Comprehending What a Brand Wants

By David Burda  |  August 8, 2016

People listening to meeting with text bubbles

Many brands know what they want from their content marketing agencies. Some brands don’t and are looking to their content marketing agencies for direction. The challenge for the agency is listening to what the brand is saying and comprehending what the brand wants.

In this space, I typically write about brands and offer them some advice on what to do and what not to do when it comes to their content marketing efforts. In this post, I’m going to juggle the formula a bit and give brands some advice on what they should expect from their content marketing agencies.

The inspiration for this post came from two sources. The first was an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “What You Miss When You Take Notes on Your Laptop.” It’s an insightful take on some research that found that people who take notes electronically on their laptops or tablets at presentations comprehend less from the presentations than people who take notes longhand using pen and paper. (As an aside, Maggy McGloin, an editorial intern at HBR, wrote the piece. There is hope for the future.)

The second was a post by one of my co-workers, Elizabeth Dehn, on her blog, Beauty Bets. In “Put Down Your iPhone,” Liz says there’s no reason to be on her phone when she’s with loved ones, and her sole responsibility is to be “present” in the moment with those around her. There’s no reason her reasoning can’t apply in business.

With those pieces reinforcing how important it is to listen at meetings along with lessons I’ve learned from untold numbers of useless meetings, here’s what I think brands should expect from their content marketing agencies when they get together and talk content marketing strategy. Think of it as a brand’s content marketing bill of rights:

  1. The content marketing agency should prepare an agenda for the meeting, including the primary goals to be accomplished
  2. The content marketing agency representatives should come prepared for the meeting, including reading and understanding all the background documents supplied by the brand prior to the meeting
  3. The representatives should come to the meeting prepared with questions to ask the brand based on prior conversations and the supplied background documents
  4. The representatives should give their full attention to the brand executives and managers during the meeting (not checking messages, texts or e-mails on their smartphones or tablets)
  5. If it helps the representatives give their full attention to the brand executives and managers at the meeting, they should consider taking notes from the meeting longhand with pen and paper, not their laptops or tablets, to improve their retention of salient points, as the research suggested.
  6. If the meeting is to be transcribed, that function should be assigned to a support staff member from the content marketing agency and done on a laptop or tablet
  7. The representatives should provide the brand with a summary of the meeting, including important next steps in the development or execution of the content marketing strategy or proposal
  8. It’s reasonable for the brand to expect one, maybe two rounds of follow-up questions from the agency, which often is referred to as “discovery” (more than two is a red flag and a sign that someone is not listening or asking the right questions)
  9. It’s reasonable for the brand to expect the agency’s recommendations to reflect what was discussed at the meeting plus some additional thoughts and ideas the brand may not have considered (if the recommendations are way off the mark, it’s a big red flag that the agency representatives weren’t listening)
  10. And it’s reasonable for the brand to expect the agency to provide its recommendations or proposal at or before the brand’s deadline. If no deadline is set, a brand should expect to see something in no more than two weeks. (Not sending something because a brand hasn’t asked for it yet is another red flag.)

Brands will tell content marketing agencies what they want if the agencies pay attention and take the time to listen.

Want help with your brand’s content marketing needs? MSPC can help. Contact us today.

Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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