This article, Taking Your Ad Agency New Business Content For A Tune-Up, is part of our Destination RSW Summer Blog Series, designed to help you navigate the hazards encountered on the road to new business.
We’ll have new challenges featured throughout the summer, so be sure to check back in each week for a look at the latest content!
This post is from our VP of Marketing Communications & List Operations, Miguel Trejo.
A thought occurred to me last night as I was driving home from improv practice and fretting over this blog post.
Doing improvisational comedy and creating content for new business are not too far removed from each other.
Generating something from nothing is the essence of the creative act, whether you’re putting on a show or writing a case study.
Something we encounter occasionally with new agency clients is a lack of thought leadership and updated new business content.
Though agencies are great at creating content for others, they often don’t do the same for themselves.
Sometimes, it’s a matter of simply not having enough time in the day…taking care of current clients being priority #1.
Creating new business content, a vital component of acquiring new clients, gets relegated to the “important but not urgent” list.
However, other times the notion of creating something from nothing is just too daunting.
So how do you get started creating agency new business content if your agency doesn’t have a thought leadership culture in place or has taken a hiatus from it?
One of the core lessons of improv comedy is that you never really start with nothing.
While you may not have a script, you do have a head full of experiences, a unique perspective on countless topics, and a scene partner sharing the stage with you.
I’ve never encountered an agency client that didn’t possess those same tools in one shape or another.
Look To Yourself And Let Your Work Be Your Guide
Whether you’re beefing up your case study portfolio, writing a blog post, or brainstorming a video idea, you really need to start with your own experiences: your work with previous clients and the resulting expertise.
It’s easy to start doubting yourself after spending time on the internet perusing content released by other agencies.
However, if you’ve taken the time to carefully select your prospecting targets and hone your messaging, your experiences are exactly what prospects want to learn about.
When it comes to case studies:
- Results and metrics are powerful but they don’t tell the whole story of the work.
- Show your prospects that you understand their industry. This may involve using the right industry terminology, but describing industry pain points is more important. If the prospect sees their problems mirrored in the case study, they’ll want to keep reading.
- Consider including a client testimonial. Nothing sells you better than a client singing your praises.
- Develop a full arc to your client’s success story. What was your client’s situation before they entered into a relationship with your agency? How did your unique approach address their challenge? How was the client’s business changed by their relationship with your agency?
When it comes to writing blog content:
- View your client work as the engine that feeds you ideas. Any given project can be parsed any number of ways, creating numerous blog topics. For example, let’s say you helped a regional sporting goods company modernize the ecommerce functionality of their website. You have a full hopper of potential angles: the challenge of ensuring that the design of the ecommerce component matches the company’s goals, how the particular ecommerce concerns of a regional player differ from that of national business, what sporting goods consumers are looking for from an ecommerce experience, or how to maintain the brand equity of a regional brand while pushing forward with digital innovation – just to name a few. The point is that if you’re targeting regional retailers, because that’s where your experience lies, talk about what you know.
- View blogging as the most flattering Q&A session imaginable. Cover the topics your agency excels at. What makes your approach unique? What has proven to be the difference in the experience you provide for your clients?
- You don’t always have to seem all-knowing. Sometimes simply pointing out a problem is an indication that you understand the challenges your reader is facing.
Have An Opinion
Of course, at times you will want to comment on the hot topic of the day.
A national news item captures everyone’s attention or some big player in your industry is making moves you can’t ignore.
There are many reasons you should go for it and jump into the conversation.
- It allows you to capitalize on the moment. Nowadays, buzz doesn’t last long but it can give your SEO a shot in the arm and get you more views.
- It saves you time. Rather than relying entirely on yourself, you can let the news item itself do some of the heavy lifting. Locate a 3rd party article to include in your post and let it act as a jumping off point.
- It lets you showcase your viewpoint. Two of the ways to attract attention to thought leadership is to be an authority on a subject or to have a provocative opinion. Say the words “I disagree” and already you’ll have heads turning in your direction. Of course, you have to then back up that opinion with a well thought out argument.
- It allows you to highlight your expertise. Even if you’re borrowing a hot topic’s juice, filtering the topic through the lens of your experiences will allow you to show off your unique approach.
However, unless you’re planning on building a content creation machine that churns out posts on a weekly basis, let these articles be a spice and not the main course of your thought leadership.
These types of news items don’t age well and you’re far better served by creating less frequent but more evergreen content that you can repurpose down the line.
Don’t Go It Alone
While there is a certain mystique that surrounds solitary creators, holed up in a secluded cabin wrestling with the empty page, why make this content creation thing more difficult than it needs to be?
Here are reasons to always create with a buddy or two:
- A culture of thought leadership is a strategic advantage for any company, but especially an agency, and you can’t really have a culture of one. This process forces your agency to continually reflect on what it is and what it wants to be. A single agency principal might drive through leadership for some agencies, but it is better for the senior leadership as a whole to participate. Getting a wide range of voices to contribute to your content production helps to paint a more complete picture of what your agency has to offer.
- It gets you the right voice for the right job. Maybe you’re the person at your agency tasked with creating case studies, but are you really the go-to source? Good case studies feature rock-solid results, but great case studies revel in the details. Leverage the team that worked on the project to get the real story.
- More hands help to lighten the load. A blog post every week is attainable but still a lot of work. That same load distributed across 3-4 people is far more manageable.
- Don’t underestimate the power of groupthink. Negative connotation aside, sometimes creators have to get out of their own heads. If contributors ever find themselves struggling for inspiration, get them all in the same room together and start spitballing. Better yet, invite an outsider to join and ask questions. You’ll walk away with a dozen new topics.
Creation Is Harder Than It Looks But Also A Whole Lot Simpler
If you remember these three principles, you’ll always have a way of reorienting your efforts if your content creation loses its way.
If you make these principles a habit and absorb them into your agency culture, to outsiders it’ll seem like you’re pulling off a magic trick with your content creation.
You don’t have to admit that the secret is craft and a hell of a lot of hard work.