Editor’s note: Verblio’s CEO Steve Pockross recently spoke with Clodagh Higgins, agency coach and digital marketing consultant extraordinaire on the Agency Life podcast.
The following post was drafted by one of the talented writers in our 3,000-strong Verblio community. After listening to Steve’s 45-minute interview, she wrote a piece that made it 80% of the way to publication, and Steve came on board with his insight to take it through the home stretch.
This is one great way to create unique pieces of content that showcase your company’s leadership and their expertise, without requiring them to spend the time writing a full piece themselves.
In this episode of the Agency Life podcast, Steve and Clodagh spoke about all things agency-related, from upcoming trends in content marketing to agency pain points—and solutions we’ve come up with to help. As Verblio has increased its focus on working with agencies in recent years, we’ve been grateful for our various agency partners (over 400 of them!) cluing us in on what we’re doing right and how we can get better at making their lives easier.
Check out the full podcast for all the expert insight and wisdom these two have to share. If a summary is more your style, though, we’ve rounded up the highlights for your reading pleasure.
What are your predictions for agencies in the next 3 years?
The world of content marketing moves quickly, and the uncertainty in today’s industries only makes predicting the future even harder. Nevertheless, we have three predictions that we at Verblio are already embracing, and there’s early evidence from our agency survey—catch more survey insights here—to support them.
Prediction #1: The Rise of Hyper-Niche Agencies
The rise of the hyper-niche agency: It’s a buzzword and you have thought leaders in the agency world talking about this all the time, but we see very few agencies actually do this.-Steve Pockross
Hyper-niche agencies are not a new concept in the marketing industry. While the prediction itself may not be surprising, what is surprising is how few agencies have actually been implementing this important strategy: Over 60 percent of respondents in our survey consider themselves a full-service agency, as opposed to a niche agency.
If you haven’t yet narrowed your agency’s focus, how can you do so effectively? Clodagh broke it down and, as she pointed out, you’ll find the answer is already inside your agency.
Go back to your last ten great clients that you loved working with. What results did you get for them? What work did you do for them, and was it profitable? Build packages around that. That will be your new hyper-niche.-Clodagh Higgins
The benefit of targeting a particular niche? You’ll find you’re offering better service in the areas you enjoy most: a win-win for you and your clients. There’s also a sense of relief that comes when you decide what to target and what to let go. (Let it gooooo.)
Verblio itself made a similar decision a few years ago when we decided to focus on our work with agencies, and we haven’t looked back since.
Why do we love working with agencies? Because agencies have the experience to know what good looks like, which provides the opportunity for mutual growth. They challenge us to continually evolve and improve, and we in turn bring them new ideas and solutions through our work with other agencies.
We love it when agencies are figuring out how to use us better than we’ve thought of.-Steve Pockross
Prediction #2: The Rise of Video
Again, we see an area where agencies know a trend is important, and yet few are implementing it. Our survey found that over 75 percent of agencies already believe it’s critical to deliver video as a part of their content on an ongoing basis. The percentage of agencies who feel they know how to do that, however, is in the single digits.
As agencies scramble to figure out how to leverage video effectively in their content marketing, we can expect to see best practices emerge throughout the industry. We also expect a more general shift towards more digestible content and multimedia, as marketing strategies catch up to the various mediums now available.
On this prediction, Verblio has already put its money where its mouth is. Back in 2019, we acquired an AI video platform. We’re currently building out that technology and are excited about being able to transform written content into video for our agency clients.
Don’t get us wrong, though: Written content isn’t disappearing anytime soon.
Written content isn’t going to go away, but video content should parallel previous trends.-Steve Pockross
Just as blogs evolved from short, mediocre posts made more for machines than for humans, we can expect video to improve as agencies and companies figure out how to take advantage of the new technology.
Prediction #3: The Amplification of Longform Content
Just three years ago, ten percent of our content was above 1,000 words. Now, it’s two-thirds of our content.-Steve Pockross
We’ve already seen a move towards longer content. The shift in our own increasing content length has been driven both by our agency clients and by our own Verblio teams, as both sides have seen the growing success of longform pieces.
The next step, however, will be in amplifying that content. You’ve hired someone to produce expertly written, in-depth pillar pages—what steps can you take to get the most out of that investment?
