Promoting your agency. Or, the agency’s children have no shoes..

The title for this post is a corruption of the old (from the 1500’s, apparently) proverb along the lines of “The Cobbler’s children have no shoes”.

At the back end of last year, Data Hive examined marketing and creative agencies in Leeds and looked at how they were marketing themselves (as opposed to their clients). Robin and team assessed 243 agencies.

The Leeds Agency Insights research and report itself was ‘narrowcast’ – focused on one aspect of how an agency promotes itself to Client World, via its website. But it revealed a lot.

Agency Insights Report 2018

The report showed how agencies (in this case, in Leeds) utilised their own website for lead generation and business growth.

The research findings gelled with my own experience of working with agencies: that issue of ‘The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes’. is very common. Agencies attend to promoting client brands and businesses (of course), but make little or no time (or don’t have the skills in some cases) to do some of that for themselves.

I was interested in the findings because helping agencies make more of their own marketing to grow the business is part of what I do.

Now, you might think helping agencies to better promote their own business is like Taking Coals to Newcastle (itself another old expression!), but it’s not.

It really does do an agency good to get some external support on board.

Agency Insight report findings.

Some of the findings were:

  • ‘Just under half of all Leeds digital agencies don’t comply with current standards for HTTPS websites.’

Which is surprising as the majority if not all of the agencies examined cite ‘digital marketing’ as a specialism.

But no HTTPS / SSL certificate means browser warnings for prospects and a signal to Google to downgrade search rankings.

  • 85% didn’t appear to have a cookie / GDPR compliance message.

Which to my mind is less a desire to body swerve best practice and more a lack of focus on keeping the site (e.g THAT BIG SHOP WINDOW YOU HAVE) up to date.

  • Only 13% of the agencies were using some form of marketing automation / online forms / CTM platforms.
  • Only 22% of the agencies offered email / newsletter subscription to a site visitor.

Which I think is surprising in that GDPR compliance (especially if you use a platform like MailChimp) isn’t onerous. And to have some form of direct to prospects comms is a good idea with so much of social being pay-to-play now, in terms of meaningful reach to your fans and followers. Social should still be part of your mix of course.. but so should email.

I think what is going on here is that Agency owners feel the team can’t commit to creating enough useful content to warrant a regular newsletter, and so ditch the whole subscription route. It doesn’t have to be that onerous though.

  • Blogging looks to be on the wane for many of the agencies: only 30% had posted anything in the last 8 weeks.

SEO isn’t about high frequency content / blog refreshes any more of course. But some form of telling the world (and your clients for that matter) what you have been up to is still good to do.
It might be that micro-updates via LinkedIn and Instagram have diverted effort from longer-form blog posts. I think you should still start with the longer form and work out.

There are more findings in the report but those mentioned above point towards agencies not having a big enough focus on the health of their own site. And behind that, the ability to capitalise on any interest generated by it.

And my hypothesis is that that holds true for the wider marketing initiatives by which agencies attract business.

There is a structured approach, though, to promoting your agency.

That’s a mix of quick wins around the site as well as a strategic approach to wider marketing, that makes it all ‘doable’.

Even if you are busy making shoes for others.

Does the above chime with you and your agency? I am really interested to hear from you on that.

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Photo of Leeds: credit to Benjamin Elliott via Unsplash (from https://www.socialwetalk.com/ .. ironically a Sheffield-based agency, ha.). 

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