“Fire your new business team.” That was the gist of a memorable session presented by Jeff Fromm of Barkley Advertising at Mirren’s 2013 business development conference – a pretty provocative message for a room full of agency executives to hear, especially since he was advocating doing away with their jobs.
But his point, as far as I understood it, was that traditional business development, which defaults to outbound sales tactics like cold calling, is becoming increasingly ineffective, while inbound marketing tactics like blogging and social media have a better chance of breaking through and getting the attention of qualified prospects (as long as you're producing relevant, useful content, of course).
I have become an ardent advocate for creating content that shows you understand your prospects and reinforces your value to them.
I don’t prescribe 100% to Jeff’s approach. Maybe my old habits die hard, but I still see proactive outreach like calls and emails playing an important role in an integrated business development strategy – just as different media play important roles in an integrated ad campaign.
Nevertheless, I have become an ardent advocate for creating content that shows you understand your prospects and reinforces your value to them, and a blog is a great vehicle for doing that.
“But writing blog posts takes so much time,” you whine. And I agree with you! But, in this three-part series, I’m also going to tell you why maintaining a blog is well worth it and how to make it easier.
Part 1: Why to Blog
But let's start with three great reasons why a blog is one of the most useful things you can do to make your agency’s business development efforts more effective.
If you can use your blog posts to fire up your marketing, sales and PR efforts, it’s not the colossal waste of time you thought it was, right? In fact, it’s a pretty great use of your time.
- It reinforces your positioning. (This assumes, of course, that you’ve done the work to carve out a differentiated positioning for your company. If you haven’t, I’ve got some thoughts on this as well.)
I counsel my clients to use their positioning as a filter for an editorial strategy. For instance, one of my agency clients has a successful track record of partnering with small but fast-growing companies – a niche positioning, for sure, but it’s helped them narrow down a universe of prospects to only those businesses that really need their expertise. And, as an expert, they’re qualified to create content around marketing issues that arise with rapid growth. Now, each time they post to their blog, they’re reinforcing not only what makes them different from their competition but also what makes them better.
- It gives your “sales team” fresh material. OK, most agencies don’t have the luxury of anything resembling a traditional sales team but that actually makes this point even more compelling. When you’re producing content that is meaningful to your prospects, all of a sudden it makes it much easier for a non-salesperson, whether it’s the CEO, the business development director or an executive that’s been assigned prospecting responsibility, to make “cold” calls.* In fact, they’re really “warm” calls because, as long as you’re approaching the right prospects with information that’s relevant to them, they’re more likely to respond.
- It supports your PR strategy. A list of influential journalists is as important as a list of targeted prospects. Don’t limit yourself just to writers for Ad Age and Adweek, Include those who work for the top trades in the vertical markets you’re pursuing. These writers especially are looking for expert quotes and good content to keep their readers (aka your prospects) interested. Make sure you let these reporters know each time you post something relevant (emphasis on relevant). They’ll start to see you as a good source and you’ll get more press exposure.
If you can use your blog posts to fire up your marketing, sales and PR efforts, it’s not the colossal waste of time you thought it was, right? In fact, it’s a pretty great use of
Now that we’ve cleared up that misconception, my next two posts will address two more blogging challenges – coming up with a steady flow of scintillating topics and, once you’ve invested all that time to write a great post, making sure you merchandise the living daylights out of it.
*I use the term "cold call" here generally to include any kind of initial outreach, whether a real phone call, an email, a LinkedIn invite, or even a conversation over cocktails at a industry event.