Why most agencies may be ready to ditch their blog and why they shouldn’t.
Jack Marshall, a staff writer for Digiday wrote an article that is creating lots of buzz entitled, “Agencies Ditch Blogs.” He points to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, that reveals that only 37% of Fortune 500 companies now maintain a blog. That is down from 50% that was reported in 2010.
Jack makes an assumption that this is that this is probably true of advertising agencies:
“It seems there’s a similar trend among agencies. Though many sporadically maintain blogs to highlight things like awards, hires and news, some have opted to abandon them altogether, recognizing that more often than not they do little to enhance their brand or image.”
Jack provides a couple of quotes from agencies to help back up his assumption. One in particular from, Sam Weston, director of communications at digital agency Huge seems to have sparked a good debate. Sam says,
“Nobody reads agency blogs, and there are so many out there it’s impossible for people to keep up anyway. We put ours on hiatus while we figure out what we want to do with it. We do use Facebook and Twitter. We’ve figured out what works for us there.”
I wouldn’t disagree with Jack’s assumption nor would I disagree with the Huge agency’s decision to put their blog on hiatus until they figure out what to do with it. I think that is probably the sentiment of a good number of advertising, digital, media and public relations agencies. But I also believe probably they didn’t get the process right from the start.
Blogging the right way:
- Allows an agency to be more narrowly niched without the risk
- Provides a better focus for new business
- 24/7 top-of-mind awareness without interruption tactics, such as cold calling
- Pre-qualifies prospects
- Networking on steroids and increase in referrals
- Win business without having to pitch
- Eliminates the dating process
- Consistent new business pipeline that is sustainable when the agency is at its busiest
- A greater market area, with the potential for national and international new business opportunities
- A positioning of expertise that allows charging higher premiums and working with fewer clients that are a better match
Agencies were late even getting into social media. Most agencies didn’t get in until 2010. Then they literally “jumped in” with little to show for their time and effort. It takes more than a completed check-list for having an agency blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to have any kind of success.
The “typical” agency blog has:
- No plan
- No objective
- No target audience
- No integration
- No consistency
- No value (self promotional)
- No traffic
Could this be why “nobody reads agency blogs?”
A blog provides agencies the perfect platform to create a niche that is appealing to a specific target audience, have a clear point of differentiation from their competition and a position of expertise. Agency owners know they need this kind of focus, but most are afraid to drive that stake in the ground. A blog allows an agency to be much more narrowly niched without the risks.
A blog has been the central hub of my social media strategy from the beginning. I write in an ‘evergreen’ way so that my articles have a long ‘shelf-life’. Posts that I have written five years ago continue to generate traffic and provide a tremendous return on my time investment.
I’ve found success by consistently providing helpful “reader-centric” content. You must be willing to give to receive. I do something that is counter intuitive to the way we tend to think as agencies. I give my thinking away. Yet, in doing so, it powers my new business. Self promotional content will lessen your appeal and negatively impact new business. Readers don’t care about the new creative director you’ve hired or the Best of Show Addy Award you won or your veiled self-promotional blog post on “How to Choose an Agency.”
You don’t have to be a great writer to have significant web traffic. I’ve been around enough great copywriters in my career to know that I’m not one of them. But I do know how to create helpful content that is appealing. An example is a post that took me a mere 37 minutes to write, “The 10 Presentation Tactics of Steve Jobs for Ad Agency New Business.” That simple post generated over 94,000 page views in a short period of time.
A blog greatly enlarges my online footprint as it feeds and grows my other social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google +, and even Pinterest. I can’t imagine a social media strategy for agency new business that does not have a blog as its central component.
My posts are also highly optimized for search. This helps me to be consistently found through Google search because I maintain top search rankings. All of my posts are naturally optimized. I created a blog primarily on advertising agencies, about new business development. My key words, “ad agency new business,” are incorporated into 95% of my post titles. My point of differentiation from other business development consultants and companies is “Fueling ad agency new business through social media.” These things keep my writing consistently focused.
My content also feeds my bi-weekly eNewsletter. How long does it take to create your agency eNewsletter? Mine takes a mere 15 minutes. It is a process that is simple enough for an intern to do it with little instruction. I take the newer, higher trending posts and use those as the articles for the newsletter. This is just another way to reuse content and get more return for your time investment.
My blog has been the greatest professional enrichment tool I have ever used. As I’m being enriched with a systematic reading and writing program, I assimilate information quicker. Writing helps me to better articulate my thoughts. I have an educational program that will keep me from falling behind so I will not be surprised by the next Twitter or Pinterest.
Every morning I enter my classroom, I know my reading and writing assignments in advance. I’m even tested and graded by my audience through my analytics. My audience becomes my teacher. They help me to know things such as their greatest concerns, what content is appealing and what is not. They actually help me to be their thought leader. Besides all this, I have the fuel necessary that feeds my new business program.
Having been in new business development my entire advertising career, I can tell you from experience, a blog is one of the most efficient and effective tools for creating new business opportunities. I have yet to make a single cold call for any new business opportunities or speaking engagements. I’ve built national and international awareness for my services and have clients in almost all 50 states, Canada and in the UK from my “home-base” in Alabaster, Alabama, which certainly isn’t the mecca of the advertising industry.
Is a blog hard work? Most certainly. But it can actually make your agency’s new business program easier. The reward can be great if you are willing to provide the time and resources to do it the correct way.
Read Jack Marshall’s Digiday article, “Agencies Ditch Blogs”
Articles to help get your blog on track for new business:
- How to launch a blog for ad agency for new business — fast!
- A 70 Point Checklist for Jump-Starting or Tuning-Up Your Blog for New Business
- Study: 69% of Businesses Increased New Business Leads Through Blogging
- 50 Blog Post Ideas to Fuel Your Ad Agency’s Blog
- Ten Toughest Content Marketing Challenges for Ad Agency New Business
- 10 Ways to Create An Ad Agency Blog That is Reader-Centric
- 20 Top Inbound Marketing Resources for the Paradigm Shift in Ad Agency New Business