The very first step to setting up a successful content engagement must include getting a seat at the client kick-off or discovery meeting. This is often easier said than done, but we can’t stress enough how crucial it is to the lasting success of any engagement, and especially a content marketing one.
It’s a rare opportunity when the stars align and many, if not all, of the key decision makers are in one room, and as content marketers, we can’t afford NOT to be there. You’re able to hear first hand opinions about what makes the business tick, what pain points are, and hopefully some more interesting pieces about high level goals, hopes, or dreams. For a content creator, it’s a gold mine of the kind of background and detail we can’t — or at least shouldn’t — live without.
So once you get a seat at the coveted table, you’ll want to do your best to make it worth your while. But what exactly is the best way to do that? Beyond simply being an active-listening, note-taking sponge, there are a few key questions you can ask that, if you get an honest answer, can make your life dramatically easier.
We’ve outlined a few of them here, and the rationale behind them.
Key Content Marketing Questions To Ask
- Question: What’s your version of success?
This can, and should be tailored to the business, so for example, if you’re dealing with a hotel the question might take a shape like this: What do you most want your website to do for guests?
A great follow up to this is always:
- How will you know if you’ve achieved it?
Why we ask it: We can make a lot of assumptions about what business owners want from their websites, but until we hear the answer right out of the owner or CEO’s mouth, we will always be guessing just a little bit.
- Question: Who is in charge of publishing site content or updates?
Why we ask it: We can do loads of great work, but if it never sees the light of day our efforts are wasted. Ask this early so you can make nice with whoever holds the keys to the website and be intentional about investing in that relationship.
- Question: How are you different from your competitors?
Why we ask it: This is another scenario where, as agency-side partners, we’re often prone to making assumptions based on our scope research. If we’ve poked around competing websites and compared it with the client’s site, we tend to feel like we have a pretty good understanding of what they’re going for in terms of competitive advantage. Maybe it’s price, maybe it’s service — but we won’t know until we ask, and we certainly won’t get the whys and hows behind that. And this doesn’t always mean that a website is saying what the CEO or the Marketing Manager thinks it’s saying. This is one of the primary drivers of content marketing dissonance we’ve come across. Nipping it in the bud early by asking, and continually checking in on this question, can go a long way to keeping all of the messaging, both traditional and digital, aligned.
- Question: What tracking do you use on the site, and who configures it?
Why we ask it: Chances are this will have come up at other points along the client discovery process, but in case it hasn’t, this is your moment to make sure you have a way to access the data you need to evaluate and improve site performance.
It’s also your gateway into starting the custom content tracking conversation, which can be one of the single most important factors in demonstrating your skill and effectiveness as a content marketer/strategist/copywriter/etc. Know your content and the person in charge of setting up a dashboard for it in Google Analytics, and you’re in a position to be able to demonstrate success where merited, or make a data-driven case for changing things that aren’t working.
There are plenty of other content marketing kickoff questions you can, and should ask, these are just a few of the most crucial ones we always have top of mind. And the answers to these questions should inform not just your content strategy and copywriting, but other channels like paid media ad copy, email content, and social campaigns. It’s not just the content marketer who benefits from a seat at this table, it’s all branches of the marketing and development teams.
Further reading on successful content marketing kick off meetings: