I’ve heard from many agency owners about their experience blogging. It's often not very good. For many, blogging is hard, time-consuming, frustrating, and even with the best intentions, gets derailed by other priorities. Add to that our natural inclination to share the things that are meaningful to us but not to the people we want to read our blog. Take this post for example. The blogging problem is important to me and maybe you but not to the vast majority of people. So why then commit time and intellect to something without any return in sight? The clue may lie in why you are here right now.
We all know that ad agency prospects are active on the internet. If they are interested in your agency, they will go to your website to do some initial vetting to see if your company is worth investing more of their valuable time. They will check out a few fundamental things first, and if they still have an interest, they will dig a little deeper, maybe even visit your blog. Does your blog make a difference? My experience says yes but only if done right. Done wrong and you may lose that opportunity without even knowing you had a nibble.
The point is that a blog alone is not the panacea of new business. It is a tool which if used well, can help. Too often though, agency leaders mistake its purpose, don't commit to making it useful, and don't manage it effectively. The result is zeros and ones that evaporate into the ether never to be read or understood. Countless hours of staff time with no idea whether that time was well spent. How many times have you seen an agency blog without a post for six months, a year, even two?
Let's say for argument's sake that you and your team do actively blog. That's great, but what are you up against? Making your thoughts stand out in one of the most competitive environments in the world is a big challenge. In 2013, someone counted 152 million blogs, and that number is far higher today. Tumblr alone reports more than 350 million blogs in July of 2017 and growing at a rate of 25% each year. According to Statistica, 29 million people engaged with blogs in the spring of 2017 in the United States alone. Can your ideas compete?
And then, of course, there is this. According to Hosting Facts, 51.8 percent of all internet traffic comes from bots, so only 48.2 percent of your traffic is human. Internet fraud is one of the most significant issues of our time and impacts so many different aspects of advertising including our ability to build awareness and differentiation for the agency. As Wannamaker said so prophetically, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half." If your blog is read, who is reading it? Someday we may have to pitch bots instead of marketing people but not today.
Those who say that establishing your agency as an expert in a niche or specialty are right. Starting a blog or rekindling your blog is not the solution. To me, it's like saying your email is the best way to build your reputation or your telephone is the best method to increase awareness. These are all tools, conduits to be used in service of a more significant thing. Ten years ago, blogging was an innovative way to get attention. The race was on for the most aggressive agencies to launch a blog and share all their smarts with the world. It promised to connect with the marketers who were desperately seeking solutions, and because you were the only one blogging, they would come knocking. Today, when I look at agency website analytics the least visited pages are the blog. And, the few visitors who do land on the posts are often the least qualified. Unless, of course, there is something more significant going on, something that connects your agency with the people you want to come and check you out.
Make no mistake, agency content has only one primary goal, and I recently posted about this. That goal can only be achieved if the really hard work is done way back at the beginning - differentiation. Agencies who aren't well differentiated have nothing to say on their blog except look at my work, look at my offices, look at my people, and look at my dog. If you think your niche is a left-handed agency working for right-minded brands and all you have to do is amp up your blogging efforts, you are going to be disappointing.
And then there is the SEO argument for blogging. The more you blog, the higher your ranking. Well, yes, maybe. Today, search algorithms are more sophisticated and scrutinize content in ever-increasing ways. Authority, linking, keywords, site speed, links, time on site, and 200 other factors. Google is continuously reviewing, adjusting, and updating its search results, so a blog that shows up first today could be on the third page next week and much later the week after. It is likely your blog has minimal if any effect on the most common search behavior of your prospects unless you have unique, authoritative, and high trafficked blog posts. Sure, if you search for "left-handed right-minded agency" you will probably be first and call it a day.
My advice, don't blog. Don't blog until you find your unique competitive differentiation AND a way to express it that is interesting, competitive, provocative, and results-driving. Don't blog if someone tells you that your blog is the key to your new business success. Don't blog if you question what it is that you should say. Don't blog even if you think you have something to say but can't figure out how to get it in front of your prospects. You'll be spending too much valuable time with nothing but frustration to show for it.
Do blog if you have something to say that is interesting, motivating, illuminating, and contrary to the seas of sameness swirling around those billions of other voices crying in the wind. It is, after all, marketing 101. Unfortunately, too many people think it's all about the tool, or the activity, or the Nike slogan, Just do it. Sadly, too many "experts" claim that the cornerstone of an agency business development program is a blog. The age-old adage is just as true today. "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Don't get me wrong; there is a lot of good content out there buried by the millions advised that they must say something, anything to be heard.
An agency blog has only one goal, driving more prospects to the agency, the right ones, who genuinely think what you have to offer is appealing. Success happens when that content is seen where it matters and captures the interest in a way that makes you stand out from the rest. You won't do that with general, irrelevant, or uninteresting content. You can do that with something more significant, something that connects your agency with the people you want and motivates them to check you out. Finding a way to do that will answer the question on every agency owner's mind - to blog or not to blog.
I’ve got a lot more advice on how to make your year better and would enjoy sharing it with you. I’m always open to a conversation. If you like this post, click the thumbs up, so I’ll know, and then sign up for my new business newsletter. Follow me on LinkedIn for daily tips, tricks, and insights. #LetsGrow!