You know you should be creating content to help promote and position your agency, but what kind of content should you be producing?
In this episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast, Chip and Gini look at both the substance and delivery method to help you better understand what works — and what doesn’t.
As prolific content creators themselves, the co-hosts talk about some of the mistakes that they have made (and how to avoid them). They also discuss how content can be used not just to attract new business, but also to improve client retention and assist in recruiting talent.
Chip Griffin: “Content isn’t just about marketing to new people. It’s about demonstrating to your existing client base that you are a thought leader.”
Gini Dietrich: “You’ll evolve the way that you promote and distribute content. You have to stay on top of the trends from a content marketing perspective, but it does work. And if you’re answering the questions that customers and prospects want, and you’re considering your audiences, it’s going to be successful.”
Chip Griffin: “Stop worrying about SEO. Create good content. Write for humans, and it will stand the test of time.”
Gini Dietrich: “There is a very large piece of content that’s called a book that works extraordinarily well, especially in business development. It’s a very expensive, very time consuming business card, but it works.”
The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.
Chip Griffin: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m Chip Griffin.
Gini Dietrich: And I’m Gini Dietrich.
Chip Griffin: Today we’re going to create some content for a change. Right after this
So my question is this, should you be content with your content as an agency?
Gini Dietrich: That was very good. Or, as Addie would say that was very meta.
Chip Griffin: Does she even know what meta is?
Gini Dietrich: No she does not.
Chip Griffin: She just throws that word around because she’s heard it.
Gini Dietrich: She says it and it makes me laugh.
Chip Griffin: Okay, sure. Yeah, there we go. No, but we’re going to sit, we’re going to talk about content because A, we love talking about content and we love creating content quite clearly, but I think it’s clear from our conversations with agency leaders, that a lot of times they’re not being super thoughtful with the content that they’re creating in order to attract and retain business.
Gini Dietrich: Yes. And, who was the research by that said that 73% of clients read agency content?
Chip Griffin: I believe that was RSW wasn’t it?
Gini Dietrich: It was, thank you.
Chip Griffin: Lee McKnight, Jr.
Gini Dietrich: It was RSW. Yeah. 73% of your clients read agency content. So you should be creating content and you should be creating content that they enjoy reading or listening to or watching.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, I think that’s the challenge, right? Because there’s a tendency and I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past with some of the content that I put out. I put out things that are interesting to me, and maybe that’s interesting to my peers, but not necessarily well tailored to those folks that I’m trying to attract.
And also, as I alluded to before, helping to retain your existing client base. Because content isn’t just about marketing to new people. It’s about demonstrating to your existing client base that you are indeed a thought leader, if you want to use that overused term or, or whatever, and help to embrace them in a way that they want to stick around and say, yeah, these guys are still smart.
Gini Dietrich: I love that. Right. And one of the things that it does is it makes them go, oh, they can do that for me. That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. Because usually what happens, you’re in weekly meetings and status, it’s all status updates and you’re answering questions and you’re getting things approved and you’re moving through the process, but you’re not actually getting the time to do any learning or education together.
And so your content allows you to do that, stay top of mind and provide the opportunity for your clients to think, oh wait, I didn’t even think to ask them to do that. Of course we can get their help for that.
Chip Griffin: Right. Yeah. So it creates opportunities for upsells, but it’s also, if you use the content well, it can be used to help train and condition your clients, right?
If you want your clients current and future, to be thinking about an issue, an approach, a strategy in a certain way, you can use the content that you’re creating to help them think that way without necessarily having to sit down and say, now, listen here, you don’t want to send out a press release every single day because nobody’s going to pay attention.
You can say that in a blog post or a podcast or a video instead, and it’s a little bit less scolding.
Gini Dietrich: Absolutely. And you know, it’s funny you say that because the very first client that I started my agency with used to say to me, okay, I’m going into a board meeting, I need media impressions and advertising equivalencies.
And I would say we don’t report that. And he would say, but that’s what I need. So I got to the point where I just didn’t argue with him anymore. And I gave him media impressions and advertising equivalencies, and then I created content on the right types of measurement and the things that we should be tracking.
