We all know how important content is for our own agencies and for our clients. And yet, most agencies struggle to actually get it done and done well. We know how to do it in theory. We understand the audience and the key messaging we need to deliver. But somehow there is a huge chasm between what we know and what we consistently get done.
My podcast guest Simon Thompson, founder of Content Kite, packed our conversation with concrete examples and advice on how to get it done. He argues that we often write about the wrong things. We write about us/our clients. Instead, we should be writing about the problems the audience is having first. We shouldn’t fret about how it connects to what you sell. At least not yet. Because if you can’t get their attention the rest is just noise.
Simon has decades of experience at major global brands such as L’Oreal, Nissan, BMW, Adidas, Disney, and Mondelez and is now leveraging that experience into great content marketing lessons not just for your clients but for your agency as well.
Join Simon and I as we re-examine your content strategy and give you the framework to get it all done by:
- Keeping your content interesting and on topic for the problems your customers need solving
- Focusing all your content so it moves toward the same goal
- Optimizing your content to collect email addresses and then regularly engaging with those people
- How to effectively repurpose content across multiple mediums
- The frequency which you must create content
- How to use content to position your agency as a thought leader in the industry
- Why you need to spend as much time promoting a piece of content as you do creating it
- Influencer outreach: how to actually get people to share your content by positioning them as authorities
- Tools for mapping out your editorial calendar
- Why you must share a piece of content more than once
- How Content Kite works with agencies to create amazing content
Simon Thompson is the founder of Content Kite, a content marketing company that helps digital agencies increase their quality and number of leads through content marketing.
Simon has held content marketing roles for some of the largest digital publishers in Australia such as Mi9 (Microsoft + Ch9), Daily Mail, and MTV. He’s worked on content projects for major global brands such as L’Oreal, Nissan, BMW, Adidas, Disney, and Mondelez, to name a few.
Whilst he was in a good place in his publisher roles in Australia, the entrepreneurial bug eventually took hold, and he decided to go out on his own and start Content Kite. He now runs Content Kite full-time and hasn’t looked back.
To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/simon-thompson/) and grab either the iTunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.
If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below:
Table of Contents (Jump Straight to It!)
- How Simon Got into Content Marketing
- Why Agencies Need to Stop Being Generic and Differentiate
- How Agencies Can Improve their ROI with Content
- How to Repurpose Existing Content into Different Formats
- Other Ways Agencies Can Get More ROI from Content Creation
- Useful Tools for Content Creation and Organization
- Mistakes Agencies are Making When Creating Content
- How Simon Works with Other Agencies
Drew McLellan: Hey there, everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Many agencies struggle mightily with the whole idea of creating content, whether it’s for their clients, but in particular I think many of you struggle with getting it done for yourself.
A lot of you want to leverage your Biz Dev through an authority or thought leadership position and you know that to do that and to establish that thought leadership, that you need to have content that demonstrates just how smart you are in whichever area you’ve decided to focus. But the day-to-day of running the agency and, you know, there’s only 24 hours in a day, and you need to sleep for at least two or three and you have kids and a spouse and all of that gets in the way of getting it done.
Today’s guest is going to talk about some ways that that can be done in an easier, more efficient and more effective way. So let me tell you a little bit about him and then we’ll jump right into the conversation.
Simon Thompson is the founder of Content Kite, which is a content marketing company that helps digital agencies, and I suspect any agency that wants their help, to increase their quality and the number of leads through content marketing. Simon has held content marketing roles for some of the largest digital publishers in Australia, such as Mi9, which was a combination of Microsoft and Channel 9, Daily Mail and MTV. He’s worked on content projects for major brands like L’Oreal, Nissan, BMW, Adidas, Disney and several others.
So, he was in a great place. He was in the publisher role in Australia and as all of you know, every once in awhile, that annoying entrepreneurial bug just keeps itching and so he decided to go out on his own, created Content Kite and now runs that full time and has not looked back since. So, Simon, welcome to the podcast.
Simon Thompson: Thank you very much for having me, Drew. Great to be here.
How Simon Got into Content Marketing
Drew McLellan: How did you get into content marketing at all to begin with, because, you know, back in the day, not that long ago, that wasn’t even a phrase.
