Fact: It takes a lot to make an agency blog not suck.
And in the face of this suckitude, agencies encourage their clients to blog, create website content, get into content marketing, do social…And yet, so few agencies effectively practice what they preach.
Why is that?
We work with agencies all the time. Not only for their blogs, but assisting on the clients’ blogs. We’ve seen a theme across most of the agencies that wanted to improve their content presence.
4 Reasons Contributing to an Advertising Agency Blog Sucking
- No buy-in: Your agency hasn’t spent the time getting everyone committed to creating content.
- No leadership: No leadership? No buy-in. Someone needs to take responsibility for the performance of your agency’s blog.
- No vision: Leadership and vision go hand in hand. A good leader will help the rest of the team envision what success looks like for the agency’s blog.
- No time: The ultimate excuse for why nothing gets done: time. With client demands, last-second projects, and fire drills, of course there’s no time to focus on blogging, content, or social.
If one (or all) of these look like familiar hurdles to you and your agency’s struggle to get a blog going, we can help.
11 Ways to Improve Your Advertising Agency Blog
1. Give your agency blog focus and purpose
First things first. Ask: “Why?”
Why would your agency want to blog? What’s the goal? These are obvious questions, but bear repeating, because without a focus a blog becomes rudderless. Without a focus, contributors don’t know what to write about or why they’re even writing in the first place. Find a focus and the rest will follow.
Your focus can always change. At Verblio (formerly BlogMutt), our original focus was using the blog as an opportunity to showcase our sample work for customers. As we grew and added more expertise, we realized that the blog is a fantastic place for our customers and potential customers to educate themselves about the value of blogging at their business or agency.
If you don’t have a focus, consider your marketing plan…
2. Make it part of your agency’s marketing plan (& if you don’t have a marketing plan for your agency…see below)
This is a two-fer.
- Your agency blog content efforts should align with your agency’s overall marketing plan/strategy.
- If you don’t have a marketing plan or strategy for your agency, that’s an even bigger problem.
Let’s take the second item, first. Simply put:
YOUR AGENCY SHOULD HAVE A MARKETING STRATEGY!
Pardon the caps and the exclamation point. But if you’re a marketing agency and you don’t have a marketing plan for your agency…that’s like a doctor not going to the doctor. Take a moment to let that analogy sink in. But seriously, agencies that don’t have a marketing strategy aren’t going to compete or stay relevant. There are simply too many competitors out there, competing for the same business. Forget blogging. Get a marketing plan first. This should be your top priority. Then, we can talk about aligning content with your marketing plan. However, you address your marketing plan, content should support it.
If you’re an agency that wants to grow your influence in the markets you serve, that should inform your content strategy. If you’re focused on finding more business, that should inform your content strategy. The point is: start with a plan and create the content to support it.
3. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good
This doesn’t just apply to agencies. It applies to businesses as well. The biggest hurdle to hitting “Publish” on your blog post? Fear. Fear that it’s not good enough. Fear that it isn’t perfect. Fear that no one will like it.
The absolute best way to learn about content marketing and blogging is to do it. When you start publishing, you start getting a sense of what type of content your customers want (and frankly, don’t want). Momentum in blogging is critical. When one day passes, and then another, it sends a message to the rest of the agency that content and blogging isn’t a priority (more on this later).
At Verblio, not every blog post is a home run. Sad but true. The beauty is learning from the posts that perform well, the posts that underperform, and the adjustments we can make in the next month. There is no such thing as the perfect blog post. Even our best blog posts could stand for some improvement. The point is that we’re taking stock of the posts that we’ve published, tracking their performance and making informed adjustments based on our data. If you don’t have a blog post to measure in the first place, you’re not going to get far.
4. Make calls-to-action (CTAs) a priority
This should be a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most neglected components of a successful blog. If you’ve grabbed the attention of your reader and they’ve come to read a blog post, you should absolutely give them a reason to take action.