Another area to consider is the wealth of old content a client may already have on their site. How can you use that existing content and revamp it to further its reach today? Whether in updating the SEO or refreshing the information itself for current marketplace trends, there are plenty of ways to make content fresh without starting from scratch. You can even look at incorporating video and other multimedia for older pieces to bring them into today’s environment.
While these trends are widely talked about, the number of agencies actually implementing them effectively is much lower. This isn’t necessarily the agency’s fault, though.
Agencies are often ahead of the game when it comes to understanding new trends and technologies and how to leverage them in content marketing. Your SMB clients, on the other hand, may not be so savvy. Too often, this can lead to tension between what the client thinks they want and what you know is the future of marketing. As an agency, you’ll have to balance what a client is asking for with your own expertise. Want some help? Check out our comprehensive guide for selling a content marketing strategy to clients.
How is Verblio Addressing Agency Pain Points?
While some agency challenges ebb and flow as the marketing environment changes, others are evergreen. Many of these ongoing struggles have to do with content creation, and that’s where Verblio wants to help.
Finding Great Writers
Finding knowledgeable writers to provide consistent and cost-effective work is an ongoing problem for agencies. Moreover, if your agency hasn’t yet found your niche, you might need multiple such writers to cover your diverse range, further compounding the challenge.
If you let this challenge keep you from focusing on content, though, you’ll be missing out on some serious income potential. Our survey found that for the most successful agencies, a quarter of their profit came from content. That makes it well worth figuring out the content creation puzzle!
For many agencies, outsourcing may be the most cost-effective solution. If you’ve already taken steps to outsource your agency’s content, though, you’ve likely found yourself combing through pages of writers on sites like Upwork, trying to guess who would be a good fit based on their profile. This is precisely the problem Verblio has sought to address.
Outsourced and freelance writing content is not a major innovation in the space. What we try to do is bring innovation by creating a tailored, customized marketplace specifically for agencies to create content for your needs.-Steve Pockross
That’s why we’ve chosen to offer a finished product instead of profiles, allowing you to look at the content itself before deciding to buy it. We’ve also opted to keep our pool of writers as small as possible for the sake of providing consistent, quality content. This allows us to build ongoing relationships between writers and clients, while still having the breadth of expertise needed for our agencies’ various verticals. Our community of 3,000 U.S.-based writers is able to strike that balance, in addition to providing the scalable volume our clients need.
…And Keeping Them
A final note on the writer-agency relationship? Make sure you can continue to bring the best content to your clients by proactively building relationships with your writers. Verblio writers—like writers anywhere—have the choice of writing for you. We’ve found that the most successful of our agency partners are those who view writers as their strategic partners, not outsourcers.
Just as you’ve become an extension of your client’s team, our writers can become an extension of yours. The better guidance you provide for content up front—and the more constructive feedback you can give, whether you accept or decline a piece—the better your future content can be.
Bringing on New Clients
Signing a new client is exciting for both you and them, but it isn’t without its challenges. One of the most important—and difficult—parts of any new client relationship is essentially coaching them to trust your agency. This includes setting honest and realistic expectations up front, especially when it comes to the impact and time frame of your efforts.
It also involves getting on the same page regarding the amount of input they want with their content. The feedback and approval cycle can often cause delays and friction in an agency-client relationship. As you build their trust, you may need to communicate the importance of getting quality content out there consistently, rather than waiting for the CEO to rewrite every blog post.
Navigating this relationship takes time and effort on both sides as you and your client figure out what works for you. Sometimes, though, a third party may be able to help, which is why we’ve developed our own white label content writing service. This flexible, customizable option within Verblio can allow both you and your client to have the control and access you need at every step of the process.
Clodagh is an expert on the ins and outs of agencies and cares passionately about making their lives better. We’ve partnered with the Agency Life podcast because we feel the same, and she believes Verblio has the capacity to truly help her audience:
This is something that’s going to change their business. It’s going to make them more profitable, get better results for their clients, going to give them happier teams—and it’s all the core elements that I’m proud of having, and have shaped in the agencies I work with.-Clodagh Higgins
Thanks, Clodagh. We think so, too!