Simon Thompson: Yeah, it’s a good question. My background, I guess, in the world of media and marketing and advertising started in a fairly unexciting part of that, being print magazines and really uninteresting ones as well. We were putting together catalogs for construction companies who were, you know, putting in the hexagonal screws that an architect might specify for a building. So, really really-
Drew McLellan: Wow.
Simon Thompson: Really uninteresting stuff. But believe it or not, I did actually learn a ton about some of the fundamentals of finding an audience, and creating content, and images that are gonna appeal to a particular audience.
But to cut a long story short, as you mentioned in the intro, I found myself at a company called Mi9, who were fairly forward-thinking in terms of how to attract audiences to brands and how you can sort of do that in the way that provides a lot of value. And, you know, content marketing is a great way of doing that. You sort of, you give something and in return you tend to get leads and customers and traffic and all that kind of thing.
So that sort of really appealed to me. That fact that it’s not just, you know, you create an ad, you pay for the ad, and you get a number of customers. It’s just, you give give give and then eventually the customers come to you. That sort of idea really appealed to me. And that’s what led me eventually to start Content Kite, where I am today.
Why Agencies Need to Stop Being Generic and Differentiate
Drew McLellan: You know, though, while I agree with you, it sounds like the early part of your career in terms of the subject matter was not fascinating, I’m guessing that one of the things you learned, and this is something that agency owners and I talk about all the time is that while the construction magazines and the specific nuts and bolts that architects care about was not particularly interesting to you and probably was not particularly interesting to 95% of the world, to the 5% of the world that you were trying to attract, it was vitally interesting and important.
And I think one of the things that I worry about when I think about how agencies do content is so much of it is so generic that it doesn’t: A. Differentiate them, and B. I could get that same piece of information in 12 different places. So you don’t really become a trusted resource for me.
Simon Thompson: Exactly right. I could not agree with you more. Yeah, it was very uninteresting to me but very interesting to the audience. And I think that’s probably the number one sort of mistake I see agencies making along the way when they’re creating content. They may not be particularly interested in the problems that their customer has so they write about what they are doing.
Drew McLellan: Well, and I think oftentimes that’s the problem with the, “Hey, we’re gonna make everybody in the agency blog” strategy. Which is, you know, “Hey, art director, what do you want to write about?” “Well, I’m gonna write about the Pantone Color of the Year.” And, “Hey, comp person, what are you gonna write about.” “Well I’m gonna write about the five mistakes of blah blah blah” and so there’s not a solid direction and it’s not really even looking at what the prospect is wrestling with.
It really is, “Well here’s something that I know or something that I can scrape off the web pretty easy because this is not really my day job, this blogging, so I want to get it done.” And so again that content falls a little short.
Simon Thompson: Exactly. And so the first thing that we say to agencies when we start working with them or even if we’re not working with them, if we’re just in discussions, the first thing you’ve gotta do is put a strategy in place. And I think that can sort of just turn people off, you know, right then and there. When they hear, ugh, this strategy. They don’t exactly know how to tackle it. It seems like a lot of work and something they don’t know much about.
But it really doesn’t have to be and so we like to simplify it into this framework. It’s called the hub and spoke framework. We didn’t come up with that but we think it’s a great framework to use. Essentially you just, you come up with one central idea and that’s generally a problem or a solution to a problem that your ideal customer has. And then you just schedule out twelve different ways of solving that problem.
So if you’re a web designer, web design may be one way to solve the problem your customer has. And usually the problem is something like “we don’t get enough leads or customers.” It’s not “we need a website.” It’s “we need something that’s gonna drive leads.”
So write about driving leads rather than web design. And web design might be one way to do that, but there’s also other tactics you can weave into that schedule. And so that’s a really important thing to focus on, to just make sure that you’re, you know, all of your pieces of content are in a case and sort of balanced with each other and they’ll all, you know, moving towards the same goal.
Drew McLellan: Yeah, I think that makes sense. But it’s so counterintuitive to not write about what I know about automatically.
Simon Thompson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Drew McLellan: Right?
Simon Thompson: Absolutely. Yeah.
Drew McLellan: And it takes more time and effort.
