Episode 89:

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.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • 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
  • 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

 

The Golden Nugget:

“You need to spend as much time promoting a piece of content as you do creating it.” – Simon Thompson Click To Tweet

 

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institutes Build a Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

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 a 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 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. So today’s guest is going to talk about some ways 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 will jump right into the conversation. So 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 Nine, Daily Mail, and MTV. He’s worked on content projects for major brands like L’Oreal’s, 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 a while 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. Glad to be here.

Drew McLellan:

So how did you get into content marketing at all, to begin with? Because back in the day, not that long ago, that that wasn’t even a phrase.

Simon Thompson :

It’s a good question. So I mean, my background I guess in the world of media, and marketing and advertising started in a fairly unexciting part of that, it being print magazines and really uninteresting ones as well. So we were putting together catalogs for construction companies who were putting in the hexagonal screws that an architect might specify for a building so really, really uninteresting-

Drew McLellan:

Wow.

Simon Thompson :

Really uninteresting stuff. But believe it or not, I did actually learn a ton about sort of the fundamentals of finding an audience and creating content and images that are going to 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 a way that provides a lot of value.

And content marketing is a great way of doing that. You sort of 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. The fact that it’s not just 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.

Drew McLellan:

You know though … Well, 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. I could not agree with you more. 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’re doing. So, for example, a web design agency, they may be the thought leaders in HTML5 or JavaScript or whatever it may be and so they write a lot about that. But oftentimes their ideal customer is someone in the marketing department who’s not particularly technical, who doesn’t really know anything about HTML5, and so that content is just not going to resonate with them. And so the number one thing that we always say is, write about the problems your customers are having first, and how it relates to you is secondary because if it’s not interesting to your audience it’s never going to attract the types of customers that you’re looking to attract.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think oftentimes that’s the problem with the hey, we’re going to make everybody the agency blog strategy, which is hey, art director what do you want to write about? Well, I’m going to write about the Pantone color of the year. And hey, account person what are you going to write about? Well, I’m going to write the five mistakes of blah, blah, blah. 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 got to do is put a strategy in place. And I think that can sort of just turn people off right then and there when they hear this strategy they don’t exactly know how to tackle it, and 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 and it’s called the hub and spoke framework. And we didn’t come up with that but we think it’s a great framework to use. But essentially you just … You come up with one central idea and that’s generally a problem or solution to a problem that your ideal customer has and then you just schedule out 12 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 enough customers. It’s not, we need a website. It’s we need something that’s going to drive leads. So, right, about driving leads rather than web design. Now 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 your … All of your pieces of content are in a cohesive sort of balance with each other and they’re all moving towards the same goal.

Drew McLellan:

I think that makes sense but it’s so counterintuitive to not write about what I know about to automatically, right.

Simon Thompson :

Absolutely.

Drew McLellan:

And it takes more time and effort.

Simon Thompson :

For sure. And this I guess comes back to that sort of notion of do what’s right not what’s easy. I mean, it is … 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 that your customer wants to hear about, it’s not going to 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. 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.

Drew McLellan:

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 after, of course, 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, that most customers of an agency are just not ready to buy when you want them to buy. They … You generally have to create as many touchpoints as you possibly can over the course of potentially a three-month, 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’s called a content upgrade, which listeners may be familiar with, but it’s essentially a hybrid targeted version of a lead magnet, which is a download 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 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 … I mean, 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 person probably isn’t going to just regularly come back to your blog on a weekly basis because you want them to, they have other things to do.

Drew McLellan:

What? They’re not going to just keep bookmarking our blogs and going back.

Simon Thompson :

Unless your Agency Management Institute, of course.

Drew McLellan:

Sure. Sure.

Simon Thompson :

[inaudible 00:12:03].

Drew McLellan:

I’m sure everyone is rushing right back to our site. I know better than that, that’s why we said emails. So a lot of agencies can barely get a blog post done so I’m sure they’re going, 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 :

Absolutely. So the first thing I would say is that … I mean, creating content is quite the time commitment. Anyone who’s 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 online. 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 people to share it, it’s a big-time commitment put it that way. So before anyone gets to creating content, I’d just like to say that 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 a while because you just … You won’t be setting yourself up to properly leverage the content as an asset.

But 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, I mean, you can create things like cheat sheets and checklists that go in conjunction with your blog post. 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. I mean, creating a podcast if you prefer to speak over audio, that’s another example of repurposing content, and you can speak about a particular topic that you’ve written about on your blog. But 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 things pretty effectively add value with each … Well, with each method of repurposing.

