Creative Commons image by James Stencilowsky.

Let’s say, as a business or nonprofit, you have $2000 a month to invest in your content marketing efforts. You go shopping for quotes from a couple of content marketing agencies.

Agency A immediately sends you a “product sheet” offering you a package of 20 or 25 blog posts for your budget, along with a contract outlining their terms of communication, their revision policies, and any other boilerplate terms. When you ask about who will be writing the pieces, the company is vague, or simply mentions that they have a “highly qualified pool of content providers.”

When you contact Agency B, the principal offers you the chance to talk on the phone about your project, your proposed budget, and your marketing goals. When she sends over a proposal a couple of days later, it includes bios for well-established freelance writers with expertise in your subject area who would be working on the project. However, it only allows for half as many content pieces.

So do you choose Agency A or B? Not to sound like an Upworthy headline, but the answer may surprise you.

(If you guessed B, nice work.)

So why would you choose the company that will only give you half as much content?

Credibility counts.

If a company won’t give you any information about its writers and their background, that should be cause for concern. If they aren’t properly vetting their team, they could be hiring amateur writers who make egregious errors in fact-checking—leading to embarrassment for your brand. If Agency B’s budget is going towards paying experienced freelance journalists, it’s money well spent, even if it doesn’t buy as much.

You can get far more mileage out of high-quality writing.

Pay a writer $10 for an article, and it won’t be any more satisfying than the fast-food meal you could get for that same money. But if you buy the equivalent of a good steak dinner—filled with well-researched, thought-provoking content—it’ll go a lot further.

For instance, with our own blog posts, we often syndicate our content to several high-quality, high-authority sites including Business2Community, CustomerThink, and LinkedIn, getting thousands of extra article views and added recognition for our brand. If we outsourced our content to the lowest bidder, our posts would not be accepted for reprint by such established sites. We’ve also ghostwritten articles for our clients that have been published on VentureBeat, Forbes.com, and other industry-leading sites, helping them reach millions of potential new clients. Even if you don’t care about quality content for your own site, many other publishers do, and only certain articles meet most sites’ strict syndication standards.

The SEO game has changed.

Remember the days when you could rule Google simply by creating dozens of content pieces based around the same set of keywords? Those days have long since passed, as evidenced by the dramatic fall of content farm Demand Media—now creating shareable content that generates natural links from other highly regarded sites is what’ll get you the SEO juice you’re craving. Create good content, promote it to relevant audiences, and you’ll see others start to take notice and link to you. As a result, your search rankings will improve. No Black Hat tricks here.

Content is not a one-size-fits-all industry.

Be wary of firms that claim they can develop blog content or white papers for you using only a set of keywords provided by you. Your content marketing should be a reflection of your brand voice—and if your writers don’t understand your brand at all, they’re not likely to do a good job portraying what you’re about.

Even if you don’t have a content budget at all, the same principle applies. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have time to blog every day, or even once a week. You might be tempted to phone it in with a dashed-off piece, but don’t. Setting aside the time to write two or three engaging, opinionated pieces per month will help you showcase your own voice to your customers and prospects, and can go a long way towards building your brand.

If you don’t have the time, outsourcing can be a great option—but only if you choose an agency that will take the time to recognize what you have to offer, and can build a package to accommodate your needs.

This article is syndicated from Eucalypt Media’s content marketing blog, Evergreen.