Simon Thompson: For sure, yeah. And you know, there’s I guess it comes back to that simple notion that do what’s right not what’s easy. It’s a great thing if you want to write about what you’re doing and sort of if you enjoy doing it by all means do it but just know that it’s, if you’re not solving a problem your customer has, if you’re not writing about something you’re customer wants to hear about, it’s not gonna attract your customers. It’s not going to do much else other than satisfy your sort of desire to write about what you know.
Drew McLellan: Well, it checks the box. So a lot of agencies know they need to do it and they’re trying to do it as expediently as possible but it just ends up being an activity they did rather than a means to an end of whatever their goal is, which typically for an agency is also about lead-gen.
Simon Thompson: Exactly.
How Agencies Can Improve their ROI with Content
Drew McLellan: Yeah. So I know that you spend a lot of time with agencies. And you are looking at what they’re doing well and what they’re doing right. So what are some things agencies don’t do that if they did it would impact the ROI from their content?
Simon Thompson: So I think the main thing, of course, after having a strategy in place and making all the content sort of be cohesive and working towards one goal is optimizing your content to collect email addresses and I’ll get into why this is so important. I mean, I know I’ve heard you say on your show, Drew, you know, that most customers of an agency are just not ready to buy when you want them to buy. You generally have to create as many touchpoints as you possibly can over the course of potentially three months, six months, a year, even a couple of years. So the importance of getting someone onto your email list so that you can continue to engage them, whether it be through your content or reach out to them, is fairly important.
And so the best way that we know how to do that is by creating what is called a content upgrade, which listeners may be familiar with. But it’s essentially a hyper-targeted version of a lead magnet, which is a downloadable piece of content that viewers can get in exchange for their email address. So for example if you have a, I’ll use an example of, you know, “Top Five SEO Tactics of 2017,” you might create a content upgrade that’s just a basic cheat sheet that has those five tactics. And maybe you’ll add a couple of bonus tactics on there. So there’s something in that piece of downloadable content that isn’t in the original post that incentivizes someone to enter their email address.
And once you have that email address, and this is probably the topic of another podcast entirely, but it’s extremely valuable to have that opportunity to continue to engage your audience via email. Because the likelihood is that that person probably isn’t going to just regularly come back to your blog on a weekly basis because you want them to, you know, they have other things to do.
Drew McLellan: What? They’re not gonna just keep bookmarking our blogs and going back?
Simon Thompson: Unless you’re Agency Management Institute, because-
How to Repurpose Existing Content into Different Formats
Drew McLellan: Sure, sure, right. I’m sure everyone is rushing right back to our site. I know better than that. That’s why we send emails.
So, a lot of agencies can barely get a blog post done, so I’m sure they’re going, “Yeah, that’s a great idea but how in the world do we get that done. So, do you have some strategies around doing that? Then I want to get back to the things that agencies can also do to double their ROI.
But if I’m creating a blog post or a less meaty piece of content, do you have some strategies for repurposing that content into longer formats that are worthy of an email trade?
Simon Thompson: Yeah, absolutely. So the first thing I would say is that creating content is quite the time commitment anyway. Anyone who has created a blog post knows that there’s a lot of work involved. And that’s just in writing the piece. When you add in all of the other components like even just uploading it to your CMS and formatting the images correctly and all that, that can take 30 to 60 minutes to do alone. And then if you’re promoting it properly, whether it’s through social media and writing an email newsletter, there’s more time there. And then if you’re reaching out to people to get them to share it … It’s a big time commitment, put it that way. Before anyone gets to creating content, I’d just like to say make sure you’re putting aside a few hours a week at the very least to put into this and don’t just sort of make it a sporadic thing that you do every once in awhile because you’re just, you won’t be setting yourself up to properly leverage the content as an asset.
To go back to your question, in terms of repurposing, this is a really good way of creating more content without having to create something entirely new. So, like I said, you can create things like cheat sheets, and checklists that go in conjunction with your blog posts and then if you want to even create a separate blog post that is just the outline of that, that’s something you can do. Creating a podcast, if you prefer to speak over audio. That’s another example of repurposing content. You can speak about a particular topic that you’ve written about on your blog.
The key idea is you don’t have to create something entirely new every time you create a new piece of content. You can repurpose pretty effectively and add value with each method of repurposing.
