We’re in a period of fast economic expansion.
Is your agency keeping up?
If your answer is NO or NOT SURE, here are some proven strategies you can use to pick up the pace and grow your business.
1. Pick a niche.
Unfortunately, agencies have begun turning into a commodity.
One way for your agency to avoid becoming one is to find a niche and serve it well. Either pick an aspect of creative marketing to focus on or a market to serve.
Maybe you could become the agency businesses turn to for awesome logo designs.
Perhaps you could serve the smaller financial companies or tech businesses in your area.
Or you could open a division for start-ups that could be a feeder for your main agency.
Filling a niche allows you to position yourself as THE expert in a specialization or industry, separates you from the pack and keeps you from becoming a commodity that has to battle it out against a whole lot of sameness. It also allows you to focus your marketing efforts, which will make them more efficient.
2. Create a lead magnet.
No matter how good your website is, the vast majority of the visitors to it won’t become leads. They may just be doing research or kicking the tires.
Don’t lose your chance to keep communicating with them. It’s one way to gain some level of control over your visitors and keep your agency top of mind with them.
How can you do this?
Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Offer them access to a video, tool, template or experience that they’ll find irresistible and be willing to exchange their contact information to gain access to it. It should be something that helps them do their job better or bring back an innovative idea to the business they work for.
Just make sure that they’re aware that you have the right to communicate with them in the future in exchange for providing their contact information and taking advantage of the offer.
3. Walk the walk.
When it comes to marketing their own businesses, many agencies are like the cobbler who has no shoes or tailor with no clothes. They do incredible work for their clients, but not so much for themselves.
Be honest: If you were a prospective client, would you entrust your business to your agency based on your website and other marketing materials?
If your answer is NO, it’s time to put as much effort into your marketing as you do on that of your clients.
4. Get back to prospective clients FAST.
If you use your website to generate leads, it’s essential that you get back to them as quickly as possible. At a time when people can become clients through an online chat, they have little patience to wait to hear back from an agency their interested in. Every minute you wait to respond to them is another minute for them to check out — and contact — your competitors.
5. Consider an outbound marketing program.
This is an especially good idea if you serve a niche market. An outbound marketing program will allow you to connect directly with people in your target market and personally explain what you could do for them. If your niche is a limited one, this could be a more effective way to reach the people you want to do business with than other targeted marketing efforts. Sure, there will be frustrating days, but they’ll be more than paid back with great ones.
6. Convert tire kickers into leads.
Platforms like Linkedin provide information about the companies that are actively responding to your ads that may not be converting. Software like Leadfeeder can help you figure out who is visiting your website, but not sharing contact info. Resources like these can feed your outbound marketing efforts. Simply use the company information generated by them to track down their decision makers on Linkedin. Then find ways to reach out to these people. It’s likely that if someone from their firm visited your site, they could be interested in what you have to offer and may want to talk with you.
Tip: Make sure your outbound marketing effortsrelated to this tactic are thoughtful or seem coincidental. You don’t want to be viewed as creepy or stalkerish.
7. Develop case studies.
Have you completed a successful project for a client? Your next step should be to develop a case study about it.
Case studies are one of the most powerful tools for creative marketing agencies. They go beyond just explaining what you do. They actually demonstrate what it is that you do well. Plus, people really connect with the successes experienced by people like them.
8. Be your own client.
When you use agency talent to create your marketing tools and resources, do you do it ad hoc or follow your agency’s processes and procedures? Acting like a client can provide you with a real world experience of what it’s like to work with your organization. It can help you find things that need fixing or great experiences that you could make more of. It will also help you better explain what it’s really like to work with your agency.
9. Commit to blogging.
Regularly posting to your blog and sharing the content through newsletters and social media isn’t just good for search engine optimization, it’s also a great way to demonstrate your expertise with clients and prospects. Leverage different voices from across your organization to show the breadth and depth of your talent base and it’s knowledge and experience.
