To answer that question, I want to take you on a short trip down memory lane.
Earlier this autumn at HubSpot’s INBOUND conference, the IMPACT team took to the exhibit hall floor wearing t-shirts boldly proclaiming “The agency model is broken.”
"Wait, what? Isn't IMPACT an agency?"
After years of following the standard content models, IMPACT realized that we weren’t empowering our clients by having them source their content to anyone other than themselves, including us.
Director of Events and Community Stephanie Baiocchi models IMPACT's new mantra at #INBOUND19
For years, we had been working with clients to develop content strategies to drive business, but the content itself was largely produced by people outside the client organization, either by freelancers or by IMPACT.
This is how most marketing agencies still operate — planning, writing, and producing content marketing materials for their clients. Some other agencies do a mix, helping build strategy with clients who are equipped with internal writers and writing content for those clients who need it.
That traditional model creates a cycle of dependency, wherein a company (like yours) is forever beholden to their agency to achieve their biggest, hairiest, and most audacious digital sales and marketing goals.
So, over the past several months, we at IMPACT made the decision to operate in a third category — one where we teach our clients how to hire a content manager and produce 100% of their own assets.
That meant that we had to break a few eggs, ruffle a few feathers, and, yes, embark on an equal amount of soul-searching and restructuring.
From teams who guide strategies to those who act as virtual content production staff, here are 11 agencies obsessed with content marketing.
Brafton is a full-service content marketing agency that started in 1988 and now has offices in North America, Australia, and New Zealand.
With a focus on both content creation and content strategy, Brafton explains how it works with its clients in its mission statement: “We tell your story in a way that will resonate with your audience through all the right channels. Our holistic services allow us to craft a highly specialized strategy that targets your unique needs and pain points.”
The team writes and designs case studies, blog articles, email, white papers, and other types of content that support an overall marketing strategy. The agency also maintains a blog devoted to all things content, a jam-packed resources center, and the “Above the Fold” podcast.
The team at Brandpoint uses the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) to structure its content marketing process into four components: evaluate, plan, create, measure and optimize.
As such, Brandpoint works with its clients from start to finish, partnering with them to create, design, and distribute full content solutions.
What’s unique about them, however, is that in 2015, Brandpoint launched BrandpointHUB, its exclusive SaaS content marketing platform that streamlines the creation and collaboration process.
"Brandpoint has created millions of pieces of content for our clients since 1996," explains Scott Severson, Brandpoint president.
"To manage all that content efficiently, we developed and perfected our own proprietary workflow software. BrandpointHUB takes that successful internal platform, builds on it, and offers it to users who want to streamline their own content marketing practice – from planning, creating and reviewing all types of content to publishing it and measuring results.”
3. Column Five
Column Five is a creative content agency based in Costa Mesa, CA, with a satellite office in Brooklyn, NY. It was started in 2008 and now has a staff of more than 40 people.
The team at Column Five creates all types of content, along with web development, brand strategy, data visualization, and more, but it is most known for interactive design and they literally wrote the book on infographics.
“By operating as an extension of your team,” says the Column Five site, “we focus on creating high-quality, consistent, and on-brand content, and scale our efforts based on your business needs.”
4. Content Harmony
As the website says, at Content Harmony their “specialty is producing and promoting targeted content through SEO, email outreach, and paid media.”
Content Harmony was founded in 2009 in Seattle, but now has a fully remote staff distributed all over the US.
Along with managed content services, Content Harmony has beta launched content marketing software that streamlines the content research process, with full launch is planned before the end of 2019.
The agency also gained Clutch Research’s Top SEO Firms, Top Content Marketing Agencies, and Top Digital Marketing Agencies accolades in 2017.
5. Eucalypt Media
Eucalypt Media has been developing content strategy and materials for leading brands since 2006.
Based in Jacksonville, FL, the agency touts employing veteran writers, editors, designers, and videographers to create content assets and build strategies for their clients.
Founder Kathryn Hawkins is a frequent contributor to Inc. online, and the agency was awarded Top Corporate Communications PR Firm and Marketing and Advertising Global Leader by Clutch Research in 2018.
Headquartered in Delray Beach, FL, with offices in Leeds, UK, Fractl is a 100-person agency that’s been in business for six years.
Its content creation includes interactive content, data journalism, video, infographics, blogs, and case studies. The agency stands out by also conducting in-depth research in the field of content, including why content is consumed and what makes content newsworthy.
"We craft content for those who want to discover the world around them,” says Meg Piedmont, Account Manager at Fractl. “Unlike content producers that favor comfort and rely on algorithms, we set the standard for new and innovative campaigns that prompt important conversations."
7. Influence & Co.
Missouri-based Influence & Co. serves its clients by combining a full-service content team, publication relationships, and proprietary content marketing software that streamlines collaboration and performance tracking. The result is a holistic approach to content marketing and PR services.
As the Influence & Co. website describes: “We’ve developed a tried‑and‑true process that allows us to work alongside your marketing team to develop authentic content on a consistent basis that accomplishes your unique goals — saving your company time and money along the way and allowing you to focus on your business.”
Influence & Co. has been a Content Marketing Award Agency of the Year finalist three of the past five years and has been listed in the Inc. 500/0 list of Fastest Growing Companies the last four years running.
Scripted matches freelance writers to organizations in need of growing their content arsenals on a membership basis. A monthly fee buys companies into the opportunity to order content from quality writers and includes perks like revisions and content review.
From there, each piece is purchased on a per-project basis, though Scripted guarantees members only pay for content they love.
Scripted’s Writing Staff for Enterprises service includes complete content marketing strategy, content creation, account management, and analytics and has been used by companies as renowned as LinkedIn, L’Oreal, and Eventbrite.
9. Spear Marketing Group
Spear offers a full suite of marketing services, including account-based marketing, content creation, email marketing, and lead nurturing. The agency has 14 organizations in its partner network, including autopilot, Engagio, and Marketo.
The agency started in 2009 and is based in Walnut Creek, CA, with satellite offices in Huntington Beach, CA, and Seattle.
“Our team is more of a strategic partner and often an extension of the in-house marketing staff,” says the website. “In these scenarios, we contribute not just to the development and execution of individual programs, but also the planning, development, and roll-out of entire campaigns.”
Talenthouse fills the gap for organizations looking to complete their content strategy with creative assets by connecting brands with what it calls the “largest on-demand creative community in the world.”
Based in West Hollywood, CA, Talenthouse works with brands and creative talent from 175 countries and specializes in packaging design, social media assets, fan art, live art installations/workshops, branded video content and ideation.
Verblio is unique in that it provides subscription expert blog and content writing services to companies that need extra writing support. What’s unique about Verblio’s approach is exactly how writers are matched to projects.
At Verblio, projects are submitted via their platform to a pool of writers and the writers choose what they want to work on, submitting drafts of custom content.
Clients then select — and only pay for — what they want to use. Writers also have access to all feedback you’ve given on other projects, so they can tailor writing to your preferences. Subscriptions are set on a monthly basis and can scale up or down, depending on how many words are needed per month. Extra services such as SEO optimization, proofreading, and photo selection can be added to the monthly plan.
Verblio Complete services include a HubSpot Inbound-certified account manager and all premium offerings.
Note: We love the folks at Verblio. They’ve even sponsored content on our site from time to time, but they didn't pay us to put them on this list — we just think they belong here.
How to handle your content
The content you offer your prospects and customers reflects on what type of company you are. Are you helpful? Can you be trusted? Are you an authority in your industry?
Content marketing is a powerful strategy, and the tone you set with your agency can have a lasting effect on it.