Content Marketing Blog

Why your marketing proposal needs content marketing

When an agency marketing proposal arrives into your inbox, things can go one of two ways.

At your fingertips could be the Holy Grail – a thoroughly researched, well put together plan that may well unlock the door to digital marketing success for your company. Alternatively, you might be about to embark on a long hour of your life that you’ll never get back.

In this article we’ll help you separate the wheat from the chaff. We’ll talk about why marketing proposals are important, what they should contain and why content marketing needs to be at their heart.

It's useful to ask content marketing agencies to provide a marketing proposal.

It’s worth sifting through all those marketing proposals to find one that could spell success for your company.

Why are marketing proposals important?

Outsourcing some, or all, of your digital marketing efforts to an agency can be a great way to bring in expertise, while simultaneously reducing your own to-do list.

However, one potential problem stands in your way. You don’t know this agency, and they don’t know you (well, actually, they should have done their homework – but more on that later).

Marketing proposals, therefore, exist to bridge this gap. They allow marketers to communicate their ideas to you, prior to any contract being signed.

They also enable you to get an idea of how the relationship will work by providing details on delivery timeframes, costs and the scope of what they will be doing.

The key benefit of a marketing proposal, therefore, is that it shows whether an agency’s approach is in line with your overall strategy or whether it’s just a stab in the dark.

What are the key elements of a marketing proposal?

If you’re being inundated with more marketing proposals than you can eat, a quick way to cull the non-starters is to seek out a few essential features (providing they’ve been kind enough to supply a contents page).

1. Background research

If it’s not obvious in the proposal that the agency has taken the time to research your business, and the industry at large, this is a big red flag.

While you can’t expect them to know every last detail of how your company operates at this stage, will they be able to offer you any real value if they haven’t done this basic work?

Among the elements that should be included in this section are:

  • Your target audience.
  • Current, and predicted future trends in your industry.
  • As a result of the above, topics you should be addressing.
  • The products or services you offer.

You could also expect some questions here, to help the agency deepen their understanding. For example:

  • What resources do you have in house?
  • What are your biggest marketing challenges?
  • What has worked well for you in the past?

2. Scope of the work

Marketing proposals should set expectations on both sides. Crucial to this is understanding exactly what work the agency will be performing on your behalf.

Different agencies will have varying resources. For example, some may focus on strategy and content production, while others may specialise in amplification through social media. Then there will be others still who provide the whole kit and kaboodle – taking your campaigns from start to finish.

To ensure you don’t run into any roadblocks down the track, check the marketing proposal carefully to ensure the agency in question can provide everything you need them to.

3. Timeframes for deliverables

A common reason for looking to a marketing agency is to take some of the weight off your shoulders.

However, as you won’t be able to physically tap these guys on the shoulder to see how they’re getting on, you need to establish timeframes for deliverables.

The agency should make it clear to you in their marketing proposal how long they require to complete their assignments. This can be a great point of comparison when trying to choose between competing organisations.

However, be wary of proposals that promise the earth when it comes to timeframes. If they’re claiming  to be able to do similar work to other agencies but much, much quicker, they may find it hard to keep their promises, or could rush the job.

As we’ll see in the next section, digital marketing these days is much more about quality than quantity.

4. Budgeting information

Ultimately, your decision is likely to come down to which agency is offering the best value. Different companies will have different ways of pricing their services, they could include:

  • By ‘unit’ of work – eg, per 100 words for a blog article.
  • By the hour – this can be common for graphic work, where it’s harder to quantify work into units.

Our advice here is to shop around. While it can be time consuming to read proposal after proposal, finding a good price will give you a much better chance of getting a good return on investment (ROI).

5. Analysis metrics

Speaking of ROI, you should ensure that the proposal makes clear how the agency plans to report on the results of the campaign.

How this works in practice will depend on the nature of the work the agency is doing, but commonly will involve using tools such as Google Analytics and/or social media insights to track user behaviour.

Reviewing this information will help you decide whether the strategy has been successful, and if you want to work with this agency again in the future.

The importance of content marketing to a marketing proposal

Under the scope of work section, look out for two words in particular – ‘content marketing’.

These days, content marketing should be at the core of a marketing proposal. Here’s why:

1. Your customers expect it

The digital age has given marketers so many opportunities to research, listen to and engage with their target audience.

However, this is a two-way street. Your potential customers have more power than ever to read-up on and compare businesses’ offerings before investing their money.

As a result, the sales cycle has become elongated, according to Deloitte’s Consumer Review. In practice, this means businesses have to work harder to persuade consumers to shop with them.

Content marketing can help solve this problem in a number of ways:

Creating trust among your target market:

Research from PwC shows more than one-in-three consumers claim trust in brand is important in influencing where they shop.

Content marketing allows you to build this trust through thought-leading pieces that combine industry authority with a demonstrated knowledge of consumer pain points.

Learning more about your audience:

How do you know what will resonate with your audience? By producing, and analysing, content.

What are people engaging with? How can you fill value vacuums based on popular industry-relevant searches? This information can help in the creation of user personas that will be of use to everyone in your marketing department.

2. It helps you reach more people

How times have changed since paid advertising ruled supreme in the world of digital marketing.

Today, 25 per cent of Australians use ad blockers, according to IAB – meaning you need to get a little more creative if you want to get your message in front of people.

Through content marketing, you’re killing two birds with one stone. You get the opportunity to market to people at the point at which they’re looking for services like yours (i.e. when they type a relevant query into Google), and you get to provide them with value that will hopefully push them to the next stages of the sales funnel.

3. It feeds into your other marketing efforts

If you think content marketing = blogging. Prepare to think again.

As well as allowing you to learn about your target audience, the content you produce can be used to improve many different arms of your marketing strategy.

For example, while getting your brand on social media is a great first step towards self-promotion, you need content that will make your posts appealing.

On Facebook, video is the king of engagement, according to Buzzsumo, while custom images boasting stats fair well on LinkedIn. Great content tailored to a specific platform can be invaluable to your social media marketing.

4. Because your competition is already doing it

An enormous 85 per cent of Australian businesses are already taking advantage of content marketing, shows a 2018 report from The Content Marketing Institute and The Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA).

85 per cent of Australian businesses are already taking advantage of content marketing.

Content marketing is a trend that isn’t going to go away, and if your audience can find value in a competitor’s site that they can’t find in yours, you’re in trouble.

5. Because it works

There’s a reason why 61 per cent of marketers say growing their organic presence and improving their SEO is their number one inbound priority (Hubspot, 2018). It’s because content marketing works.

A separate Hubspot report showed that, compared to those that don’t, businesses with blogs have:

  • 434 per cent more indexed pages.
  • 55 per cent more visitors.
  • 97 per cent more inbound links.

By maximising your inbound leads you make life so much easier (and cheaper!) for yourself, and content marketing is integral in doing this.

To recap

Marketing proposals are a crucially important element in forming a productive relationship with a content marketing agency. They allow you to ensure this third party will be up to the job, as well as setting expectations both sides.

Hopefully this article has provided you with the fundamentals of what to look out for in a marketing proposal, and highlighted why you should be cautious of any plans that omit content marketing from their suggestions.

Now, stop procrastinating – go and read that proposal!

The importance of compelling content in social media success

Al Hall
Al Hall About the author