Wowzer – This Is My 500th Blog Post
I started blogging a few years ago to help promote my ad agency Citrus. We were early and, I have to admit, the blog world was a bit less crowded in the mid-2000’s. Today with over 3,000 marketing services blogs, agency blogs have to work a lot harder and smarter. I’ve tried to do just that here.
To commemorate this personal milestone, I want to make sure that this 500th post is highly valuable to my readership – that’s you. After I ramble a bit about what I think are some of my most useful advertising agency insights, I am going to discuss the essentials of my blogging system as a final point. This system works for me as virtually all of my business leads come from this blog as well as LinkedIn, Twitter, Slideshare and guest posting which are tied into the blog. These social media actions are directed by very clear objectives and are focused on targeting ‘you’ via the use of personas. I can tell you that, if used correctly, social media is a highly effective inbound marketing platform. But, you know that.
I believe that many of my past posts have provided value since they have been read over 159,000 times, have been shared across the web and, most importantly, drive those sweet incoming leads from agencies (hopefully like yours) that are looking for growth strategies.
Here Are My Top Posts
As you’ll see, my second most read post at over 9,000! covers the worst advertising pitch and presentation ever.
“The Worst Advertising Agency Presentation – Ever” is about a Saatchi & Saatchi pitch debacle and was one of the reasons I wrote my book on how to run winning pitches. The outcome of this botched pitch was that Saatchi did not win the global Adidas account and I didn’t get to run the account from my very own Saatchi sports agency. Go ahead, buy the book to see all of our mistakes and how to avoid them from Amazon here.
The worst ever pitch blog post is also the reason I put the word Saatchi in this headline. “Saatchi” is serious blog post headline click bait. More on click bait, or better yet, targeted keyword rich blog headlines a bit later.
OK, why highlight my 500th blog post?
Chest beating? Sure. But, I also want to make a point that if one person can write 500 targeted advertising blog posts that drive traffic, most advertising agencies can do it too. Surprisingly, many do not. And, as a result, many agencies do not remotely benefit from the highly efficient power of inbound marketing.
Here’s A Bloggish Stream Of Consciousness
I have a few themes that I’ve written about in the past couple of years. These are the result of my occasionally paying close attention to the things that have happened to me during my 36 years in advertising in New York, London, Minneapolis, and Portland. Those 36 years include: 16 years at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising; 7 as the CEO and Founder of 2 internet startups (Microsoft bought one); 9 years as owner and CEO of Oregon’s Citrus agency and 4 consulting with advertising agency clients around the world. And, a very serious dedication to the art and science of advertising agency business development and the how to of building an advertising blog that drives mucho traffic.
Numero Uno – Think Like Your Clients (And Prospects)
A primary point I make to my agency clients is that they need to think like their clients (an especially important trait for AE’s.) And… if they want to win new business, they have to think like their prospects. Surprisingly, many agency websites appear to be written for the agency vs. their prospects. This failure to meet the information needs of clients and prospects is easily seen if you examine many agency blogs and their headlines. Ask yourself, do your headlines look like their goal is to attract incoming from agency prospects? Do they look like the agency has spent the time required to really dig into its audience’s needs, pain points and goals? Or does your website look like a static brochure.
Here are 2 examples of blog posts that I think meet the direct needs of my target market:
Have A Business Development Plan
Multiple research studies (and my own experience) indicates that most agencies do not have written business development plans. This is crazy? Frankly, no plan = no action.
How about knowing the right way to aim and then compensate an agency Business development Director? Here is the document / contract I used to hire and hire my Business Development Directors. You’ll dig this.
Seek Brand Differentiation
Yikes. Sameness rules. While I know that it is very difficult to create a distinctive brand positioning in a very crowded category like marketing communications (advertising agencies, digital agencies, PR agencies, social media agencies, design agencies and on…), I know it can be done.
In fact, you have to do it. The smartest agencies I know have figured out how to carve out their stake at being a regional, service, media, demographic and client category specialists.
I have lots of posts on agency positioning. In fact, these lead my best of lists. Here is a link to a bunch.
Want To Really Look Different?
Go back in time to see the ground-breaking Boone Oakley website. This website was way different and put the agency on the map. It also SOLD the agency and its smarts. Something lots of agency websites don’t do.
Boone Oakley… Get this……. over 1.3 million views!
Stop Cold Calling
aggressive assertive business development outreach. However, you don’t like to make cold calls and your prospects don’t want to receive them.
But, they do want to be smarter and have respect for agencies that help. So, warm them up first. Here’s how… Leverage Thought Leadership – Hard
One of my favorite thought leadership poster children is New York’s luxury market focused L2. A few years ago I noticed their brilliant research based thought leadership program and, yes, copied it for my agency. We had been targeting large west coast health care organizations and, using L2’s angle, did an analysis of how health care organizations were using social media. Clients love looking at their competition. We helped and it helped us win accounts from two of the largest multi-state health care clients.
Having smart, compelling thought leadership in the form of must-read information is the best way to warm up your prospects. Warm is a good feeling. Give the gift of warmth.
