Numerous agencies are throwing themselves on the content marketing wave. But why don´t they use content in their own marketing?
And I thought: What can be a better place to start than going to the web sites of the agencies promising to help brands with content marketing? For sure they must be prime examples of how it should be done, with sites filled with compelling content positioning the brands as experts in their field?
What a disappointment!
I chose five marketing agencies that are positioning themselves as experts in content marketing in the small Norwegian market. I have no association with any of them – and the choice was more or less at random. Basically I selected companies that the major marketing magazine in Norway, Kampanje, had profiled recently as players in content marketing.
To what extent are the content marketing agencies using content marketing to promote themselves as content marketing experts?
Here is why the question is relevant:
- Content marketing agencies claim content marketing is the most efficient way to build credibility and a strong brand among potential customers
- Content marketing is all about creating compelling content that is relevant to the target group´s needs. This goes far beyond pure brand promotion articles. Example: Red Bull, which has such a massive content production that you might in fact think of it as a media company that also sells a drink.
- A basic principle in content marketing is that brand should think as publishers – with professional storytellers on board.
- So if these agencies claim content marketing is the most efficient, and that they are the experts in helping brands use this technique, we should expect the web sites of the agencies to be prime examples of how it should be done.
Content marketing agencies with no content on their own site are like social media experts with no followers on Twitter. I have seen many examples of the latter.
So I took a closer look at the web sites of the five randomly chosen agencies, looking for clues that they were using content in a more sophisticated way than just as pure self-promotion. I have not looked in depth at their visibility in other content channels, believing strongly that any content marketing strategy always should start with the brand´s own site.
My conclusion: Almost all of them are doing exactly what content marketers are saying no longer works: Only pushing promotional messages on customers.
Here is what I found:
Agency 1: Redink
So where is the content?
The web site has elegant and simple design – and there are quite a few articles on the site. But all of them are of the type promoting the company and its services. We are shown examples of their campaigns, they inform about new members of the staff and explain what services the company offer. There is a blog, but it is only used to write positive articles about Redink and its staff and projects, for instance that they won one of the main categories in CMA Content Marketing Awards 2013. The site also has a comprehensive and impressive portfolio of the projects they have done.
Redink states on their front page that they create “Historier som virker” – or “Stories that work”.
But they are not using their own media and web site to create such stories on their own behalf, with the possible exception of the portfolio page. So my question is: If the stories and editorial content they create work for the clients, why is the same type of content not efficient when a content marketing agency markets itself and its competencies? Does Redink have a content strategy on their own – or do they only help customers to formulate a content strategy?
From the web site we get the impression that their focus is on the latter.
Conclusion for Redink: Content marketing used to very limited extent on their own site
Agency 2: Bonzaii
Bonzaii claims that “We are the CMO´s own desk”. And add: “Let us manage the content stream in your own, purchased and deserved channels”. And: “We are a complete partner in digital content marketing”.
It all sounds wonderful.
Again: Beautiful and elegant responsive design of the web site.
And a nice message: “The best advertising is a well told story”
But I have the same question: Where is the content?
The web site has much less content than Redink – and it all is promotional in nature. There is no sign of Bonzaii using what they claim to do well in their own marketing: Telling stories.
Conclusion for Bonzaii: Content marketing is not used on their own site
Agency 3: Cloud Media
It all sounds so beautiful: “Cloud Media Service provides unique Editorial Services and Content Marketing”
And the story is all the same: The web site is all about promoting themselves, including presenting a nice portfolio of customer projects. The news section is updated at very infrequent intervals. There is no attempt at using the techniques of content marketing to promote their own business, only claims that they are expert in doing the same for their clients.
Conclusion for Cloud Media: Content marketing not used on their own site
Agency 4: Medialounge
Not an agency as such, but a startup platform for content syndication, Medialounge did the first big survey about content marketing in Norway (the report is sold for 3500 NOK).
But their own web site is almost completely lacking content – and in no way an example of good content marketing. In fact the web site has only two pages in total.
Conclusion for Medialounge: Content marketing not used on their site
Agency 5: Spoon Agency
Spoon Agency has a long history in content marketing in Sweden – and recently also established a branch in Norway.
The agency writes: “Spoon has a very simple core philosophy – we want our clients´target audiences to like everything we do”.
But what about Spoon´s own target audience – people who might consider buying help in content marketing? Will potentioal love everything they do?
The Norwegian web site still looks quite similar to the other agencies we have reviewed. But when we go to the Swedish “original” site we finally get a different experience.
It is still not a lot of content. But Spoon at least has produced some interesting content for professionals who might be interested in their field: Content marketing.
They have the knowledge bank, with a few guides to content marketing. And their “news” section has articles that set out to make life easier to fellow content marketers.
It is not a lot. But Spoon is the only of the five content marketing agencies I reviewed that makes at least an effort in using content marketing in their own marketing as content marketing experts.
Conclusion for Spoon Agency: Some content marketing is used on their own site. Indication of stronger ambition.
So how should it be done?
I am by no means an expert on content marketing. I am only trying to learn. And I like writing about what I try to learn – thus this blog article
Both provide a continuous stream of high quality articles about the topic they claim to be experts in. They are sharing their competence generously and by doing so building a credible position as experts that are listened to.
For a beginner like me the site of Content Marketing Institute is a gold mine. They provide daily blog posts, numerous how-to-articles, have regular newsletters, use Facebook actively, produce a weekly podcast and much more.
In short: They are a living example of what they claim to be experts on.
Content marketing is core in their efforts to build this content platform. Among other efforts they produce the online Content Strategist Magazine – promising insights and analysis on brands, storytelling and the future of content. They also have a number of ebooks to download.
The articles are very well researched and written – and presents a company that really cares about quality of content.
What is your opinion?
My view is that agencies who claim to be experts in content marketing also need to use it themselves in clever ways to be credible.
What is your opinion? Am I totally off the mark here? Should we only look at the work they do for clients? Or should we expect that agencies act as they preach in their own marketing?
Please write your thoughts in the comment field below!