These are my personal opinions, observations and tips that have been honed and refined over this past year. They are part of my overall philosophy of incorporating social media into an agency’s new business program.
Social media “teaches” agencies to promote themselves the way they should have been doing it all along. Agencies need a differentiated and appealing position to a particular target audience. The should always lead with the benefits to their target audience rather than agency capabilities. By enlarging the agency’s online footprint they can be found by their best prospective clients that match up with the core strengths of the agency.
Through social media, you build relationships, trust and a position of expertise. People always prefer to work with people that they know and trust. Through an agency blog your audience gets to know you and your agency. They have an opportunity to check under the hood, kick the tires, examine the upholstery on their own timetable. When the need arises, when they are ready to do business, prospective clients will even initiate the call. Your initial conversation is going to be much further down the road than if you had made a cold call. The prospective client is ready to engage you, ready to do business.
The central platform for developing new business through social media is an agency blog. As important as it was for your agency to have a website it is becoming essential that your agency have a blog. Your agency’s website is becoming more like an online static brochure. A blog provides better SEO, fresh content rich content, is more personable, easier to update, provides a reason for your prospective clients to visit often.
The following 10 tips are my suggestions for creating an ad agency new blog with the objective of generating new business for small-to midsize agencies. These are some of the lessons that I’ve learned that I hope will be of help to you.
1. I recommend that you do not incorporate your blog into your agency’s website
Most agency blogs that are incorporated into their agency’s website, in my opinion, look too corporate and less personal. If it is tied into your agency’s website and branding it immediately constricted and has no room to breathe and grow. As you build your online community, your blog will evolve from your own personal enrichment and growth by having a narrower focus to a particular target audience. It will also be enhanced through the feedback received from your audience and from a depth of information gleaned from your blogs analytics. You will come to better understand your audience and, what topics and posts they are most attracted to that in turn generates more traffic.
These are two examples of relatively new ad agency blogs that are following this philosophy:
- She-conomy – A Guy’s Guide to Marketing to Women
- ParkHowell – Creating a Deeper Shade of Green Marketing
2. The agency’s blog should be reflective of the agency’s principals
Agency principals are the least likely to leave the agency. If you lose a staff member you can also lose a portion of your audience. Plus prospective clients always want to know how involved the agency owners will be with their account. You are the visionary of the agency. The only way you are going to “get” social media is to participate. If it isn’t a priority for you it wont be for your agency.
The Ad Contrarian is an example of a an agency’s blog that is reflective of the agency’s CEO, Bob Hoffman. There are others who contribute ideas and resources for his blog and even provide guest posts, but there is not doubt that it is Bob’s blog and is reflective of his personality.
3. Keep the design simple.
I would recommend that you utilize WordPress, TypePad, Blogger blog platforms. My favorite is WordPress. Remember that it’s content that is king. Keep the design clean, simple and easy to maneuver . If you want to slooowww down the process involve your creative and digital staff! You should be able to have your blog up and running in a matter of hours not days, weeks or months.
4. Own your domain name
If you ever want to change blog platforms you can easily do so without losing traffic if you own your domain name. Instead of a blog address like www.fuelingnewbusiness.com I own the URLs www.michaelgass.com and www.fuelingnewbusiness.com. I began blogging through Blogger before making the switch to WordPress.
5. Before you begin to write learn to listen
Learn from the early adopters of social media. You need to know about social media etiquette, understand the importance of transparency and motive when using emerging media. Ad agencies have a tougher and sometimes rougher beginning with social media. I find that even digital shops struggle with its use. PR firms tend to “get it” quickly because social media is most like the work they are use to.
Chris Brogan was a huge help to me when I first started blogging. Here are a few of his articles that will be of help to you too: 10 Best Resource Articles for Ad Agency Blogs.
With an open mind and a willingness to learn it wont take long to get a feel for how to write your blog posts. You’ll learn lessons like writing for SEO so that your articles can be found by your best target audience. Copywriters tend to have the most difficult time making the transition from writing for print to writing for a blog. It doesn’t matter how great your article is or how clever the post title if your audience can’t find it.
6. Develop creative brief for your blog
This will provide clear direction for the “tone-ality” of your blog and keep you focused on your primary objectives. Identify your target audience. My good friend Scott Nelson, president of Nelson Creative, has a excellent outline for a creative brief that you can easily adapt for your blog.
7. Create an outline for your blog
I actually created an outline for a book regarding ad agency new business and have used that outline for my blog. After over a year of writing I have almost 300 blog post and drafts. I have a clear focus and direction for my blog. I know the specific categories that I am writing to. Having an outline has been a tremendous time saver.
8. Keep a list of blog post ideas
I keep a Word document on my laptop’s desktop with a running list of ideas. Checking through the list I have over 100 possible topics, subjects, examples, tools, tips, current trends, resources, etc.
I religiously check my blog analytics to see what posts generate the most traffic. You learn a lot as you see what key words were used that led others to your blog site.
When I’m reading the RSS feeds of blogs I have subscribed to I get new ideas daily that I can incorporate into my blog.
9. Set a goal for the number of posts to write per week
I saw a dramatic change in my blog traffic and audience interaction after I reached my first 50 posts. I encourage agency’s to get to fifty within the first thirty to sixty days. It establishes a habit for writing and helps them to find their voice. Beyond this initial phase I encourage agency’s to keep fresh content on their blog by making it a goal to posts at least five times per week. That doesn’t mean that you are providing all original content for each post that you write. I usually recommend that one post per week be original content, other blog post are highlighting other information, resources, research that will be of help to your target audience.
10. Repurpose your blog content
Working with agency principals I have them do one thing – write. If they will provide the content anyone can be trained to repurpose that content online such as email newsletters that take only minutes to assemble, EzineArticles, PR releases of opinion pieces, white papers, ebooks, etc.
Having written over 250 blog posts I have lots of material that I can use in many other ways. Using tools like Twitter, even my older posts are constantly being introduced to new people. The content has a much greater shelf life than even magazines.
I checked my analytics for my blog last night and had over 1,127 page views. Most of the traffic was referred to blog posts on my site through Twitter. I now have over 2,000 followers on Twitter. It’s fairly easy for lots of my post to become viral and passed on to others. One my post yesterday generated 521 hits as it was passed on by other Twitter users.
As you’ve read this piece you are perhaps thinking, this is great, something else for me to do and I’m swamped already.
I’m reminded of a blog post title that I came across yesterday, ““Social media is scary. Not doing social media is scarier – iMediaConnection.com” within a few minutes someone Twittered me this article title
Hopefully enough said.
Additional articles that may be of interest:
- Top 25 Reasons Why Ad Agencies Should Start a Blog
- Top Ten Reasons Your Ad Agency Should Blog
- Q and A: Using Social Media for Ad Agency New Business
- How to Get Started Using Social Media for Ad Agency New Business