Drew McLellan:

So how often do I have to offer something new that someone can download? So is that once a month, once a quarter, once a year? So if I’m … 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. So we say once a week, and this is based on a couple of studies. The main one I can think of is by HubSpot. But they found that the agencies that … Oh, I’m sorry. The businesses that are creating content once a week, and a decent, good, meaty piece of content on their blog once a week 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. That’s what the data would suggest is doing it twice a week.

Drew McLellan:

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. So with Content Kite, for our clients, we do it for every single post. So every post we create is going to 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 … That 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 blog post you create. A one-page cheat sheet or checklist or something like that can take as little as five or 10 minutes if you know what you’re doing.

What we say to agencies who don’t want to create it with every single blog post is create a category-specific content upgrade. So if you’re say a full-service agency, maybe you write about SEO, you also write about web design, you write about AdWords, et cetera, et cetera, just create one content upgrade for each of those categories and then 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. So 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 by any content upgrade.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. I want to get back to the things 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. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while odds are you’ve heard me mention the AMI peer networks or the agency owner network. And what that is really is that’s … It’s a Vistage group or an EO group only everybody around the table owns an agency in a non-competitive market. So they … It’s a membership model. They come together twice a year for two days. Two days in the spring and two days in the fall and they work together to share best practices, they show each other their full financials so there’s a lot of accountability. We bring speakers in and we spend a lot of time problem solving around the issues that agency owners are facing. If you’d like to learn more about it go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/network.

Okay. Let’s get back to the show. 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. So 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. And you had talked about that they had to create content upgrades, which was, in essence, taking some element of the blog content or whatever it may be, and creating some sort of a downloadable tool, ebook, checklist, whatever that may be, to build their email list. So that’s one. What’s another thing agencies can do to really get more ROI out of the effort?

Simon Thompson :

Sure. Well, a huge part of it is promoting the content and so there’s a ton of ways that people can look at this. But if you read about content marketing online, most content marketers, and influencers, and et cetera, et cetera will say you should spend at least as much time promoting a piece of content as you do creating it, and we agree with that line of thinking and here’s why. There’s just so much content on the internet right now. I mean, I think there were 60 million blog posts or something created in the last week. So unless you have a huge following already of … Let’s say you’re a HubSpot and people are just coming back to your blog every week, then you need to be doing something to getting it out there and getting it some initial traction.

And so the first thing that everyone should be doing is sending it to their email list and promoting it on their social media accounts. So that’s sort of an easy when you continue to engage the audience that you already have. The next thing to attract an audience that you aren’t already speaking to is doing this thing called … Well, blogger outreach or influencer outreach. And many people may have heard of this, and there’s a bunch of tactics that are published on the internet and 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 and 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? And that used to work somewhat to an extent and people would share it out and it still does but it’s getting far less effective as it just happens more and more.

I’m sure you Drew have had a ton of those emails coming your way asking people to share their content. And there’s really nothing in it for you unless you already have a relationship with the person or whatever it may be. So what we suggest people do is start planting seeds before you publish the piece. So 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 … We really liked your resource on the same topic and we’d like to sort of feature you within the article. Do you have a quote or an additional piece of insight or something that you could add to the article and we’ll link back to you?” And maybe include an image of them throughout the article. And people are generally more than happy to do that because they sort of 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.

So you get two really good things out of that. So first of all, you’re getting additional insight or a quote or something like that, that doesn’t already exist in the world. So you’re doing a form of journalism basically so you’re getting extra content for your article. But B, when you do eventually go to 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’d 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’ve already had a touchpoint with them so there’s some sort of relationship already there before you go for the ask.

Drew McLellan:

And I think the key to that … I am the recipient of that kind of an 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 got to give them time to get it done. You can’t … It can’t be a 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 also have to accept that not everybody is going to … They may give you the quote or they may say it’s okay for you to link to something that you’ve written, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to promote it through their social channels either.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly. And there’s been sort of an expectation-

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Simon Thompson :

That you’re going to get to that.

Drew McLellan:

But they’re certainly more likely to, to your point.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly right. And 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 going to be able to have time to do this thing so that just sort of adds to the importance of having a schedule, and writing in advance, and having at least a week before a piece actually goes live.

