You’ll be hard pressed to meet your goals if you and your content marketing vendor aren’t on the same page during onboarding.

Onboarding a new content marketing vendor is an exciting time for your business, no matter the size of your team or the field you work in. Whether you’re looking to hone your brand voice or generate leads at higher rates, hiring the right vendor is a critical step toward defining your company in the marketplace.

Before you dive into your new working relationship, however, you should be sure that you, your team, and your content marketing vendor are speaking the same language. Identifying what you’re hoping to get out of a new and improved content program is important, especially since that’ll give your vendor the foundation they need to build a unique and resonant place for your brand in your field.

Wondering where to start? Tick off these four tips when you’re onboarding your new content marketing vendor and you’ll have everyone starting off on the right foot.

1. Establish Shared Values

The best content marketing vendors have experience in a wide range of industries — from biotech and banking to supply chain management and security software. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to learn more about what makes you and your team unique. When you’re getting your working relationship off the ground, be sure to set aside time to establish an understanding of what defines your business and where you hope to go.

For example, what do you want your company to look like in one year? In five? Ten? On top of that, what language does your team use when they communicate internally, and how does that differ from the language that you use in outward-facing initiatives?

These details may not seem pertinent to a brand publishing program, but they’re actually key for a content marketing vendor determined to develop your business’s voice and sharpen your value proposition.

2. Agree on Metrics of Success

There are many different reasons for hiring a content marketing agency – yours might be improving collateral for your sales team or climbing the SEO rankings. It’s important to remember that your vendor can’t read your mind – without explaining what you hope to accomplish with a content program, it may be difficult to turn high-quality collateral into tangible success.

While you’re still in the onboarding process, agree with your vendor on how you’ll both be measuring success going forward. If you’re looking to boost traffic to your website and blog, for example, you’ll want to track things like sessions, unique visitors, and read time. If you’re hoping to generate leads at higher rates, you’ll be looking at metrics like CTRs more closely. And if you’d rather raise the profiles of your most senior people with thought leadership, you may track metrics surrounding brand awareness or use URL tracking to attribute views.

3. Articulate Things that Matter

If you’ve hired a new content marketing vendor, you probably have an idea of what you’re looking to get out of the working relationship. This differs widely from one brand to the next, so it’s important that you help your vendor understand what you have in mind.

For some businesses investing in their brand publishing program, this means identifying the best ways to secure high-level external placements with other marketing strategies serving as stepping stones to this long-term goal. For others, a professional content marketing vendor is means of perfecting a brand voice that will help your company for years to come.

In your initial consultations with vendors, think of and relay the three things that matter to you most. If you make these things clear up front, your team will be able to deliver on the things that will make the biggest difference for your business.

4. Think Out Loud

While you want to be sure that you’ve provided your vendor with everything they need to turn around key deliverables, the best content marketing operations want more than the bare bones – they want to turn your expertise into excellent, thought-provoking content.

Take the time to think out loud with your vendor. What do you think of the state of your field? How can your product transform a certain space beyond the day-to-day value prop? Why does your brand have a fresh perspective that no one else is bringing to the table?

These musings may not make it into your first ebook, but they’re critical context so your vendor can understand your business better, master your writing voice, and convey your message with stronger authenticity and accuracy. Some of our best insights into a company’s direction have come when a contact mentions a resource we didn’t know about before, or taps into a key message that we can then use in future content.

Author Oliver Cox

Having originally joined the company as a writer in 2013, Oliver currently works as a full-time member of L&T's sales team to prospect, nurture and help close sales leads in the US and UK markets. Oliver is a graduate of the University of Liverpool and is a prolific musician and author.

More posts by Oliver Cox