Advertising Agency Business Development and Cold Calling (You’ll see why I like L2.)
Dig Social Media?
OK, who doesn’t dig social media? But, how many agencies (especially CEO’s) actually understand its power as a business development tool? Not enough. I had a call yesterday with a Canadian agency CEO and we shared my screen via Skype so I could show him how I advertise my B2B services using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn ad tools to directly target my agency prospects. It works. For example, when I hammer agencies in L.A. using Facebook Bossted Posts, I get calls from L.A. agencies. It works.
Guest Post For B2B Target Audience Reach And Fame
Your successful blog is a wonderful place to put your thoughts in writing. So are other people’s highly read blogs. And, since we all crave new content, many of those high traffic blogs will gladly act as a publishing platform for your very own content. These powerful guest post platforms come with huge audiences like HubSpot’s Agency Post and even LinkedIn Pulse. Here are some examples of how I’ve used them.
Ad Agency Marketing Tools
We love marketing tools. I’ve written about some that help us use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook that I use for my own marketing. I especially love that you can spy on your competition with some of these. They work and you should look hard at these and keep on Googling because there are more and more tools created every month.
Get this: over 85 people have shared this on LinkedIn: 6 Social media Tools To Spy on Droga5 and Ogilvy
113 passed this one on to their LinkedIn buddies. 42 did so on Facebook.: 11 Must Have Business Development Tools
Sell Your Advertising Agency
A couple of times a month I get asked, “how can we sell our agency?” I’ve bought and sold three agencies so my insights come from direct experience. This “I want to sell” question comes from, not surprisingly, the 50+ CEO and younger agency principles that want to sell someday. I love this question because the only way you will ever sell your agency is – brilliant point coming – if you have an agency that someone else will want to buy. Therefore, create an agency with inherent value. At this point, go back to establishing an agency with a strong positioning (and of course a business development program that gets you the client base that someone will want to buy.) it works. I did it.
For some of you agency owners, you’ll just have to walk away. Sell Your Agency or Just Leave
Back To “The Levitan Pitch” And Writing An Agency Book
Writing agency books is a good thing. It delivers that all important element of distinction that you really need. My book on pitching has become a best seller (in my mind of course) and has delivered speaking gigs, brand awareness and gobs of content that I have been able to repurpose on my advertising blog. Here’s one example of repurposed content – it’s 1,929 words that i got to use two times.
My Quickie How To Do An Advertising Agency Blog
Your blog should be the big attractor. It will only do so (and it takes time) if you directly target the interests of your prospects. The blog would be designed using a relevant keyword strategy based on the agency brand position, targeted clients and categories and most importantly… your understanding of what subjects your key prospects search for. I use Google’s Keyword tool and Keywordtool.io to locate high performing keywords. In all cases, you have to remember that you are writing for your clients and prospects and not other agencies. Unless, your blog is designed as a recruiting tool or agency culture maker.
You can study what your competitive agencies write about (and what gets read and shared) and what your prospects are reading. See my tool post above.
The blog should be designed to prove your expertise, position you as an industry leader and will attract targeted traffic via a sound SEO strategy. Example, many agency blogs fail because they appear to target other agencies and not clients and CMO’s. Clients do not need another general informational post about responsive design or programmatic buying.
WordPress plugins will help with SEO and the interface between your blog and Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, newsletter forms, etc. These plugins save time and repurpose your content across the social universe.
If you are at the starting block, I suggest starting the blog with a set of 10 blog posts of approximately 500 words each to begin to gain authority. You would then add both short and long posts of 1,000+ words (critical if you want Google to love you.) All of these posts would be automatically sent to your other social media channels.
Here’s a go-easy idea to get to lots of copy: Build content while keeping things easy: do marketing interviews with ‘experts’. To create lots of text for my blog and guest posts, I do interviews. I love interviewing experts. In addition to making it easy to get to 1,000-word posts, interviews make ME look smart. I do my interviews via text Q&A or on the phone and record the call. I then send the audio files to Rev.com for inexpensive and quick transcriptions. A 15-minute call can yield a valuable loooong blog post. As I’ve mentioned, interviews are easy to produce. You can also do video interviews and post them on your website and YouTube channel. I just found the video conference / interview tool Zoom. It looks like it beats Skype for quality and customization and creates a file.
Why not create a niche blog to attract the client you know you want? Here is an example of a very (I mean very!) niche American agency blog and stand-alone website. “The Store Starter” blog – from the ad agency Sheehy+Associates. This agency is looking to reach multi-unit retailers with a very specific message “Upjective store opening strategies and tactics to help you make your next new store opening as good as it can be.” I can’t tell you if it is working but the agency is clearly trying something very different.
Note: Their Twitter feed has 3,800+ Followers! Highly targeted Followers.
Finally. Maybe My Most Important Point. Be Consistent.
Do it and keep doing it. Have a social media calendar and treat your blog like a client job. Schedule your posts and make someone very accountable. Oh, and make sure your CEO reads it.
That’s It Folks. Um, A Bit More.
Now, if you dig how I think as a blogger, give me one of my Corleone calls and let’s apply this thinking directly to your agency’s new business objectives.