Drew McLellan:

As I’m listening to you talk, and you’re talking about sort of the schedule, and the strategy, and all of that, is there … Are there tools that you guys use or that you recommend … Either the tools you use with your own agency clients or that you would recommend 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 … It-

Drew McLellan:

You’ve gone old school.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly right. 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. And in a schedule like that, how … What are you organizing? You’re organizing the topic, and the author, and due dates. What … Is there anything that we wouldn’t have … 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. So no. For the most part … I mean, 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 no, 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, so whether it’s an article or an infographic or this, that, and the other. There are tags. I’m sure the listeners know what a tag is. Which category it comes into. So like I said, if we’re going on that hub and spoke framework there’s usually only going to be sort of one or two main hubs or categories that we’re writing in. And then just a checkbox. Whether it’s the first draft is complete and a checkbox has been published.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. But 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, that … There is one for every year, 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. I mean, like I said, we create a content upgrade for every piece because we sort of have the processes in place to be able to really 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. They have … It’s probably 5% of what they’re thinking about right now. But like I said before, it doesn’t have to be a super in-depth piece of content, it can be a one-page PDF.

Drew McLellan:

So 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 sort of looking at blogs specifically, but what are some insights? So 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. So to give listeners a bit of a background of the study. We had … 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. And we … 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 1,000 digital agencies and we got them off a prominent digital agency directory. And they just went through and they went to their blog if they had a blog, and they ranked them from one to four. So it was either posting once a week or more, what we would call an optimal frequency, then it was 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.

So like I said, optimal frequency once a week or more. The percentage of agencies that fell into that category was 7%. So out of 1,000 digital agencies, only 7% fell into that category which was fairly alarming at first. What it does mean is there’s a ton of opportunity for agencies to start blogging and be setting themselves apart that way. But one caveat I will add is that focused purely 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 :

So it had nothing to do with the quality of the content or the word count or anything like that. But what it does generally, it gives us a fairly good idea of the commitment that an agency is putting into their content. So 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. So-

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 close if your content strategy for your own agency sucks.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

So I mean, I think you either have to eat your own dog food or you should stop selling it.

Simon Thompson :

So I mean, 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. And that doesn’t mean that the content marketing services they’re selling onto clients is bad just because they’re not doing it, but it’s sort of … 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 going to 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 :

The one caveat I would add is that … I mean, 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. And for really new businesses, there are probably higher leverage things you can 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:

So what else have you noticed on … Within agency’s content marketing strategies that you would fix if you could?

Simon Thompson :

The other main thing was … I 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, so the time tracking software, so 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 et cetera, et cetera. 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 going to run out of content to write about that’s different.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly, exactly right. But when you overlay that onto to an agency, they seem to get that concept but they’re still writing about JavaScript, and Swift, and this, that, and the other that’s really interesting to them and is just not interesting in any way whatsoever to their audience. So that’s the main thing. So if I had to sort of sum all of this up in a nutshell I would say, come up with a essential idea or a problem, create 12 ways that you’re going to solve that problem, whether or not it relates to you. I mean, it should in some way sort of tie into what you do. And then schedule out those as content topics over 12 weeks. And that is a very basic version of a content strategy and anyone can do that. And 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 10 or 12 spokes off of that hub, then 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:

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 a quick 80/20 hack that can be easy implemented. So when you share on your social platforms, we see a lot of businesses share it just once. So they’ll post basic content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, what have you, and then they’ll leave it at that. So we came across a study that Kissmetrics did. So Kissmetrics, our analytics platform, have a really good blog. They do a lot of tests. And they sort of rejig the amount of times that they posted a particular piece of content on their social platforms and figured out this sort of optimal balance.

And what they found was when they posted two times on Facebook, so on Publish, and then once a month Later, six times on Twitter. So on Publish two hours later, the next day, the next week, the next month, and the month after that, and three times on Google+ they doubled the traffic that was coming to that piece of content through the social platforms. And that is really easy to do with a tool like Buffer or MeetEdgar to just queue it up a few different times.

