Ad Agencies Should Stop Faking It – Create Digital Content

David Schwartz ad agency new business

Guest post by David Schwartz

David is a personal friend and an excellent Digital Brand Strategist focused on content development. He is the author of Brand Ed: Brand Education Services, a conversation about restaurant branding. David started his career working for MTV in New York, He then proceeded to Atlanta to work with the likes of Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A and the Home Depot. David lives in Nashville with his wife and two children.

Seriously, it is time to stop faking it, you are not fooling anyone. The best way to get noticed and to build authority is to create digital content. Old tricks no longer work, client prospects and potential employees can find out the truth about your capabilities. It is time to walk the walk and give up on all the talk. Create and share relevant content that reinforces your marketing industry expertise.

Even if you don’t sell social media services, you still have be active. You are in the business of communications, after all and social media is about communicating your relevance. If you can’t handle the commitment internally, export it. You look foolish when you claim to offer digital services and your website is out of date, you haven’t blogged in 9 months or your social media profiles updated three times within the last year. You do realize that people check out both the agency and your employees social activity? I have never met or engaged with a community manger who is not personally active on social media.

The internet is an incredible leveler of the playing field. What an agency did 20 years ago to drum up leads and new business no longer works. The ability for small to medium sized agencies to compete centers around sharing your expertise in the digital space.

The agency principal who was actually once a Mad Man may no longer seal the deal for you. Sharing war stories over Martinis in a smoked filled bar is not the way to find new business, it’s a great way to kill yourself. What you should be doing instead is uploading your next blog post, editing your newest SlideShare presentation or participating in a Google Plus Hangout On Air.

Industry thought leaders today blog about their ideas. They engage in Twitter Chats. Offer insights on Google Hangouts or LinkedIn Groups. Eventually their activity allows them to become recognized authorities and dominate search results. You can no longer live in the past, and you better start acting in the present by sharing your digital content with the world. The reason to create content is just as much about sharing today as it is is about being found tomorrow.

How has transparency changed the game?

When I started out in advertising the first lesson I learned was that if you weren’t lying then you weren’t trying hard enough. Whether the agency was pretending to have more employees or over-exaggerating industry experience. If it could be fabricated we did it. I was actually assigned the responsibility once of creating a fake employee’s desk, including family photos and a half-drank cup of coffee. Is it any wonder why the advertising industry had the reputation of trying to fool people?

Well, that was then and this is now. If you think you are fooling prospects you are only fooling yourself. 

differentiate your ad agency for new business

Michael’s theory of being niche focused is built on justifying an agencies experience through sharing their knowledge on relevant industry topics. What is your agencies perspective? Share with your prospects your agency’s POV. You know that secret agency formula for strategy? It’s the same as the agency down the street. The only difference is that they’ve shared it with follows, prospects and potential recruits on their website and social media networks.

Awards are great and all… I guess. I saw my favorite use of an award recently, it was being used as a door stopper keeping the agency’s doors open. Let that be a metaphor for your agency’s new business philosophy… DOORS WIDE OPEN.

Jack of All Trades Master of None

You can’t be all things to everyone. Pick a type of client to focus your content on and start to position yourself and the agency as an expert. Be consistent and you will build a following, whiling earning readers who will share the great content you create. Create a niche in an industry that your agency is passionate about, or an industry that excites your employees. You can make your content relatable to other industries just use your area of expertise as an example.

If you create content on a consistent basis in your niche, you will get found by clients seeking your knowledge. You will start to dominate search results. If you don’t believe me go ahead and google “brand education for restaurants” and tell me what you find.

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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.


  1. It will take clients less than ten minutes of perusing to figure out an agency’s worth. And to look elsewhere if your agency- and the website- doesn’t give out the right message. Great post, David!

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