Content Warning

The Marketing Agency Onus: When the Client Does the Writing

The Marketing Agency Onus: When the Client Does the Writing. Your job is to turn that copy into the best marketing asset that it can be.

Warning: this is going to sound really bad. It’s going to sound like I don’t think clients are capable of writing. There’s only a tad bit of truth in that. You see, when it comes to content marketing strategies and marketing copy, I think clients don’t really know what they’re saying when they say they want to write their own copy.

While there are people who will argue, I firmly believe that content, in its many forms, is the most important part of each project. It’s how your client connects with their audience to get their messages across. Unfortunately, not everyone is good at creating their own content (even though they may think so) and that can lead to missing out on great success.

Four Reasons Clients Want to Make Their Own Content

When I first started in this business, I wondered why, if someone were hiring me to do their marketing, would they not utilize the skillset of a writer to write their copy. Over the years, I’ve uncovered four big reasons. If you can think of another, feel free to share in the comments.

  1. They’re looking for a cost effective solution. If you aren’t writing the copy, you aren’t going to charge them, are you? To the client, this translates to a bigger bang for the buck. They only have to pay where they feel they need you.
  2. They’re looking for help to refine their content marketing skills. They believe that have what it takes if only they had a little guidance. Tada – welcome to being the guidance.
  3. They don’t trust anyone. Some clients just don’t trust other people to write for them. Whether they’ve tried this route before and just didn’t like the results, or have an instinctive distrust for marketers of all kinds, there is no way they’re going to put someone else’s copy up on their site.
  4. The subject matter is too technical for someone else to write. Although this is seldom really the case, I have come across some instances in my professional lifetime. Occasionally, the subject matter takes knowledge that you just can’t get from a book – you have to have experienced it, or at the very least have a long discovery and research process with your client.

In all of these situations, the client does the writing. Therefore, you end up with this kind of hybrid deal, where you come up with the marketing strategy and the client tries to write for it.

Red Line

Walking the Thin Red Line

Here’s where being a marketer can get really sticky. I mean, the client is holding your team responsible for the success of their current marketing endeavors, but you don’t have complete control over what content goes out and to where. This raises the probability percentage for bad content.

Because sometimes, bad content does happen. If you’re in a hybrid marketing deal, bad content usually happens for one of two reasons:

  1. You and the client aren’t working together.
  2. The client has decided to take on the challenge by themselves.

First, if you’re in a hybrid marketing deal where you create the strategy, the client creates the content, and you just… tweak it… you should have a contract that outlines such.

Second, if your client is demanding that they do the writing, proceed with caution. As I mentioned before, your agency is going to be held responsible for the outcome of said content, even if you aren’t writing it. This is a less than optimal situation, but one that comes up often enough to have a separate “if you write your own content” clause in your marketing contract.

Of course, this doesn’t stop you from telling your client that the path they’ve chosen is one fraught with danger and is, ultimately, a course of action doomed to crash and burn like the Hindenburg, but then you get to work trying to stop that from happening.

However, before you hop into a job like this, there are a few things that should happen as soon as the client says, “Hey, you know… I can write…”


Who’s Going to Do What?

Poor content is worse than no content at all. Helping your client understand the importance of the content creation process, and content marketing in general, is essential in a hybrid endeavor. Take the time to explain how tightly knit content assets are, and how you need to connect all the dots. Then, ask a few questions, such as:

  • We will need at least four blog posts per month. Who in your company will be accountable for writing them?
  • We may need whitepapers and/or other marketing material. Do you have writers with experience in writing information assets?
  • Will you be able to work with us in building an editorial calendar?
  • If the client is doing the writing: Do you have at least 6 hours a week to dedicate to writing?
  • Will you create landing pages if needed?

While these questions may seem a little snooty to some, to others, they make a lot of sense. Creating content strategies, creating the content itself, and marketing the content takes a whole heck of a lot of time. It takes a set of skills that many just don’t have. After all, that’s why we do what we do and they do what they do, n’est–ce pas?

Content Comes First

Keeping in mind that content comes first will help set the long-term goal of it always being the most important thing. The content will be able to continually get better as time goes on – as long as it stays as the main focus. Keeping this in mind will also result in consistent content. Clients who aren’t professional writers may have trouble adapting to certain styles of writing or being able to switch between tones, and having a writer who can do that will make the content a lot better for the audience to read.

While I have seen some clients create work that is on par with the better copywriters, this is far from the norm. More often than not, the content is riddled with errors and sales talk. Stressing the importance of content on your clients will hopefully help them to understand why getting assistance in creating it can make for a better project. By working together, the content can be great and give the client exactly what they need to be successful with their audiences.

Level343 Marketing

Remember the Benefits of Using a Marketing Agency

When you have a client that hires your marketing agency for only part of the job that you’re used to doing all of, it can be hard to remember that there are benefits to hiring your services. There are benefits, however, and your client will quickly learn them.

Your job is to optimize their content. Take their content and make it beautiful. Make it friendly. Make it a pleasure to read. Your job is to turn that copy into the best marketing asset that it can be.

And if you can’t, let us do it for you.

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