Drew McLellan: How often do I have to offer something new that someone can download? Is that once a month? Once a quarter? Once a year? Let’s say I’m, and we’ll get to how often agencies actually blog or create content, but let’s assume I’m one of the rare ones. That I’m regularly creating blog posts, let’s just call it for lack of anything better.
How often do I have to do something meatier that is downloadable in exchange for an email address? What’s the recipe for that?
Simon Thompson: Sure. We say once a week. And this is based on a couple of studies. The main one I can think of is by HubSpot. They found that the agencies or the businesses that are creating content once a week and a decent good meaty piece on content on their blog once a week are getting significantly more traffic than the ones that are doing it less than that.
Drew McLellan: Okay, but that’s not like I’m exchanging an email. So you just gave everyone listening a heart attack. Because now I … my question was, how often do you have to create a new downloadable something that people swap out for an email address.
But let me just make sure I’m understanding. You’re saying you should have fresh content on your page, on your website once a week. But that could just be a blog post.
Simon Thompson: Right. Yeah. That’s what the data would suggest is the-
Drew McLellan: Yeah, okay. I totally agree with that. But in terms of me creating an ebook or a checklist or something, how often, optimally, should I be doing that?
Simon Thompson: Sure. With Content Kite, for outlines, we do it for every single post. So every post we create is gonna have a content upgrade that goes along with it. However, we entirely understand that there is a time commitment that goes along with that and not everyone, if you’re looking at 80/20 kind of thing, it may not fall into the most efficient use of your time.
Although, before I go on, I will say it doesn’t have to be War and Peace that goes alongside every post you create. A one-page cheat sheet or checklist or something like that can take as little as five or ten minutes if you know what you’re doing. But what we say to agencies who don’t want to create it with every single blog post is create a category: specific content upgrades.
So if you’re a full service agency, you write about SEO, you also write about web design, you write about AdWords, etc. just create one content upgrade for each of those categories and put that alongside each post you write about that particular topic. So you don’t have to create one for every post but what we do find is there’s a direct correlation between the relativeness of the content upgrade to the piece of content. The more closely-related the content upgrade is to the blog post, the higher the email subscription rate will be. And it can be significantly higher. We’ve seen it be 10x versus a generic lead magnet and content upgrade.
Drew McLellan: I want to get back to the things that agencies don’t do that if they did they could double the ROI. But first let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back to that.
Simon Thompson: Sure.
Other Ways Agencies Can Get More ROI from Content Creation
Drew McLellan: All right, I am back with my guest Simon Thompson from Content Kite and we are talking about how agencies can do content better to serve themselves better and to grow their business.
Before the break we were talking about things agencies can do that perhaps they don’t do now that can really ramp up the ROI they have from their content marketing effort. You talked about that they have to create content upgrades, which was in essence, taking some element of the blog content or whatever it may be and making some sort of a downloadable tool, ebook, checklist, whatever that may be to build their email list. That’s one.
What’s another thing agencies can do to really get more ROI out of the effort?
Simon Thompson: A huge part of it is promoting the content. There’s a ton of ways that people can look at this. If you read about content marketing online most content marketers and influencers will say you should spend at least as much time promoting a piece of content as you do creating it. We agree with that line of thinking. Here’s why. There’s just so much content on the internet right now. I think there are like 60 million blog posts or something created in the last week. Unless you have a huge following already, you’re like HubSpot and people are just coming back to your blog every week, you need to be doing something to be getting it out there and getting some initial traction. The first thing that everyone should be doing is sending it to their email list and promoting it on their social media accounts. That’s an easy win. You continue to engage the audience you already have.
The next thing to attract an audience you aren’t already speaking to is doing the blogger outreach or influencer outreach. Many people may have heard of this. There’s a bunch of tactics that are published on the internet.
They usually look something like, you create this piece of content and then you reach out to a bunch of relevant bloggers who are writing about similar topics. You say, “Hey, so-and-so, I found your blog post about X, I recently wrote a similar post. Here’s the link. Have a read and let me know your thoughts.” And that is code for, “Can you please share this with your audience?”
That used to work, somewhat, to an extent, and people would share it out. It still does, but it’s getting far less effective as it happens more and more. I’m sure you, Drew, have had a ton of those emails come your way, asking people to share their content. There’s really nothing in it for you unless you already have a relationship with the person.