And one day he called me and he said, so I’ve been reading your blog. And I think that we should stop using media impressions and advertising equivalencies. And I was like, Hallelujah!
Chip Griffin: And for the second episode in a row, we’re going to have you singing.
Gini Dietrich: That was more an exclamation.
Chip Griffin: Sure. Okay. We’ll go with that. Okay. So yeah, I mean that’s, and I think it’s one of the things you can do is you can be making notes of the things that your clients are asking you about or that prospects ask you about.
Right? So use that as a great source of things that you want to be talking about, because if you have a client who’s asking you for AVEs or other things put together an article that explains why it is that those are a bad idea and that they don’t do what you think they do. And here’s an alternative approach.
And, and one of the things that I do is I’ve created a form that I use for most of my client conversations to keep notes in. And it helps to keep me organized, but one of the boxes I have on it is ideas for content or other things as well, but it’s primarily content. And so in the course of the conversation, something will come up and I’ll say, Hey, I need to write an explainer on this.
And so I’ll just jot a note in that box so that I can then go back and I can quickly collect all of these ideas that come out from existing conversations. You don’t need to spend a lot of time thinking about, geez, what am I going to write about? What am I going to talk about? What am I going to include?
You’ve got it all there in front of you. And at the end of a week’s time, you’ll probably have more ideas than you can handle.
Gini Dietrich: Yeah. And, you know, I love that idea. First of all, that’s really smart. Marcus Sheridan wrote the book on how to answer customer questions through your content. So first of all, check him out if you don’t already know him and read his book, because that’s the whole premise of his speaking and business and everything is how do you answer the questions via your content that customers and prospects asking. And for some of us, it might be the same, right. I mean, in PR you’re going to have clients who are asking for media impressions and advertising equivalencies, and you are going to create content around that as well as we have.
But the content’s going to be a little bit different because we may have a different stance. We may have different metrics. We may do different tactics that are measured differently. You know, all of those things that come into play. So you can still create content and have it out there. Even if there are other agencies who are also talking about the same thing.
Chip Griffin: Right. And it can be in your own voice. So even if you’re not saying something that’s truly original, right. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t really love the term thought leadership because it makes it – thought leadership to me comes across as I’ve got to come up with an original way of looking at this. You don’t need to come up with, I mean, there aren’t that many new original ways to look at pretty much anything in the PR and marketing space, right.
Someone has probably already had the same idea that you had. So you’re really just talking about packaging it in a way that relates to your audience and you put it in, in the words and in the context, that makes sense for you. So don’t worry about that. And don’t for God’s sake stop worrying about SEO value of this kind of stuff.
Create good content. Don’t sit there and say, I want to rank number three or better on this. And so I’m going to write… no, write the answers to the questions that your own prospects have. If you’re creating good stuff, it will end up ranking, right? If you write it for the search engine, who knows if your clients are the ones who are actually doing that.
Gini Dietrich: Right. That’s exactly right. And you’re right. If you write for humans first, the robots find you. I mean, Google is so good at semantic search these days that there it’s going to find the content and it’s going to serve it up.
Chip Griffin: Also if you write for humans, it will, it will stand the test of time. If you write for the algorithm, then every time Google changes its algorithm, you’ve got to change what you’re doing.
I mean, it’s just, it’s, it’s why, I mean, do you need to understand the technical aspects of SEO to some degree? Yes, of course. I mean, it’s foolish not to, but you shouldn’t let it drive your content. Your content should be driven by real world conversation. So as soon as you sit down and you’re typing in your email and it’s the second time you feel like you’ve answered that question, ever.
Okay, put that on your list of things to create content for, because it’s much more powerful if you’re talking to a client or a prospect who asks you about media impressions, AVs, that kind of stuff. And you can write one or two sentences in the email and say for more, click this link. Yes. Because now it shows that you’re not just giving an off the cuff answer.
You’ve given this careful thought and consideration. It also allows you to keep the email shorter. And if they don’t care about all that detail, they can skip right over it and just see you say. They’re dumb. Cool. Just type, they’re dumb. Here’s why. Click link. And if they’re just willing to buy into they’re dumb, cool, great. They moved on.
