The following 10 tips are my suggestions for creating an ad agency new blog with the objective of generating inbound new business leads while simultaneously building social media capabilities and credibility:
1. I recommend that you do not incorporate your blog into your agency’s website
Online inbound lead generation is like fishing. We want to fish for a particular fish (your target audience) with a particular bait (an appealing positioning that differentiates your agency from the rest) and fish away from the boat (the agency’s Website) so that we don’t scare away the fish.
Most agency blogs look to corporate and less personal. If it is tied into your agency’s website and branding, it is immediately constricted and has no room to breathe and grow. It’s okay for your agency’s Website to show its diversity of clients but a blog has to have a specific target audience.
The Website is your online brochure, the place where capabilities, credentials and the work reside. The blog will compel you to focus your agency more narrowly without the risk. You wont be throwing the baby out with the bath water. You will still generate a diversity of clients the way you’ve done it in the past, through personal referrals and recommendations. But the blog allows you to go fishing for the fish that is the best fit for your agency.
2. The agency’s blog should be reflective of its principals
You have to remember that social media is about people, not an entity. Don’t hide behind the vail of the agency, be the face for the agency. Again,people want to work with people they know, trust and like.
Your agency needs a face and for most small to mid-sized agencies, that face needs to be the agency principal(s).
From my experience working with prospective clients of, small to mid-sized agencies, they always are interested in the chemistry with and oversight of the agency owners. You are the visionary of the agency. The only way you are going to “get” social media is to participate. If it isn’t a priority for you it wont be for your agency.
Also, keep in mind that the agency principals are the least likely to leave the agency. If you lose a staff member who you’ve allowed to be the face of the agency through social media, you lose your equity and a significant portion of your audience.
3. Keep the design simple
The more people you involve in this process the more chance you will have a bottle neck that slows and most probably stops the process. I personally know of an agency that literally took 5 months just to create their blog’s header. Another instance we couldn’t get a password from an IT guy because he didn’t want to email it and wasn’t available to talk by phone for a week!
Keep the people involved to a minimum. Remember that content is king. It is the fuel for the engine and don’t let anything inhibit generating the content.
I would suggest to start out utilizing WordPress, TypePad, Blogger blog platforms. My favorite is WordPress. You can create a blog in minutes rather than days, weeks or months. It will be a constantly evolving process and its important that you keep the process moving.
You can easily add pages, navigation, graphics without help from your IT department or much assistance from the creative staff. You should be able to have your blog up and running in a matter of minutes not hours, days, weeks or months. Keep the design clean, simple and easy to navigate. Stay focused on delivering the beneficial content.
The site needs to be more personal and less corporate. Let it reflect your personality. Keep from including your agencies logo. The agency should reside in the background. A great example of this philosophy, Edward Boches’s blog, creativity_unbound.
A side note: be sure that you own your domain. Instead of www.fuelingnewbusiness.wordpress.com I own the domain www.fuelingnewbusiness.com. That way I can change platforms without losing my traffic.
4. Make your target audience crystal clear
I write specifically to small to mid-size ad agency principals. She-conomy’s audience is male advertisers who should be marketing to women, Blue Collar Branding has a focus on marketers of manufacturers who want to reach blue collar workers. For your blog to be successful, keep you target audience in mind. You don’t want traffic for traffics sake, you want targeted traffic. This not only will help your SEO but also when you repurpose content through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
5. Before you begin to write learn to listen
Please remember this: reading fuels your writing. A great time saver for your reading is to use an RSS Reader. My suggestion would be to sign up for Google Reader. The key is to find sources for great content and have that content flow to you instead of you constantly having to search for it. Google Reader allows you to easily organize all of your online reading. It is very efficient.
Learn about social media etiquette, understand the importance of transparency and motive when using this emerging media but remember this one rule, there are no rules when it comes to social media. It is still evolving and we are pioneers within the space when it comes to marketing and advertising within this channel.
Chris Brogan was a huge help to me when I first started blogging. Here are a few of his articles that will be of help to you too: 10 Best Resource Articles for Ad Agency Blogs.
Watch your blogs analytics, it will help to fine tune the appeal of your writing. Always look to your readers, what they care about and respond to.
I’m 53 and if I can do this so can you. It’s my experience that is much easier taking a baby boomer through this process who has advertising and marketing experience rather than someone much younger who understands the new communications tools better. You can get up to speed overall much quicker.
Just don’t forget to bring your marketing mind and personal networking skills into this space. It’s just another communication channel.
6. Write Concisely
People read online differently than they do print. They usually don’t read word-for-word, they scan.
Nielsen Norman Group ’s research found that 79 percent of their test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word.
