Content marketing for agencies: 3 main mistakes and how to avoid them
So many digital agencies deliver amazing marketing results for their clients, but too often they struggle with marketing their own agency. Does this sound familiar? What about this:
You’re brilliant at selling the importance of good content to your clients, but when it comes to your own content marketing nobody takes responsibility for creating it, or the production process you’ve got in place just isn’t working.
As the agency owner, you might be your own worst content bottleneck and the thought of changing it fills you with dread. You’re worried about the time and effort you might need to commit, or the time it’ll take your team when they could be focused on client projects.
I hear you! Imagine if you could change this and have a reliable system in place for planning, creating and promoting your content? One that ensures it’s so good that you get fantastic leads and opportunities from it?
What if I told you it was totally doable? How wunderbar would that be?! Keep reading, and I’ll tell you how to master content marketing for agencies.
I’m also going to bust the three most common content marketing mistakes I see amongst many digital agency owners and web pros. They might stop you from getting great ROI for all your efforts. And if you want more inspiration, this vlog will help.
Why Content Marketing for Agencies Delivers Leads
Before we get into the game-changing tips, there’s something else that needs our attention first. You need to work on your mindset and remind yourself why content marketing will grow your agency (spoiler – it really will!)
I know many of you rely on word of mouth and referrals, which is great, but what if those stop? Or they don’t give the right kind of leads to people you want to work with? Or who can afford to pay your worth?
A more reliable leads generation machine is needed. With successful content marketing you can:
- Generate a steady stream of leads for your agency
- Build your authority
- Position yourself as the go-to expert in your niche
- Charge more – yay!
- Highlight why you’re different and better (even if your offering is identical to your competition!)
Your dream clients will start noticing and trusting you, whether you’re completely new to content marketing or you’ve tried it before and got stuck. In fact, 96% of the most successful content marketers say that it’s helped them build credibility and trust with their audience.
Wundertip: ask yourself why you want to use content marketing in your agency? Do you want to:
- Drive traffic to your site
- Increase the site’s Google ranking
- Grow your email list using content upgrades
- Show off expertise
- Get noticed by the right people
- Highlight the people behind the agency
- Stand out with your stories
- Be able to charge more
- Work with clients who ‘get’ you
What if I told you that you can achieve all of these if you get your content marketing show back on the road?
Most Common Roadblocks & Mistakes
1. Your Current Content isn’t Getting Noticed (Content Crickets)
I hear this all the time from agency owners and it’s the main reason they give up even trying with content marketing. But, one sure way to get your content seen by your dream clients is to increase its quality and relevance.
How do you do this? You need to focus and decide your content niche – FIRST.
You can’t create engaging content without really nailing who it’s going to help and what your dream clients perceive as valuable content. If you haven’t got a user persona yet with validated pain points for your dream clients – add this on top of your content marketing to-do list! A great free tool for designing a user persona is HubSpot Persona Maker.
I know you might be worried that if you niche, you’ll miss out on opportunities which fall outside it. I hear this misconception about niching so often: ‘Nicole, we’re a generalist agency, we can’t possibly commit to a niche!’
But here’s the thing – I’m recommending that you consider niching your marketing content. Think about:
- Who you target
- What you’re planning to sell in the next 6 -12 months
- What objections and questions you might get
Use the answers to create engaging sales content.
Once you’ve decided on your content niche and know your audience inside out, plan how you’re going to overcome your current content marketing bottlenecks.
Smash Through Bottlenecks at Your Agency With This Process
Next, you need to get the team together and build on their areas of expertise. Create a doable process for creation, production, approval, updating and promotion of your content.
It’s ok for things to not always run smoothly. Open the dialogue with yourself or your team: what do you need to do differently? Where do you currently get stuck? (sometimes this conversation is easier guided by a marketing coach like me and with a delicious drink at hand).
