3 Simple Hacks That Will Help Your Agency Win More Clients
Do you sometimes get that feeling?
The nagging doubt that something's not right about your agency?
You hear stories about other agencies doubling and tripling their businesses overnight, reaching financial goals months before the year's end, and growing the team again.
You, on the other hand, still chase that mid-year sales target!
But what if I told you that you could easily catch up with them? And achieve it by making just a couple of small changes to your agency?
I bet you'd be pretty stoked, right?
Well, that's EXACTLY what I'm going to talk about you in this post. I'll show you three simple but often overlooked hacks that can make your agency more attractive to clients and help you leave the competition behind.
#1. Switch Focus to a Single Vertical Only
It makes no sense, right?
After all, the more diverse industries you target, the more clients you can win.
That's true, butthere's a downside of this approach too.
Going after more industries also means that:
- You look just like any other agency targeting them (apart from those that specialize, of course),
- The internal struggle of trying to pull the company in many different directions at once slows your growth.
- You end up competing with many more companies over the same clients.
Hardly ideal, if you ask me.
Now, consider the benefits of vertical specialization:
You get to provide more value to clients. And it's just as a sheer result of focusing on servicing the industry you know best.
You can be more focused in your sales and marketing communications. After all, it's much easier to talk about your agency when you know exactly who you want to talk to.
And finally, you immediately make your agency more attractive to clients. As Will Travis, the CEO of SidLee USA points, many clients begin to see the full-service offering as a detractor. He writes:
"Agencies need to know what they can deliver on as clients have already defined what they need before they go out to seek agency services"(source)
Many successful agencies specialize in a very narrow niche:
Chris Dreyer's firm, Attorney Rankings, for example, focuses entirely on one vertical - law firms.
Titan, a web agency, offers their services to healthcare professionals only.
On a personal note, a while ago, I moved from working in a number of industries to focusing on a single vertical only, B2B SaaS. And the change has had a tremendous effect on my business. In this year alone, we've grown from freelance operation to a boutique agency (and we're still growing).
How do you switch focus to a single vertical?
Leaving the obvious, choosing what industry you want to target, all you need to do is communicate the new focus.
And that you could do in two ways:
One, by launching a new brand. This way you don't risk losing the existing business. At the same time, you will have to build a new brand, and that obviously will take more time. That's the approach Calin Yablonski chose, launching InboundLawMarketing as a subsidiary of his main brand, Inbound Interactive, to service a new vertical.
Two, by refocusing the existing company. Although it may seem like a riskier move, it achieves results faster as you're working with an established brand.
#2. Define Ideal Prospect Criteria
Goes without saying, doesn't it?
You enjoy the work more when you do it with the clients you love.
And this in turn often means that you do the best work resulting in more projects, referrals, and overall business growth.
For that reason, apart from focusing on a specific vertical, you should also develop processes to pick only those clients who have certain personal characteristics you're after.
In his fantastic book, Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port calls this the Red Velvet Rope Policy a system for letting only the most ideal clients, the ones who energize and inspire you, to join your client list.
In the Agencies Drinking Beer podcast by Proposify, Heather Carsson from Onboardly points out:
That's the mistake we made a year ago when a lot of people were coming to us wanting to work with us. I thought, this is a miracle, and we signed on more clients than we could accommodate. The work was good, but our team was really stressed out. So when you're pre-qualifying, choose the clients your team is really going to want to work with. If the client isn't exciting for your team it's going to be hard to motivate them to create stellar content on their behalf.
So, develop your Red Velvet Rope Policy, to use Michael Port's term. Define your ideal client. List qualities, values, and personal characteristics you seek in the people you want to work with. Also, consider behaviors and qualities you don't tolerate.
A good litmus test for figuring those out is taking a look at your client base. Whom do you love interacting the most? Who do you always look forward to seeing or hearing from? List which of their qualities make you feel this way, and base your ideal client definition on them.
And then, only let people who fall into this description to become clients.
Extreme? Perhaps. But it works.
Onboardly, for example, insists on getting the entire team's approval before they sign up a client.
In my agency, we insist on seeing our prospects product before moving on. And we never work with people in whose apps we don't believe.
#3. Distribute Marketing Tasks Among Your Team
It's a common mistake:
When things get tough, you drum up sales. You move people to help with cold calling, sending cold emails, and get them to attend networking events on behalf of the agency.
You move all hands on the (sales) deck.
But in turn, you forget to build the most crucial element that gets you clients, trust.
You neglect marketing, the channel that can help you get prospects to know you, believe you, and trust you.
It's just you don't have the time to do it, right?
But as a result, your blog has become a ghost town. You submitted only one guest post this year, and that's in spite of a strong authority building plan. And regardless of your best intentions, you haven't even hooked up that mike to record a podcast, even though you know how useful it might be.
So, if you can't work on your marketing on your own, distribute various marketing tasks among your team.
Have one person write content for your agency's blog. Another to pitch guest posts to industry's publications. Let someone else look after the social media, create Slideshare presentations, and work on any other marketing channel you can use.
This way you'll maintain consistency in your marketing, in turn, fueling your lead generation and growing the business. Without any need for additional sales, at that.
In spite of running a massively busy studio , the guys from Radix Communications find the time to run Twitter chats, record podcasts, and write a fabulous copywriting blog.
How do they do it? By getting all the team involved.
It's that simple.