10. Survey clients.
Are you keeping your current clients happy? Are you sure?
Make it a policy to survey every client after a project is completed. It will help you feel confident that your agency is providing great service — or uncover small issues before they become big problems.
If you find that a client isn’t happy, reach out right away to make things right. It’s a powerful gesture that could keep you from losing the client or prevent them from spreading bad stories about your agency.
11. Offer subscriptions.
Creative agencies typically earn higher profits from fewer clients that do a lot of business with them than a lot of clients who do a few one-off projects. Encourage repeat business by offering a subscription program. Even though it will necessitate discounts, the regular business generated by your program will certainly make up for them.
12. Be thoughtful.
The creative marketing agency business is different from most others. It’s more collaborative and based on emotion. Clients often become friends. It’s important to treat them that way. Remember their birthdays, special occasions, successes and big holidays with meaningful messages and gifts. Say things that will resonate with them and send things that will touch them. An Amazon gift card will be appreciated for what it is. A special gift or experience will be remembered for a lifetime.
Tip: A hand written letter really stands out at a time when people are numbed by texts and emails.
13. Offer the people on your team new client training.
Providing clients with something “extra” is a sure way to keep their business. One way to do this is to offer the people who will be serving them new client training. It should include information on the clients they’ll be working with, the brand and business objectives. It will give your people what they need to service clients well from day one, avoid mistakes and make proactive recommendations on how clients can meet and exceed their objectives.
14. Always stay focused on results.
It’s great to produce awesome creative for your clients. But it isn’t really awesome if it doesn’t generate results. Always partner with clients to monitor the metrics generated by the things your agency creates. It will allow you to make proactive recommendations on how to improve what you’ve worked on and where things could go next. It’s better that this information come from you rather than a competitor.
15. Automate your metrics reporting.
Do you spend a lot of time trying to find the numbers you need to optimize your operation and determine whether it’s succeeding? Maybe you don’t even have access to that data. The single most important thing you can do to ensure the success of your organization is to set up a clear agency dashboard that you can monitor regularly. It will allow you to quickly jump on opportunities and prevent problems before they happen. The agencyMAX platform includes a metrics dashboard designed to help agencies run better.
16. Develop a client onboarding process.
Create a repeatable onboarding process to get the information you need from clients to serve them well. This should include a way to gather brand assets, contact information, communication preferences and develop creative briefs. The agencyMAX platform makes it possible to automate these things and make it simple to collaborate with clients on them.
17. Don’t go it alone.
You’re not the only agency out there looking to grow. It’s why it could be a good idea to develop partnerships. Few agencies are able to do everything well. Instead of developing a new service on the fly, it probably makes sense to partner with an agency that is an expert in the service you need. They, in turn, can bring you on to handle tasks your agency excels in. Don’t beat them, join them is true when it comes to partnerships. They’re a win-win for the agencies involved.
18. Systemize presentations, proposals, RFPs and contracts.
Do you spend too much time on the paperwork needed to bring in and onboard clients? It’s cutting into your profitability and wasting time you could be using to improve your creative product. Invest in systemizing and automating your presentations, proposals, RFPs, contracts and other marketing and sales related paperwork. It will save you time and money over the long term and pay off by giving you the power you need to optimize your marketing and sales process.
19. Outsource for as long as you are able…
Do you need specialized talent for a single project? Maybe you’re going through a busy period and need additional help. Don’t make the common mistake of hiring people you won’t be able to regularly keep busy over the long term. Instead, outsource the work to experienced professionals. Always have a list of dependable freelancers at the ready so you can call on them when you have a need for talent.
20. …But when you do hire, hire the best talent.
Creative marketing agencies, by definition, are all about the creative they produce. And that creative is produced by the talent on their team. That’s why it’s important to invest in the best people possible. In the end, they’re what will define and differentiate your agency and allow it to grow now and over the long term.