Whether you are an already established agency or just getting started, there is always room to try new strategies to grow your business, your team, and your client roster.
Read on 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; without clients, we don’t have much of an agency. Straight forward—however, even if you are at capacity, it’s crucial to constantly 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, meetings, and conversations 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 capacity 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 regarding 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 primary source of acquiring new clients, followed by 20% said upsells from other products or services.
The above sources may be familiar if you’ve been in business for some time. 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 publicist
Unless you are a large agency with a publicist on speed dial, that is. Otherwise, it’s worth doing some publicity work. Seek opportunities to get your name, team, and 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 brand.
Does that truly work? It certainly does. For example, Akvertize has been in business for over five years, and we still have yet to do any advertising for our agency. The above tactics have brought in leads to our funnel and helped us convert many into clients. Being front-facing, active, and helpful and displaying your name across various mediums while sharing tactics, tools, ideas, and content can be rewarding. Whether you’re the CEO, a paid media manager, or a junior-level staff member, it can help your agency tremendously, 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 still have room for more work, 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. Worry not if you’re possibly concerned about the optics of doing this, as I once was. 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 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—tell people you’re available to help.
Expand your team
Looking to take on more clients but are limited on bandwidth? Expanding your time by collaborating with other agencies or hiring new talent to join your team as employees would be best. 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 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 want to scale your paid search and paid social team this year, one very effective way to reach marketers and advertisers is via Twitter and 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. You could also take that further as an advertising agency and use that audience for remarketing ads.
There are also several job boards out there, such as Indeed. If you’re strapped for time, delegate this process by hiring a recruiter to help find you the right fit for your digital marketing agency in Chicago.
If you’re comfortable doing so, expand your search by offering remote opportunities, mainly in a smaller city where the talent pool may be smaller. According to LinkedIn, 40% of millennials say 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 others 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, contact some SEO agencies to see if they have clients interested in paid search or paid social advertising. This can be beneficial to you, to them, and to their clients. In a sense, you would collectively create a more holistic marketing strategy for 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 offering complementary services is a great way to expand your team and offering while staying competitive with other digital marketing agencies.
But sometimes, it’s worth rethinking your agency’s offerings to find the best strategy for growth.
5. Scale back to grow more
It doesn’t hurt to scale back services to grow. If you can be a full-service agency and succeed 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. Still, around our third anniversary, we decided to scale back on our advertising service offerings and focus on what we enjoyed most and thrived in to excel further and 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 it was worth the test. We could always revert and offer more services if it didn’t succeed. It’s been over two years since this refinement and specialization was the best thing we could have done for our business. It’s brought in more clients, helped us grow, and could also help you. 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 recommendations, test some of the above tactics you haven’t yet, and see if they work for your agency. Market yourself to build awareness for your agency by seeking out opportunities to bring in new leads, clients, team members, and partnerships as you scale. Don’t be afraid to test something new; you can almost always revert. Happy testing, and may this year bring you success.