Marketing and creative agencies are notoriously overworked, painfully broke, and often struggle to define their unique value proposition to aptly position themselves in the market.
For many, a lack of clear marketing for the agency is a symptom of a perpetual identity crisis that paralyzes leadership and team members alike from making decisive progress in a clear direction for any sustained period of time.
Subsequently, there’s a lot of hoping for leads to just magically appear, and when they do, it’s soul crushing should they not actually become a paying client.
The first two phases of the Momentum Framework (illustrated to the right) are the antidote to your agency identity crisis.
Looking for more clients for your digital marketing agency, design firm, market research firm, production studio, and the like?
Start by building authority and trust and then building relationships. (Heads up: There is no elevator. You have to take the stairs).
Getting Marketing Clients, Part 1: Build Authority & Trust
Be Deeply Helpful Within a Narrow Niche:
Oftentimes creative agencies and marketing services providers get excited because they have the means to service almost any business, without geographic boundaries and in a seemingly endless number of ways. But, just because you COULD service any kind of business, anywhere, and in so many ways doesn’t mean that you SHOULD. To define a specific niche you will service will actually open your team up to better opportunities for helping others and being recognized as leaders in the space. Read more >>
Implement an Inbound Marketing System:
The basis of an Inbound Marketing system is thoughtful, thought-provoking, and thought-inspiring content that is made available to the right people at the right time. There’s oodles of information out there about how inbound marketing works, plus, many of you implement inbound marketing strategies for your clients as it is, so I’ll let you research more on your own. You can start here.
The bigger challenge will be for you to determine your audience/niche. Especially if you’re already implementing inbound marketing tactics for your clients, simply treat your agency like a client and make time to consistently deliver high quality campaigns to drive inbound leads.
Craft Case Studies:
Crafting a case study starts from the very first engagement you have with a new customer. You need to record baselines, their goals, your recommendations, and then document the results garnered there-in. Similarly, you need to understand the industry averages for the niche you serve so that you can highlight the value your team is delivering to the client comparatively. Then, you need to confidently compile and share the case study with prospects through your marketing and sales efforts in tandem.
Again, there’s nothing earth shattering about this marketing activity. You just have to enable your client facing teams to make it a priority.
Share Custom Research / Compile Niche Industry Benchmarks:
General information and general benchmarks are easier to find than industry specific information. Every industry is a bit different in the marketing challenges they face. Further, the performance of various marketing tools and tactics across different industries is also different. You can solidify your thought leadership in a niche by providing primary research that your ideal client profile has little industry specific insight into currently.
Host a Podcast:
Hosting a podcast acts as a bridge between your progression from building a scalable, repeatable, and effective thought leadership stance into the phase of building intentional relationships that will propel your business forward.
Once your brand has the authentic content and understanding of the deep challenges within your chosen niche, it’s time to facilitate deeper discussions that add value to your audience in another way.
Your podcast production can be simple; it can be elaborate. What matters more is achieving the objective – building relationships, deepening trust, and opening doors for your agency.
Guiding Principles for Leveraging Content to Get Clients for Your Marketing Agency
Always remember that just because you COULD, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
Focus in on a specific industry that you are passionate about. For example, you may be a videographer but you’re passionate about fitness. What would it look like for you to then help personal trainers or gyms market themselves? Ensure the group you want to target has the money to afford you and the need for your services.
Once you’ve defined the niche you will serve, it becomes easier to market from a customer-centric stance because it’s then easier to understand your specific buyer. You get more curious about specific problems in that industry and how to solve for those problems using your skillset.
As a result, you (and everyone on your team) can deepen your knowledge and sharpen your tools of the trade to provide a truly unique value to the marketplace.
Consider that when people hire an internal marketer, the applicant with industry experience often has a leg up on other applicants. Why? Because they “get it” more than the others. Or at least they “get it” sooner than the other will. The same applies when evaluating agencies for hire.