We don’t need to worry about it any further. You don’t need to write three or four more paragraphs for the umpteenth time explaining why AVs are dumb.
Gini Dietrich: They’re dumb. Also – well they are – they are, yes, you will feel like when you’re creating content that you are repeating yourself over and over again, and you will get bored with yourself.
I promise you, that’s not a reason to stop because somebody has not heard it before or somebody heard it or thought they heard it, but didn’t quite understand. And the second or third time they read it, listen to it, watch it they go Oh, oh, so like I talk about the PESO model all the time and I get so bored with myself, but there is always a handful of people that
go, oh, I didn’t get it the first time, but I get it now. So you don’t, don’t let that like your own feelings of, I talk about this all the time. I have overdone this, even if you’re still getting the question, continue to create content around it.
Chip Griffin: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s also an opportunity for you to actually stake out your own point of view.
Yes. So, you know, for example,if we go back a year and a half or whatever it was to when Clubhouse was hot for two weeks. And you had clients calling up agencies left and right saying, Hey, we need to do something with Clubhouse. What should we do with Clubhouse? If you’re a smart agency leader, you could write a piece that says Clubhouse is stupid. Clubhouse is dumb.
Don’t worry about it. It will be gone soon. Right? That’s my just, you know, maybe I should just reserve it’s dumb.com. Someone probably already owns that, I’m sure. In any case, you know, stake out that ground. So instead of having to deal with the client who calls up and says, let’s do something with Clubhouse and you’re like, well, let’s look into it, let’s figure it out.
Right. Just say, look, this is our point of view on it. If you want to, if you still want to move ahead with it, you know, we can talk about that, but, but here’s why you might want to look in a different direction and oftentimes it can be easier to use written, audio, video content to sway a client than it is if you’re just talking one-on-one to them, right?
You can, you can use the one on one time to supplement that, but when I’m doing it one-on-one it might come across as I’m just trying to get out of some extra work, or I don’t think I can make enough money off of you doing that. So I don’t care. Right. If you’re able to create something more thoughtful, that’s a standalone publicly shared piece, it’s more likely to be believed. It’s sort of like those of us who are consultants. For some reason clients trust us more than their internal staff half the time. That also is dumb. It’s dumb. That’s the theme. It’s dumb.
Gini Dietrich: By the way it is available. It’s dumb.com is available.
Chip Griffin: Well, I will be, unless you beat me to it while we’re recording here, I will be reserving that after this, because why not?
Gini Dietrich: Why not? Is right. Why not? There’s a good side project.
Chip Griffin: That’s right. Cause that’s not dumb to reserve it’s dumb, but.
There are just, there are these, all of these opportunities. But I think in addition to thinking about the kind of content that you’re creating, you have to think about who you’re speaking to. And this is an area where I think agencies mess it up a little bit, because you have a lot of different people in your audience.
And so you have to think about how does the content resonate with those different people? Because let’s think about who an agency might be trying to reach. You’re obviously trying to potentially reach the decision maker, the person who’s going to decide do you get the contract or not. Do you keep the contract or not. But you’re also reaching out to the people who are a little bit more junior they’re your day to day contacts.
And so they’re a little bit deeper into the weeds. It’s a little bit less high level. What are they interested in? Also the most overlooked is probably potential employees. Right. Your website is probably visited more often by potential employees than potential clients. And if you are like most agencies having a difficult time recruiting right now, you need to be thinking about the content that you’re creating in that regard too.
So you need to create a variety of different kinds of content, I think, in order to be effective, but you also have to have a way to easily call it out so that I know what’s designed for me versus what’s designed for another member of that audience.
Gini Dietrich: And I really like the employee part of it. So one of the things that we’ll do is I’ll write content, you know, specifically for a potential employee or current employees.
And then I throw it into our training manual. And then it’s part of the onboarding process. And you know that way everybody is on the same page and learning the same kinds of things that we want to be able to teach consistently. So somebody who’s been here for five years has the same learning that somebody who’s just starting is getting.
So I love that as well. Being able to just throw those links into our training manual. So it’s all right there for them.