What we suggest people do is start planting seeds before you publish the piece. If you’re linking out to people in your article, then before you publish the piece, reach out to them and say, “Hey, we’re writing a piece about this. We actually really liked your resource on the same topic. We’d like to feature you within the article. Do you have a quote or an additional piece of insight, or something you could add to the article and we’ll link back to you?”
Maybe include an image of them throughout the article. People are generally more than happy to do that because they sorta look like the expert or the authority within the article and at the end of the day, people share things that make them look good.
You get two really good things out of that. First of all, you’re getting additional insight or a quote or something like that, that doesn’t already exist in the world. You’re doing a form of journalism, basically. You’re getting extra content for your article. B., when you do go to eventually ask that person to share the article, the success rate is going to be significantly higher than had you just reached out to them after you published and asked them to share. Because you’ve already provided some value to them in that you’ve made them look good and you already had a touchpoint with them so there’s some sort of relationship there before you go for the ask.
Drew McLellan: I think the key to that … I am the recipient of that kind of email on a regular basis and I think the key is: A. Be really clear about what the deadline is in terms of what you need from that person and when you need it back and B. You’ve gotta give them time to get it done.
It can’t be, “I need it today or tomorrow.” You need to give them some time to work it into their schedule. And I think C. Sometimes they still don’t promote it, so you have to accept that not everybody is gonna give you the quote or they may say it’s okay to link to something that you’ve written but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re gonna promote it through their social channels either.
Simon Thompson: Exactly. Yeah. There’s never sort of an expectation-
Drew McLellan: But they’re certainly more likely to, to your point.
Simon Thompson: Exactly right. To your point about giving them enough time, this is exactly where things like a schedule and a strategy come into play. If you’re just writing content and you’re publishing it on the day that you write it then of course you’re not gonna be able to have time to do this kind of thing. That just sorta adds to the importance of having a schedule and writing in advance and having at least a week before a piece actually goes live.
Useful Tools for Content Creation and Organization
Drew McLellan: Yeah. You know, as I’m listening to you talk and you’re talking about the schedule and the strategy and all of that, are there tools that you guys use or you recommend? Either the tools you use with your own agency clients or you would recommend to agencies use to map out an editorial calendar and a schedule and sort of manage all of that?
Simon Thompson: There are but honestly we just use Google Sheets. It’s just that, tends to be-
Drew McLellan: You’re going old-school.
Simon Thompson: Exactly right, yeah. There are tools out there and we’re looking at a few at the moment actually, but at the moment Google Sheets. You can invite the client to collaborate on that. You can both make notes in the schedule. There are a few finicky little things.
If you want to move things around it can get a little troublesome. But for the most part Google Sheets works really well. And it just simplifies things. You don’t have to pay for another tool and you don’t have to monitor another tool.
Drew McLellan: Right. In a schedule like that, what are you organizing? You’re organizing the topic and the author and due dates? What … is there anything that would surprise us if we looked at one of your Google Sheets and go, “Oh, I hadn’t thought about putting that on there?”
Simon Thompson: Let me bring one up. No. For the most part, the only thing that we probably have in our schedule that won’t be in most is that content upgrade for every single piece we create but for the most part it’s going to be: the headline, the date, I’m just bringing one up here, a keyword that we want to go for, the type of content, whether it’s an article or an infographic or this that or the other, there are tags.
Drew McLellan: Yep.
Simon Thompson: Sure your listeners know what a tag is. Which category it comes into. Like I said, if we’re going on that hub and spoke framework there’s only going to be one or two main hubs or categories that we’re writing in and then just a checkbox whether the first draft is complete and a checkbox if it’s been published.
Drew McLellan: Okay. One thing that we should be putting in there is: A. Is this a good piece that we should consider a content upgrade for, and I guess if we’re following your model there is one for every or most pieces. I think for most agencies who are doing this on their own, even having a content upgrade by category would be a huge improvement.
Simon Thompson: Definitely. Like I said, we create a content upgrade for every piece because we have the processes in place to be able to efficiently do that. However, we’re very aware that most agency owners aren’t only solely focusing on their content marketing plan. Quite the contrary. It’s probably 5% of what they’re thinking about right now.