This makes it a tough transition for copywriters who tend to be clever and fluff up the copy. Make your posts scannable by:
Being brief, give your readers the Readers Digest version, the executive summary. Do the work on their behalf
Dividing up copy into shorter paragraphs
Using bullet points or numbered lists
Using compelling subheads, quotations, bold, italics, etc, so readers can scan for the information they need
These are a couple of additional articles to help with your online writing:
How do users read on the web? They don’t … they scan
6 Writing Tips to Make Your Ad Agency’s Blog Effective for New Business
7. Jump start traffic to your blog to accelerate lead generation
“Build it and they will come,” is not the answer to generate traffic to your agency’s blog. You must employ proactive tactics to create awareness and interest among prospective clients. The more traffic that you can generate, from among your target audience, the more inbound new business leads that will follow.
The strategic use of Twitter and eNewsletters can significantly bump up targeted traffic to your blog in a short period of time. I have consistentlyrepurposed my blog’s content through Twitter and my eNewsletter.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking, if I’ve written it everyone must have read it.
Twitter has been the leading traffic generator to my blog for over 2 years. I have a schedule for repurposing my blog 500 + posts into two different Twitter accounts that regenerate this content 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to 35,000 + followers.
My eNewsletter is sent out every other week to a data base of over 10,000 email addresses. The copy for the eNewsletter comes from my blog posts. It takes literally 10 to 15 minutes to create and send. That allows it to be maintainable even when I’m at my busiest.
Through these two tactics alone I can get 100% return on my time investment from writing my posts.
Here are some quick tips to help generate traffic to your blog:
Publish posts frequently. I would encourage you to post at least 3 times and preferably 5 times per week.
Write evergreen for your posts to have a long shelf life and a good return for your time investment.
Syndicate your new posts to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Add your blog link to your email signature.
Use a program like Social Oomph to repurpose your blogs older content through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Add a Share Button at the bottom of your posts to allow them to be easily promoted by others to through their personal networks.
Provide subscription options for your blog such as through email or an RSS Feed such a Feedburner.
Identify key words you want to dominate in Google search and consistently use them in your posts titles.
One thing to not do that will impact traffic. Don’t sell! The moment you start to sell on your blog is when you will most likely LOSE your audience.
Don’t forget SEO. Identify the key words you want to dominate and consistently use them in your posts titles to accelerate your rankings in search engines such as Google.
I’ve written more extensively regarding three services that are extremely helpful in “jump-starting” traffic to your blog: The List, Social Oomph and Basecamp.
8. Create resources for blog post ideas
Because I know who my target audience is, I have identified the categories that I’m going to write to, coming up with blog posts ideas is not difficult. From my experience, the narrower your focus the easier it is to find things to write about.
As I mentioned earlier, reading fuels writing. When I’m reading in the mornings, using Google Reader and scanning through hundreds of posts and articles I have filtered directly to me, I find a few that catch my eye. So that I don’t become distracted while reading, I use a tool called Press This, that will place the interesting posts/article title, URL link and synopsis into a draft posts in WordPress. When I write, I can go to my draft posts and work from there. The last time I checked I had over 240 draft posts that will eventually be published.
I also keep a Word document on my laptop’s desktop with a running list of ideas. Checking through the list I have over 100 possible topics, subjects, examples, tools, tips, current trends, resources, etc. Here are 50 Blog Post Ideas to get you going.
9. Be focused and consistent
It is as simple as planning the work and following the plan. I start out each day knowing who is my target audience. I write consistently to the stated purpose of my blog which is, “fueling ad agency new business through social media.” I make irrelevant material relevant to my readers. I do the work on their behalf. I’m consistent with my timing and religiously follow a regular posting schedule of 5 posts per week.
I follow a daily ritual to keep me on track and consistent. I start every day with my strategic reading. My homepage in FireFox is my Google Reader. I open it before I will dare to open my first email because if I open the first email, my day is done.
I also enjoy getting a leg-up for the week by having 2 to 3 posts finished by Sunday afternoon of most weekends. These are preset to publish on different days of the week and I’ll write the other two posts before the week is up. My readers can be assured of finding fresh content.
That doesn’t mean that you are providing all original content for each post that you write. I usually recommend that one post per week be original content, other blog post are highlighting other information, resources, research that will be of help to your target audience.
10. To keep up you must have the right mindset
We will experience more change in our industry in the next five years than we have in the previous 50.
“How do you keep up?” That is one of the most common questions I’m asked from agency CEOs and executives when I conduct “New Business Through Social Media” workshops around the country.
One of the main reasons agency principals haven’t been as inclined to participate in social media is that they are already over extended with little time for anything additional in their professional or personal lives.
When they make time to participate and understand social, is when they’ve finally relented, it isn’t going to go away. What will make the social media pill easier to swallow is the understanding the multiplicity of benefits it provides.
Social media only becomes a priority when you understand the multiplicity of benefits generated from it to you and your agency.
Before you brush off participation, understand the multiplicity of benefits for your efforts through writing an agency blog: