You Need To Drive Leads For The Agency But Resources Are Tight. How Do We Optimize Content Creation?
To answer the question in the headline, you can never have too much content for your agency’s own content marketing and lead generation efforts.
However that’s not helpful because I know most of you can’t create as much content as you’d like and by the way, this applies to your clients too. Almost no client can spend as much as you’d like them to spend on content creation.
So how do you know how much is needed to move the needle and how far is that needle going to move?
The answer is going to frustrate you because it really comes down to every client, every agency, and every specific situation is 100% unique.
Which brings me to the focus of this article today. You’re going to have to create the agency content program first and then dial it in based on data and performance over time.
Here’s how you go about building out an agency content marketing program.
You’re Facing Stiff Competition
This is stating the obvious, but you live in a hyper competitive industry. Every agency has a nice website, every agency publishes content, every agency has a blog, every agency runs webinars, and every agency has videos.
You have to either out-publish or out-smart ALL those other agencies.
The chances of out-publishing bigger agencies is going to be tough. That means you have to out-smart them. What can you say that’s different? Can you say something similar in a more disruptive way? Can you offer something that no one else has or can offer?
As Brian Halligan once told me, “The size of your brain is more important than the size of your wallet.”
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Zig When Others Zag
One of the best ways to stand out is to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. Today every agency is using video. Perhaps your best approach is to build a massive library of infographics and become the infographic agency.
Today, many agencies are niching down and focusing on one specific tactic or one specific technology. Perhaps your best approach is to work harder to cover everything your clients need so they don’t need to work with three different agencies to get their requirements met.
Most agencies are happy to publish pricing and pitch packages to their prospects. Maybe the best way to stand out is to rail against this approach and help prospects understand their businesses are special and standard pricing or packages rarely provide exactly what people need. Custom configured and personalized program recommendations produce better results.
Most agencies are happy to start working with clients on tactics with very little conversation or effort to make sure strategy is defined, in place and correct. Your approach might be to demand strategy gets done first before you can move into the tactics everyone gets excited about.
No matter what your zag is, make sure it’s clearly different from the zig most agencies are pursuing.
Test and Track Everything
I was speaking with an agency client about the challenges of getting their team to be analytical and how the massive amount of data available has not really empowered us but paralyzed us. There is so much to review and it’s challenging to uncover insights that drive recommendations.
If this resonates with you, consider tools like MAXG. These help teams quickly derive insights and recommendations from massive amounts of HubSpot data.
But my point here is that if you’re tracking and testing everything you and your team does for your agency, you’ll start building out the experiences required to do this well for your clients.
Tracking and testing on the agency is almost risk free. If you make a mistake, you’ve learned something valuable and no clients were harmed in the process. Using your agency as a lab has always been core to how Square 2 has grown and how we created new services for clients.
To give you a live example of how our world changes almost daily, last year Square 2 did a blog almost every single business day. You’re talking at least 20 blog articles a month. That demanded quantity and quality. Some articles were better than others for sure.
This year, we decided to cut down the number of articles, by design. Instead, we directed our focus more on quality and did not worry about quantity. This year we published 78 articles to date, down from over 200 in 2018. Yet the visitors to our website have increased around 13% year over year. There has been less blogging, but more visitors. Perhaps not what we would have expected, but the data doesn’t lie.
You need to uncover similar insights in your agency’s marketing data and this exercise makes it easier for you to coach up and train your team to uncover insights like this in your client data.
Work on Finding Unicorns
Larry Kim wrote a great article about hunting for unicorns in your content and continuing to publish in an attempt to find those unicorns and then once you score a unicorn continuing to ride that as long as possible.
He goes on to say how hard it is to find a unicorn from a content perspective and the sheer amount of non-unicorn content you might have to publish until you find your unicorn. I guess the definition of unicorn implies you might never find one and you should be prepared for that too.
I think the idea is to not be deterred from trying to find the unicorn by lack of success, but to continue your quest to find a unicorn by continuing to publish content.
This brings up the idea of quality vs. quantity. There are a variety of different opinions here. Some experts say quality is more important, especially these days. Others feel like Larry does, that you need to publish often if you’re going to hopefully one day find that amazing piece of content that kills it.
I think there is a healthy balance between quality and quantity. Yes, you need to publish frequently but you should always ask yourself, “Is this the level of quality that aligns with our brand?” If you can maintain that quality, you should publish as much as possible.
Be Consistent, Never Stop Publishing
When it comes to agencies, I see this situation frequently. Agencies start publishing content and then stop. I’m sure they got busy, lost a resource, reassigned a resource or simply ran out of steam. This is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. If you are starting and then stopping shows like Google and everyone else then you’re not ready for prime time.
Instead, start slowly and find a pace you can support. One new blog article a week is something almost everyone should be able to do. Start with one new piece of long form content every quarter. Start with one social post a day. This simple schedule is something every agency should be able to support.
Once you run that for a quarter, you should have some decent data on what this basic effort produces in terms of visitors, conversion rate, lead and sales opportunities.
From there decide if you need to pick up the pace and if you do, do it slowly. Instead of four blog articles a month, move to six. Add a pillar page to your quarterly long form content plan. Post to social media seven times a week instead of five.
The most important part is to stick to this, never waver, and never stop.
Start Today Tip – As you go into 2020, start with a content marketing plan for the agency. How many long form pieces and what formats are you thinking? How many whitepapers, eBooks, videos or infographics do you need? Consider pillar pages as part of your content plan in 2020. We added pillar pages and found they did wonders for driving visitors and improving rankings. Then plan out your blog and decide how many blog articles a week are you going to do? From there cut up and publish micro format content for social media. Which platforms are you focusing on? LinkedIn? Facebook? Twitter? Everything should be connected and orchestrated. Long form content gets cut up into blogs, and blogs get cut up into social posts. Curated content supports your content strategy, and everything connects to your SEO strategy, prospect’s buyer journey and your website. Yes, it’s complicated, but this is how you drive up your numbers and improve the trajectory of your agency.
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