Drew McLellan: Yeah.
Simon Thompson: Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be a super in depth piece of content. It can be a one-page PDF.
Mistakes Agencies are Making When Creating Content
Drew McLellan: Yeah. I know that you probably spend a lot of time looking at how agencies are handling their content and I know that you recently did a study that was looking at blogs specifically but what are some insights … If you could wave a magic wand and fix a bunch of agency’s content practices based on your own observations in the study, what would you fix?
Simon Thompson: Sure. To give listens a bit of background on the study. Like you mentioned at the start of the show, we had heard this piece of advice that agencies tend to not be focusing on content and more so than other businesses. Anecdotally we sort of generally knew that to be true but we wanted to go out and collect a bunch of data on it.
So what we did is we had a VA go around to the websites of 1000 digital agencies and we got them off a prominent digital agency directory and then just went through and went to their blog, if they had a blog and then ranked them from one to four. It was either posting once a week or more, what we would call an optimal frequency. Then it’s one to three posts per month, one to three posts per quarter, one to three posts per year or no blog at all. So they fell into one of those categories.
Like I said, optimal frequency once a week or more. The percentage of agencies that fell into that category was 7%. So out of a thousand digital agencies only 7% fell into that category, which was fairly alarming at first, but what it does mean is there’s a ton of opportunity for agencies to start blogging and be setting yourselves apart that way. One caveat I will add is that focused solely on the frequency of posts which I’m very well aware that is not the be all end all of creating content.
Drew McLellan: Right.
Simon Thompson: It had nothing to do with the quality of the content or the word count or anything like that. What it does generally is it gives us a fairly good idea of the kind of commitment and agency is putting into their content. If you’re posting one to three times per year, I think it’s safe to say that you’re not really giving content marketing a fair go.
Drew McLellan: And my other issue with that is a lot of agencies are selling content marketing to clients and it’s a little Emperor Has No Clothes if your content strategy for your own agency sucks.
Simon Thompson: Exactly.
Drew McLellan: I think you either have to eat your own dog food or you should stop selling it.
Simon Thompson: Yeah. Like I said we work exclusively with digital agencies and many of them are offering content marketing services to clients but they’re just not working on it themselves. That doesn’t mean that the content marketing services they’re selling to clients is bad just because they’re not doing it but it’s sort of … yeah, I can see it raising a few red flags in the eyes of customers when the agency that they’re buying content marketing services from doesn’t have a good content marketing strategy in place.
Drew McLellan: I think it’s hard for you to look someone in the eye and tell them you think that this is really a great solution and it’s gonna move their business and then they look at either your social activity or your own content and it’s pretty dormant. It’s hard for them to believe with any credibility that you actually believe what you’re saying.
Simon Thompson: Yeah. The one caveat I would add is that content marketing is a slow burn. I think most people are aware of this. It takes about three to six months to get up and running. For really new businesses, there are probably higher leverage things you could do with your time to really move the needle.
Drew McLellan: Sure, absolutely. It’s a support piece, not your main business driver.
Simon Thompson: Exactly.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. What else have you noticed within agencies content marketing strategies that you would fix if you could?
Simon Thompson: The other main thing, I’ve touched on this before, is just writing about themselves too much and not about the problems that their customers are having. So for example, I was speaking to someone the other day, Hubstaff, the time-tracking software. They have a really great blog. But they’re not writing about time tracking software. They’re writing about how agencies can be more successful, etc. Because no one really wants to hear about the ins and outs of time tracking. It’s not particularly interesting.
Drew McLellan: No.
Simon Thompson: But when you-
Drew McLellan: And after a very short while you’re gonna run out of content to write about the different-
If I had to sum all of this up in a nutshell, I would say come up with a central idea or a problem. Create twelve ways that you’re gonna solve that problem. Whether or not it relates to you. I mean, it should in some way tie in to what you do. And then schedule out those as content topics over 12 weeks. That is a very basic version of a content strategy. Anyone can do that. If you do that, you’re doing more than most other agencies out there.
Drew McLellan: Well, and if you think about it, if you’re doing ten or 12 spokes off of that hub, you only need five or six problems a year to talk about and you’ve got your whole year plus of content.
