Agency Websites Suck, Launch A Weblog

By now, everyone has heard of weblogs. If you haven't, welcome, you are reading one right now. If you think you've read this before, you have. In the interest of espousing the value of weblogs to our industry, we're republishing this little piece of opinionated advice. For various reasons, many people and companies can benefit from blogging. So can ad agencies. Ad agencies are hired for two main reasons. First, and not always most important, is creative. Second is thought leadership - does the agency in question have the smarts to create successful advertising for client companies. Both of these areas of expertise can be shared with the world of potential clients through a weblog.

Right now, agencies might be saying, "What do we need a weblog for? We already have a web site." Great. Take an honest look at it. Is it much more than a creative showcases (if that) and management bios? Aside from a few short paragraphs on your so-called "proprietary process" is there any value there for the reader? Are you offering anything that gives insight into the way your agency thinks and what your opinion is on the current state of advertising? If so, great. Most likely. though it is not.

One of the primary benefits of a weblog to an ad agency is its ability to simply publish current agency thought. What is your agency's take on TiVo's creep into the living room? How do you plan to react to that for your clients? What is your perspective on broadband online video advertising? Viral advertising? Media costs? Will satellite radio kill broadcast radio? What are your thoughts on Subservient Chicken type advertising efforts? Is outdoor a viable medium? What is your agency doing to plan for the shift in media control from media companies to the consumer? Insight on all of these issues and more can demonstrate to clients and prospects how your agency brain ticks. And it can do it without giving up that "proprietary process."

A secondary benefit of publishing a weblog is its proliferation into the databases of Google. Every weblog headline you write is an entry to be searched and found by a potential client. Google and other search engines like continually changing content and that is a primary element of a weblog. Apart from Google, weblog entries permeate themselves into a vast collection of weblog-specific databases and that, along with frequent linking to and from other advertising related weblogs, can propel your agency presence to the forefront of many a search engine inquiry.

Most agencies would like to be able to make a presentation to every single company on its radar. While agencies will continue to go about getting in front of prospects to deliver the all important capabilities presentation, a weblog can do that for literally no money and reach more people. What agency wouldn't love to save overhead and proliferate their brand to as many as possible?

If you do choose to start a weblog, keep in mind the tone needs to be vastly different than your corporate site. The corporate site is your glossy brochure. The weblog is the demonstration of the smarts that walk the hallways of your agency - spoken in a conversational, human tone. Unlike press release quotes that are clearly not spoken by an actual human, a weblog must carry the human aspect of the agency. It's akin to an insider�s wink that says, "We know you know we have to say those corporate things on our corporate website but we also know you know we are regular people who enjoy tearing down corporate blather as much as you do."

You can also set your weblog up for newsletter delivery thereby building a database of potential business. There are so many ways a weblog can benefit an ad agency. So many that it is near difficult to explain in words. It's an endeavor that requires heavy sipping of the blogosphere Kool-Aid. If you're thirsty and want to drink in more about weblogs and how they can benefit your agency, contact me. I'd love to discuss it with you. Hmm� Did I just create a consulting business there?

by Steve Hall    Aug-19-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Opinion, Weblogs   

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Comments



Comments

What would you say are the top 5 agency sites?

Posted by: shyster on August 19, 2005 1:41 PM

one of the simplest and best I've seen is http://www.deep-focus.net...the agency that did the Rome firefox theme.

Posted by: anon e. mahs on August 19, 2005 1:50 PM

Brilliant thought I did not really come across yet.

Posted by: Tim Keil on August 19, 2005 2:21 PM

http://wklondon.typepad.com/

W+K London's excellent blog.

TBWA (Brazil) has a good one too im sure, I forget the url though.

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on August 19, 2005 2:27 PM

Yes, you did (just create a consultancy). Congrats!

As for the glossy brochureware that is the agency's corporate site, why not just junk it altogether? I know it's a lot to ask. But a blog can do so much more for the agency (or any business) than a stale brochureware site.

I find it odd, if not dangerously out-of-touch, that supposed thought leaders have such crappy sites to represent their firms.

Posted by: David Burn on August 19, 2005 2:48 PM

Hi Steve, a few weeks ago I put online a list of advertising agencies blogging, it's here.

One of my favourites are Being Reasonable by Reason Inc. and Three Minds by Organic. They are very much in line with what your wrote.

Posted by: Martina on August 19, 2005 3:17 PM

Great, just what the world needs: another blog. Yeah, that'll do the trick.

Posted by: Yuri Andropov on August 19, 2005 4:09 PM

How about Weblogs Work
? I am biased, but I think they are doing a good job... The blog is the corporate site.

Posted by: Alexander Muse on August 19, 2005 8:13 PM

You describe an agency blog as an insider wink saying... "We know you know we have to say those corporate things on our corporate website but we also know you know we are regular people who enjoy tearing down corporate blather as much as you do." Personaly I find it rather pathetic for an agency to take that route. It merely reflects the cynical "We'll do anything for money" approach of the majority of today's agencies, particularly those that have been swallowed up by the "bean counter" managed conglomerates. Few agencies have anything that remotely resembles a true blog (WK/London is an exception, their blog along with mine was featured in a recent "Campaign" article) most are merely extensions of the smoke and mirrors bullshit they flaunt on their Web site. The best ad blogs are done by outside observers, such as yourselves, or me (he said modestly) because they are not self serving PR vehicles for a vanilla product. The days of the Big Dumb Agencies (BDA'S) are numbered. Putting out a half assed blog won't put off the inevitable.
Cheers/George

Posted by: George Parker on August 21, 2005 12:14 PM

print for new biz strategy

Posted by: cliff moss on August 21, 2005 5:58 PM

modernista has a really cool site. www.modernista.com

Posted by: chris on August 21, 2005 6:51 PM

What?? Modernista? Deep-Focus? I think modernista is a little too modern for me to actually use the site. Deep-Focus--I don't understand how this in anyway offers a "value" to the visitor.

Posted by: Streever on August 22, 2005 7:59 AM

Nice article. I've responded on my agency's blog. My take: agencies like Media Catalyst - small, independent and interactive through and through - are much better at digital marketing than an old school/ big advertising agency (or their digital division). We blog because it's in tune with our brand. They can try the same trick, but without authenticity, they will fail.

Posted by: Ben on August 22, 2005 11:35 AM

Independent Sullivan, Higdon & Sink has been blogging -- and podcasting -- for a while now, in very much that way: American Copywriter

Posted by: Bruno on August 22, 2005 4:21 PM

Modernista is a prime example of making someone work too hard to find information.

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