Whether you are an already established agency or you are just getting started, there is always room to try new strategies in an effort to grow your business, your team, and your client roster.
Read on to learn how to learn how to acquire new leads to fill your funnel and convert into clients, methods of sourcing and acquiring new talent to add to your team, and the reasons and ways you can focus on specialization.
Client acquisition tactics
Without leads, we don’t have clients, and without clients, we don’t have much of an agency. Straight forward—however, even if you are at capacity, it’s crucial to always feed your funnel with new leads and foster those relationships so they can evolve into clients now or down the road.
At AKvertise, we always take the call, the meeting, the conversation, to talk to a prospect. After all, you never know what can transpire from a conversation until you have it. Even if the timing isn’t on our side to work with someone right away due to availability, more often than not, this results in the lead wanting to work with us even more, even if they have to wait a month or two to do so until we have bandwidth open up. If it’s still not a match for us, we keep a small network of trusted agencies we refer to if it is not the right mutual fit in terms of timelines, goals, expertise, budgets, or availability.
While there are many ways to acquire new clients, most come from referrals. In fact, according to WordStream’s State of the Agency report, 51% of surveyed agencies consider referrals their main source of acquiring new clients, followed by 20% said upsells from other products or services.
If you’ve been in business for some time, the above sources may be familiar to you. But keep reading on as we have some additional ones to share and there may be some methods you and your team have not yet explored that could be effective in further growing your client roster. If you’re a freelancer or small agency owner looking for more clients to add to your roster, give these lead generation and client acquiring tactics.
1. Be your own publicist
Unless you are a large agency and already have a publicist on speed dial, that is. Otherwise, it’s worth doing some publicity work. Seek out opportunities to get your name, your team, and your services out there. Submit pitches to speak at events, attend events and share online that you plan to and want to connect with others, get in touch with podcast hosts and ask if you can join as a guest for an episode that would be interesting for their listeners and relevant to your expertise, contribute to external industry blogs and publications, and be active on social media to build your own personal brand.
Does that truly work? It certainly does. For example, Akvertize has been in business for over five years now, and we still have yet to do any advertising for our own agency. The above tactics have brought in leads to our funnel and helped us convert many into clients. Being front facing, active, helpful, and having your name displayed across various mediums while sharing tactics, tools, ideas, and content can have a rewarding effect. Regardless of whether you’re the CEO, a paid media manager, or a junior level staff member, it can help your agency tremendously, as well as boost morale and further education, if everyone can act as a publicist on behalf of your agency.
2. Share your availability
If you’ve tried the above and you still have room for more work, simply share that you are accepting new clients along with the details of your areas of expertise. These types of posts tend to get shared on social media.
If there’s room, mention the type of clients and industries you prefer to work with and have experience with. If you’re possibly concerned about optics of doing this, as I once was, worry not. The first time I put this out on Twitter, I thought it would come off that we were failing and short on work, however, others told me the contrary, that it looked like we were growing. From time to time, we still do this, and it always brings in leads whether it’s a light month or we’re looking to scale further. Don’t be shy—let people know that you’re available to help.
Expand your team
Looking to take on more clients but limited on bandwidth? You need to expand your time, either by collaborating with other agencies or hiring new talent to join your team as employees. If the latter makes more sense for your agency in the long run, that may be easier said than done. Talent acquisition can be challenging, and it may take several hires to find the right fit, but good, diligent working marketers are out there.
3. Hire more employees
Posting to job boards can be effective, but there’s nothing quite like getting a personal recommendation. When we look to add to our team, we’ve found success by reaching out to industry contacts to see if they or someone they know is looking for work. In addition, we post to our personal and business social channels as it’s an easy way to share that you’re hiring. If you’re looking to scale your paid search and/or paid social team this year, one very effective way to reach marketers and advertisers is via Twitter and using the #ppcchat and #fbadschat hashtags.
Posting publicly to LinkedIn can be fruitful as that platform has significantly grown and increased in activity over the last few years. Have your current team members share details about a position opening and link to a job description on your website so potential candidates can learn more before applying. As an advertising agency, you could also take that a step further and use that audience for remarketing ads.
There are also a number of job boards out there, such as Indeed. If you’re strapped for time, delegate this process by hiring a recruiter in an effort to help find you the right fit for your digital marketing agency in Chicago.
If you’re comfortable in doing so, expand your search by offering remote opportunities, especially if you’re located in a smaller city where the talent pool may be smaller. According to LinkedIn, 40% of millennials say that having flexibility and working remotely is a priority.
4. Join forces with other agencies
Not in a spot to hire employees at this time? Connect with another competitive or complementary marketing agency. If you offer paid advertising services, reach out to other ones that may be short on bandwidth and you can offer your expertise to their clients. Some agencies tend to be transparent about this and others may want to white label you, so it’s up to your preference on how you want to work.
Connecting with complementary marketing agencies can also bring you exciting and new client work. For example, reach out to some SEO agencies to see if they have any clients that are interested in paid search or paid social advertising. This can be beneficial to you, to them, and their clients. In a sense, you would collectively be creating a more holistic marketing strategy to the client while being close to a full-service agency and driving more revenue to your business. We’ve found great success in taking this approach over the years and becoming an extension of other agency teams. You can, too, with these types of strategic partners.
Refine your offerings
Combining forces with an agency that offers complementary services is a great way to expand your team and your offering while staying competitive with other digital marketing agencies.
But sometimes it’s worth rethinking your agency’s own offerings to find the best strategy for growth.
5. Scale back to grow more
It doesn’t hurt to scale back services in order to grow. If you’re able to be a full-service agency and be successful in doing so, keep at it. If you’re smaller, specializing could be a great alternative. When we first launched AKvertise, we offered paid search and paid social, but around the time of our third anniversary, we decided to scale back on our advertising service offerings and focus on the thing we enjoyed most and thrived in, in an effort to further excel and to distinguish ourselves fully as a social media advertising firm.
There was some hesitation in that we could lose business and have fewer leads coming in; however, we decided that it was worth the test. If it didn’t succeed, we could always revert and offer more services. It’s been more than two years since this refinement and specializing was the best thing we could have done for our business. It’s brought in more clients and helped us grow and could help you as well. Become the expert in your specialized field and in turn, you may evolve into a go-to agency for your particular service.
Set your agency up for growth in 2020
This year, treat your agency like a client campaign. Look at your business objectively, take your own recommendations, test some of the above tactics that you haven’t yet and see if they work for your agency. Market yourself in order to build awareness for your agency by seeking out opportunities in an effort to bring in new leads, clients, team members, and partnerships as you scale. Don’t be afraid to test something new as you can almost always revert. Happy testing and may this year bring you success.