Marketing agency discussing marketing strategy.
Most marketing firms and advertising agencies put so much effort into making other companies’ marketing efforts work that they often neglect their own. Marketing for agencies themselves rarely consists of more than “word of mouth” — hardly a sustainable growth strategy.
While marketing agencies are now better than ever at effective positioning and establishing a profitable niche, they continue to struggle with taking their message to brands directly. While agencies continue to push boundaries in terms of SEO strategy, social media marketing, content marketing, thought leadership, and sales outreach, they continue to fail to effectively implement these strategies for themselves.
Every marketing agency is hungry for the ideal client — one that matches its capabilities, category experience, expectations, budget, and overall company culture — but nailing these high-level clients doesn’t just happen randomly. The key to getting the right prospects is being in the right place at the right time, and that type of positioning simply isn’t possible if you don’t have a firm grasp on your own marketing.
Agencies can easily turn their marketing acumen into real-life results for their business — here’s how to do it without wasting any time or money along the way.
1. Build relationships with agency search consultants.
Do a quick internet search for “agency search consultants,” and you’ll be met with list after list of top search consultants, advisors, and experts of every shape and size. Just because a certain consultant comes highly recommended doesn’t mean he or she is the right fit, however.
Look for agency search consultants, matchmakers, and collectives that not only have deep networks, but also a reputation for relationship-based approaches. While developing a single relationship might not change the game for your business, working to expand your agency’s network with many different search consultants can open up loads of new opportunities. Each of those relationships can be a pipeline for new business — only a few need to fully pan out to make the effort worth your while.
2. Join agency directories that appeal to your target audience.
Agency directories are critical for establishing mutually beneficial networks in the marketing world. Clutch, Agency Spotter, and AgencyFinder have together carved out the largest portion of the directory landscape, but smaller players have begun to make an impact. Agency Match, for example, was just launched by ad collective Bull & Beard to create a way for small- and mid-sized agencies to get in touch without getting drowned out by the competition. It has capped overall membership at 1,000, ensuring that each member has the opportunity to get its voice heard.
There’s no perfect agency directory, but directories in general fill a space that most marketing agencies leave empty. Directories are automatic networking tools that allow your work to speak for itself when it comes to attracting partners and clients. I recommend dabbling in several early on before settling for the one or two consistently producing the best results for your business. Try focusing on directories that specifically cater to your size, type, and range of business. The right directory is one of the easiest ways to get matched with the right client.
3. Invest in thought leadership to generate leads.
Agency owners can leverage their agency brand and creative influence into opportunities for book deals, bylined columns, interviews, speaking engagements, and much more. As valuable as these opportunities can be, they’re ultimately wasted if they aren’t used to spread thoughts and ideas that impact others — increasing the value of your personal and professional brand in the process.
Thought leadership — using content to elevate your ideas and incorporate them into your brand itself — can be a valuable tool for developing relationships and generating qualified leads. If people trust your ideas, they’ll naturally gravitate toward your business. Many of the most successful agencies out there elevate the ideas of their top creatives and visionaries in order to spread their message beyond their own walls.
Thought leadership can disseminate your ideas, but it can also brand you as a specialist in a certain field or niche. Think about how you want to be seen by people inside and outside your field, and develop your thought leadership from there. Don’t forget to consider which medium would be best for you. Are you more comfortable with the written word or an opening keynote? Every person needs his or her own strategy, so find the one that best suits your style and personality.
Most importantly, maintain the right kind of patience. Becoming a speaker can take years of hard work and dedication, and writing a worthwhile book doesn’t happen overnight. No matter the method of thought leadership you tackle, remember to go at it with consistency and tenacity. The more consistent your branding is, the more powerful it becomes over time. Have a clear sense of how you want others to view you, and turn that sense into real-life perception.
These are just three ways to improve your agency’s marketing in the short and long term — there are many more options out there. Try starting with low-hanging fruit before tackling more high-level marketing strategies. Marketing agencies are often on the cutting edge of how to boost brand value and recognition, yet so few turn those methods back on themselves. Doing so can give your agency a major edge in a crowded market.
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