Is It Time To Kill Your Advertising Agency Blog?
I think that this is a big question that should be reviewed every year: Should you kill your advertising agency blog? To help answer it, I am going to discuss the pros and cons of ad agency blogging. The kind of blogging that should be an integral element in an agency’s business development program.
I have been consistently blogging since the early 2000’s. I started blogging as the CEO of my Oregon agency Citrus (I covered both advertising issues and the late 2000 recession’s effect on marketing). The advertising agency business development blog you are currently reading has over 600 blog posts and acts as the core of my inbound marketing program. Good news for me, it fills my new client pipeline. Blogging has been very good to me.
OK, Back To You. Should You Maintain Your Advertising Agency Blog? Or, Get Real And Just Kill It.
I look at a lot of advertising agency websites and their blogs. Many of the blogs are informative and brand building. However, way too many are just me-too blogs that actually deliver very little benefit to the agency.
The benefits include the generation of incoming new client interest, showing that the agency Thinks Different (in a world of thousands of agency and advertising services options), helps sell the agency as being on top of the advertising market, reinforces current client perceptions, and demonstrates some personality and chutzpah. I call the chutzpah part… being Unignorable.
Start Here: Some Huge Blog Stats
The world really does not need another blog. As Steven Pressfield says in the title of his must-read book: “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That Is And What You Can Do About It”.
To help put blogging in perspective, here are some numbers.
How many blogs are there? This appears to be an impossible stat to set – too many blogs come and go. However, a look at a few estimates suggests that the number is over 200 million. Here’s a reliable 6-year old stat worth noting – Nielsen estimated that by the end of 2011 there were 181 million blogs.
Statista reports: “In 2015, 28.3 million internet users updated a blog at least once per month. The number of bloggers in the United States is set to reach 31.7 million users in 2020.”
WordPress states that “Over 409 million people view more than 21.5 billion pages each month” and “Users produce about 84.9 million new posts and 45.2 million new comments each month.” And, that’s just on the WordPress platform.
Google delivered 18,700,000 results when I searched on “advertising agency blog.”
Obvious takeaway… there are a lot of blogs and a hell of a lot of advertising agency blogs.
Pros & Cons
Advertising agencies love their blogs. Agencies blog because they feel the need to do the social media marketing they recommend to their clients and they think they have something of value to say.
The problem is that most people do not actually read advertising agency blogs. In an attempt to determine how well read agency blogs are, I looked to see where agency blogs stood in the blogosphere. I found that only 3 agency blogs were in the top 50 on Feedspot’s list of advertising blogs. 3! The other 47 were ‘industry’ blogs like Ad Tech Daily and Branding Strategy Insider. I was surprised that WPP and Omnicom were not even on the list. A deeper look got me to an article, “Why are agency blogs so unpopular?”, from The Ad Contrarian’s – LOL, blog. As Bob says, not surprisingly, via his contrarian voice…
Considering that virtually every agency in the universe has some kind of blog, and considering their unique expertise at producing “compelling content” and their amazing online marketing skills, you’d think agencies would dominate the lists of advertising and marketing blogs.
Why don’t they?
There are only two possible explanations. The first is that they are not competent to create anything that anyone wants to read. I doubt that this is the reason.
I think the real reason is the second possibility — they’re full of shit.
I’ll come back to this thought in a minute.
Pros – Or Why Have A Blog
There are essentially three ways that an advertising agency gets a lead. Leads arrive via a referral or from an ex-client; care of outbound marketing (now well-known as Account Based Marketing) where you directly have targeted a potential client; and via inbound where the client finds you via some form of, generally, online search.
Obviously, many blogs are designed, or supposedly designed, as an inbound attractor. Smart strategic blogs work.
I’ll use myself as an example. I have been in the agency consulting business for about five years. According to Alexa (the website audience tracker), I am the 1,076,109th website (in my case my website is primarily a blog). At the same time, veteran agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners is ranked at 945,379. Considering the age of my website and its narrow focus on ad agency new business, I say “Yeah Baby”, I am right up there with Goodby (which was born in 1983, wants to be known across the entire maeketing universe, and does not have an attractor blog, by the way.)
Active blogs, let’s say with 4 or more 500-word plus posts a month, can generate repeat website visits if they follow the basic rules of intelligent blogging. While repeat visits to an agency’s website are rare in the agency B2B website world, one of the few ways you can make that happen is with fresh blog content.
Fresh keyword focussed content begets Google interest. This is a good thing.
Blog content gains traction and market reach when supported by an agency newsletter. The monthly newsletter should be a great reminder of how wonderful your agency is.
Blog content can be efficiently repurposed (and vice versa) as white papers, podcasts, Twitter, LinkedIn, SlideShare docs, guest posts, etc.
Niche subject blogs work hardest as a Google and industry resource. This means, if for example, you are a healthcare agency, really hammer healthcare related subjects. If you want to increase your share of Singapore clients, create Singapore oriented content. The goal is to have your prospective clients find you. OK, you figured that out. If you fear specialization that would make your business sound too niche, then create microblog sites.
If you recommend blogs to your clients, then you might feel the need to show that you walk the talk.
Blogs can also act as a cool way to demonstrate an agency’s personality. LOL – show your folks drinking craft beer around your foosball table. I owned an agency in Portland Oregon so I get this.
Cons – Or Why Have A Blog At All
Successful blogs must be based on a sound business development strategy which is itself based on having a smart business plan. You have that, right?
Running an active blog eats up staff time. It must be well written and has to have a champion.
The agency leader must look interested in the agency blog. If she isn’t, well, the blog might not get the support it needs.
Having a half-ass (i.e. generic) blog that isn’t designed to be Google, or prospective client friendly, is a waste of time. Too many agencies write about me-too subjects. Too many agency blogs are interchangeable.
Your blog has to have a unique voice.
Your blog better be populated and be up to date. I see agency blogs that haven’t been touched for months.
Bottom Line – Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit (Unless…)
Strategic, well cared for blogs make lots of sense. However, if you don’t really see your agency as a weekly / monthly content generator, as in a must-read content generator, then don’t run a blog. However, if you do not have an audience attractor blog, you need to ask yourself, how else you are going to get people to visit your website. One, just one example, is to do guest posting on targeted well-read blogs. I’ve done that on HubSpot’s mega blog. It works. They have even asked me to speak at their big conference.
Back to Steven Pressfield and his Nobody Wants To Read Your Shit message…
Here it is. Here’s the #1 lesson you learn working in advertising (and this has stuck with me, to my advantage, my whole working life):
Nobody wants to read your shit.
Let me repeat that. Nobody–not even your dog or your mother–has the slightest interest in your commercial for Rice Krispies or Delco batteries or Preparation H. Nor does anybody care about your one-act play, your Facebook page or your new sesame chicken joint at Canal and Tchopotoulis.
It isn’t that people are mean or cruel. They’re just busy.
Nobody wants to read your shit.
What’s your answer to that?
1) Reduce your message to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form.
2) Make it fun. Or sexy or interesting or informative.
3) Apply that to all forms of writing or art or commerce.
When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer, must give him something worthy of his gift to you.
So, wanna blog?