high-quality and error-free.
  • Technical Assistants: Who take care of all of the setup loose ends, including scheduling newsletters, queueing up social posts, and setting up posts within the client’s blog.
  • Team Manager: Who ensures our processes stay updated, our team members are in the loop, and generally keeps things running smoothly.

With these roles and responsibilities clearly laid out, there’s never a question about who should be handling what—even when something unexpected crops up.

Our Processes

Now, for the second piece of the puzzle: our processes. Since having the realization that processes would be essential for our growth, we’ve made a conscious effort to ensure that everything we do is highly process-driven.

We mean it when we say that we have a process for everything—literally everything. From generating new content ideas to sending blog post previews to clients for approval, every routine task our team needs to handle is documented and then organized in an easy-to-reference spreadsheet.

Not only do these processes keep our team members on the same page while also ensuring we cross our t’s and dot our i’s, but they also make it far easier to onboard new team members.

Our Tools

Finally, let’s touch on that last part: our tools. Through plenty of experimentation and trial and error, we’ve landed on a roster of tools that help us run our content marketing service in a highly organized and efficient way—without any bloat or tool fatigue.

On our own team, we utilize a combination of Google Docs, Slack, Helpscout, and our own platform, Ops Calendar, to reliably produce content for all of our clients.

Our service itself is actually what inspired us to create Ops Calendar. After struggling to find an existing tool that could meet our needs as as growing content marketing service, we knew that other agencies and contractors had to be dealing with the same struggles.

So, when we built it, we did so with the intention of addressing common problems and bottlenecks that we found ourselves encountering time and time again within our own service—from reporting to organizing our own workflows. And (pardon the not-so-humble brag) it’s been a total game-changer for our entire team, as well as our clients.

Our Playbook

In addition to the creation of Ops Calendar, our own service also inspired the creation of this very playbook. We’ve learned so many strategies and best practices along the way that we knew would be helpful to other agencies, so we pulled them together all right here:

Who This Playbook is For

Wondering if this playbook is for you? We documented all of these strategies and templates with two different types of people in mind:

  • Marketing Agency Owners: You manage your own marketing agency where you serve clients with recurring deliverables like blog content, social media content, video, and other similar content mediums.
  • Consultants: You work solo (or with a small team) to serve clients as a writer or as someone who oversees your client’s marketing campaigns.

If you fall into one of those above two categories, than this playbook will have all sorts of best practices and secrets to help you run a far more efficient content marketing operation.

What to Expect From This Playbook

We’re content marketers too, so we know that it’s all about results. As far as what you can expect after working your way through and then implementing the different strategies we’ve outlined in this playbook, you’ll:

  1. Have an operation that runs like clockwork, enabling you to scale up and serve more clients efficiently.
  2. Provide your clients more value than ever before, while empowering them to see that value through the increased transparency and visibility you provide.
  3. Build more predictable and recurring revenue into your business, fixing that age-old problem of “peaks and valleys.”

Let’s Dive In…

Sound good to you? We thought so. With that in mind, here’s a peek at all of the different stuff we’ll dive deep into within this playbook.

You can browse to each chapter here on our site, or download the entire playbook as a PDF, complete with all of our bonus templates and worksheets. Yes, it’s all free 🙂

Here we go…

Developing a Better Client Onboarding Process

Your agency has just landed a new client. That’s great—but, it’s also where the real work begins.

Brand new clients require extra care and consideration. That relationship is still fragile, they aren’t entirely convinced of the value you provide, and they’re at far greater risk of cancelling your retainer altogether.

This is why an organized and thorough onboarding process is crucial to your agency’s success. With this in place, you’ll set the right expectations, demonstrate a high level of transparency, forge a beneficial relationship, and prove to your clients that you’re worthy of their trust—and that retainer payment.

Why Your Marketing Team Needs Clearly Defined Roles

Picture this: A client request comes in that needs to be taken care of. So, you pass that note along to your team and trust them to get it handled.

The writer thinks the editor will take charge. The editor? She assumes that task falls within the project manager’s territory. The project manager? He doesn’t dabble in this technical stuff—he’ll leave that to the technical assistant.

The result? Frustration, confusion, people pointing fingers, and an important task that wound up slipping through the cracks.

Unfortunately, you’ve likely dealt with far too many situations just like that one, which illustrate the importance of having clearly defined roles and responsibilities within your team. With those in place, there’s no question about who should be handling what—meaning tasks get done efficiently and effectively, each and every time.

Creating Your Own Repeatable Content Marketing Process

You likely don’t need us to tout the importance of processes yet again (you get it, right?). But, stick with us for just a moment.

When it comes to scaling your own agency or service, processes will be the secret to your success. When you don’t have streamlined procedures and systems in place that your team can follow, things quickly fall apart and optimizations aren’t made—which is when you fall into that nasty trap of doing things just for the sake of doing them.

Fortunately, we consider ourselves experts in repeatable processes and have everything you need to know to develop your own for your marketing team.

Promoting Content in an Efficient, Scalable Way

Let us know if you agree with this statement: Creating content is one thing, but having to spread the word and actively promote it is a tedious, headache-inducing, time-suck for your team.

You aren’t alone. We experienced the exact same thing on our team, until we landed on a way to ease the burden of content promotion. The secret? You guessed it—a scalable promotion process.

By building these processes, we were not only able to significantly streamline the different promotion tasks our team was routinely taking care of, but we also identified ways that we could automate a ton of them using Ops Calendar.

Sound like a dream come true? We can teach you how to do exactly the same thing within your own agency.

Improving Your Client Relationships Through Better Marketing Reports

Your clients love seeing the top-notch content that you and your team inevitably produce. But, what they care about more than anything? Results. They want to know that their retainer payment is pushing them in the right direction and getting them steps closer to growing awareness and increasing their own sales.

That’s pretty tough to demonstrate to your clients without detailed marketing reports and frequent conversations.

This is why we overhauled our own reporting process at Audience Ops and encourage other agencies to do the same. Using Ops Calendar, we were also able to automate and streamline much of the content reporting process—which gave our clients the information they need, while also freeing up our team’s time to focus on the things they truly do best.

Sustaining and Building on This Foundation

We’re confident that this playbook dives into everything you need to know to run a streamlined and scalable content marketing agency. But, simply reading these tips and best practices won’t make a difference—you actually need to implement what you learn. We built the engines, and you need to run them.

One of the points that deserves major emphasis is that—even though we’re big believers in processes—that doesn’t mean your approach needs to be set in stone.

You should constantly be measuring and evaluating how things are working to identify if there are areas that could be further adjusted, improved, and optimized. The important thing about processes is that they should grow and change right along with your team and your agency.

If there’s one thing we think will make implementing all of the strategies we’ve touched on here far easier, it’s utilizing Ops Calendar within your processes and workflows (we might be a little biased—but, seriously, it’s so helpful).

With features to organize your team and their workload, plan out content calendars, and measure how content performs, it makes running an efficient content marketing agency seem like a total breeze.