With the popularity of content marketing steadily on the rise, it seems there are reams of people ready to take your money, claiming they can get results. So, how do you separate the hype from fact and make the right decision when selecting a content marketing partner?

Here are our top five things to consider when making this decision:

1. Experience

Looking into the experience of each content marketing firm you’re considering. The best teams combine an even mix of folks with journalism and writing backgrounds along with talented graphic designers and professional marketers. Consider asking for details about the experience each member of the team who will be working on your project has as well as samples of published work they’ve completed. You should also consider how long the team members have been working together and what types of projects they’ve completed as a group.

2. Successes

Ask to see case studies and examples of work the partner you’re considering has done, along with KPIs of the results each one delivered. It’s one thing to produce a fancy, glossy magazine with lots of pretty pictures — it’s a very different thing to create one that delivers a return on investment, new customers and revenue growth. If your content marketing firm is just churning out flashy magazines and doesn’t have the data about the results their publications get readily available, look elsewhere.

3. Longevity

Although the term content marketing may be relatively new to many people, the ideas behind it aren’t. A firm that just sprouted up in the past year or so may have experienced team members, but have they worked together before? On the flip side, working with a company that has a solid track record in custom publishing (which is sort of the old term for content marketing) and that has adapted to the modern methodologies of content marketing can be a wise move. An established company is also more likely to have a stable staff and finances, meaning there’s less of a chance your team will change over or, even worse, the entire company vaporizes before it’s time to create your next content marketing piece.

4. Breadth

It’s stressful dealing with separate teams of writers, designers, printers and delivery people, so finding a custom publishing content marketing agency that handles it all in-house is a huge advantage. You’ll want to have a core group of people — no more than a handful — working on your account who will communicate with you and not have someone from five different companies calling you and trying to coordinate all the details of magazine publishing through you.

5. Realistic

Is the content marketing agency over-promising? Be wary of agencies that guarantee or provide unrealistic promises about the results you’ll see, especially if they make it seem like they’ll handle it all. You should be focused on finding someone who work with you to establish goals and not make lofty assumptions about your business. Also, consider quality versus cost — if a firm’s rate seems too good to be true, it probably is and you’ll end up with sub-par content, design and printing.

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