Nobody Reads Ad Agency Blogs?

nobody read ad agency blogs

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:

 

photo credit: Joel Bedford via photopin cc

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.

Comments

  1. Great post. Wanted to share a short story on the subject. When we started our SEO agency in Sweden I decided to put a lot of efforts in blogging. It took quite some time to take off and there were a lot of bigger bloggers in the segment, however I stuck with the same basic principles that I set up when I started: Stay on topic, be generous with advice and answer every comment or question.

    I’ve left this agency now but still hold some interests and I’m happy to say that it is the strongest brand in the niche, by far. I’ve spent 5 years or so on the blog, at least one post per week and of course that’s a pretty big investment for a startup. It was well worth it though. If you’re interested the blog is sokmotorkonsult.se (swedish).

  2. Thanks for sharing this post in Twitter Magnus and for taking the time to add your insights. Very much appreciated.

  3. Thanks for the post. We’ve been trying to get into the loop with the whole social media scene. And it’s true– people really do read blogs.

  4. Great article.
    This is also true for other companies other than ad agencies. Whether a freelance video producer or consumer product company, I’m finding that the “titans of their niche” have very healthy and helpful blogs.
    Yours is one of them.

    Content will always be king. And it seems the web really affords more people the opportunity of niche learning.
    Thank you!

  5. It’s interesting how some think that it’s an issue of either having a blog or not. THE BLOG ALSO HAS TO BE GOOD! Here’s a somewhat related post from Social Media Today:
    http://socialmediatoday.com/mitz-pantic/505829/5-reasons-why-nobody-reads-your-blog

  6. I agree. Thanks for sharing Douglas.

  7. Michael,

    Most ad agency blogs are dead, boring or both. They haven’t blogged in awhile, so their blog is stale and has been tossed aside. In addition, Those who are trying fill the space with press releases; announcements of new clients; new hires and conferences they’re attending. What keeps me coming back as a reader (and someone who will Tweet a good blog post) is interesting content; something new and helpful.

    Steve

  8. Thanks for providing your insights Steve. Agencies wont have any success with social media for new business until they stop focusing on themselves and start focusing on the prospective client audience.

  9. Great post. Our agency has a daily blog, gets 40,000 unique viewers per month, and is the leading driver of new business for our INC 500 ranked firm. http://Likeable.com/blog

  10. Michael, I’m just curious: how do you qualify that new business is the result of your blog? Do you survey prospective clients, or are you just tracking the traffic to the posts?

  11. It is easy for me Taylor. Social media is the only channel I’m using for new business. I’ve been doing this for 5 years and have yet to have to make a cold call or use any disruption type tactics. The prospect always makes the initial engagement and I know from the initial conversation what caused them to reach out to me. I may get a few referrals here and there from others but 98% of the time the lead has come directly from my content.

  12. Excellent Dave. Keep up the great work. We may need to talk and discuss sharing more of your story.

  13. I agree whole heartedly that “Nobody reads agency blogs” but I’d add that they especially don’t read them if they are about agency stuff! Just like no one reads any advertising or content if it’s not relevant. The agency world of shops our size are full of agency blogs filled with self-invovled “inside baseball” banter and lo and behold are read mostly by people inside the agency business and their friends and family. If you want your blog read– it had better be about something a targted audience really cares about and wants to know more about.

  14. Michael Gass says:

    Bill, Thanks for taking the time to share you insights (for the 2nd time. Sorry your previous comment was lost in the transfer to my new blog template). I totally agree. The self-involved social speak coming from agency blog’s isn’t appealing and of very little value to a prospective client audience.

  15. Michael,
    Great post. I’ve been a business and social media consultant for many years. I’ve since taken my skills to the brand side and I’m enjoying it a lot. Our business works with ad agencies a lot and I am a very social creature by nature. I absolutely believe in the power of the blog as well as Twitter, Facebook and others. The thing I think that frustrates me the most is that I’ve found 90% of agency blogs to be ghost towns. In addition their Twitter is either another ghost town or a spam session talking to no one. These are the same agencies that are selling interactive and integrated marketing solutions. Also the reason we’ve seen very little innovation in that space.

    Probably the section I love the most in this article is when you talk about why ad agencies were not getting results. Because they came out of the gate all wrong to begin with. I see frustrating statistics all the time about how business is abandoning new media because it doesn’t work. Yea? Well heart surgery doesn’t work with a chainsaw either. The stats mean nothing and I am happy to continue blogging.

    One last point, in addition to the features and benefits you listed to blogging I think the one I’d highlight the most is actually in demonstration of proficiencies. I know some call this “Thought Leadership” but this is really an opportunity to demonstrate the creative process. How does agency X come up with all of their great ideas etc. Most will call it giving away the farm. I call it free 24/7 sales pieces. Again, thanks for the article.

    —–Keith Burtis
    @keithburtis
    @CarbonviewRes

  16. This is such a great perspective. I am often surprised that more agencies aren’t focused on content, thought leadership, and blogging. As an agency, we find that if we can’t execute consistently against our marketing strategy, how can we provide strategic insight to our clients. Our results have impacted our visibility in the marketplace and has created new business development opportunities. We are big believers in drinking our own kool-aid….and our clients appreciate it!

  17. Michael Gass says:

    Julie, thanks for sharing your insights and I’m glad to know they have led to new business opportunities for Junction Creative.

  18. nice post. I saw something like this on thesaleslion.com. These agencies just don’t get it. They think they do…but they don’t.

  19. Blogging takes energy and commitment. The benefits for the blogger or company are sharper focus, access to information that would otherwise fly under the radar (researching a topic to blog about, for example), and improving writing skills. To maintain a blogging schedule forces bloggers to work at a higher mental level–and that pace spills over into other business areas, particularly creativity. These benefits should be factored into the metrics that determine whether blogging is a “productive” activity for a company.

  20. Craig Lindberg says:

    Alot of the same reasons personal improvement aspiration fails to convert into results; lack of plan, resources, and commitment. Talk is cheap but remarkable effort is not.

  21. Great information posted! Thanks for sharing it here I am so glad I have read it and I certainly learned a lot.

  22. Peter Levitan says:

    I agree with all that’s been said. The key being starting with objectives and having a plan. But, you could do all of that and still have a lame, boring agency blog that (and this is the worst) that just talks to other ad people – you know, articles on subjects like responsive design or your agency’s cool party. I know that Michael is a proponent of creating marketing blogs that actually offer intelligent thought leadership for an agency’s new business categories. He even goes so far as to recommend that agencies consider blogs about specific client markets vs. me-me-me agency blogs. Agree. This is the big key for me.

  23. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts Peter. I always value your insights, especially from a new business perspective.

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