Here’s why establishing a partnership — rather than a business deal — is key to elevating your content marketing program to the next level.

The new year is an ideal time to make a meaningful change — such as revamping your content marketing strategy to position your business for sustained growth. While many brands begin this process with a preconceived notion of the kind of relationship they will have with a content or creative agency, it’s critical to recognize the limitations that come with that expectation.

While a typical content marketing vendor will agree to produce the materials you want at the scope that you determine, they are unlikely to go above and beyond what is requested of them. Even if they produce strong content for your brand in a timely manner, you are not maximizing value-add for your business unless your agency not only produces powerful assets tailored to your marketing objectives and brand identity, but provides strategic vision and some amount of industry expertise.

Instead of seeking a new content marketing vendor, it is a far wiser investment (with the promise of higher ROI) to establish a robust partnership based on collaboration, value creation, and strategic direction. Keep reading to learn the top ways that a brand publishing partner can bolster your inbound marketing results.

1. A Brand Publishing Partner is Committed to a Long-Term Relationship

Unlike a freelancer or a standard content marketing agency, a full-range brand publishing partner is less a pure content creator and more a seasoned editorial advisor. A partner will be able to leverage their strategic knowledge in order to scale the program in the long run — developing a sturdy infrastructure that lifts search rankings, increases site traffic, and promotes lead generation.

Since brand publishing is a strategy that pays off in the long term — continuing to create results after several months or even years of regular weekly publishing — pairing up with a committed partner ensures that your brand can achieve its content mission and continue to push it to greater heights well into the future.

2. A Brand Publishing Partner Adds Value to Your Business Beyond Content

While a traditional content vendor is prepared to deliver only what its clients request, a brand publishing partner is willing and ready to create research-driven journalism tailored around your brand identity, value proposition, and business goals.

If your brand publishing partner doesn’t know much about the specifics about your industry or your business, its editorial team will be prepared to perform thorough independent research, conduct interviews with subject-matter experts (SMEs) — and in fact become SMEs in your field — in order to develop an authoritative voice for your brand.

What’s more, beyond delivering research-informed brand journalism and thought leadership, a brand publishing partner can offer strategic insights surrounding traffic volume, search rankings, and lead generation — translating those numbers into meaningful data points that demonstrate added value.

3. A Brand Publishing Partner Challenges You

Finally, perhaps most importantly, a brand publishing partner brings to the table an industry perspective and a unique set of skills that are different from your own. And while you could hire a content vendor who will do exactly — and exclusively — what you ask, a true partner not only promises to share your vision, but to propel your vision to new heights by leveraging a special skill set and strategic expertise.

In a thriving, collaborative partnership, your brand publishing partner will offer new form factors, new topics, new channels for your brand to explore — and potentially new risks that can increase your return on investment. When your content marketing strategy is backed by an experienced brand publishing partner who can push your company to be the best, most authentic version of itself, the results will follow suit.

Seek a partnership-centered relationship by first asking potential vendors what sorts of relationships they like to have with their clients, what kind of experience and expertise they already have in your subject area or industry, and which factors of your existing web presence they would improve.

It may be worth asking to see client editorial work in various stages of development in order to gain a sense of how the agency approaches brand journalism. Above all, look for indicators that an agency brings a robust body of knowledge to the table, a collaborative attitude, and a macro-level vision-focused approach to content marketing — which signals that they will be able to elevate your inbound strategy and your business in tandem.

Author Kendra Clark

A current graduate student in creative writing at the University of Cambridge, Kendra writes for a broad array of L&T's clients in industries ranging from healthcare to manufacturing. She has consulted for tech startups in California and Washington, D.C. on editorial and brand strategy development. With a degree in philosophy and literature from Santa Clara University, she is a lover of poetry, vegan Thai food, documentary films, and arguing about Nietzsche.

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