Simon Thompson: Exactly right.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Anything else that you observe that we could be doing better?
Simon Thompson: Sure. One thing I would mention is just to do with sharing on social. This is like a quick 80/20 hack that can be implemented. When you share on your social platforms, we see a lot of business share it once. Post a piece of content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, what have you. And then they’ll leave it at that. We came across this thing that Kissmetrics did. Kissmetrics, they’re an analytics platform. They have a really good blog. They do a lot of tests.
Drew McLellan: Yeah.
Simon Thompson: They rejigged the amount of times that they posted a particular piece of content of their social platforms and figured out this optimal balance. What they found was when they posted two times on Facebook, so unpublish and then once a month later, six times on Twitter, so unpublish two hours later, the next day, the next week, the next month, the month after that. Three times on Google Plus. They doubled the traffic that was coming to that piece of content that was coming through the social platforms.
That is really easy to do with a tool like Buffer or Meet Edgar. To just queue it up a few different times. Now obviously it’s going to depend a lot on what you’re social media following looks like, how many followers you have, how engaged they are. But that’s sort of a good benchmark to aim for.
The main point I’m trying to make here is definitely share it more than once. If you think you’re spamming your audience and pushing it out too many times, you’re probably not. Because these algorithms are just not set up to work in that way. If Facebook only shows about five to ten percent of what you post. A. They’re probably just not going to see it more than once. B. If they do, it’s really not that big a deal. Yes, you should change the headline for each time you post it, but if you think it’s gonna be a problem, I would try and reassure you that it’s almost certainly not.
Drew McLellan: Well and I think the other thing too is probably recognizing that just because you post it, even if it’s on my news feed or my Twitter feed or whatever, doesn’t mean A. That I’m there, paying attention to it and B. That I notice everything the first time I see it. So we know that about consumers and we sometimes forget that our audience is a consumer as well.
Simon Thompson: Exactly. That’s sort of ties into another key point. I think a lot of people who run blogs think that they’re following is really quite avid and they’re just waiting with baited breath to get their next piece of content and it’s just not really the case. Your customers are just generally not as interested with your business as you are.
Drew McLellan: Yeah.
Simon Thompson: So that’s why things like building an email list and engaging customers over the course of the year through multiple touchpoints is a really important thing to do. Because your customers just aren’t as engaged as you may think they are.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. So you mentioned two tools Buffer and what was the second one?
Simon Thompson: Meet Edgar.
Drew McLellan: Meet Edgar. Okay, I haven’t heard of that one. Okay.
Simon Thompson: Yeah.
Drew McLellan: So it works like a Buffer?
Simon Thompson: Exactly. Yeah. So we actually don’t use Meet Edgar, we use Buffer. But I’ve heard really good things about Meet Edgar.
How Simon Works with Other Agencies
Drew McLellan: Okay. So I’m guessing that some of the listeners are curious about how you work with agencies. So can you give us just a little idea of what that looks like?
Simon Thompson: Sure. We start every engagement with a very in-depth call because we have an hour or two and we just try to get to the bottom of who they are as an agency but more importantly their customers are and what problems they’re having.
So first of all we’re very upfront. We’re never going to know your business or your customers as well as you are. But we’re fairly confident we can get to the core of what your customers key pain points are and what goals they’re trying to achieve. That is the crux of a good content strategy. Just finding out what those problems are and if you can solve them you know better than your competitors then you’re off to a very good start.
So we start off with a call. Then generally do some follow-ups over email and then potentially another call to solidify everything.
Then we’ll get that topic brainstorm happening. That will just be a collaborative document. We list out 12 topics and we go back and forth on whether they’re good topics or not and whether they’re gonna resonate. And then eventually we’ll get to a point a where we have a content schedule complete with the content upgrade that is going to go alongside every piece of content. Then we get to writing them and just publishing and promoting. Reaching out to influencers as we’re writing. Sending off the email newsletters. Promoting on social media. So we sort of handle the entire process from start to finish.
Drew McLellan: And so the agency doesn’t have to write anything. Basically they sign off on the content and then they’re gonna see it and approve it but they’re not actually generating it.
