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Does Content Marketing Work for Agencies?
Content marketing or inbound marketing, whatever you want to call it, has been the tactic of choice for over a decade now. Ever since Marcus Sheridan (aka The Sales Lion) started selling out of plastic swimming pools through his blog, every brand and his dog has become a media company.
It’s no surprise to see why, and for agencies, it’s a no brainer. If there’s one thing all agencies know and love, it’s how to produce great creative work.
How many times have you seen an agency with a fantastic looking website packed full of rich content? How often do you see ‘thought leadership’ content pimped out on social? All the time, right*. Agencies are generally pretty good at this.
OK, there are a lot of sh*t websites and ‘thought impotence’ too, but #agencylife is challenging enough without me sticking the boot in.
The content marketing engines of most agencies are firing on all cylinders.
But – and it’s a big but – what’s the impact of all this content on the bottom line?
For every white paper written, podcast produced, and event run, how many conversations are you starting with genuinely high-quality prospects?
What’s the value of your sales pipeline and the velocity of leads from the top to the bottom of your sales process?
What’s that? You’ve no idea. I thought so.
If you don’t know, it means your marketing sucks and you haven’t any leads. Or you have no clue how to manage a sales pipeline.
Here’s a scenario I’ve seen many times.
You’re pulling out all the stops with your content marketing.
There are stacks of whitepapers, email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more being produced. You’ve got content coming out of every orifice.
Enquiries are coming in, but they’re never quite what you want.
They’re low-value prospects, probably because your content doesn’t align to your real target audience. Or it’s because your positioning isn’t clear enough to scare off those with a tiny budget in a sector you find as exciting as an insurance seminar.
Anyway, the enquiries become contacts and because you don’t like sales – and most agency owners don’t – they go into a CRM*. Here they live until you convince yourself they’re not worthwhile following up.
* admit it, you still use a spreadsheet because the volume of leads is so small you don’t see the point in spending £12 per user per month for Pipedrive, or Salesforce or WhateverCRM.
I’m obviously describing my own experience here, and I’d bet the bottle of chilled champagne I’m about to pop open that this is the case for most small agencies too.
Champagne. Who am I kidding?! It’s a bottle of Becks.
So, what should you do about it?
Growing an agency doesn’t start with content marketing. You run a creative business, so I know it’s tempting to engage your creative juices. But, you need to do the groundwork first:
- create a vision for your agency that inspires your clients and team
- choose a niche service and sector – don’t be the jack of all trades
- align your values with your vision to motivate your team
- define your target audience and what they care about
- create some value propositions that align your agency skills with your audiences’ needs and wants
- set your sales process and model out the stages that will move a lead from enquiry to qualified contact and ultimately to a paying client
- start producing content that engages your audience around their pain points
- manage your pipeline well – including proper BANT qualification – and follow-up consistently. The more you do this, the better it gets, until you can hire a professional business developer.
So there you have it. Content marketing can and does work for agencies. But, it’s not the starting point for effective lead generation. It’s not the only way to generate leads too.
You can find out more about how other agencies are growing their businesses in our facebook group for agency leaders.