Grow the Content Channels You Own

Posted by Meghan Smith

One of the most important lessons marketers can learn is to place importance on growing the content channels they own. By the end of this article you’ll know why we’re talking about this and how you can do it, too.

This year, our agency was fortunate enough to take home several American Advertising Awards for the great work we accomplished in 2016. One of those awards was for our very own website. We are extremely proud of this acknowledgement because of how much work the team poured into the redesign. As anyone in an advertising agency probably knows all too well, your own agency can often prove to be the most difficult “client” to please.

Throughout the past year we placed a great deal of importance on this asset. In a time when there’s an overload of content distribution channels—and the success of many of them beyond your control—taking care of what you own is more important than ever.

For example, if you build an audience on the newest and hippest social media platform and that platform goes under or loses its luster, then your audience goes with it. That’s not the case with your website, email lists, blogs, print publications and more.

“Building an audience on social media platforms is like building a house on rented land. You want to build your house on property you own.”

—Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute Founder and The Smartest Content Guy We Know

We had the property. Our website featured our best work, housed our blog and served as a recruiting tool for new employees—who are the lifeline of our business. But it needed a makeover. So how did we do it? We thought about our audience first.

The Audience

Primary: Potential new business—marketing executives (the people who buy the great work)
Secondary: Potential new employees—top talent (the people who do the great work)

The Why

It all started with our case study page. The first thing marketing executives look at when considering an agency partner is their portfolio of work—followed by the people they’d be working with and, finally, the culture.

The same can be said for our secondary audience. Job seekers want to know that the office where they might spend 40 hours of their time every week is a fit for their workstyle and personality. And that the projects they’d be involved in would align with their career goals and skillset.

One of the issues we sought to improve with our old website was a template that made it difficult to customize the featured case studies. For example, some case studies needed to be more visual while others required longer text to tell the story. So, when our president, Gregg Boling, went to the beach for a week, our team got down to some sneaky business to convince him that we needed to invest in a website redesign.

Our UX Director (Steven Boone), Group Creative Director (Neely Tabor) and Senior Art Director (Johnny Whitman) got together and mocked up a new case study page. With a tan and sand still in his hair, Boling returned from the beach and approved an overhaul of the entire website. “Get busy” were his exact words.

Pitch tip: Timing is everything.

The Content

Enter our UX Engineer (Eric Motil) and Senior Writer (Meghan Smith).

Motil blended the latest design trends with our brand tone and developed a modern style unique to GS&F. The style is fresh and clean, allowing the content to speak for itself. He also solved a critical problem with how content is updated. Our old site required someone from our development department to update content, but now anyone can make changes. He gave the agency more flexibility by building a custom template.

Whitman transformed the ampersand—a hallmark of our GS&F logo—into a framework element that highlights our work and gives our audience a peak into “micro-moments” or little intimacies. The ampersand is first introduced on the homepage and continues throughout the entire website. It also makes appearances in identity materials outside the digital space for a cohesive brand identity.

And to showcase transparency and our commitment to our partners, the website’s color palette takes on our client’s colors where applicable. On the homepage and case study page, the ampercircle and everything outside of the typography uses the client brand color that we’re referencing in that moment—furthering our connectivity and partnership with the brands we work with.

“We used color to highlight our partnership and commitment to our clients,” Whitman explained. “Our identity is important, but the work we do for our clients is more important.”

On the writing side, Smith wanted to let the copy paint a picture without relying on visuals. From the very first line of copy on the homepage, two goals are accomplished with very few words. By adding the size our agency (100+ friends), the reader learns two things: if you’re familiar with the advertising scene in Nashville, you realize we’ve grown a lot in a short period of time. If you’re visiting our website from outside of Nashville and have never heard of us before, the midsize scale of our agency is already in the back of your mind as you browse through the rest of the site.

The rest of the copy was written simply by listening, picking up on what the executive team, employees and new hires really care about. “It was less about trying to be witty and more about wanting to be honest about who we are and where we want to go as an agency,” said Smith.

And it’s written in a way that allows the audience to easily navigate through the website without using the navigation menu at the top. We thought about the person reading each piece of content and where they’d want to go next—then we took them there.

Stay tuned as the GS&F website along with the other district Gold award winners make their way to the National American Advertising Awards competition.

All Those Other Awards


  • Holler & Dash Grand Opening Invite – Gold
  • GS&F Website – Gold
  • Jeanie Nelson Celebration Invite – Gold
  • Firestone Product Launch Illustration – Silver
  • UTMC, Birth Story Short Films – Silver


  • Holler & Dash Grand Opening Invite – Gold
  • GS&F Website – Gold and Judges Choice
  • UTMC, Birth Story Short Films – Gold
  • Firestone Product Launch Illustration – Gold
  • Knoll/GBI Art of Work Event Invite – Gold
  • LP Tradeshow Booth Design – Gold
  • Stranger Things Installation – Gold and Judges Choice
  • Jeanie Nelson Celebration Invite – Gold
  • Holler & Dash Biscuit Bike – Silver
  • Holler & Dash Website – Silver and Judges Choice
  • Holler & Dash Social Content – Silver
  • Knoll/GBI Art of Work Event Invite Campaign – Silver
  • UTMC, Birth Story TV Spot – Silver
  • UTMC, Birth Story Web Commercial – Silver
  • Firestone TruckStuff In-Store – Silver
  • Bridgestone Tire Explorer App – Silver
  • Watkins Identity – Silver
  • Crossville Photography – Silver