Finding the rare gems
These days, you're more likely to find an agency without a fax machine than without a website. But when it comes to agency websites, you won't find much in the way of uniformity. That's a good thing -- variety being the spice of life. Because there's nothing worse than a bland agency website. After all, if agencies can't present their own companies in a compelling way, why would anyone think they're capable of doing compelling work on behalf of clients?
But there are some similarities across websites. One feature that is common to many agency sites -- and one that I check routinely on my first visit -- is the agency's blog.
Wait. We killed our blog a few years ago because blogging is so 2006.
Yes, you are correct. Blogging doesn't have the allure of being new anymore. Yes, a lot of agencies have given up on their blogs. So what?
Here's the deal. At the moment when every agency had to have a blog, blogging was probably the least useful thing you could do. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when I got press releases announcing that Agency XYZ had just launched a blog. Whoop-ti-doo, right? Well, everyone was doing it, and nobody wanted to be left out. But the trouble was, a lot of those blogs were ill-conceived, unsupported, and just plain crappy. Thankfully, those days are gone. Or, at least the impetus behind rushing out a crappy blog is now gone; sadly, the crappy blogs remain.
The truth is that nobody really cares if your agency has a blog or not (unless you're telling a client that they have to have a blog, even when you don't -- that's lame). There are great agencies without blogs, and there are awful agencies with blogs. And then there are a lot of blogs that are really just dumping grounds for the agencies to promote their most recent campaigns. (There's nothing wrong with that, but I just wish they wouldn't label those places as blogs; otherwise, when I click on those sections, I can't help but judge the agencies because they haven't posted in months.)
But among all the agencies, there are some blogs that are real gems. And what is a real gem when it comes to agency blogs? Well, for my money, it's a blog that makes a great first impression by allowing the reader to test drive the agency's culture, thought process, and style. It's a platform that gives me a sense of the agency's persona. But unlike a static website, the blog has the advantage of being current. I can read an agency's blog and understand its philosophy in concrete terms because the blog forces the agency to articulate its style on an ongoing basis. Whereas, a static website really just tells me that you were [insert defining adjective here] for the period of time necessary to conceive and build the website. With a blog, what the agency chooses to comment on -- and what its comments say -- help me understand what the agency is all about far better than any "about us" section could ever communicate. In short, it's as if I get to have a drink with the agency whenever I want.
Of course, personifying your agency in a blog format isn't easy. We've selected a handful of really strong agency blogs, both to give them recognition (because that's always nice) and to inspire agencies with less-than-stellar blogs (or no blogs at all) to think about how they can better market themselves to the industry.
Enjoy! And if we missed one of your favorites (or many), we're sorry. It's a big internet. But you can help us make this roundup better by posting comments. And if you write to promote your own agency's blog, that's fine too. But before you post, we suggest that you ask if other people (excluding your clients, and your mother) think your blog is worth a read. If the answer is yes, let's see it!