Andy Crestodina and his partner Barrett Lombardo started Orbit Media, a Chicago-based web design and development agency, back in 2001 and while today he is an authority on content marketing, he didn’t launch the Orbit Media blog until 2007.

Until that point, the agency was built primarily on referrals, but Andy knew that wasn’t enough if they wanted to really grow, so he started studying content marketing. He kept it simple, using his content to build a bigger audience, keep in touch with leads during the long sales cycle, and stay front-of-mind with clients in between projects.

This strategy has paid off in spades, and today Orbit Media is a $5-million-a-year business with a team of 35.

Learn about growing your agency with content marketing from @crestodina (PODCAST) Click To Tweet

Andy speaks about content marketing at events around the world and today I’m lucky enough to have him on the show to pick his brain about how other agencies can use content marketing to dramatically grow their business, even if they’ve never written a blog post before.

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Key Takeaways

Getting started with content marketing [4:35 – 10:25]

When getting started, it’s a bit scary looking at somebody like Andy who speaks at dozens of events every year, has written a book and hundreds of blog posts, and has 15,000 Twitter followers. Andy put it simply when he said, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. Click To Tweet

Start small. You shouldn’t go out there on Day 1 and try to land a book deal and go on a speaking tour, but there is nothing stopping you from writing and promoting a new blog. The beauty of content marketing is that your content is a durable asset that doesn’t go away so you can slowly build up your assets over time.

You also don’t need to get to the scale Andy is at to drive real results for your agency. Focus on generating enough leads to fill your pipeline so you can reach your own targets; even large agencies don’t need a huge number of clients to do that.

What matters most is getting started writing content so that the people who are looking for you can actually find you.

Figuring out what to write about [12:00 – 18:10]

One of the biggest sticking points to getting started with content marketing is that people feel like they have nothing to write about. “I’m a web designer, what could I possibly write that people would want to read?” This is an easy fix.

Your first goal for your content is just to make it easy for the people who are looking for your services to find you. To do this, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead, just research what your target audience is searching for or trying to solve, then create that content. Even if there are other articles out there on similar topics you can still rank in Google for searches on those topics within your area.

Your first goal for your content is to make it easy for the people who are looking for your services to find you Click To Tweet

If you want to stand out as a real authority and build a brand, it does get a bit more difficult. You can’t be a thought leader without having original thoughts, but if you need inspiration you can start by doing some research.

Every industry has what he calls the “missing stat,” which you can find by looking for anecdotes repeated in your industry, but rarely backed up. For content marketing, everybody keeps saying “Blogging takes time,” but nobody really said how much time it took. To find that missing stat, Andy did a survey of 1000 bloggers and created an article that answers the question of how much time it takes to blog.

The result was 1,000s of shares and 100s of links, including one from Wikipedia.

Turning readers into clients [18:10 – 23:00]

With all the hype around content marketing, many business owners jump in with both feet before they actually think about their goals. If your blog gets a million hits every month but none of them buy your services, then you’ll have a big hosting bill with nothing to show for it. Luckily, the study of Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO) can help you solve that problem.

First, realize that not all traffic sources are equal. While social media traffic may be more likely to join your newsletter, they are probably less likely to buy your services. On the other side of the coin, people who come from search engines may be more likely to buy your services, but will rarely join your email list.

Then it comes down to figuring out what these visitors are looking for and making sure you give it to them.

Figure out what your visitors are looking for and make sure you give it to them. Click To Tweet

For many people, your content will be all they need, so make sure it’s valuable and solves that need, but also give them a way to hear more from you. For others, they really may need your services, so make it clear how they can contact you to start a project.

Adjust your approach for each type of content you publish, and continuously learn from your results. CRO is a game of inches, and these small improvements will add up to drive business results and contribute to growing your agency with content marketing.

Want to learn more?

If you want to hear more of Andy’s thoughts on content marketing, you’re in luck because there are 5 ways to do it:

  1. Check out the Orbit Media blog
  2. Read his book Content Chemistry
  3. Follow him on Twitter
  4. Attend Orbit Media’s yearly content marketing conference, Content Jam
  5. If you find yourself in Chicago, you could even stop by the Orbit Media offices for their monthly “Wine & Web” series

Resources mentioned

Jake Jorgovan of Outbound Creative (who was on the podcast in an earlier episode)

Blog Post: What to blog about

Thanks for listening!

Do you have a blog that you regularly update? Share how it’s worked for your agency in the comments below, and your stories of growing your agency with content marketing.