Not to say we told you so- but, we’ve been taking heat on this subject lately per the opening of “Brew, a creative collaborative” and the need for agencies to set the tone for the kind of connections they want with their clients via a site.
Hill Holliday in Boston ditched their Flash site for a WordPress blog- and we’ve seen a few other agencies- like Wieden + Kennedy start blogs on the side. We integrated a Blog into this site back in January of 2005- late in the game for us- and saw such good results- we started a seminar on how to “blog for business” first as “Blogosopher” and then after a strategic adjustment for MidWest minds- “Websitetology.”
If we weren’t so busy working on client work- we’d change this whole site into a blog- but it’s that tale of the cobbler’s kids shoes.
Ad Age has finally caught on- that most agency sites don’t have any real content- they produce what we like to call “chest beater sites” that talk about themselves as much as Howard Stern or Paris Hilton talk about themselves. Agencies should know: It’s not about you- it’s never about you- and this is where we try to be different: it’s about what we give our customer. Yes, we try to create the ideas that change the game- the ones that set our clients apart from their competition- making them a category of one. Most agency’s mission statements are interchangeable- as are their websites. In fact- take the brand off the big agencies- and you couldn’t tell the difference.
We’ve included a brief excerpt from the Ad Age article- but, while you can check out Edelman.com- you’ve already found an agency that is different- so check us out too.
Studying agency websites
Take a spin around a few agency websites and you’ll soon see what I mean. They’ve come a long way in a few years in that most are actually professional-looking and have some depth to them…
But taken together the content of the majority of these sites says: “We don’t have a clue how to differentiate ourselves, so we’re going to fall back on some fluffy concepts and jargon.” The number of iterations of “we’re the idea agency” is particularly depressing. Variously they declare their ability to deliver: “ideas,” “big ideas,” “catalytic ideas,” “return on ideas,” “brand ideas,” “leading brand ideas,” “ideas and ideas” and “ideas, ideas, ideas.”
OK, fair enough. So the business is about ideas. Maybe the sites differentiate the shops by actually showing those ideas? No such luck. I found no more than half a dozen examples of ideas worthy of the name. Several sites linked straight from the “idea” slug to ads. Ads aren’t ideas. A couple did try to illustrate the nature of an idea they’d had for a marketer, but that led to embarrassments too — such as the notion that telling consumers of a candy bar to “be great” somehow constituted a big brand idea.
So what to do? Well, one big idea for a website ad agencies could do worse than emulate can be seen at Edelman.com. The independent global PR shop has turned its site into a blog and podcast landing page full of content. All the content is produced by employees and the 17 hosted blogs run the gamut from CEO Richard Edelman’s 6am to Micropersuasion musings from Steve Rubel (who also writes for Ad Age Digital), from the interesting PR Catalyst from Hoh Kim in Korea to a video blog shot with a cellphone.
The site, according to traffic research from Alexa.com, is attracting more than 250,000 visitors a month. That’s more than any of the ad agencies’ sites and is even beating up on some trade publications’ online offerings.