A SMALL agency won BIG business through a strategic content marketing strategy.
Despite their tradition with print-based content marketing, advertising agencies are struggling to understand and convert their content-marketing efforts into actual new business success. Why? Most are doing it wrong.
Though many agencies now maintain blogs, the content usually highlights things like awards, hires and client news. It tends to be all about the agency. A primary reason the blog does little to create new business opportunities.
The core of your content strategy should be to consistently deliver beneficial information to prospective clients.
The rise of content marketing has created a glutton of branded content that lacks value. Agency’s are guilty of adding to the mass of generic words, sentences and paragraphs, compiling mounds of articles that are a reflection of quantity over quality.
Also, the content must not be self-promotional. Studies have shown that this type content is a be a big turn-off to prospects. I have probably edited no less than 5,000+ agency articles in the past seven years. It’s always a common problem to move them away from self-promotional type content.
Instead of YOU, it’s all about THEM.
This will help to reinforce that you should always lead with benefits rather than your agency’s credentials, capabilities and case studies.
But you also need to remember, content marketing for agencies isn’t just about content.
The value of content marketing is derived from the awareness it creates and the engagement it provides with your agency’s best prospects.
How is this done? By establishing a positioning of expertise and developing a unique point of differentiation from your competition that will create strong appeal to a very specific target audience.
I recommend a niche blog. It provides agencies with the perfect platform to build awareness and a positioning of expertise that is appealing to a specific target audience. It also allows them to have a clear point of differentiation from their competition.
Please note: this isn’t your typical agency blog.
A small agency wins business with a national brand through an integrated content marketing strategy.
Sheehy + Associates, a small advertising agency in Louisville, KY, is a great example of the type of niche blog I’m talking about.
The agency has been around since 1955. Over time, they evolved from a media agency to a full-service agency. Kroger, a large grocery store chain with over 2,422 stores, has been their cornerstone client for almost two decades, but primarily only for their 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 and hopefully with some nationally known brands.
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. They created, The Store Starters: Marketing Resources for Great Grand Openings.
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.
Yesterday, Scott sent me this note:
“We actually just completed our first real, honest-to-goodness project for a client that came about as a result of the blog. We’re helping ___________ (a national clothing store chain) with 20+ grand openings this fall. Our first seven (I think) took place this past weekend.”
This is how you have success with content marketing, by putting the needs of your target audience first.
Here are some additional suggestions:
1. Allow the blog to live offsite, apart from the branding of the agency’s website.
The reason I recommend this is from my personal experience. Most agencies I work with tend to be in a perpetual state of rebranding and redesigning their websites. You’ll also be more willing to define a much tighter target audience and have a stronger point of differentiation by allowing it to live offsite. It offers acceptable conditions for the small to mid size agency’s to fly their differentiated flag proudly without fear of missing “other” opportunities that will still come by way of personal networks and referrals.
2. Create the niche blog around a person instead of trying to lead with the agency.
Prospects are also looking for expertise. If you want to be positioned as an expert, you must write.
It is difficult to gain a positioning of expertise writing a blog as a group. I always recommend the blog should be built around the agency owner(s). From a practical stand point, the owner is the person least likely to leave. If you build this niche blog around someone else and they leave for another agency, or worse, a major competitor, your equity goes out the door with them.
The brick and mortar isn’t as important as the person who owns the agency. This is especially true of small to midsize firms. Agency owners are critical to new business and they should give attention to their personal brands.
“People trust brands that have people they can trust.”
There are many situations where your personal brand is as essential, or even more so, than your agency’s brand.
3. Connect with your audience through social media.
I recommend connecting with your audience through your personal social media accounts. Why? Social media is about PEOPLE connecting with PEOPLE. Owners of agencies should focus on their building their community of prospects around their personal social media accounts.
As spokesperson-in-chief, the agency owner’s skills and experience in social media becomes even more important. Prospective clients will expect to have direct connections to the agency’s brand leader.
Content marketing is the fuel for an inbound marketing strategy for new business, IF done the right way.