What I find both interesting and frustrating is that agencies know how to create and implement marketing and content strategies for their clients. However, when it comes to their own efforts, they forget the basics. Instead, their efforts are often haphazard, sporadic and tactical rather than strategic. So how can you build a foundation for your agency’s content marketing future?
Where to Start
Most agencies launch a blog, Facebook page or Twitter account with no forethought. These are accessible and seemingly easy to maintain, so agencies figure they should follow suit. As a result, their blogs and social networks languish from lack of attention, or worse, become brag books for their own accomplishments, awards and accounts won.
Before an agency can determine what kind of structure it needs internally, it must decide whether it should even be creating content, and if so, why? What business outcomes is the agency looking for? When done well, content marketing can drive qualified leads, shorten sales cycles, generate opportunities, reinforce a current client’s buying decision and create PR opportunities. Once the agency is clear about what it’s trying to accomplish, it needs to identify who it should be talking to in order to achieve its goals.
Who Are You Talking To?
One of the reasons most agencies blather on about themselves on their blogs or social networks is because they have no idea who they’re talking to. Determine who your agency’s audience is. Is it current clients? Prospective clients? Industry peers? Create a clear idea of your audience, and planning the content will be easier.
Building the Hub
Now that the agency has identified why it’s implementing a content marketing program and who it’s targeting, the next step is to build a hub, or the center of all the agency’s efforts. This hub is the place all efforts lead back to, and it should reside on a platform that the agency has 100 percent control over.
This means the platform can’t be Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other third-party site. It needs to exist on the agency’s own website or blog. It should drive your audience back to your agency’s site and should be built to store and display content relevant to your agency’s expertise and offerings. Displaying this type of inbound marketing knowledge and the ability to create a social media information cycle will convince potential clients that you can do the same for them.
After the hub is established, the spokes can be added. A spoke is any activity or effort that drives people back to the hub. These will include both online and offline activities, ranging from speaking at a Rotary meeting to offering a free eBook via Facebook or Twitter. The hub and spokes dictate how much content needs to be created.
Finally, the agency is ready to think about structure. It needs to build a team that will be responsible for creating content, curating others’ content and telling people about available content. A half-hearted attempt will hurt an agency’s reputation more than anything else.
Keep Your Attention to Detail
Many agencies start off strong. The staff is enthusiastic and willing to contribute. But, as client work piles on, it’s easy to dismiss the agency’s efforts as optional. Deadlines start being overlooked and, before you know it, the agency blog hasn’t been updated in weeks.
To be successful in your content marketing plan, you need to commit to these necessities:
- The agency’s leadership must set this as a priority and support the team’s ongoing efforts
- An allocation of time and resources that’s as sacred as any client deadline
- An editorial calendar that’s persona-focused
- A cross-trained team large enough to meet all deadlines
- Measurable business goals that are regularly reported
- An understanding that this is a long-term play, and that expectations should be tempered in terms of quarters and years, not days or weeks
- A plan for promoting the content and agency
You must create content and a plan that showcases your agency’s personality, ability to create and curate knowledge and content that provides your audience with value — not just more clutter.
How have you worked to create your agency’s content strategy? What challenges have you faced?