Patience pays off, or how our content marketing efforts landed us the right clients.

We recently had a bit of a soul-search at our agency.

It all started about a year ago. At the end of 2014 I decided we needed to take some drastic measures if we wanted to propel the agency forward. We could not rely on word of mouth for leads any longer, otherwise we were never going to grow.

This meant we had to do something that very few marketing agencies seem to do. We set up our own marketing team and worked on a marketing plan.

The plan was based pretty much on what we’d tell any of our B2B clients to do. It was only fair — you can’t expect someone to follow your lead if you’re not ready to put your money where your mouth is.

So we set about coming up with a great content plan for our blog, we worked on building an email list and planned in a 32-part course about why Digital is Human that we wanted to deliver for free (in exchange for an email address, the lessons were delivered by email).

Eleven months later we had an email list of nearly 500 people and very good readership. Over 30% of our subscribers tend to open our emails, and another 30% usually click through.

We also had a couple of occasions where the list helped us upsell to existing clients. Someone would call from time to time and say something like “that Instagram thing you mentioned in your last email, how can we get on it?”

There was another benefit. It made it easier to explain the advantages of marketing that’s relatable, not just salesy. We’d just point clients in the direction of a few posts when they needed convincing.

Fast-forward to December. We had a meeting scheduled with a prospect that we knew nothing about. Most of the heads of states of the Commonwealth were in Malta, so we did not want to risk being late. But we had had also pencilled in an hour’s meeting about marketing Switch that morning.

It had become a priority. For all the efforts we had made in 2015, we hadn’t won a single major account since the beginning of the year (well, there was one, but that’s a story for another day). This was unheard of. Changing over from our traditional business development method of schmoozing seemed to have cost us quite a lot.

So we decided to meet in a small worker’s cafe in Marsa, the closest thing you’ll get to a harbour-side town in Malta, and a few meters away from the prospect’s office. My brother, Ed, joined Teri and myself there even though he was not part of the meeting with the prospective client.

We ordered a few coffees for around €0.50 each and huddled around a table in the corner of the cafe as workers flowed in and out having their mid-morning snacks.

We looked back at the year and started thinking where we went wrong. We arrived at the conclusion that our efforts might have been a bit too optimistic.

We put all our eggs in the content marketing basket, but it seemed to have backfired. There were no major clients coming in. We were questioning the method. We were questioning our execution. We were even questioning our skills (something that rarely happens in here, we’re all pretty on the ball).

By the time we were done we had basically arrived at the conclusion that we needed to revise our strategy. Evidently we were either getting content marketing for ourselves wrong or we just had to admit that it was not the right route for our market. I refused to believe either was the case.

Teri and myself walked away slightly dejected. It was funny that we could achieve impressive results for most of our clients but not get it right for ourselves. Content marketing should work.

We got to the meeting with the client and put our usual smiley faces back on.

After being welcomed into the guy’s office he tells us more why we’re there. “I loved Digital is Human. I want you to do the same for us. No one else on the Island seems to get content marketing, so you’re the only agency I’m talking to.” Boom. He actually referred to Digital is Human by name.

Fast forward by a few weeks and this happened to us again, we won two major accounts in the space of two weeks, all thanks to our work and dedication to content marketing.

So we went from being an agency with one major account win per year to winning two. And, if you think about it, it had been so easy, so natural. All we had done was practice what we preached, what we try to tell our clients to do every single time.

The best thing about it was that both clients get it. It took longer than we had hoped for it to work, but the results were pretty amazing. Not only was the size of client larger than what we had dealt with over the past years, but the kind of client we had attracted was far closer to our philosophy.

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