Chip Griffin: Well, and that’s a great point because your existing employees are a great audience to consider as well, because you can use this also with them to help educate them, to give them resources so that, you know, maybe they don’t, they haven’t spent 20 years talking about AVEs, like you and I have, it’s now a cheat sheet for them.
Right. And so, so they’ve got the tools that they need, but they can then also share it with the client contacts or others. So that here’s the explanation. And I don’t necessarily have to grasp it as well as you do, Gini. I just have to grasp it well enough that I know where to put the link in the email.
Gini Dietrich: Yeah. That’s exactly right. And be able to say, oh, you know, gosh, Gini wrote this really great piece on that. Let me send that to you. And just be able to do that. So there are lots and lots of, of ways to, to create content like you said, at the start, you and I are both big fans, but I will tell you, it will evolve.
It will change the way that you promote and distribute. Right? Like right now, a LinkedIn newsletter is the hottest thing literally since sliced bread, I mean, it is so hot. It’s not doing as well as the blog or other social or, or medium or anything else that we we’ve relied on in the past. So you’ll evolve the way that you promote and distribute it for sure.
And it’s probably going to change once a year, maybe twice a year, at least. So you have to stay on top of the trends and all that from a content marketing perspective, but it does work. And if you’re answering the questions that customers and prospects want, and you’re considering your audiences, it’s going to be successful.
Chip Griffin: Well, and it’s LinkedIn. So they’ll probably accidentally kill it off in about six months anyway, because you know, every time LinkedIn does something good, they find a way to screw it up eventually. So unfortunately, because LinkedIn is a great platform and particularly for people in the agency world, it’s probably your best social platform for reaching out to potential prospects, hires and all that kind of stuff.
The other thing with employees, if you’re an employee of an agency listening to this, please consume the content that your agency leaders are creating. If you’re an agency leader, find ways to encourage your team to actually consume it because way too often, I see agency employees who have no idea what’s going out on the agency’s social channels, blogs, podcasts, YouTube, all that kind of stuff.
Guess what? If you’re an employee, it’s a great opportunity to learn and understand not just the actual information being shared, but also the perspective and approach of your leaders. In fact, many years ago, I used to put out content and I would sometimes put little Easter eggs in there for my team, just to figure out who was actually consuming it.
It turns out not nearly enough, not nearly enough.
Gini Dietrich: That’s true. And I have not cracked that code because, same thing. And it’s infuriating because you’re like, so you were an avid reader before you started working here and you subscribed and you read everything and you engaged in the Spin Sucks community.
And now that you’re an employee, you don’t do any of that. Why? Why? I don’t understand, but it’s true. It happens all the time.
Chip Griffin: It all the time and it’s, it is a real missed opportunity on both sides, both from leadership and from the employee side, not to be consuming that content. So you absolutely should be doing that.
And, and if you do, you will find a lot of resources that will help make your job easier, because if Gini’s explained something, take advantage of that, don’t reinvent the wheel.
Gini Dietrich: Yes. And I know this is an agency leadership podcast, but clients are guilty of that too, where you’re working with their team to create content.
And the CEO’s like, Hey, what are we going to do with blah, blah? And you’re like, we did that like three weeks ago on the blog. Are you paying attention? No.
Chip Griffin: No. And, but, so you’ve made a great point there. Clients don’t pay attention to this. So that’s why you should be finding ways to sprinkle it in, in a relevant way to your normal communications, don’t rely on your newsletter or RSS feeds or those kinds of things to alert your clients because they will ignore most of it.
But when you can find a way to bring it in, in a context sensitive manner that is related to whatever you’re already messaging them about, that’s much more effective. Be looking for those opportunities because you don’t want this content to just sit there idle. You want to take advantage of it as a tool to provide the education, insight and information that your clients and prospects need in order to make better decisions themselves. And certainly to the extent that you’re doing business development for your agency, you should absolutely be leveraging it in all of those conversations because they probably have never heard you say most of this stuff. Right. And so take advantage of those conversations to say, Hey, yeah, already thought about that.
That’s not, I’m not just, you know, off the cuff trying to come up with an answer for you right now. I’ve given it serious consideration and created this video or podcast or article.
Gini Dietrich: I will also say that there is a very large piece of content that’s called a book that works extraordinarily well, especially in business development.