Identify where you currently get stuck and plan how you’ll overcome current content bottlenecks in the agency. These could stem from a range of sources, including:
- Nobody in the agency has responsibility for content
- You’re too busy with client projects to carve out time for content creation
- Your own website has not been updated and you have nowhere to publish your content
- You’ve 100s of blog ideas but you haven’t planned the implementation of it all
- Nobody in the agency has responsibility for promoting your content
What to do about these?
You need to decide who will be responsible for overseeing and delivering marketing content. Make it part of their job role.
Content creation doesn’t have to take long. Start with small projects, then build it up. If no one has time, could you consider outsourcing some elements of content creation? You’re likely to be working with an awesome team of freelancers who could help – after all this is what they do for your clients.
A quick word about your website: As marketing priorities go, fix your website first. It’s your main digital home alongside your social media channels. Don’t take years to do this – I’m only saying this because I know it’s hard being happy with your own website when you’re a digital agency!
My advice: make yourself the client. How would you manage a website update for them? Apply the same process. This mindset shift will help you move mountains – and get you a 5 star website!
Back to your new content creation process.
This process doesn’t have to be complicated. Have a monthly meeting to agree ideas and priorities for the month ahead. Set the deadlines and ask the team if they’re manageable. Ask everyone to schedule time in their diaries to work on the content – treat this like a new client project from now on.
How can you get more content ideas?
Encourage everyone to note down in a central place what questions they get from customers, prospects and what they see online – this will be a goldmine for content ideas. Offer incentives for everyone and celebrate success, every month.
Download my popular freebie 30 days of content inspiration to give you a headstart here and a well-balanced mix of ideas that sell, engage and entertain.
I’ve implemented this content creation process for digital agencies like Mighty Social and they’re still seeing great results.
With the backing of the agency founder, we got the best of everyone, and they’ve generated some great leads from their content plus secured some unexpected PR opportunities as a result.
How Will You Create Standout Content For Your Agency?
Decide this as a team. You’re likely to all be creative, but don’t overthink it. Use the same creative muscle you engage for your client work! What can you do to make your content stand out?
It’s no use copying all your competitors! What are your brand values, what are your agency stories – how can you use those to make your content stand out? Have a plan for this, and test and refine it. Whatever you do, make sure your content is remarkable and show off your team members and culture.
Wundertip: Stand out by sharing your agency stories alongside your educational and entertaining content. This video will help you identify your best stories.
Plus, create behind the scenes content! It’s one of my favourite things to do, because potential buyers want to get to know the people behind the agency brand. It’s brilliant to see that in a world where many people work from home, agencies are embracing this more.
This is content that shows how you make your work happen, and that’s gold dust for showing off your culture and what makes your agency different. And it builds trust.
Promote Your Content
And don’t forget: promoting your content is as important as creating it. Use your social media channels and email newsletter plus relevant Facebook groups to promote your content regularly.
I changed my content publication days to Monday as it’s also when the fabulous GoWP community has a content sharing day. Could you do something similar?
Bonus Wundertip: If you’re invited to a podcast, mention the most relevant content you have for that audience to get them on your list.
Make the time to plan for every piece of content and work out how you’ll encourage your visitors to take the next step. Once they’re reading that blog, what content upgrade can you offer?
How can you get them on your list so you can deepen that trust and build the relationship until they’re ready to buy? Here’re 3 examples for content upgrades:
1. If you want to work with more e-commerce retailers – Offer an eBook with this year’s best plugins for improving their site speed
2. If you want to work with more accountants – get them to download free social media ideas for accountants to attract their local clients
3. If you want to do sell more email marketing for coaches – Offer the ultimate list of email headline ideas for coaching businesses
2. The Need for Perfection is Holding You Back!
Allow yourself to start your own content marketing journey from the beginning. Don’t aim for a super complicated sales funnel straight away. Learn what works for your audience, then automate.
Don’t compare yourself to others who’ve done it for years. Remember: every agency, big or small, starts somewhere. For example, Orbit Media has an amazing content marketing machine, but they have an agency team of over 40!
