Content marketing shortcuts: 5 tips for agency lead-gen

Written by: Karl Sakas

Doing content marketing to generate leads for your own agency? You know you need to do it, but it’s hard to find time.

You’re so busy helping clients—and your team—that it feels like there’s never time for bizdev. As a marketer, you know you’ll regret this perpetual deferral later… but “urgent” always seems more important at the time.

What if there were some content marketing shortcuts? You’d get more done in less time—and you’d keep your sales pipeline full.

Fortunately, there are shortcuts for content marketing—and they’re the same ones I use myself at Sakas & Company.

Today, I’m sharing 5 “Karl-tested” tips to help you create high-quality content in less time. They come from the process that’s helped me write 377 blog posts since 2013. Although I’m focusing here on written content, the core ideas work for video, podcast episodes, infographics, and more.

Steal my approach: How I create more content in less time

Nearly all of my marketing is inbound marketing—where people come to me, based on my free high-value content. To get “meta,” blogging is the core of that strategy—reinforced by my email newsletter.

My website currently has nearly 400 published articles. That’s an average of 1 blog post a week for more than 7 years in a row. And I have additional “byline” guest posts elsewhere—on sites like HubSpot, Shopify, Marketing Agency Insider, and others.

Mindset: Help others, and be a “lazy blog writer”

How do I create so much content, without compromising on quality? It starts with mindset:

  • I love helping people, and I love helping agency people in particular. That’s why I’ve focused exclusively on the agency world since 2010 (but my first agency experience was in high school).
  • There’s also a pragmatic aspect, around “never stop marketing.” I’ve seen what happens to clients when their agency’s pipeline goes dry, and it’s not pretty. Creating new content is non-optional for me—even if I’ve reduced the pace, now that I have the large “back catalog.”

But once you have the mindset down, how do you operationalize things?

Being a “lazy blog writer”

I joke that I’m a “lazy blog writer.” That is, I’d rather write an answer to a question from a real person, instead of writing a blog post from scratch. Have you tried the “answer real questions” approach yet?

  • No: If not, I highly recommend it—and I have five tips below to help you optimize things.
  • Yes: If you have tried it before and it didn’t go smoothly, try the tips to make things go more smoothly.

For the rest of this article, I’ll assume you have a clear picture of your agency’s target market and the problems they face. If you don’t have that down, you’ll need to figure that out first.

5 content marketing shortcuts: High-quality content in less time

Here are five content marketing shortcuts, based on what I do in my own business helping agencies.

1. Look for opportunities to answer real questions, from clients and prospects.

Answer real questions. This could include questions from current clients (if you’re client-facing) or helping your team answer them (if you’ve delegated client strategy).

You can answer questions from sales prospects, too, as a “strategically free” technique. Once you start thinking like this, you’ll likely see questions everywhere.

2. Create a place to track Q&A and other content ideas.

Why should you track all the questions? Because you don’t want to “lose” ideas… and once you start, you’ll keep thinking of questions to answer. When I think of new ideas, I load them as a draft in WordPress. Not counting the nearly 400 published articles, I have 700+ additional drafts in WordPress.

The drafts range from a one-sentence idea to a few paragraphs to nearly-complete 2,000-word blog posts. I also track specific newsletters (and the related blog posts) in my Editorial Calendar; I use Google Sheets for this (for easy collaboration), but you can also use dedicated editorial calendar software.

3. Use technology to turn ideas into words faster.

If you find it easier to “speak” the idea out loud—rather than write it first—dictation tools are your friend.

  • I use almost every week for transcription—including human transcription when I need 99% accuracy and the cheaper AI transcription when 80% accuracy (and faster turnaround) are more important. Not a customer yet? Use my affiliate link to save $10 on your first order.
  • Voice Typing in Google Docs: G Suite has a surprisingly-accurate Voice Typing feature, in Google Docs. It’s free, as long as you’re using Chrome as your browser. Go to Tools –> “Voice typing” (and then check out this tutorial for power-user tips).
  • Siri: If I need to put an idea into words (without needing to simultaneously write and think), I’ll dictate via Siri—in an iMessage to myself, or in the Notes app. Then, I can copy it into WordPress or elsewhere for final editing. This is a great way to ensure your writing sounds conversational rather than stilted.

Dictation helps if you’re delegating the writing to an employee or freelancer—since you can brief them as you think of ideas, instead of needing to always schedule a synchronous meeting first.

4. Think ahead to how you’ll repurpose things.

Consider: “Write one, re-use many times.” For instance, the core of this blog post started as an extra-long edition of my email newsletter. And I’ll sometimes share “strategically free” email advice with prospective clients, if it’ll help me write a future blog post.

When I answer “hot seat” questions in my monthly “Agency Office Hours” Q&A calls, I can re-use answers in blog posts, video content, and TBD what else. Importantly, I get pre-emptive opt-in from participants on my recording the content for re-sharing (including a waiver when people ask questions beforehand).

You can use this to inform topics, too. If multiple clients are asking you (or your team) the same questions, they’re probably good topics for your content marketing. Be sure to anonymize things, of course.

Repurposing works as you build your content library “back catalog.” Almost everything I’ve created is evergreen, which means I can re-share articles years later and they’re still [generally] accurate. (In practice, I’ll make tweaks to ensure the older article fits my current editorial standards.) My Wednesday newsletter features new content, while Saturdays typically feature a “best of” article. In theory, I could re-share articles every Saturday for seven years without recycling (although in practice, I’ll feature certain articles more often).

5. Enlist an editing partner.

Most “for-a-real-person” answers require some massaging before they’re public-facing. It helps to get feedback from another human as you work through that—for instance, I’ll talk through a few post ideas with a colleague, to see which topics resonate best.

I’ll also get their feedback as I work on the best “angle” for each post, including subject lines to test. Sometimes, my original answers become part of a larger post rather than the focus itself. Either way, be sure to have someone review things before they go live, for both clarity and proofreading. This extra Quality Assurance (QA) check helps you put your best foot forward.

Of course, there’s even more to keep in mind, if you want to ensure your content marketing helps you generate leads for your agency…

Upgrade your lead-gen: Training on October 28th

Want even more tips? Come to my next training webinar on October 28th: Upgrade Your Agency’s Pipeline: Lead-Gen from Content Marketing. You’ll get strategic advice, to help you think through how to get better results. And you’ll get tactical tips—like the ones above—to help you get more done in less time.

Individual tickets are $100… a small price compared to the value you’ll get. Want to delegate content creation. to get your team’s help? There’s a group discount for 5+ people… and an even bigger discount for 10+ people.

I look forward to hearing how you apply the shortcuts above—and hope to see you on October 28th! If you’re interested but can’t join live, buy a ticket to get the recording and slides afterwards—within a few days—at no additional charge.

Question: What are you doing to improve lead-gen from your agency’s content marketing?

Book Cover: "Work Less, Earn More" by Karl Sakas

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