It’s a very expensive, very time consuming business card, but it works. So one of the things that I’ll do in, in BizDev meetings is I’ll leave them a signed copy of the book. And then they may not be ready or they’re, you know, kicking the tires or they’re talking to other agencies, but by golly, my book is sitting on their desk and they look at that every day and I stay top of mind because of that.
If you have that in you, you can self publish. You don’t have to do a publisher and get yourself hard copies of a book or paperback, and use that as your quote unquote business card for business development meetings, because that provides you the opportunity both to stay top of mind because it’s sitting on their desk or on their shelf in their office.
And it allows them to read through your thinking and understand what it would be like to work with you.
Chip Griffin: Right. Well, and that’s, it’s a great point too, because there are all sorts of ways to use your content beyond sort of the traditional things that we think about, right. A book is a great example. Use it as your business card.
You know that that’s a novel approach for most people, but you can also use the actual content creation as a way to do outreach and be top of mind for people. And you can, can invite them as guests on your podcast or on a YouTube video, you can ask them questions and include quotes or information from them in the articles and blog posts that you’re creating.
You have a real resource and you should think of both clients and prospects for this. You can use, you could post on LinkedIn and say, Hey, I’m writing an article about this, who has some experiences that they’d like to share or some data that they’d like to share that I might incorporate. Take advantage of those because the mere act of content creation can also help you with all of these outreach and education activities.
Gini Dietrich: Absolutely.
Yeah. There’s tons and tons and tons and tons and tons of opportunities. And at the end of the day, we’re all marketers. So what you’re doing for clients, you need to do for yourself, you have to create content. It doesn’t have to be a book. It doesn’t have to be a weekly podcast. It doesn’t have to be multiple blog posts a week.
It can be, you know, like Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media does one really great well researched piece every two week. It can be something as simple as that, but, take the time, understand who your audience is, figure out what kinds of content resonate the best. Like we have one client that their audience does not read, but they listen to everything.
So we’re only doing audio. So figure out what they’ll resonate with the most and answer their questions. And you are golden.
Chip Griffin: Yeah. And I would argue that you probably should consider multiple forms of media for the same piece of information, because there are absolutely people who prefer to listen, prefer to watch, prefer to read.
And so, you know, I will never sit down and say, ah, you know, I’m not going to write an article about this because I already did a podcast episode on it or video because…
Gini Dietrich: I repeat it all.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely. Because chances are, you’ve got a variety of people in your audience who will consume different things.
And so why not take advantage of that? Reach them where they are. Don’t try to force them into your content. Don’t say I’m going to be text only, or audio only, or video only. Try to create a variety of different kinds of content and you will get much further ahead, much more quickly.
Gini Dietrich: Absolutely. 100%. I repurpose the heck out of everything. Everything.
Chip Griffin: Yeah. And sometimes we repurpose things and don’t even realize that we’ve done it. Sometimes I’ll look back and say Oh we had a podcast episode on this already. As long as it wasn’t within the last three or four weeks, I generally feel okay about it. But the other thing about that content creation, this podcast is a great example, not today’s episode necessarily, but it’s, it can be an opportunity for you to think things through.
And I know that when I write an article or I have a conversation with you on this podcast, it lets me, you know, gel my own thinking more and explore different things that I might not have thought of. Particularly I find when I write an article, I will sometimes think of one or two extra good points that I wouldn’t have had if I was just having an off the cuff conversation, because as you write it, you start to think about, oh, right. And that means this too. So take advantage of it for what it does for you. And that, in addition to the actual value of the content for someone else will help to make it worth your while.
Gini Dietrich: Yeah. I totally agree. So much opportunity.
Chip Griffin: So much opportunity. Not enough time in the day to create all the content that I want to create. I know that for sure.
Gini Dietrich: There’s that. But, so much opportunity.
Chip Griffin: Absolutely. Well, hopefully everybody has found this content worth their while. And you’ve now got some ideas that you can take back to your own agency and use them as you grow your own audiences and communicate with them more effectively. With that I’m Chip Griffin,
Gini Dietrich: I’m Gini Dietrich,
Chip Griffin: and it depends.
Gini Dietrich: And it’s dumb.