How Communications Is Missing the Content Marketing BoatLet’s talk about content marketing, baby. Let’s talk about you and clients. Let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be. Let’s talk about content marketing.

That totally doesn’t work. Sex is only one syllable and it cannot be replaced by two words with five syllables among them.

Oh, well. You’re still welcome for the earworm.

But really…let’s talk about content marketing.

Content Marketing Institute released its annual agency survey to see where it plays among agency growth—and whether or not clients still value it.

The short answers are: it’s still growing and clients still value it.

The Biggest Content Marketing Challenges

The survey, conducted earlier this year, had 197 respondents and most indicated their agency is U.S.-based (71%) and they are owners/partners of their agency (61%).

While that’s not a huge number (statistically significant-wise), it does provide interesting insight and trends to watch.

The agencies fall into one of two buckets:

  • Full-service—those that offer a wide array of content marketing services; or
  • Specialized—those that offer a content specialty, such as SEO, email marketing, or blogging.

The good news among all agencies is that their content marketing services have increased (66%) and the number of their clients has, as well (62%).

While content marketing continues its rapid rise, it’s not without its challenges.

While 73% say they are extremely or very successful in achieving their client’s goals, the data proves otherwise.

They say some of their biggest challenges in working with clients are:

  • Measurement and proving a return-on-investment
  • Lead generation and attributing it to sales
  • Champagne taste on a beer budget
  • Lack of consistency and/or relevancy
  • No buy-in from the C-suite
  • Focused solely on top-of-the-funnel content

The inability to work through these challenges makes the 73% who say they’re successful in achieving client’s goals seem…off.

Where Content Lies in the Customer Lifecycle

One of the easiest ways to fix that is to work on content marketing for the entire customer lifecycle.

Nearly all agencies (97%) work on content marketing at the top of the funnel, 90% work at the middle, and 77% work at the bottom.

To boot, only 61% focus on customer loyalty after the sale.

So, while we’re great at handling content to generate awareness and build interest, it begins to decline at consideration and at purchase.

The challenges listed above would be eliminated were every content marketing campaign to focus on the entire cycle.

Of course, there is always the issue of budget—and the issue of content farms that can “write” something for a penny a word (albeit, not well, but that’s what we compete against).

But with one really well-executed campaign that focuses on the entire customer journey, the rest of the client work will fall into place…along with the ability to show a real return-on-investment.

Where Is PR When It Comes to Content Marketing?

What is even more fascinating (to me, anyway) about this survey is the types of agencies that are offering content marketing services.

Three-fourths are advertising, marketing, content, or digital—and only 9% are PR.

Only. Nine. Percent.

This makes me sad.

Why aren’t more of us offering these type of services?

This is what we do!

We do it better than anyone else. Better than SEO specialists. Better than advertisers. Even better than marketers.

By nature, we are storytellers and relationship builders.

That’s what content marketing is!

Is it because it’s wrapped up in SEO and email marketing and boosted content and more?

We shouldn’t let that scare us. It’s all content in a different wrapping. It’s what we do.

How to Offer More Services—and Stay Viable

The annual Global Communications Report conducted by the USC Center for Public Relations, shows that, within the next three years, marketing and PR will become more closely aligned.

More than 60% of marketers believe we will become even more closely aligned with marketing and that we won’t play an important role.

This is not good.

All of the research points to marketing absorbing us because we aren’t willing to step outside of our comfort boxes and offer more services, such as content marketing.

As you think about your agency’s growth in the next three to five years, it should include:

  • Professional development where you’re not confident in integrating a PESO model communications plan (which will help you offer more services).
  • Coaching and a specific business development and marketing plan to add more services, increase your fees, and grow your agency (we can help you with that!).
  • Packages (such as the strategy session we’ve discussed) that allow you to take advantage of those who want to do projects before retainers.
  • Additional revenue streams, such as services following the PESO model (which includes content!) and passive income (we can help you with that, too!).
  • Partnerships with other agencies to provide (at a profit) the services you either don’t have in-house or aren’t comfortable adding that quickly (join the free Spin Sucks community, if you aren’t already there to begin to network and build relationships with potential partner agencies).

How to Change the Trajectory of PR’s Demise

I personally do not like where the research shows we are headed.

We can do better!

We must do better!

There is only one way to change the trajectory of this trend and stay viable three, five, and 10 or more years longer: evolve our agencies.

Add more services. Learn how to use our skills at every “stop” of the customer’s journey. Master data and learn how to use it to tell a story. Prove return-on-investment. Stay ahead of trends.

Let’s not let marketing absorb us.

We can control this and steer the ship in a different direction.

Who’s with me?

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich