One of the critical components of becoming a successful creative studio or marketing agency is to become known for doing something that other options simply can’t match. That’s also a primary component that is easier said than done.
With focus, clarity, and initiative, it is possible to become a recognized industry authority in a short amount of time, even if you’re starting from scratch to define your niche. I worked with a full service digital marketing agency to do this very thing.
Many full service marketing agencies have jumped onto the HubSpot partner bandwagon because there are a lot of perks to doing so. As HubSpot’s partner program has scaled, the competition has become tougher; even more so as HubSpot has focused on increasing market share outside of the USA where cost of goods sold is a fraction.
This particular agency came to me because they needed to differentiate themselves and develop a long term trajectory that would sustain their agency in the years ahead outside of being known JUST as a HubSpot Partner Agency. Sights were set on a couple of target industries to become an expert agency within, and the industry segment was decided upon based on the small pool of competitors and vision casting for where the industry would be in terms of technology adoption in 2-3 years.
The focus of the authority development initiative would be on creating educational content, awareness campaigns to start shifting this industry’s perceptions of technology adoption, applications, and collaborative mindsets. Lead conversion funnels would be built and existing content optimized to improve the agency’s visibility for relevant search engine queries.
Using the Momentum Framework, this full service marketing agency became a recognized authority, worthy competitor, and value-adding agency in under 12 months, so much so that this agency is now leading educational initiatives and paving new paths forward with other industry specific firms.
Build Authority/ Thought Leadership
To start, the team and content developers started to gain industry specific knowledge necessary to pivot the agency as a thought leader in the space. This knowledge often had less to do with how to do certain jobs or technical implementations and more to do with the problems facing the target industry and how to apply the team’s existing tech stack, digital marketing, and sales enablement skillsets to solve for these specific problems.
New content needed developed to shape the agency’s niche position and speak the same language as the ideal customer profile, so a sprint to develop 60 new content pieces in 60 days ensued. Further, about half a dozen relevant lead capture campaigns were developed in the first half of the year.
KPIs attributed in 12 months include:
- Website sessions nearly doubled (8,001 to 14,592) and blog sessions more than doubled (4,763 to 8,651) by building upon existing domain authority, purging irrelevant content, and creating new relevant content.
- Blog CTA clicks increased 1,200% (15 to 183+ per month)
- Overall website session to contact rate increased from 0.1% to 0.4% through thoughtful website visitor conversion mapping and brand positioning refinements.
- Increased number of new contacts per month by 430%, from ~17 to ~73+ through tactful email and social media campaigns driving the audience to the new and optimized content.
- Number of referring domains tripled from less than 200 to 662
- Number of keywords ranking for nearly doubled from 2,409 to 4,453 with 53 terms holding podium positions (SERP positions 1 through 3)
- Content consistently outranked other thought leaders that had been serving the niche for decades for high value search terms
After the first three months or so of dedicated content development, the emphasis became that of developing rapport with key influencers already serving the niche.
These new relationships contributed to the following outcomes:
- The successful rebranding and releases of the second and third seasons of the agency’s podcast.
- Doubled podcast listenership from ~85 to ~185+ per month by hosting industry specific thought leaders and peers of the ideal customer profile.
- Secured half a dozen invitations to speak at industry specific events and on industry specific podcasts.
- Representation of the agency at industry specific events directly led to multiple new client engagements.
- Engaging team introduction videos to humanize the brand and bridge the trust gap.
Pivoting into a new niche is oftentimes a focus change that yields more major results in about 18 months of consistent authority development and key relationship building to position your agency as a leader in the space. None-the-less, there are profit securing activities that can, and should, be completed during the build up phase.
For this agency, those profit building activities included:
- Presented new ways of pricing beyond hourly billing.
- Provided aid materials that would allow for price increase and contract alignments conversations with existing clients.
- Presented new offerings that focused on strategy and consulting capabilities of the agency to increase revenue without overextending implementation capacity thresholds.
- Strategized an agency referral rewards program and coordinated with initial ideal referral agents.
- Launched multiple forms of Transparent Pricing on the Agency Website
- Developed Sales Enablement materials to aid HubSpot Direct Sales Reps to increase referral work from HubSpot.
- Supported the development of on-demand course materials for recurring revenue streams.
Unless your business model is to be the owner/operator long term, your agency should have in place the structures necessary to support the growth and development of your key employees into leaders at the organization.
For this agency, that involved the following:
- Overseeing the development of a key “doer” at the organization into a key “thinker” for long-term agency authority building.
- Supported the onboarding and development of multiple new “doers” at the organization.
- Indirectly supported the industry specific thought leadership of all agency team members through knowledge sharing, discussion leading, and similar supporting functions.
Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.
Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?
I’d be happy to help.