Simon Thompson: Exactly. Right. So we’ll create a buyer persona and once we have an agreement on that, we’ll get to topics and then we have agreement on that and then nothing gets written until both those two bases are agreed on.
Drew McLellan: Sure. Right.
Simon Thompson: We’re writing everything.
Drew McLellan: And then how do you structure pricing?
Simon Thompson: Flat monthly fee based on the frequency of posts. Whether it be once a week, twice a week, or three times a week. We’re structured as a product or service. Our pricing is listed on our website and it’s a monthly retainer. It’s a very complete done-for-you service.
Drew McLellan: Okay. Awesome. So I know that you have put together a little offer for, again, proof that you eat your own dog food, content upgrade, if you will, from this podcast. So I know you’ve put together a free seven-day email course that dives deeper into some of the things that we’ve talked about and really drills drown to teach and give examples of some best practices.
So, how can listeners get that?
Simon Thompson: Sure. It’s a seven part email course and it essentially just goes through our entire process. Everything we do for clients is detailed in that email course and exactly how we go about it. So if people want to go over to contentkite.com/baba they’ll be able to sign up and get the first less on this part.
Drew McLellan: So I just wanted to touch on this for a second and then we have to wrap up. Because I know you have a lot of work to get back to. But what you just said was fascinating to me.
So the email course that you’re giving away for free basically outlines exactly what you do for clients. So a lot of agencies are leery of giving away their super-secret sauce. Talk about that. Because obviously you don’t hold that philosophy.
Simon Thompson: No. I definitely don’t. We’re very much of the opinion that you should just give away as much as you possibly can for free. That does wonders in terms of positioning you as the thought leader and the guy who’s just giving giving giving. A lot of people will, you know, read, whatever this secret sauce may be and they’re like, “That’s awesome. This guy knows what he’s talking about. But I don’t have time to implement this. But I know if I get such and such to implement, they’re gonna do a great job because he’s showing me exactly how he’s gonna do it and I know exactly what’s gonna happen.”
That’s sort of the core of content marketing. It’s give give give. Position yourself as the guy who knows how to do what your customer wants to do. Yes, you may lose a couple of customers because of it, but you’ll gain a lot more.
Drew McLellan: Absolutely. That they understand how you do it does not necessarily mean A. They can do it or B. That they want to do it or they have the resources to do it. So I share your philosophy of the more helpful you are and the more you let them see behind the curtain the more they trust you, the more it’s a credibility factor. At the end of the day, them knowing how to do it is often not enough for them to do it.
Simon Thompson: Exactly. And another point I would add is that you’re “secret sauce” may not be as secret as you think.
Drew McLellan: Right.
Simon Thompson: There probably is other content on the internet that goes through this process so it’s better that-
Drew McLellan: Odds are. That’s right. Odds are you are not the only one who has solved that particular problem.
Simon Thompson: Exactly right.
Drew McLellan: So you might as well claim it as proudly and loudly as you can.
Simon Thompson: Exactly.
Drew McLellan: Yeah. Hey, this has been an awesome conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and telling us how to use content to position your agency as a thought leader. Because it’s certainly got to be on the radar screen for every agency with content around our expertise for what we know and how we serve clients. It’s not really optional anymore.
Simon Thompson: I agree.
Drew McLellan: So I appreciate it very much. If folks want to track you down, and they want to either follow your writing or watch how you guys do content, where’s the best place for them to find you?
Simon Thompson: The first place I’d direct people to is that email course contentkite.com/baba. And if anyone wants to just send me an email and ask any questions about what we’ve talked about, feel free to email me. [email protected]. We’re on Twitter @contentkite and Facebook.com/contentkite.
Drew McLellan: Awesome. Thank you so much Simon. I really appreciate it.
Simon Thompson: Thanks very much.
Drew McLellan: All right gang, that wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. Hopefully that fired you up to reexamine your content strategy and really think through how you’re gonna get it done, whether you do it on your own and you just take advantage of Simon’s free email course to map that out. Or you engage with Simon’s company or someone else. Not doing it is really probably not an option. Hopefully that lit a fire under you a little bit.
I will be back next week with another guest and more insight for how you can build your agency to be exactly how and what you want it to be. In the meantime if you’re looking to track me down, you know by now that I am at [email protected] and I will talk to you next week. Thanks.