This video is an interview that was conducted by McDougall Interactive in Boston, MA. I share my philosophy and tips on how agencies can use a niche blog for new business.
A blog provides agencies with the perfect platform to create a niche that is appealing to a specific target audience, it also allows them to have a clear point of differentiation from their competition and a position of expertise.
Agencies have a commonality of problems when it comes to new business. The following are my observations working with the typical advertising, digital, media or Public Relations firm:
- Agencies are their own worst clients. The cobbler’s children with no shoes. They procrastinate on new business, as they give their time and attention to the work they do for their clients.
- They agree with agency consultants and authors like David C. Baker, Blair Enns and Tim Williams, that they need to differentiate. But, they don’t have the courage to do it because they are afraid they’ll miss other new business opportunities.
- Agencies look and sound just the same. There’s no marked difference from their competitors. To those agencies that taunt their “Great Creative” as their differentiator, “great creative is not a point of differentiation, it is an expectation.”
- Agencies refuse to identify their target audience. Without a clear target audience, their new business program lacks focus and direction. It forces them to be generalists instead of specialists and they must be reliant on the interuption type tactics, such as cold calling, for new business.
- By trying to appeal to everybody greatly lessens their appeal to anybody. Agencies that have no positioning of expertise are thus treated as vendors.
- Agencies showcase the diversity of their client base as a point of strength, but prospects view it as a point of weakness.
- A majority of agencies didn’t participate in social media until 2010, then they just “jumped-in.” No goal, no target audience, no appeal, no traffic and NO new business. Having success with social media for new business is more than a check list, i.e. “we now have an agency blog – check; we have a Twitter account – check; a Facebook Fan Page – check!”
A niche blog allows agencies to focus on a specific target audience, to create a stronger point of differentiation and a positioning of expertise because it lessens their risk. They move from being the hunter, chasing new business, to becoming the prey, being found by their best prospective client audience.
Here are my suggestions for “jump-starting” new business through a niche blog:
Don’t wait for perfect timing.
Most are in a perpetual state of rebranding and/or redesigning their website. Both are painful experiences. There are so many staff members who are involved in these processes that it becomes difficult to reach consensus. Creating a niche blog can be a specific new business project implemented by only a few people. You don’t have to get “buy-in” from the entire staff or wait for the stars and moon to be in perfect alignment to make it happen.
This effort should be centered around the agency’s principal owner(s).
The reasons I advocate using the agency owner(s):
- They are the ones less likely to leave. Also, the owner of a small to midsize agency is always an important part of any new business. It’s natural for them to take the lead in this effort.
- Agency owners play a huge role in establishing the culture and chemistry for their agencies. An agency’s chemistry also plays a big part in winning new business.
- Social media is all about people. People want to work with other people that they know, trust and like. It’s hard to socialize brick-and-mortor. Agency owners should become the face of the agency.
Fish for a particular fish, with a specific bait and get the bait away from the boat so you don’t scare off the other fish.
I’m using Sheehy + Associates, an advertising agency in Louisville, KY, as an example on how to fish using a niche blog. Sheehy + Associates has been around since 1955. Over time, they evolved from a media agency to full service. Kroger, a large grocery store chain with over 2,422 stores, has been their cornerstone client for almost two decades, but mostly for media services.
The agency owners, Scott Kuhn, CEO and Dave Carter, President/Creative Director, wanted to leverage their experience with Kroger in a way that would increase their creative opportunities with new clients. Their primary target audience is multi-unit retailers. Their niche is an expertise in grand openings and new store starts, a primary area of service needed by all multi-unit retailers.
Sheehy + Associates’ new business program through social media allows them to:
- Fish for a particular fish – multi-unit retailers;
- Fish with a specific bait – expertise in new store launches and grand openings.
- Fish away from the boat (the agency’s website) so they don’t scare off other the other fish – Scott and Dave become the face of Sheehy + Associates for this fishing expedition. It’s much easier to build a prospective and create appeal around them than the agency as a whole. Scott and Dave gain a reputation as the experts at launching new stores. Experts write. Their niche blog serves as the platform for their writing.
Scott and Dave don’t hide their connection with their agency but they don’t lead with it. Their blog is focused on benefiting their audience rather than talking about the agencies credentials, capabilities and case studies. These two agency principal’s consistently share helpful information for multi-unit retail CMOs who will find their content a useable resource when faced with launching their next new store or creating a grand opening event.
Here’s a sampling of The Store Starter posts:
- 6 Ways to Digitally Connect Customers with Your New Store
- :30 vs. :60 Radio: Which is More Effective For Your New Store?
- 5 Inspirations for Using Digital Signage In Your New Store
When prospects want to check out their perception of Scott and Dave’s expertise, they’ll click through to the agency’s website which is the logical place for their credentials, capabilities and case studies.
The following outline was used to help Sheehy + Associates create their niche blog. I’ve used this outline with over 130+ agencies in the U.S., Canada and the UK to help focus an internal discussion for creating their niche. I’ve used my blog, Fuel Lines, as an example.
Outline for Creating a Niche Blog
Target Audience: Advertising, Digital, Media and Public Relations agencies
Blog Title: FUEL LINES
Subtitle: Fueling Ad Agency New Business (clearly states the audience and the purpose of the blog)
Key Words: ad agency new business (these words will be incorporated into the title of almost every post)
Categories: (will provide focus for the writing as well as navigation for the readers)
- Agency Blogs
- Agency Branding
- Agency Compensation
- Agency Networks
- Agency Pitches
- Agency Positioning
- Agency Presentations
- Agency Promotions
- Agency Search Consultants
- Analytics and Metrics
- Content Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- New Business Survey
- New Business Talents
- New Business Tactics
- New Business Tips
- New Business Trends
- Public Relations
- Social Media Marketing
Many are amazed at how easy it is to find their niche. The reason why it is so much easier than other positioning processes is that there is no risk involved. This is one of the main reasons I suggest this niche blog live off-site, apart from the agency’s website and branding.
Here are the six steps to create a niche blog for new business:
- Create a content driven website specific for this new business initiative using the outline above.
- Develop a system for content creation.
- Drive intial traffic to the blog by building a data base for a bi-weekly eNewsletter. Build a targeted Twitter following through the use of a program called TweetAdder so that you can boost initial traffic by repurposing your base of content.
- Implement best practices to build your prospective client community.
- Measure, refine and improve your program.
- Manage the process through an online project management tool such as Basecamp.
Additional articles on niche blogging for new business that I hope you find helpful:
- Nobody Reads Ad Agency Blogs?
- 6 Tips to Blog Successfully for Ad Agency New Business
- Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World
- 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
- 25 Ways to Be Found for Ad Agency New Business
- A Blog Post Template for Ad Agency New Business
- Reading Will Fuel Your Writing for Ad Agency New Business
- 10 Ways to Create An Ad Agency Blog That is Reader-Centric
- Ten Toughest Content Marketing Challenges for Ad Agency New Business
- 21 Blog Post Writing Tips for Ad Agency New Business
- 50 Blog Post Ideas to Fuel Your Ad Agency’s Blog