Why are Agencies so Bad at Content Marketing?



Everyone has been talking about content marketing for a while now

Mark Ritson recently wrote that it is “bollocks”. He doesn’t think content marketing is anything – it’s just marketing.  Fair enough.

However, his best point is this:

“The problem appears to be content marketers who, in a modern version of marketing myopia, seem to think that their reason for existence is to create content, rather than communicate with clients and sell stuff.”

And this is where I completely agree.  Most agencies, in my experience, seem to be going down this route of creating their own stuff, but having absolutely no purpose behind it.  We hear it all the time: “We don’t need any content creation as we do loads of it, so no thanks.”

Herein lies the problem

Content marketers at agencies tend to create content that looks inward, and it has no focus.  It may be exciting to the agency, but honestly people, not one else could give a toss.

Content marketers are also used to working with brands (and consumers), which is an entirely different beast.  They will create content in the hope that it will go viral or perhaps influence a particular demographic within the market.  They are dealing with big numbers, and have things such as Likes, Views or Shares to report back on – but generally not what the engagements resulted in.

On the other hand, we are a new business agency

Our focus is to help the companies we work with to win new business.  And if they are creating lovely bits of stuff, then it doesn’t nearly align with what we’re trying to achieve.  “Sell stuff” as Mark correctly stated.

In our best-case scenario, we get a free creative license to be able to think about what type of content is likely to be able to help our client sell their services or products.  Furthermore, we combine sales and marketing, so that we have a funnel which can show us the customer journey.  This helps us to create something targeted to a niche sector perhaps, with the specific decision-maker in mind too.  Then make sure that the specific people see this content through whichever channels we deem to be most effective in that situation.  Consequently, we don’t want our content to viral, as that means nothing in selling the agency.  It can be nice when it happens, but this rarely influences the results (the ROI).

We do say to our clients to that they should continue to create their own content (which generally consist of “we did this recently…”).  So it’s a win-win situation.

However, agencies should not become publishers as such.  Simply publishing lots of content is not going to work for your agency.  That sort of thing only works for the likes of Hubspot – I wonder how many articles they have published?

So, do I think content marketing is bollocks?

Yes, actually, I do.  Producing great content to help sell stuff isn’t bollocks though. That’s just great sales and marketing combined.

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