Every year, I get to hang out with 30+ digital team members from various AMI agencies hailing from California to Connecticut and everywhere in between. They come together once a year to pick each other’s brains, learn about new tools, and share best practices. One of the things that impresses me the most about them is that their focus is bigger than tools, tactics, and techniques. They’re also asking about agency new business strategies, how to help the agency’s social media get on track, and how to streamline processes so the agency is more profitable. These are employees who care about their agency and the agency’s performance. As I listen to them strategize together on how to bring even more value to the shop and your clients, I also identified some unspoken needs that would make their work easier and better. Require everyone in your agency to get some basic digital certifications so they have a better understanding and can work together better in identifying opportunities, writing proposals, and spec’ing projects. Use your agency as the test dummy — try video, voice, social experiments — but be out there and be bold. Be smart about tools versus time. You may be saving a buck or two by having them do something manually but if there’s an automated tool out there — use it so they have more think/learn time. Keep your own digital saw sharp — there’s always something new to learn and as their mentor and leader, you chart the course. I’m impressed and encouraged by the drive, curiosity, and hunger that these professionals display. It is definitely to your advantage to help them help your agency!
Remember the good old days when we could just share the monthly Google Analytics with a client and they were wowed by our prowess? Sadly, those days are gone. One of the biggest challenges facing most agencies is how to help our clients understand the numbers and what they mean. They’re no longer content to see the data, they want to know how to use the information to make better decisions. If you have someone on staff who can interpret the data and translate it, you’re one of the fortunate few. Most agencies are struggling to level up their internal analytics team to truly deliver on this client demand. I recently wrote a story for Smart Insights on how agencies are solving this problem. This isn’t going to get easier and clients’ expectations aren’t going to get smaller. How are you prepping your team for this ongoing need? The agencies that get a handle on how to interpret the data and use it to guide future decisions are going to have a very compelling story to tell. I’d love to hear how you’re solving this need. This was originally published in the AMI weekly newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
Study after study tells us that CMOs rank lead generation as their #1 priority and one of their biggest sources of frustration. So if we practice the tired “what keeps you up at night” exercise — I think we know the answer. Most of our clients and prospects need to generate more qualified leads and they admit that they don’t really have the tools or know how to do it. I speak at conferences where I am surrounded by agency owners who drive leads for their clients. But even among these agencies — there’s still a lot of discussion on how to develop a better strategy and how to help the clients embrace the technology that is part of the solution today. The truth is, many business leaders and many agencies (maybe you?) haven’t yet embraced the 2020 version of driving leads for our clients. There are lots of reasons why (cost, complexity, lack of content, etc.) but the truth is — if our agencies don’t figure out how to deliver on this need, someone else will. I don’t believe it’s optional today. A story I wrote for Forbes on marketing automation highlights this topic. How are you bringing new leads to your clients and what role does marketing automation play in that model? By the way — this isn’t just a challenge for our clients. How are you driving right fit prospects (not just anyone who walks in the door) to your agency? This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
Content Marketing Institute just released a new study, asking agencies about what content marketing services they offer, where they are having success and where they’re still banging their head against a wall. The data is based on 197 respondents, with 71% being US based and 61% of the respondents being owners/partners. There were several takeaways of note in this research and some of it supports what I am seeing among the agencies we serve and some of it makes me scratch my head and wonder a little bit. The results certainly support the idea that content marketing is not new. I’d argue that we’ve always been in the content business, we’ve just changed up the packaging over the years and decades. No great surprise — agencies are reporting that clients of all sizes are seeking help with their content. This isn’t going to change any time soon — and that’s good news for all of us. More surprising is that 73% of the agencies said they were extremely/very successful in achieving their client’s content marketing goals. Given the challenges that I hear agency team members talk about every day (getting the content, getting approvals, getting clients to see the long tail play off content, appropriate pricing related to expectations, etc.) I question this number. I’m sure it’s accurate from the research’s POV — I just wonder how those agencies are actually defining their client’s goals. I also wonder if our clients have the right goals. How often have you heard a client express frustration because their content isn’t driving immediate sales? Have we helped them really think through a content strategy that is big and bold enough? Or is it just a two blog [...]
