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How Marketing Agencies Can Scale Faster
Starting a marketing agency is an exciting challenge. Growing it, even more so. There are thousands of agencies in the U.S. alone, competing to land clients. All while trying to establish and focus on goals, build awareness, anticipate trends and establish and manage a talented team.
But when you’re strapped for cash, it can be hard to identify where you should be allocating resources. There are some things that will pay off big for your growth. Others that will drain your time and energy. And they can appear indistinguishable.
However a potential growth hack or strategy first appears to you, it’s worth the trial and error to qualify or disqualify it as part of your business’ growth strategy. The bottom line is improving your bottom line is a result of becoming more efficient.
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 major losses.
This is why professional development is crucial. Constantly learning and keeping your finger to 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 gaps and the opportunities to position yourself to fill them.
As is using your own data. If you don’t know your engagement and conversion levels, the triggers which influence each and the lifetime value of a client, you will be severely limited in how you can grow your agency.
Find Your Niche
The agency that tries to serve everyone, ultimately ends up serving no one. Or being grossly inefficient. Pick your poison.
But seriously, picking an area of specialization 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 consider distinguishing your agency is by specializing in a specific vertical like marketing for e-commerce shops or designing for digital marketers. Combine the two approaches and you’ll be able to position yourself even more effectively to a smaller audience. This may open up other opportunities to strengthen your positioning as well, such as getting 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 opportunities 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?
Plant A Lead Magnet
Often times your site visitors won’t know what exactly they need. And while they were driven to your site and successfully arrived there, this doesn’t change the fact that your contact form will probably still be completely ignored.
Try a lead magnet instead. 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 – upselling current clients can be more profitable than acquiring new clients. A combination of suggesting new projects and demonstrating ROI will support your pitches in this regard.
Now in case we haven’t sold you yet on the importance of your sales process, consider this – without a defined, repeatable sales process, that provides a picture of your pipeline, you’ll have no idea what your benchmarks for success truly are. Without benchmarks, you’ll remain exactly where you are, while your clients move on.
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 strategy.
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.
Speaking of acquiring clients, how efficient is your process for issuing proposals? How about your onboarding process? Are you gathering all the information and requirements you need in the shortest amount of time possible? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. And yes, we’re assuming your answer here because there is always room to increase efficiency.
Check out PandaDoc, 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. They’ll be able to select options, according to your availability.
Repeatable processes make you scalable. Now, repeat that out loud 3 times. A few good affirmations never hurt either.
Data Provides Direction
Whatever function a tool, software or initiative can help you automate, its benefit isn’t just in its core function. The data generated about your target audience’s behaviours or your operation’s efficiencies will help determine the direction your business needs to head in. The measures you take for growth will enable you to identify trends and the moves you need to make to keep up, and keep ahead of the curve.
Knowing the potential for growth in your business will help you identify where you need to invest and where you can establish strategic partnerships.
White Label Services
After winning a hard-fought battle to land a client, it can be tough to find yourself in over your head when it comes to keeping up with them. And that piece of advice about saying yes to opportunities and figuring out how to leverage them after? That doesn’t really work out well in these scenarios.
Clients come to you with specific targets and deadlines in mind. Trying to figure it out as you go along isn’t going to cut it. White label services are a fantastic workaround for this issue. 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. And as a result, you get to keep up with your current clients and onboard new ones.
You also get to dedicate more of your time to your agency’s strategic growth, rather than operations. Interested in learning more? Check out Banners Mall For Agencies, a white label graphic and web design service that we provide to web development firms, freelancers, marketing, advertising and media agencies, web hosting companies, entrepreneurs, and affiliate networks.
A Few Final Thoughts
A lot of agencies consider growth to be a result of increasing the number of clients on their roster. But with every additional client, the number of additional staff needed to manage those accounts also increases. More clients mean more overhead. Which might make sense for your operations up to a point. But there’s a limit to scalability by this logic.
The most effective ways to approach the growth of your marketing agency are to find efficiencies in your operations that will increase profitability and sustainability. And to keep doing this relentlessly.