Grow Your Marketing Agency Faster Than You Think You Can

Starting a marketing agency is an exciting challenge. Growing it, even more so. There can be hundreds of agencies in any given city, competing to land clients. All while trying to hit targets, build awareness, anticipate trends and recruit and manage talented team members.

Wearing all these different hats mean that you can get caught up in day to day operations and not spend as much time as you’d like thinking about the big picture. How do you want to grow? What are new tools you want to invest in? Are there verticals that you’re a great fit for that you should consider? How about inefficiencies you should be curbing?

Take a deep breath and grab some coffee – or maybe a triple, venti, half sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato. Whatever floats your boat. We’ve put together some thought starters to help you consider all of the above and more:

Anticipate Trends

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. It can be hard to tell that you’re engaged in this type of behaviour initially, but sooner or later you’ll feel the consequences. In a fast-paced industry like marketing, the consequences may be that your business begins to suffer losses.

This is why professional development is crucial. Constantly learning and keeping your finger on the pulse of marketing innovation is the only way you can be ready to spot trends. Blogs, seminars, webinars, consultations with clients and advisors are all great ways to inform yourself of existing gaps. They also provide opportunities for you to fill them.

Check out this list for conferences taking place around the world. And this one for free online marketing courses for digital marketers. 

Be sure to do deep dives into your own data too! Knowing your engagement and conversion levels, the triggers which influence each and the lifetime value of a client, will determine how much your agency can grow. 

One of the best ways to get this data is to talk to your clients – this will help you figure out their motivations and build out customer personas to target. Another great tool to utilize is Google Analytics. Google offers a free course to help you master the ins and outs of it. 

Find Your Niche

The agency that tries to serve everyone, ultimately ends up serving no one. Or being horribly inefficient. Let’s be honest – neither of those options is appealing.

Picking an area of specialization (SEO, social media marketing, PPC campaigns, etc.) helps you position yourself as a subject matter expert. This in turn will separate you from the larger pool of marketing agencies.

Another way you can distinguish your agency is by choosing a specific vertical like marketing for e-commerce shops or designing for digital marketers. Or you can even think about combining the two approaches to position yourself to your target audience. Specializing in these ways can offer up other opportunities too. Like making you a prime candidate to get booths at industry events or speaking opportunities.

If you’re not sure how to identify the niche you’re best suited to serve, consider which clients and industries you are most passionate about and those that you have the expertise to serve. Then consider the opportunities available to you and the markets you will be targeting:

– What is your geographical reach? Do you have the capacity to serve clients outside of your time zone?- 
How many potential customers are there?
– What is the sales cycle and cost of acquisition per client, per segment?
– Who are the key competitors? How much market share do they have?

To help you answer the questions above, there are a lot of competitor research tools. Here are a few we’d suggest to start with:

SimilarWeb – SimilarWeb helps you compare sites which are…similar. It also gives you an idea of where most of your competitors’ traffic is coming from. The data about traffic is broken down into 4 sources: paid, social, search, and direct traffic. 

SpyFu – Apart from having a pretty cool name, SpyFu allows you to search for any domain and where they’ve shown up on Google. This includes keywords they’ve bought on Adwords, organic rank, and even every variation on their ads in the last 13 years.

Alexa – The namesake of Amazon’s smart speakers gives you a complete breakdown of your competitors’ activities. By segmenting traffic into 4 channels (organic searches, social media, links, and direct traffic) Alexa allows you to see which channels are the most (and least) successful for a company. And an additional perk, Alexa’s Audience Overlap tool lists your competitors and where you rank among them. 

Social Mention – Using Social Mention you can search keywords and topics across 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc. When you search for a competitor, you can easily track and measure what people are saying about them in real-time. 

Plant Lead Magnets

Often times your site visitors won’t know exactly what they need. And while they were driven to your site and successfully arrived there, this doesn’t change the fact that your contact form might still be ignored.

Try adding a lead magnet into the mix. Offer something of value to your prospective clients in exchange for their email or contact information. This could be a service, an audit, an assessment, downloadable content, a free PDF checklist or an e-book.

Now we know what you must be thinking. “Great idea, but who has time to generate all this content?!” Enter the workaround – repurpose existing assets. And they don’t even have to be your own. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due.

Create e-books from blogs that are focused on the same topic; case studies from client testimonials and consultations; or guides and checklists by curating content from experts on the subject. Speaking of which, check out this great blog from HubSpot for more great ideas.

Build A Sales Process   

Without a robust list of clients, you can’t be sure of repeat business or the potential for referrals. Even when those are in place, having an outbound sales strategy in place will help keep your pipeline filled with leads and set you up for success.

First you’ll want to make sure you have clearly defined sales goals, so that you know how many leads you need to generate each month, quarter, and year to meet sales targets. Then you’ll want to consider your sales process – how you will prospect, qualify, present and close. You’ll also want to establish metrics for the number, and success rates, of introductory calls, discovery meetings, proposals sent and contracts won.

Remember to consider separate strategies and approaches for each of your target audience segments. They each offer unique opportunities and should be addressed accordingly. For instance, upselling current clients can be more profitable than acquiring new clients (a combination of suggesting new projects and demonstrating ROI can you help out with this goal).

Automation Over Redundancy

Create processes that are clearly communicated and consistently repeated by your team. There are areas of your business that you cannot afford to ignore. And at the same if you devote too much time and energy to them, you will never be able to focus on your growth strategies.

Reporting is one of them. Clients need to know how effective their campaigns are. And keeping them happy is important. But if you spend significant chunks of your time manually producing reports to manage relationships with your current clients, you’ll be hard pressed to find the time to acquire new ones. Invest in tools which generate automated reports for you so that you can devote your time to more profitable activities.

Speaking of acquiring clients, check out Proposify or Qwilr for your proposals so that you can quickly send, track and e-sign them. For your client onboarding consider Agreement Express, Process.St or Smart Sheet. At the very least, have a look through these options to identify where your current methods fall short and how they can be improved.

One more process that’ll improve your customer service and make your life easier is the automation of appointment booking. Try Calendly for this. It allows you to simply share a link with those you want to book meetings with. And they’ll be able to select options, according to your availability.

Outsourcing Graphic Design 

After winning a hard-fought battle to land a client, it can be tough to find yourself in over your head and unable to keep up with them.

Clients come to you with specific targets and deadlines in mind. Trying to figure them out as you go along isn’t going to cut it. Graphic design services are a fantastic workaround for this issue. Especially if they’re unlimited like Kimp.

They allow you to quickly scale up your capabilities without having to deal with the overhead costs of hiring additional team members. Not to mention the costs and resources needed to effectively manage additional staff. As a result, you get to keep up with your current clients and focus on acquiring new ones.

How Will You Grow Your Agency?

A lot of agencies consider growth to be a result of increasing the number of clients on their roster. It’s important to remember though that with every additional client, the number of additional staff needed to manage those accounts also increases. Simply put, more clients means more overhead. Which might make sense for your operations up to a point. But there’s a limit to how much you can scale this way.

The most effective ways to approach the growth of your marketing agency are to find efficiencies in your operations that will increase profitability. And to keep doing this on relentlessly. So as the saying goes, when you feel tempted to give up remember why you started.