Consistency Beats Perfection In Agency Marketing

To make it in business, we need three main things: A viable, valuable product or service that solves a real problem A way to sell and deliver it A defined group of people to sell it to But checking all three boxes will not do anything for your bank account. You must let people know every day that you have a business, that you love what you do and that you want to solve their problems. No agency survives without consistent marketing. So many of us delay sharing about our businesses because we don’t feel ready. We wait for the perfect pitch, platform or process to get started. We wait for our website to be built, or for our About Page to be perfect or for our new head shots to be ready for our fabulous business cards. We wait for the perfect newsletter template before sending an email to our list. Common barriers to consistent agency marketing Here are some common barriers that prevent people from consistent agency marketing that I just gathered from business owners on Facebook: I am too busy delivering services to clients to market my business I don’t know what to do in what order Marketing technology feels too complicated I don’t have my pitch nailed I don’t want to waste my time Boy, do I get it! No one wants to feel sloppy or unorganized. And I am not advocating that you are. Building a clear, effective brand story and agency marketing system takes planning, money and time. But given your current level of information, tools and resources, couldn’t you do something each day that would increase your chance to get ideal clients? Our starting point without a big [...]

By |September 20th, 2018|

9 Steps to Picking a Niche for Your Digital Agency

As a digital agency owner, you probably tell your clients all the time that they need to refine and focus in on their service or product offerings. But have you applied the same logic to your own digital agency? Finding a niche for your digital agency allows you to connect with your prospects and deliver a unique selling proposition that speaks directly to them. To make this connection with a prospect on the first impression though you must have clear and targeted messaging. If you’re trying to tell ten different stories and appeal to ten different audiences, then you’ll lose them all. This is why you’ve never seen an Asian-Italian-Greek-Burger-Smoothie fusion restaurant. Sounds silly when you think of it like that. So why then are you and your digital agency trying to help so many people, in so many different industries, by providing so many different services? Instead of focusing in on on being really good at one thing and developing a killer value proposition along the way, you’re spreading yourself too thin. Find a niche for your digital agency now. Every day you waste, the competition is getting more focused, more precise, and more skilled at the niche you could be in. However, it’s important to pick the right niche, one that provides enough opportunity for new business without being oversaturated. You need to be able to carve out a unique section for your agency and there needs to be a demand for it. Follow the nine steps below to find your digital agency’s perfect niche and start growing your agency today. 1. Find a niche that is digitally friendly Is the industry digitally friendly? A lot of industries have done as little as [...]

By |September 18th, 2018|

Podcasting For Advertising Agencies: How to Win New Clients, Part II

This is part II in a series on podcasting for advertising agencies. Read part I here, then come back and join us for part II. Earlier this week, I shared with you why and how podcasting for advertising agencies can help you win new clients. I even shared with you how to line up stellar guests (and new business prospects!) for your podcast. If you followed my advice, you've likely got some podcast guests waiting in the wings now. So, you might be wondering: Now that I have podcast guests, what do I talk about with them? I think the real question here is: how do I turn this interview into a sales/partnership conversation. I’ll get to this. For the interview itself, though: Rule #1: Serve the audience. It needs to be something your core audience will actually find interesting. So, you can talk about that. But the benefit of an interview, is that your guest is the content. Be curious about what they do, their story, and treat it like a conversation so you bring out the best in them. Aside from that, the topic of conducting a great podcast interview is for another post entirely. I won’t get into it here. It is 80/20 though: you can extract the vast majority of value from a guest simply by asking them questions like you would ask someone at a dinner party. But serve your audience: what do they want to learn about from your guest? You will probably find the same questions you have in your mind, are the same your guests have in their minds. Ask those questions. Remember, your guest is the content—you’re just facilitating. What’s important is that you don’t launch [...]

By |September 12th, 2018|

The Secret Way to Grow Your Agency Fast

I don’t run an agency, but I do work with agencies to develop a sales process custom-suited for generating repeatable new business opportunities. In the next 5 minutes you spend reading this post, I’m going to share the exact method you could start experimenting with to double the productivity of your agency’s outbound business development. In short, I’m going to share the secret way to grow your agency fast. Really Fast. Fair warning – I am going to talk about the two tools I’ve founded (SellHack and Replify) throughout this article. There are certainly other tools out there that do the same type of work and I’ve mentioned a few throughout the piece. Even if you choose to do all of this manually, it will still work. It’s just a matter of how much time versus money do you want to spend. How to Grow Your Agency Really Fast Step 1 in the process of how to grow your agency really fast relies very much on the word “experiment.” This is a word carefully chosen to describe the mindset your business development team must embrace when hunting for new clients. Some of you are reading this thinking, “Yeah, but most of my business comes from referrals.” Okay, great. Keep asking for referrals. But if you’re serious about how to grow your agency really fast, forget referrals and do what I suggest. Consider a New Channel for Developing Leads Moving away from relying solely on referrals is smart business. So I’m suggesting you consider a new channel for developing leads: An outbound channel. More specifically, I’m talking about automating your prospect list-building, sending cold emails and follow-ups. You can do this manually or you can use [...]