If you have a team of 4 you got to be realistic and find what’s doable for your agency! Here at Wunderstars, I’m a one-woman show with a fantastic support team of freelancers. This is what I manage every month:
- 2 vlogs
- 2 blogs
- 8 emails
If there’s only you and you’re just starting out, then commit to producing one main piece of content per month, then get better at it – repurpose it and increase the frequency of sharing and promotion. And make sure you plan different content for the different buying stages your clients will go through.
It will help you plan how to move people from being unaware to considering you as the best solution. Good content is a steep learning curve, so get started and allow yourself to learn.
3. You’re Crippled with Content Overwhelm
Most agency people love a good tool and they’re prone to shiny object syndrome, especially when they’re on the AppSumo email list (admit it – that’s you!) So let me help you get focused.
Stop consuming everyone else’s content – yes, you read that right! I’m very selective about it, because when I consume too much external content I lose my own voice and doubt I’ve anything worthwhile to say.
Find Your Own Content Marketing Sweet Spot
What medium is your audience most likely to consume? Then think about what you enjoy creating, and be realistic with it. Ideally you need a match here; if you enjoy creating content, you’re more likely to keep it up.
Yes, you could push yourself out of your comfort zone, but is there an alternative medium that you’d find easier? You’re not a failure if you outsource writing your blogs!
You’re likely working with some amazing content writers within your own digital agency (because there’s no website without amazing content!), so why not engage them to help you too?
One of my Wunderstars hates seeing herself on video, so she’s now launching a podcast. One of my fabulous agency owner clients has dyslexia and struggles to write lots of text, so was his own bottleneck.
Now, we get him to sign off content blog ideas (the part he really loves) and a copywriter interviews him for his blog content, so it captures his tone of voice without him having to worry about the writing part.
My content journey started with blogging. Everyone said I should do a podcast, but I much preferred being a podcast guest. (PS – if you read this far, I’m awesome talking about personal branding, story sharing and getting clients from social. I’m always looking for guesting opportunities!)
Things changed for my content journey when I invested in overcoming my video nerves instead. This wasn’t an overnight success – it took me a good two years of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. I also had some awesome coaching to be more at ease with recording.
Here’s a quick and brilliant confidence booster. For every content hero you’ve got, check out how they started. I’m not saying I’m your hero, but look at my first video, which I’ve kept on YouTube, compared with now!
Find what works for you and get better at it! You might consider offering free webinars and then convert people who signed up for it. Allow yourself to learn and refine your approach. I did this and every time I improved:
- My sales pitch was better
- I got a higher conversion
- More people turned up
- More people opened the follow up email
OK, sometimes I still forgot to turn the mic on, or people heard my hubby in the background drilling a whole in the garage wall… but I got better!
Allow yourself to learn and to refine your approach, because it’s all part of the content marketing journey. Ditch the need for perfect. It’s better to just get started.
Start with Easy Steps and Learn How to Repurpose
If you already like using social media channels, such as Twitter or Instagram, could you turn your short form content into long form content for your site and then into emails? Yes? Then you can repurpose your content!
Whatever you do, create content for different stages of the buyer journey and consider how you can move them to the sale or action you want them to take.
Now we’ve addressed these big content marketing roadblocks, here are my top five resources for inspiration – I’ve used them all myself.
- Book: Content DNA by John Espirian
- Book: Content Fortress by Martin Huntbach & Lyndsay Cambridge
- YouTube Channel: Natalie Hailey (grow your channel the right way)
- Event: Jennifer Bourn’s Content Camp. It’s outstanding. I just attended it and it’ll run again in April 2022
- Podcast: Agency Trailblazer from Lee Jackson (start a podcast, episodes 310-312)
What’s next for your content marketing journey?
Check out the ‘behind the scenes’ content ideas vlog so you can learn how to use this to promote your agency, too. Get your 30 days of free content to have your inspiration sorted – as part of the email sequence you’ll receive the popular story finder exercise.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please share it and comment below! Danke 🙌