I learned a few things spending two days with 30+ agency employees who are charged with delivering digital (websites, digital media, SEO/SEM, Adwords, apps, marketing automation, etc.) to agency clients. We did a deep dive into how they’re getting it done and how they’re staying current. One recurring theme kept cropping up and that was the idea that agency owners and your account service team need to stay current too. You don’t need to know how to do it, but you sure need to know how to talk about it and sell it. You and your AEs also need to, if you haven’t already, wrap your heads around the complexity of the work and how fluid it is in terms of the tools, techniques and unfortunately, the time it takes to get something done. Bottom line is that the agencies that are making money on their digital projects are the ones who are working together to assemble proposals, timelines and setting client expectations. That last one, in particular, is a doozy!
The image that most professionals have about posting on social media isn’t too positive. In fact, it’s usually downright horrible. When you picture “posting on social media,” what image comes up? Teenagers sprawled on their beds and posting Instagram selfies on their phone? The hipster taking a picture of their food at a restaurant for Facebook? Your friend who can’t seem to stop posting their every thought to Twitter? If that’s how you view social media engagement, it’s easy to blow it off. It doesn’t seem connected to the goal of winning more business. But what if I told you that there was actually science behind why you should be online? There are very specific professional outcomes that you can support through regular and consistent engagement on social media. And for your professional goals, there’s still no better place to spend that time than on LinkedIn. Unconsciously (and Powerfully) Influence Your Prospects Through LinkedIn If you want to build your credibility, influence, and reach, there are no tools as efficient, scalable, and accessible as social media platforms. Social selling advocates tend to focus on using digital platforms for research, pipeline-building, and information-gathering, and rightly so. There are also powerful ways that all professionals can use it for building a stronger brand among your network. You can use it to make your presence known and actively influence your connections. And your connections might not even know that it’s happening, because much of what influences us isn’t being processed at a conscious level. We can see this by looking at the ideas and writing of researchers like Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, and Sheena Iyenga. Central to their research are the cognitive biases and unconscious heuristics that influence [...]
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 [...]
If you run an agency, or any B2B services firm, you’re in the business of relationships. Relationships = partnerships, (and therefore sales). The more conversations you have with the right people, the better your business will be for it. If we disagree on this, you may not derive much from this article... If we agree, however, read on! Imagine if you had a way to get a meeting with anyone you wanted to, and build a genuine value-driven relationship with them? At scale. A Tier 1 potential client. A great referral partner. An influencer who could promote you to their audience. What would that do for your agency? In this post, I’m going to detail the exact process for building those relationships at scale, in a very short amount of time, by using a channel that is massively under-utilized by agencies - podcasting for advertising agencies. Podcasting For Advertising Agencies It won’t go into detail of how to properly launch a podcast - that’s another post entirely (or you can see this free video workshop here). So with that, let’s get into it. But first, to dispel some myths: Don’t I need to build an audience over 6-12 months before I see results from podcasting? Short answer: no. When most people think of the benefits of podcasting, they think of the primary content marketing benefit. Build an audience of listeners, provide valuable content, give away free education and build trust in the eyes (or ears) of your listeners. Eventually you will get leads, and those leads will be great leads, because they feel like they already know you. After all, you’ve been in their ears for 30 minutes every week. And believe me, that’s a [...]
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 [...]
One of the most common challenges agencies of all sizes are facing right now is finding the right people to add to the team, especially as it relates to learning how to find freelancers who are capable of doing the great work that agencies require. Client budgets and programs are growing, agency new business is getting a little easier and so everything should be rosy. But when you don’t have the right team to get the work done – it’s frustrating and frightening. Ten to fifteen years ago, the prevailing attitude was that agencies needed everyone under one roof. After all, the work is so collaborative. But when the recession hit and people had to reduce fixed expenses to survive, many agencies who swore they would never try to manage a network of freelancers or hire someone virtual crossed over and did just that. Not only did they survive it – but it opened up many opportunities to serve clients in new ways. Fast forward to today – whether you are in a big market with lots of talent (and lots of competitors for that talent) or in a smaller market that just doesn’t have enough qualified bodies – finding and keeping the right team is a serious struggle. Most AMI agencies have a pretty robust freelance pool and are versed in knowing how to find freelancers. 75% have some sort of flex hours where people either come in early/leave early, come in late/leave late or have some sort of non-traditional work week, be it fewer than five days a week or a full work week but they work from home one or more days. In terms of remote employees, I would say that [...]