Readers expect a CTA. We’ve primed online readers to anticipate an action when viewing content online. Whether they take action or not is based on other factors, like relevance and placement. But in the course of viewing web content, we’ve been conditioned to expect a CTA. When there isn’t one, it creates an awkward experience for the reader. You can read more about CTA psychology here. Your blog should attempt to elicit an action from your reader.
(Check out the form at the base of this post, for example.)
5. Infuse personality to differentiate your agency
Agencies sell professional services. The relationship between an agency and client should be personal. Without a blog that showcases your agency’s personality, you’re not giving potential clients a reason to want to work with you.
If you’ve visited enough agency sites, you’ll quickly realize that they all start to sound the same and offer the same services. Your agency’s personality and demonstrated expertise, two things a blog can communicate, are perfect opportunities to differentiate your agency.
6. Show, don’t tell. Add agency case studies.
This is perhaps the most compelling element of an advertising agency blog. The ability to demonstrate expertise and success with your clients will legitimize your service offerings.
The difference between an agency that says they do content marketing and an agency that shows examples of content marketing (and associated results) will win that new business any day.
7. Don’t be afraid to show off
This is your agency blog. This is your agency’s chance to show clients what your team is capable of when given the freedom to create. If clients are always cramping your style, use the blog as an opportunity to show off and publicize your creativity.
If you’re an agency that wants to get into the content marketing space, use your agency’s content marketing strategy as your first case study.
8. Force the boss’s hand
The power of a strong agency blog starts with buy-in from the top. Get your agency’s executive team to contribute to the blog. Having your most senior, experienced employees contributing to the blog not only showcases your agency’s leadership team, it creates a trickle-down effect, motivating the rest of the contributors. If the boss is blogging, there’s no excuse for others to slack off.
The best way for executives to show support of content marketing is to contribute.
9. Think beyond the blog
A blog is more than a blog. It’s a platform for social content, a clearinghouse of ideas, the seedlings of bigger projects, the foundation of a video, a brand play, a spotlight for personalities, an opportunity to repurpose that content across other mediums and channels, a testing lab, the beginning of a conversation, and on and on.
But if you look at it as just a blog…a blog is all it will be. This is the best adage of blogging: You get out what you put in.
When you consider the potential of a single blog post, the motivation to start blogging becomes a strategic imperative. What starts as a blog post can evolve into a multimedia experience or bigger project down the line.
10. Make it fun
When a blog becomes homework and stops becoming fun, that’s the quickest way to burn out.
We see a lot of companies and agencies burn out. When the agency blog stops becoming fun, blogging becomes a chore. And readers can sense those blogs that aren’t written with an element of fun. If it’s not fun for your agency, it’s not going to be fun for the writer (or reader!). Your agency’s enthusiasm on the blog will translate to the reader.
A fun blog influences every other communication channel. If your blog’s fun, your social interactions will be fun. Fun is contagious. As an agency, you should inspire your clients. Working with your agency should be the highlight of their day. Making a blog fun starts with a focus and purpose that everyone can get behind. A blog can’t succeed at an agency without buy-in. People are busy. Client deadlines are constant. Buy-in ensures blogging gets done, no matter the demands on everyone’s time.
11. Promote and celebrate your efforts
Because if you don’t, who will? Get started with this great post on 100+ ways to promote your blog content.
Half the blog struggle is just writing. The other half? Promotion.
Promotion serves two purposes:
- Promotion legitimizes your blogging efforts and is an incredible litmus test for measuring quality content. When people ask: “What is quality content?” the answer is “Content people read, share, and promote”. If you start socializing your content and see activity, that’s a damn good indication that you’re creating quality content.
- Promotion builds awareness and creates new business opportunities. Sharing your blog with clients and potential clients creates mindshare with your target audiences. A potential client may not need your resources today, but assuming they’re following your agency on social or via a newsletter it will remind them of your expertise the day they need your resources.
Getting an Agency Blog Started
Charity starts at home, right? If you want to get your clients to blog, you better start blogging yourself. Getting some momentum behind your advertising agency’s blog can start with your team, a freelancer, or using a blogging service like Verblio. Yes, we do blogging for advertising agency blogs too.
Photo credits (in order of appearance):