Get Marketing Clients, Part 2: Build Relationships
Invite Guests to Your Podcast:
Solo-casts are great. Podcasts where you are hosting others to share their story and experiences are better for getting clients for your agency. Hosting a podcast also gives you cause to reach out to experts in your niche industry, reach out to leaders at companies that fit your ideal client profile, and to become invited onto other podcasts, webinars, and live events. A podcast is the fuel to your thought leadership fire AND to your relationship building efforts.
Participate in Niche Groups & Associations:
Digital and in person groups are important spaces to interact in on a regular basis. Interaction requires doing more than posting your content and bailing. It requires engaging in conversation with others about what they care about (them). LinkedIn, various Association Groups, and Local Networking Groups are a couple of ways to get involved.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can actually create a niche group and facilitate its ongoing value to members. Determine which Associations carry the most clout within your industry and prioritize membership for one to two new associations per year.
Emphasize Client Delight:
Your client relationships matter to your marketing strategy too! Refrain from being so eager to find new business that you forget to take care of your existing business. Depending on the source, between 60-80% of your future revenues will come from existing clients.
When that’s the case, it’s critical that you have a mindset built into your company culture to delight customers, meaning deliver beyond their expectations. Further, training client facing roles to actively listen (and ask!) clients about the other challenges they are facing will create client delight AND often expanded projects and retainers.
Implement a Referral Strategy:
Agencies, even digital marketing agencies, are highly supported through word-of-mouth. Around 80% of marketing agencies’ revenue comes from referrals. Care to guess how many agencies ask for referrals, though? Just 7%! That’s quite the gap. When was the last time you asked a client if they knew of anyone who could use your assistance?
Apply an Account Based Marketing Strategy:
Sometimes it is more effective to focus on proactively going after specific accounts that your team would be able to serve well, rather than to relatively respond to leads that come from your inbound content marketing efforts. ABM is a tactic to align the outreach efforts of your sales roles with the content development and lead engagement efforts of your marketing roles. Best suited when selling high ticket services to large enterprises where multiple stakeholders are influencing the purchase decision, ABM is the culmination of much of the efforts within the Build Leadership and Build Relationships phases.
Ryan Masuga, who owns a web dev shop, shares his perspective on how using ABM now-a-days is critical to new business development, even though business was much easier to get 15 years ago without being strategic about pursuing specific accounts.
Form Strategic Partnerships:
Just because you CAN do various services for clients doesn’t mean you should. Establishing strategic partners with other creatives and marketers that serve your chosen niche is a way to maintain focus, build relationships, outsource work, and scale your agency more profitably.
Why Invest the Effort Into Building Relationships?
Creating content and pretty graphics is easier, but you’re in control. But it’s not enough. You have to focus outward as well, otherwise, you may just be polishing turds. Host a client event featured education and guest speakers. Find ways to become a talking point in the peer to peer groups that your clients are in. Humans work with humans, so get yourself outside of the virtual box that so many agency employees are now operating within.
When was the last time you…
- …asked a client if they knew of someone who could use your assistance?
- …visited with remote clients in person?
- ….got a lead who heard about you in a peer to peer group they participate in?
Ultimately, people work with people. In a world where it’s increasingly hard to know who to trust, referrals matter greatly to the health of your agency. Two thirds of marketing agencies’ revenue comes from referrals.
Care to guess how many agencies ask for referrals, though?
Just 7%! That’s quite the gap. Let’s fix that together by crafting, introducing, and enforcing a referral strategy into the relevant touchpoints of your client lifecycle. Find ways to lengthen the lifetime of your client relationships, such as through in person interactions and bonus access to other programs your agency offers.
Getting Clients for Your Marketing Agency
I just gave you more than a full time’s job worth of marketing activities to implement to get more clients. Give yourself a break and take things one step at a time. Determine where your agency is weakest in their marketing and start there. Then, stay consistent, and be gracious to yourself, because all good things take time.
Need to talk it through? I’ll lend you my ear. Submit this form to schedule a virtual coffee. ☕ (It only takes 27 seconds).