Now, obviously, it’s going to depend a lot on what your social media following looks like, how many followers you have, and how engaged they are, but that’s sort of a good benchmark to weigh in for. The main point I’m trying to make here is definitely share it more than once. And if you think you are sort of spamming your audience and pushing it out too many times, you’re probably not because those algorithms are just not set up to work in that way. I mean, Facebook only shows about five to 10% of-

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Simon Thompson :

Whatever you post. So A, they’re probably just not going to see it more than once, and B, if they do it’s really just not that big a deal. And yes, you should change the headline for each time you post it, but if you think it’s going to 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 posted, even if it’s in my newsfeed or on 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. We know that about consumers and we sometimes forget that our audience is a consumer as well.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly. And that sort of ties into another key point. I think a lot of people who run blogs think that their following of it is really quite avid and they’re just waiting with bated breath to get that next piece of content and it’s just not really the case. Your customers are just generally not as interested with your businesses as you are. And 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:

So you mentioned two tools, Buffer, and what was the second one?

Simon Thompson :

MeetEdgar.

Drew McLellan:

MeetEdgar. Okay, I’ve never heard of that one. Okay. So it works like a Buffer?

Simon Thompson :

Exactly. So we actually don’t use MeetEdgar we use Buffer, but I’ve heard really good things about MeetEdgar.

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. I mean, so we start every engagement with a fairly in-depth kickoff call, goes about an hour or two, and we just try to get to the bottom of who they are as an agency, but more importantly who their customers are and what problems they’re having. I mean, first of all, we’re very upfront that we’re never going to know your business or your customer’s as well as you are, but we’re fairly confident that we can get to the core of what your customer’s key pain points are and what goals they’re trying to achieve. And that is sort of at the crux of a good content strategy just finding out what those problems are, and if you can solve them better than your competitors then you’re off to a very good start.

So we start off with a call. There generally will be some follow-ups over email. And then potentially another call to just solidify everything and then we’ll get that topic brainstorm happening. And that’ll just be a collaborative document, and we list out 12 topics, and we go back and forth on whether they’re good topics or not and whether they’re going to resonate. And then eventually we get to a point where we have a content schedule complete with the content upgrade that is going to go alongside every piece content. And then we get to writing, and get to publishing, and promoting. Reaching out to influences as we’re writing. Sending off the ML newsletters, promoting on social media, et cetera, et cetera. 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 check … Sign off on the content, and then they’re going to see it and approve it but they’re not actually generating it.

Simon Thompson :

Exactly right. So we’ll create a buyer persona, and then 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 sort of both those two phases are agreed on.

Drew McLellan:

Sure.

Simon Thompson :

And then we’re writing everything.

Drew McLellan:

And then how do you structure pricing?

Simon Thompson :

A flat monthly fee based on the frequency of posts. So whether it be once a week, twice a week, or three times a week, but we’re structured as a productized service so our pricing is listed on our website and it’s a monthly retainer that … And it’s a 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 down to teach and give examples of some best practices. How can listeners get that?

Simon Thompson :

Sure. So it’s a seven-part email course and it essentially just goes through our entire process so everything we do for clients is sort of 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 lesson on the spot.

Drew McLellan:

So I just want 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. 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. And talk about that because, obviously, you don’t hold that philosophy.

Simon Thompson :

No, I definitely don’t. So we’re very much of the opinion of that you should just give away as much as you possibly can for free. And that does wonders in terms of positioning you as the thought leader and the guy who’s just giving, giving, giving. Because a lot of people will 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 than they’re going to do a great job because he’s shown me exactly how he’s going to do it and I know exactly what’s going to happen. And that’s sort of at the core of content marketing. It’s just give, give, give, position yourself as the guy who knows how to do what your customer wants to do. And 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’m … 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 that it’s a credibility factor. But 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 your quote-unquote secret sauce may not be as secret as you think.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Simon Thompson :

And there probably is other content on the internet that goes through this process so it’s better that you do it.

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:

Hey, this has been an awesome conversation. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and telling us how we can all do this better because it’s certainly got to be on the radar screen for every agency with content around our expertise. And what we know and how we serve clients is 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 :

Well, I guess the first place I’d direct people to is that email course so contentkite.com/emailcourse. Sorry. Slash 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. Simon at contentkite.com. We’re on Twitter at contentkite, and Facebook/contentkite.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. Thank you so much, Simon, I really appreciate it.

Simon Thompson :

Thanks very much I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m really glad to be on.

Drew McLellan:

All right, gang, that wraps up another episode of Built a Better Agency. Hopefully, that fired you up to reexamine your content strategy and really think through how you’re going to 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 so 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 to be. In the meantime, if you’re looking to track me down, you know by now that I am at drewatagencymanagementinstitute.com and I will talk to you next week. Thanks.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to midsize agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.