By |September 4th, 2018|

How Agencies Can Execute on Strategic Selling

“I hate selling.” I hear that so often from agency owners and agency leaders. I especially hear it from junior agency staffers. I think the key to solving this problem is moving away from “I hate selling” and moving toward “I love helping others succeed.” My years of agency experience have taught me that the most successful agencies have a specific mindset. They have embraced the art of being the very best at understanding their clients and have a deep desire to make their lives easier and better. The agency business is a relationship business; it’s about putting the needs of your client front and center. Your success is based on their success. Their good days are your good days; and conversely, their bad days are your bad days. So, if agency success is about building great relationships, I would pose to you that for agencies, executing on strategic selling is very much like dating. If that’s the case, then imagine thinking of the prospect the same way you think about a prospective date - that person you’ve wanted to date for oh, so long. As you get ready to make the ask… what’s first? The answer: the first thing is understanding the prospect. Strategic Selling Requires Understanding the Prospect First and foremost, remember that you must think about this from their viewpoint – the viewpoint of the prospect. What’s on her mind and how has the landscape changed since the last time she looked for agency services? Budget and headcount pressures are enormous in most companies today There are heightened expectations that marketing supports sales – it’s no longer enough to simply produce great creative Sales and revenue are typically the top marketing success [...]

By |August 28th, 2018|

Understanding Client Satisfaction: It Depends On Who’s Asking The Questions

How often have you recommended to a client that they conduct research among their own customers to gauge overall satisfaction and uncover what they value about the relationship to your client’s company or brand? You’re astute enough to know that armed with customer satisfaction data, you can more knowledgeably guide that client in everything from customer acquisition to integration of sales and marketing to customer retention. Now, how often have you thought about the need to understand the satisfaction of your agency’s clients? The fact is agencies tend to avoid client satisfaction surveys for two reasons: We’re either afraid to ask the big questions for fear we might hear something we don’t like, or we assume everything is good because they are still with us. Both ways of thinking can lead to missing an opportunity to fine-tune your relationship with your clients, or more importantly heading off an impending disaster. As an agency owner, you shouldn’t be involved in every detail of what’s happening between your clients and your agency. But, that doesn’t mean you should operate within a vacuum either. If you have an established “one-on-one” meeting process in place between you and your direct reports, and those direct reports have the same established with staff members they manage, then you should have a general awareness of what’s happening with clients. Your responsibility is to ensure that the management of client relationships is carried out in a manner consistent with the agency’s core values and service philosophy. There may be periods of time when that’s not happening, resulting in a slow erosion of confidence between the client and the agency. Simple ways to gauge client satisfaction That’s why it’s smart to periodically engage your [...]

By |August 14th, 2018|

The Specialist Agency: An Argument For and Against

Earlier this year I had the honor of serving as the morning keynote speaker for PRGN’s semi-annual member summit in Toronto. My topic was on the five indicators of new business success that I consistently see in the agencies I work with (and, likewise, the corresponding indicators of agencies that stay stuck in a feast-or-famine cycle). One of the indicators is a specialist mindset, as opposed to an “all things to all people” approach. This elicited a comment from one of the agency owners in the audience. They tried this specialist agency strategy at his agency and it didn’t work. It had the opposite effect; they couldn’t find enough new business opportunities to sustain the firm. What did I have to say to that? (Gulp) Before I tell you how I responded, let me explain that I’m not a specialist agency hardliner. In fact, this time last year, I wrote about this. To be sure, I see enormous benefits to specializing when it comes to new business. Pitching for new business is a big investment. The more specialized your pitch, the more efficient your investment. That’s because: Generalists seek out clients; specialists are more likely to be sought Generalists differentiate based on price; specialists can afford to charge a premium Generalists will always be tempted to reinvent themselves to suit the nature of the prospect; specialists find it easier to home in on a consistent message that’s effective for the right audience But I also don’t see it as a stark choice. In my piece, I referred to the proverb about the shoemaker’s children who wear no shoes. This is a favorite to describe agencies that can’t seem to take their own advice when it [...]

