Content marketing can be great for agency SEO and sales support—but many agencies struggle to keep up.
I see ‘unloved’ agency blogs, derivative content, and stale social media accounts that make me wonder if they’re still even in business.
If you’re truly ready to change, you’ll need to do things differently this time around. Otherwise, it’s as they say about third marriages—the “triumph of optimism over experience.”
What’s Good vs. Bad vs. ‘Meh’ Content?
Your agency’s content self-marketing can be great for your marketing mix… but only if you get it right.
- Good content helps prospective clients solve meaningful problems.
- Bad content is irrelevant, derivative, and/or non-existent.
- “Meh” content wastes your team’s time.
My advice here is in the context of the Inbound Branding strategy I recommend for agencies—specialize, deliver thought leadership marketing, and then use marketing automation to stay top-of-mind.
Ready? Let’s review my keys to upgrading your agency’s content marketing!
3 Keys to Upgrade Your Agency’s Content Marketing Strategy
Great agency content marketing includes three things: a solution to a problem that’s meaningful to your audience, delivered via channels your audience prefers, that you can deliver with consistency.
Let’s take a closer look at each of those three keys.
1) Content that’s a SOLUTION to a problem that’s meaningful to your audience
If your content didn’t seem to ‘work’ before, be honest with yourself—was it something your audience actually cared about? And if so, was your content valuable… or derivative and undifferentiated?
Struggling with where to focus your content? Look in your inbox! You and your team get client and prospect questions all day long that would be great fodder for your content marketing efforts.
- When I get the same question from several clients in one week, I know it’s time to write a blog post answering the question (e.g., whether to accept credit cards).
- When I see a positive response to an appearance on a podcast, I know it’s time to create more to meet that demand. (e.g., pre-kickoff surveys).
- When I’ve created a framework in my consulting and coaching, I’ll refine it 1-on-1… and then create a general version (e.g., strategy tiers).
I’m a ‘lazy’ blog writer. If a prospect asks a question that’s billable—but that would help me write a blog post—I’ll often answer it at no charge, calling it out as a “strategically free” bonus.
In fact, the core concept of this very blog post—the “solution + channels + consistency” combo—started in a coaching call.
2) Content delivered via CHANNELS your audience prefers
Don’t use your preferred channels—use your target market’s preferred channels.
In this context, my definition of “channels” includes both how to deliver the content (e.g., a blog post on your website) and how you promote or otherwise share the content (e.g., sharing the blog post via your email list and social media accounts).
For instance, several of my clients specialize in marketing for firms where the owner is often “in the field.” If your target client is driving around all day, you probably don’t want to do long-form blog posts. But they might like a podcast they can listen to while driving, or short videos they can watch on their iPad while waiting for a customer to arrive.
That said, there’s still an intersection—you need to choose channels that your audience wants… but that you can deliver consistently. For more on that, read on!
3) Content delivered with CONSISTENCY
Look at the channels your target audience prefers, and decide which you can consistently sustain. If your audience likes visual content but you don’t have anyone on your team to help you make that happen, you’ll probably want to choose something else. And if you hate writing, don’t start (or restart) a blog.
Beyond competence and desire, it’s also a matter of capacity. When was your agency’s last blog post? If it’s more than a month ago, you’re doing it wrong. (At a minimum, remove the “published” dates from the posts!)
Which team members can you recruit to help? Ideally, they’re people who care about content marketing as much as you do… or perhaps more, given the limited content marketing you’ve overseen lately.
As the agency owner, can you delegate all of your content marketing? It depends on your agency’s size and goals. If you have 10 people, probably not; if you have 100 people, you can delegate a lot. But either way, you still want to ensure your content marketing happens.
Not convinced? Let’s look at what’s possible, from my own content marketing experience.
What I Do (aka “Eating My Own Dog Food”)
In 2016, I developed what I call my Inbound Branding strategy—specialization, thought leadership, and marketing automation. But I didn’t have that when I launched what’s now Sakas & Company in 2013—and it was overwhelming.
When I was concerned whether my site would be ‘robust’ enough, Margot simplified the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) website to just two components. In short—your MVP website is just a contact page (so people can get in touch) and a blog (so Google can start indexing content immediately).
Unstuck, I launched the website that night. (Here’s my first blog post. Not up to my standards today… but it was a start!)
Making that one key MVP decision—and then sticking with it—helps me recently break the “300+ articles” mark on my website. More importantly, it’s been extremely helpful for lead-gen.
- Subscribers will say, “It’s like you wrote that article just for me!”
- Prospects will reach out saying, “I read your article on XYZ; can you help me with that at my agency?”
My marketing content helps later in the process, too. I don’t share free custom advice until people become clients, but I’ll gladly share links to relevant articles. As one of my clients noted, I seem to have an article for everything—this is a huge “sales support” benefit.
Applying this Upgrade at Your Agency
What’s next? In this followup article, I share tactical tips on how to “operationalize” your agency’s content marketing reboot.
In the meantime, rally your team to help—you don’t want to do all the upgrades on your own.
Yes, the process will take time. But as they say: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”
Question: How can you upgrade your agency’s content self-marketing this year?