Why creative agency leaders should be writing — a lot

And how to create your agency’s distinct point of view

As agencies, our job is to win jobs. We win jobs by demonstrating our expertise.

For some agencies, the expertise is easy enough to demonstrate. A couple of impressive logos on a cred deck. A slew of five-star reviews on Google. A gorgeous and thoughtful case study page.

But, for most of us, that’s not enough — especially if we want to charge the prices we feel our work is worth.

Enter: writing

Whether you call it your ‘blog’ or ‘thinking’ or ‘journal’, it doesn’t really matter. It’s your number one tool for winning higher-paying jobs, and I’m 99% sure it’s being neglected.

Come on guys, blogging is hard!

I can tell. It’s why you have posts like, “What is a brand?” and “Why you need a website” featured on your homepage.

Look, I get it. Writing for my own business (which is, ironically, a writing business) often gets pushed to the bottom of the pile, particularly during busy seasons. Back in 2018, Content Kite (a fellow Aussie content marketing agency) suspected that this might be a universal problem.

Their team analysed the websites of 1,000 agencies and found that 30% had no blog and of the remainder that did have blogs, only 7% posted once a week. This means, there is a huge opportunity for Aussie agencies to use content marketing to generate a steady stream of quality leads.

There is a multitude of evidence that suggests that blogging provides one of the top returns on investment for businesses of any channel — including PPC advertising, social media, email marketing and even video.

Here’s the caveat: you need a distinct point of view

Just like agencies are pretty terrible at differentiating ourselves, we also struggle to draw a line in the sand and figure out what we actually think about the goings-on in our industry.

If you’ve read any of my previous writing, then hopefully you’ve seen something a little different to the usual churn and burn agency blogs out there. And, I have a whole Google sheet with about fifty more topics that I’d like to cover at some point — most of which don’t really exist on the internet.

To get there, I sat down and developed a list of beliefs. Things that I care deeply about regarding the creative industry in general, the copywriting industry more specifically, creativity and more. These beliefs (most of which are a little to the left-of-centre) are what helped me to figure out who Heydays was as a brand, how to hire people who aligned with my beliefs and how to build the company.

I guess beliefs are kind of like brand values on steroids.

Once I had my list of beliefs, I had a great foundation to start writing with a distinct point of view. I could start pulling at the threads of my beliefs (asking why I believed those particular things) and uncover a whole gold mine of content. To give you some examples, here is a small snapshot of the Heydays belief system.

Being a good writer is not enough

There are thousands of good writers out there, but simply knowing how to write well is not enough to pull off a creative project. You need to understand brand and tone — sure! But you also need to know how to sell, something that’s rarely taught in university writing courses.

In addition, you need to be a generally pleasant person to deal with, understand how to structure your time so you always meet deadlines, and know how to take on feedback without getting defensive. Whew.

Style needs substance

There are some amazing writers in Australia and abroad who have built their businesses by pumping out content in a particular writing style. Usually, it’s fun, conversational and a little irreverent, and brands eat it up.

While interesting brands will almost always win against boring brands, I firmly believe that, in many cases, choosing a writer for their style is a mistake. Style requires substance — a distinct tone and (more importantly) a distinct point of view.

There’s too much crap content out there

If we’re writing something for the sake of ticking a box, ‘boosting SEO’ or making a higher-up happy, then I don’t want the job. There’s way too much boring, same-same drivel published by brands every day. It makes it hard for interesting content — the stuff that we humans actually need and want—to cut through.

It’s also the reason I think ChatGPT, useful as it is, will ultimately lose. Along with its robot compatriots, it’s responsible for creating and publishing hundreds upon thousands of identical, boring soulless content pieces. We’ve started getting a nose for it — we can spot AI-created content, and it’s, frankly, repulsive.

Words are just as important as visuals

Sorry, they just are.

Overhauling your agency blog

If I’ve hit a nerve (and I hope I have!), it’s probably time to develop a belief system of your own. What do you believe about the design or creative industry? What do you believe about the people you hire? Can you go deeper than ‘Having a solid brand is important’ or ‘Design needs to be brand-led’?

Once you do, then we’re cooking with gas.