By |August 7th, 2018|

How To Find New Clients That Fit Your Agency Perfectly

Vetting new clients is a lot like choosing who you’re going to marry. No one gets married after a handful of dates, and no company makes a strong client connection after one meeting. Just like jumping into a marriage can lead to disaster, moving too fast with a prospect can also spell trouble for a business. Unfortunately, because many businesspeople are Type A personalities, the patience needed to grow relationships with prospects is lacking. We’re aggressive and competitive, always pushing for the win. Sometimes, that’s a great thing. But too often, we can jump the gun. To prospect smarter, agencies should focus on the four Ts: teach, trust, told apart and timing. Agencies that follow these strategies should have no issues securing new clients who are a perfect fit. 1. Teach: Use provocation-based selling as a learning experience. Too many agencies continue selling long after they’ve secured a new client. Selling is necessary at the beginning, but it becomes overkill after a certain point. Once you’ve started working together and you’re investing in the relationship, it’s time to switch gears. No one enjoys being constantly sold to, but everyone loves learning. Teaching clients something new builds relationships. It shows you’re passionate about their brand and want them to grow. You don’t need a doctorate degree to educate, but you do need to do your homework. When you go to trade shows or conferences, soak up insights, trends and case studies clients might be interested in. Even better, use that information to provoke problems they didn’t even know they had. Shining a light on things your agency can help with is essentially selling, but it doesn’t feel that way. It comes off as helpful and informative, which builds trust between [...]

By |August 1st, 2018|

Speaking Engagements: Every Agency Owner’s Ace in the Hole

Stereotypically, speaking engagements may seem reserved for high-profile authors, nationally recognized experts, and former presidents. And while not as obvious, marketing professionals should seriously consider how securing the right speaking opportunities will not only elevate brands but they also hold the key to developing successful business opportunities. A common misconception about speaking engagements is they only serve to build a personal brand for thought leaders or authors. As an agency owner, your goal is to establish credibility with your audience. And by presenting at a conference or trade show with an audience of prospective clients and referral sources, you can successfully demonstrate your insights and expertise. In today’s world, when a single tweet, post, or video shows your brand to the rest of the world, booking the perfect speaking gig has never been so invaluable. Securing Multiple Speaking Engagements There’s no one right formula for securing the ideal speaking engagement. There are several different tactics to try, with speakers’ bureaus being a great resource. And most big conferences have an open call for speakers. So you can pitch yourself as someone with something an audience is hungry to hear. Aside from these more straightforward methods, do everything you can to prove your expertise and give people a reason to book you for their event. I’ve written a weekly column for Iowa’s business journal for more than a decade, and my weekly podcast has passed its two-year mark and shows no signs of stopping. Both serve as evidence to conference planners: Not only do I have relevant content, but I can also knit thoughts together in a coherent way to teach and inform. The key is to establish your credibility so you’re invited to do the same thing on [...]

By |July 25th, 2018|

Hey agency owner — are you noticing the signs?

I’m writing this note from South Africa, where I am on a photo safari vacation with my daughter. We’ve spent the better part of a week in the bush, coming face to face with prides of lions, serene giraffe, wild dogs right after a kill and even some mating leopards! (And yes...that elephant is THAT much bigger than that Land Cruiser!) I’ve been fascinated to watch how our rangers and trackers scan the dirt for tracks, examine the foliage to look for breaks and even test the temperature of dung to determine what animals are nearby and how long ago they came through.   The clues are so subtle that it’s amazing when they spot them. But the rewards that come from that attention to minute detail is the difference between an incredible game drive (or survival in different circumstances) or it being just a lovely drive in the woods. It made me think about our own business and all of the subtle clues that our clients, prospects, and employees give off.  I wonder how many of them we blindly walk by, about to enter into a danger zone we’re not expecting?  I think most agency owners are very astute at picking up the signs — unless we’re moving too quickly and are too distracted to be present.  Which is pretty much every day. So what are we missing? One of the traits of the tracker and ranger that took me some time to get used to is the speed at which they work.  Slowly.  Sometimes painstakingly slowly.  As a Type A kind of guy, I was pretty antsy in the beginning.  But then I began to understand the method to their madness and saw [...]

By |July 24th, 2018|