Accurate prospective client intel, in the hands of a skilled business development team virtually guarantees a successful outcome. But clients today prefer to remain invisible, talking to Google instead of your agency directly. That’s why successful agencies are leveraging the power of Content Marketing, Marketing Automation/Website Tracking Software and 2nd-Click Content to focus their business development efforts on truly qualified leads.
Finding Today’s Invisible Clients Requires A New Business Development Approach
Once upon a time, agencies treated information about their approach to marketing as sacred. After all, information was power — it differentiated them from the competition. That’s why so many agencies created “proprietary” approaches and some went so far as to name and even trademark them.
Agencies believed that if they could force prospects to call and talk to a member of the agency team one on one, the agency could control the prospecting experience by carefully disseminating information in a way that would convince the prospective client to ultimately hire the agency or at least invite them to a pitch.
But, agencies, we have to abandon that point of view to stay competitive in the modern age of The Invisible Pitch.
That systematic hoarding of information made sense once upon a time, but it’s totally obsolete in the search engine age, self-educating client age. Research shows that over 70% of these clients turn to Google or another search engine to begin their next agency search and they are more than 50% of the way through their hiring decision before they ever make contact with any agency.
But all is not lost. This new DIY agency search approach is actually a huge opportunity for smart agencies looking to replace their RFP habit with a Painless Prospecting approach to business development.
Using 1st-Click and 2nd Click Content To Create Digital Fingerprints
1st-Click Content is designed to capture attention — Google’s & your prospective client’s. Think of your blog posts, guest posts, podcast interviews, etc. In other words, 1st-Click Content is your metaphorical chum. You create a ton of it, optimize it for Google, share it on social media, and hopefully spread it far and wide across the interwebs in hopes of a prospective client taking a bite or two.
1st-Click Content’s role in your modern business development program is twofold: creating Propinquity with prospective clients and establishing social proof of your agency’s expertise in core knowledge or service categories. Both are essential top-of-funnel activities to power a modern Painless Prospecting program, but to truly create conversions that convert to clients, you’ll need 2nd-Click Content.
Typically 2nd-Click Content takes two forms: It either provides the perfect answer to every question or a detailed explanation of a key concept. For instance, if your agency has its own nomenclature — and I highly recommend you create one if you don’t — you’d create 2nd-Click Content pages that explain the concepts behind your words.
You may notice in this post that I reference a number of “propriety” words like Propinquity or Painless Prospecting. I don’t take the time to explain them to you. Instead, I offer up links to 2nd-Click Content on my own website so that if you are so inclined, you can go deeper and learn more. But you don’t have to.
This is a very important tactic because many guest posting opportunities will either strip out all links back to your website or severely limit the amount and type of links. In both instances, 2nd-Click Content links have a better chance of survival because you’re using them to improve the reader experience. For the reader that truly wants to understand the concept, you’ve given them the opportunity to go deeper without requiring every reader to do so.
But 2nd-Click Content isn’t just for backlinks. As I said, it also provides depth and detail of information. Where 1st-Click is trying to talk to everyone, 2nd-Click is trying to speak to specific client types. So you wouldn’t have 2nd-Click Content explaining your agency’s approach to email marketing.
Instead, you’d have multiple 2nd-Click Content pages explaining your email marketing approach for each category of client you service — assuming there are nuances for the different categories. While these pages too can serve as backlinks, their primary role is to help you nurture and close self-educating prospects. Armed with a treasure trove of high quality 2nd-Click Content, you can show vs tell when addressing a prospective client’s question or concern.
Instead of answering the question or concern verbally or via email, your team acknowledges the validity of the question or concern and then shares the perfectly crafted agency response sitting in your 2nd-Click Content vault so you can help those self-educating clients complete their education, producing that all-important feeling of making a smart selection decision vs being pitched.
Leveraging Marketing Automation Platform To Lift Those Digital Fingerprints
Most agencies miss the true value of marketing automation platforms — building digital dossiers on known and unknown consumers of your content. Once you’ve set up an automation platform and baked it into your site it’s time to encourage your prospective clients to Go Deeper.
Embed Dynamic Funnel links in every piece of content you publish on your website. Dynamic Funnel links offer the reader an opportunity to dive deeper into a specific issue or help them self-classify.
For instance, you might publish a blog post discussing social media strategy. Within that post, you might insert a number of Dynamic Funnel links — half linking to B2B Go Deeper content and half to B2C. Every click on these links creates both recordable sales signals in your CRM AND if you use tagging automations, magically classifies the visitor as B2B or B2C.
Dynamic Funnel links work because in the digital world, clients don’t play it close to the vest. They’re too busy self-educating to remember you might be “listening” and thus, they unwittingly provide you and your biz dev teams with valuable information for building a better prospecting plan or when the time comes, a more tailored pitch deck or proposal.
The Key To Ditching The RFP
As Drew McLellan says, when it comes to a business development strategy, you can either be interested (leads to RFP land) or you can be interesting (leads to Painless Prospecting land). I love that line and completely agree with him because it’s how I’ve built my agency, Converse Digital, over the last 12-years without participating in a single RFP, making a single cold call or sending any cold emails.
BUT… interesting just gets you a conversation. Detailed insights lead to a conversion.
Your momma was right when she told you that you should never talk to a stranger. So don’t disappoint your momma. Armed with a proper content marketing strategy and the right marketing automation platform, you’ll know everything that prospect has touched prior to calling you. And if you’ve tossed in a liberal dose of Social Recon too, you’ll have all of the information and Conversational Catalysts you need for a successful first call.