Marketing your agency to attract the right clients

In April we discussed marketing your agency to attract the right clients, we covered topics such as how to develop a value proposition, marketing your agency as you would a brand as well as being topical in your new business approach. Our Founder Katie Street was joined by three leading Marketing experts:

Diane Young, Co-Founder, and CEO of The Drum

Sarah Shilling, CMO of Unlimited

Hayley-Jane Doyle, Head of Marketing at Seedlip

The webinar started by getting the brand’s point of view of what marketing attracts brands to agencies, Katie asked Hayley-Jane, Head of Marketing at Seedlip, what tactics work well, she suggested:

·       Be bespoke (not automated)

·       Be specific about what is being offered

·       Be unique

·       Talking around what you offer as an agency

·       Demonstrate how your agency can add value

With Hayley-Jane receiving 25 approaches a week, you need to be clever to stand out as an agency when working on your new business outreach.

How do brands look for an agency?

When searching for an agency Hayley-Jane said “I’ll be searching for a secret perspective, which agencies knocked it out the park, working on challenger brands or which has a particular specialism, or the new category, I’m looking from that perspective”.

Hayley-Jane said “having also worked at an agency myself, I know what you do as an agency and why you’re different is so important. When the boots on the other foot and you’re searching, it can be quite hard to untangle them”. Katie agreed saying it’s important to understand what the core needs of your audience are, “what are you, what’s that value exchange that you provide?”.

When asked what percentage of time is spent thinking about hiring an agency, Hayley-Jane said that she actually spends more time fielding that she does proactively thinking about the challenges they’ve got ahead and who can help them.

“When you’re not familiar with every agency under the sun, I think it can create a bit of fatigue, there’s so many, I don’t really know who does what, so I’ll stick to what I know, I’ll stick to that one that I worked with or that one that someone I worked with before recommended. It might be easier, but it doesn’t necessarily get you better results” said Hayley-Jane.

Marketing your agency as you would a brand

“You should market your agency as you would a brand, how would Coca Cola do it, how would Amazon do it” said Sarah Shilling, CMO at UNLIMITED. She suggested “if you take the brand off your social, off your content, can you actually see that that’s your brand?

With this Sarah said agencies need to get their internal affairs in order,I would say that your best marketeers are your people and they’re your best ambassadors, so what’s your common thread?” Sarah said they have been this process themselves at UMLIMITED and determined that being human was their common thread throughout the agency network, “it was almost like an education process to everyone in the agency to truly understand that and get behind it”.

Developing a value proposition

Katie offered a whistle stop tour of how to create a value proposition, saying that you must do your research upfront “that informs your marketing strategy so you’re going to market, understanding what it is that your market needs are”. She went on to say there are four different areas that we tend to look at to help us to find that:

1.     Look at the market and make sure you are reading publications like The Drum and Kinsey reports, etc.

2.     Speak to some of your clients and end customers, what is it they truly value about the relationship

3.     Look at competitors and other peers within the agency world and what they are talking about in terms of subjects

4.     Think about your own brand as an agency, your aspirations, what is it that you really do

Katie said once all four of these things are understood you should be able to understand the needs of your audience and what you offer, map these together and see where the most important ones align and that’s what you develop your marketing strategy on. If you fail to do these steps “your whole marketing strategy is going to fall flat on its face because you’re not going to address the needs of your audience and you’re not going to have a point of view” said Katie.

Be topical in your new business approach

Diane Young, CEO and Co-Founder of The Drum said, “At The Drum, what we’re trying to do is help people navigate the complexities of being in marketing”. She suggested rather than thinking about how you could secure new business, think about the problems you have solved for your clients and approach them with that. Also be topical “if something happened in the news, you could use that to help reinforce a point of view” said Diane. By using topical subjects that are in the news with your content and approach to get you into a conversation, it takes you away from talking about yourself all the time.

Be consistent with your content strategy

It’s really important to think about your content strategy as part of your agency’s marketing plan. Diane went on to say that agency marketers have an advantage as they have access to creative, and know how to tell stories, so should be the best in the world at marketing and what works well.

So, you’re not seen as being a ‘cold’ new business approach, you must ensure your content marketing strategy is getting your agency seen. Diane said, “you should never be cold, if you’ve got a good content strategy you should be seen, so your approach is never cold”.

Katie said if you are taking a ‘cold’ new business approach make sure you have a point of view otherwise you won’t stand out compared to others.

Diane shared with the audience two social media specialists that she loves, saying everyone should take a leaf out of their books, as they always have something interesting to say, and they are consistent, prolific and produce thought provoking content:

Gary Vaynerchuk:

Steven Bartlett from Social Chain:

Photo by Agefis on Unsplash

How Clubhouse help with your marketing

Katie spoke about the emergence of Clubhouse and how agencies have adopted Clubhouse earlier than brands, but there is still opportunity out there for new business, and for:

·       Driving your own voice

·       Personal brand building

·       Great way to meet new people

·       Lots to learn

·       New business opportunities are out there

But you need to make sure you are joining the right rooms and right conversations suggested the panel.

The online chat was busy with questions so toward the end of the session Katie asked the panellists some of the audience’s questions.

How important are case studies in your new business approach?

Hayley-Jane answered saying they are incredibly helpful and allow her to see what the agency is capable of “they really distil down clearly and quickly what it is that you do, and what you can bring. A case study can offer visual or verbally and really bring that to life” said Hayley-Jane.

Katie said not to start sending out a case study as your new business approach, you need to send insights pieces, build trust, to they know of you and will be prepared to read it. Katie suggested these content steps:

1.     Solving not selling

2.     Show how you’ve done it (solved that problem)

3.     Tell them how you can help them e.g workshop

For brands particularly right now how important it is to find a cost-efficient agile agency?

Katie agreed with the audience member that agility speed and cost has been incredibly important this past year. Diane said “it’s hard to imagine when you wouldn’t want that. What’s the reverse of that?  A small, unresponsive, non-innovative supplier? You

don’t really ever want that!”.

Diane said that agencies should be thinking about what sectors really need help at the moment as well as those companies that are flying. Hayley-Jane feels that the pandemic has accelerated and heightened everything, e.g moving out of the city sooner, so need an agency that is smart and agile even more so now because of the way things have accelerated.

Agencies need to be able to demonstrate that they are able to provide a return on investment said Diane. Suggesting now might be a good time to think about how agencies are paid, different models are emerging, could be paid on results.

Does the geographical location of your partner agency matter to you?

“I would say no, but not sure it ever has” said Hayley-Jane, she believes it’s more important for the right thing than the easy thing, it’s best to go with the agency who understands you more and you gel with.

Any tips for engaging in a digital environment?

Sarah suggested using the pandemic as a jumping off point, be kind, ask people how they are doing, how their business is doing, how it’s affected by the pandemic. She also echoed Hayley-Jane’s advice “be clear with your content strategy”.

Hayley-Jane said personally she prefers a direct email rather than a direct message in LinkedIn. She also said, ‘trust the response’ don’t follow up if they have responded with a ‘this isn’t for us right now’, don’t continue to chase. She also said to avoid sending voice notes on LinkedIn as a new business approach, especially if you’ve never spoken to them before, it seems too personal.

The webinar always goes too quickly, but fear not we have the recording available to watch on our YouTube channel so you can recap on some of the great hints and tips on how best to market your agency to attract the right clients

The New World of New Biz webinars take place on the first Tuesday of every month at 11am, you can sign up here for free to join the next one.

By Michaela Dudfield
14th April 2021
7 minute read