Increase your capacity and plan your way to stellar content with three tips for hiring externally
An external content marketing strategist can give your company a critical fresh perspective when launching a big initiative or surmounting a major hurdle. But knowing you’ve found the right strategist for your project can be tough. These tips will arm you with the things to look for when you’re next hiring a strategist, and ensure your engagement is a successful one.
The most important word in “Content Marketing Strategist” is strategist.
Since the dawn of the digital revolution, scores of dedicated content marketing agencies and freelancers have cropped up. A lot of them will tell you they can provide you with a strategy, but beware surface-level tactics (“we’ll post on social media three times a week!”) masquerading as transformative strategic thinking.
A good strategist will dig deep. They’ll discover your communications problems, research your known and unknown audience niches, identify and hone your key messaging, and only then will get into the tactical decisions. To turn to metaphor, your content strategy is the road map and destination, not the number of gas stations you have to stop at along the way.
Look for outcomes, not outputs, in their previous work.
When you’re in talks with a content marketing strategist, it goes without a doubt that the conversation will turn to work they’ve done with other clients. When they’re discussing a previous engagement, pay attention to how they define its results. Hint: deliverables aren’t results!
A seasoned, professional strategist will describe their work in terms of the positive business outcomes it had for the client. Maybe they became more recognized in their category, or their customer retention rate went up: whatever it is, it should speak to the “why” of creating content in the first place.
A values and personality fit is still important.
Depending on the nature of your campaign or ongoing content needs, your strategist is likely to be in contact with several of your team members from different departments, like marketing, brand, or public relations. Even though an external strategist isn’t the same thing as a full-time hire, making sure they mesh with your team personality-wise is essential. You’ll be spending a lot of time together, so bring in a cross-section of your team to meet with the strategist in advance of the hire, and take their opinions into account.
Don’t be afraid to ask your strategist about their own values, too – how they approach their work and what they seek to get out of it. Whether or not they completely embody your company’s values is irrelevant – you’re looking to see if they have a point of view and that they understand that you have one, too.
It can be nerve-racking bringing an outsider into your fold, but the rewards are worth the risks if you leverage these tips towards hiring the right strategist for you.