What is the value in having a blog? Does anyone read it? Do you ever win any new business through it?
We think it does a lot:
- Gives you a voice
- Gives the agency a personality
- Helps position you in the marketplace
- Educates staff and help with internal communications
- Provides a destination for your social media traffic
- Shows passion if you get passionate employees to write posts
- It’s great for SEO
However, you must remember that your blog is a part of your overall inbound marketing strategy.
We encourage all our clients to actively blog due to those reasons above. Apart from the obvious ones – SEO, trust, credibility and so on – blogging gives your new business people content to use in marketing campaigns and it adds a lot of context to your positioning. It results in a better articulation of what makes you special and can even prove useful to your people, giving them the right language to communicate ideas and concepts.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s a crucial new business activity nowadays because everything else – from increasing reach and awareness to nurturing key prospects – hangs off it. However, if you don’t have a dedicated resource then getting blogs out regularly enough to make an impact can be a challenge. We often speak to clients who are determined to blog more regularly but who either can’t get started or can’t sustain it on an ongoing basis.
How often? Ideally once a week, but once a month is OK. The key is to do it regularly and not intermittently.
Coming up with content ideas
- Think about your audiences and personas: what sectors are you going to target for new business, and what decision makers, what events are you going to be going to. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what their problems or interests will be (and what they might search Google for). Think about things like their business function and their seniority – different groups will seek different types of content so identify your key audiences and come up with ideas that cater for all of them.
- Get a good balance of content so that when the blog is viewed as a whole it says the right things about your agency. Content that’s industry focused (vertically) and aligned with your new business efforts will really help your new business people as it can be used to improve your standing amongst the people you want to ask you to pitch. Content that’s service focused (e.g. on digital, or design) establishes credibility but does nothing to show industry knowledge.
- Think about short and long form content – not everything should be a white paper and you probably need a mix of both. If you use other activity such as email newsletters to drive people to your blog and you segment your lists (e.g. by decision maker level) you can then use different content formats for different people.
- Make a plan for the next 6 months, but don’t over-complicate it. Just a basic word document will do, with a list of article titles, the audience for the piece, and a synopsis for what it will cover. The point of this plan is to give you topics to write about when you can’t think of any.
- Brainstorm for topic titles: get some of your team together and get them to help you come up with ideas, and there’s all sorts of things you can use for ideas. Re-purpose other content, reviews of industry work, bench-marking exercises, video, client showcases, Guest bloggers such as suppliers, staff, clients. Things like recent industry events and conferences and even competitors’ sites are good sources of inspiration too. As for the dreaded ‘Lists’ and ‘How tos’ they do actually get very good engagement. So long as they’re useful and not content for content’s sake then do them every once in a while.
Making it happen
Make somebody the project manager. While the best-case scenario is that you employ a marketing manager, it’s not viable for many agencies – so give the responsibility of managing content production and blog posting to one of your team.
Just write. Don’t get hung up on what you say.
Strike while the iron’s hot – if you’re in the mood, write more than one article and then stagger their publication. Well done. You’ve just got yourself ahead of the game!
And having a good editor is invaluable. Find someone you can trust who will give good honest feedback. This means you can focus on writing the content and not worry about making it perfect.
Think about timing. The best days to publish are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Plan to get something done in enough time that it can be proof read and edited.
Using the content
Get it out there – tweet about it, post it on LinkedIn, email it to people. Tell your team, get them to read it and pass on the links, get them to like it, and so on. Do everything you can to get it shared…
Find the best place to post it on – over time you’ll learn about which platform is best. Your own blog, LinkedIn, Forbes, The Daily Mail, The Viz, Hounds & Horses. You need to be where your potential clients are so make sure you are posting where they are reading.
Learn from the analytics to see what works and what doesn’t and use that to direct future content. Subjective feedback counts too so take note of positive comments.
Create newsletters: boost your email marketing. Re-purpose your content through newsletters which will drive more visitors to your website. In general, though, remember a newsletter is just that. News in a letter (or email to be precise) so don’t go hard-selling on this, or it’ll end in tears.
Now, get to it!