It seemed like a great idea, didn’t it? Start your own marketing agency and be your own boss. You get to decide who works for you, what clients to accept, what niche to grow your business in, and do it all on your own time.
But what they don’t tell you when you started your own marketing agency, is how to grow it. Growing a marketing agency goes beyond creating a website and a Facebook or other social media page. Developing a marketing agency isn’t all word of mouth either. You can't expect to work for a client and then wake up to countless referrals in your inbox.
Growth is difficult. In fact, when asked, 42% of agency owners report getting new clients as their biggest obstacle. But it isn't impossible, and we’re going to show you just how possible it is.
As a marketing agency, you’re the go-to for all things marketing for other businesses. But what happens when you’re trying to grow your own marketing agency?
It’s one thing to sit down and create a marketing plan for a paying client, but it's completely different when sitting down and trying to do your own.
Often marketers are spread too thin. They are akin to a mechanic with a broken car — too busy working on everyone else’s marketing to focus on fixing their own. We’ve only been given so many hours in a day to complete tasks, and generally, the paying client comes first.
We get it. It’s overwhelming. There's so much you have to do, and you need to establish your brand, but it's hard to talk about your own business or know what to say without it coming off as being pushy or bragging.
Let us show you four steps on how you can grow your marketing agency.
4 Steps to Grow Your Marketing Agency
Step #1: Define Who Your Ideal Customers Are & Become an Industry Expert
As a marketing agency looking to grow your business, one of the things you must do is define who your ideal customers are and become the industry expert for that market.
You know spray and pray marketing tactics won’t work for your clients, so they won’t work for you either. Don’t try and target every business out there. Narrow your attention to a particular industry to focus on solving the unique problems specific to that industry. Become an expert when it comes to effectively reaching their potential customers and landing new clients within their circle.
Once you’ve picked your industry, do your research, and learn everything you can about it. Who are their customers? What are the pain points of those customers? What problems do companies in that industry typically solve? What are the most common reasons that businesses in that industry struggle to land new clients?
How can you, as the expert marketer in their industry, help them connect with their customers, so they feel confident paying for their products and services?
How to Do It
When you started your marketing agency, you thought maybe getting experience with all industries would be beneficial. As you can see, that gets overwhelming, spreads you thin, and doesn't allow you to become an industry expert.
That industry expert status is what is going to set you apart from the rest. So now, you need to know how to narrow it down to a specific industry to turn your attention and focus on. What industries do you have experience with? Is there a particular industry that you already know like the back of your hand?
Choose an industry you’re already experienced with to cut down the amount of time you need to spend researching. Besides, research alone won't give you the edge experience will. To effectively market to those clients and get them to trust you with their money, you need to know them. You need to be able to talk with them on their level.
Make a list of the industries which you have experience. Make another list of sectors that you like working in. Look for the overlap on the two lists and start there. That is going to be your focus industry.
Step #2: Clarify Your Pricing
Don’t be secretive or vague about your pricing. Unclear pricing could be contributing to your slow growth as a marketing agent. Research proves if you don't show your pricing, it hurts your conversion rates significantly.
In the book “They Ask, You Answer” by Marcus Sheridan, he explains why it’s so important to include pricing on your website, even if it varies.
He says, “For starters, you’re [picturing yourself as the customer browsing the site] frustrated because you feel like you’re wasting your time and not finding the answers you’re looking for. Furthermore, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I’m the customer! It’s my money. And it’s my right to know.’ But if we look at this at an even deeper level, you’re upset because you know that business knows the answer to the question. And because you know that they know the answer, you now feel like they’re hiding something from you.”
How to Do It
Transparency is key to growing your marketing agency. Let’s go back to your website. How does your pricing look there? Is it clearly represented? Do you have a pricing page devoted to your pricing structure and packages, or are you hiding it between fancy words and pushes to have them contact you?
Yes, you want them to contact you, but you want to give them a reason to contact you. So how do you do this?
Create packages of options your customers can choose from with flat-rate pricing for each individual product and service you offer. Assembly-lining your workflow with packages makes it much easier to train others as well.
Don’t want to offer flat rates? Explain why you offer customized pricing and give clients a range so they will have some idea of what you charge. They need to know if they can even afford you without wasting their time — or yours. If you don't, there is a good chance they'll leave your website and find a competitor that is upfront about their pricing on their site.
Step #3: Don't Neglect Your Own Website
First impressions matter, and it all begins with your marketing agency website. We keep coming back to that rushed website for a reason.
If you got in a rush, you may have forgotten to grammar check your content and give it a final read-through for errors. So your pages and posts end up plagued with typos and mistakes, making you look bad to potential clients.
If your website has errors, surely theirs would too, and why would they want to pay for that?
Maybe you didn't let this happen, but some of the links are broken, or the website shows old or outdated information. It hasn’t been updated in forever because you haven’t had time to get to it. You can't be a cutting-edge industry leader if your website shows visitors you are old news.
How to Do It
If you want to grow your marketing agency successfully, you’ve got to get your website cleaned up, pricing in place, and updated posts.
Schedule time to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb every six months or at least every year. Make a list of the things that need to be updated and fixed, and you can do it yourself, or you can delegate the work to someone else (like a 1099 contractor.)
It is perfectly acceptable to hire someone outside of your agency to help you with specific tasks to give you time to focus on your business, and your employees can focus on their work. Sometimes you need a specialist to make everything right and polish things up.
Which brings us to our next topic, you simply can't do everything.
Step #4: Learn to Delegate Effectively and Efficiently
Learn to delegate effectively and efficiently. That means, as a business owner, you must practice the art of letting go.
You are one person. You don’t have time, energy, or expertise to do every little job within your marketing agency all by yourself. Leave the copywriting to the writers, and the bookkeeping and tax to the accountant. Leave social media tasks to social media marketers.
As you start to delegate more of the work, you will see that your production volume will increase, and you will be able to bring in more money than you could have by doing all the work yourself.
You’ll also see you’re able to retain clients longer because each person you entrust to handle something will become an expert in that specific part of your business. Since they aren't trying to run the whole business, they can make sure the work is done right and up to your standards the first time for your clients. Your clients will be happier, so you won’t have to put in as much time recruiting new clients.
How to Do It
Letting go of things is difficult. As marketing agency owners, it is easy to get in this mindset that you have to see everything, have a hand in everything, and know about everything. After all, if something were to happen or go wrong, that’s your name and reputation on the line.
However, delegating and handing projects over isn’t as impossible as it may sound.
To get started with delegating, you need to create systems and processes that are easily repeatable by someone without your advanced knowledge and expert skills. You’ll need to train people to give you what you want in a way that’s easily repeatable and scalable if you want your marketing agency to grow.
Write down every step you take when you do the different tasks within your business — from sales to bookkeeping, every aspect of your business — and think through how someone without your experience and knowledge could follow your process. Then refine the process into steps, so it is easy enough to teach someone else how to do it.
Employee manuals are an excellent example of this. Many companies have manuals put together for each job that lists the job title, task, requirements, and instructions for getting these jobs done. These instructions can include directions for computer programs, how to use the copier or even scripts for answering the phone.
You don’t necessarily need to put one together for each job title in your marketing agency, especially if you haven't grown very large yet. Take the steps you wrote down and put them together in a manual format to provide everyone on the team with an excellent resource they can refer to for direction.
Still worried about letting go of tasks so that you can grow your marketing agency?
Here at Content Ninjas, our CEO outsourced all the content creation demands for her clients and her marketing agency. She created a process for each task in ClickUp and established job roles for researchers, writers, editors, content managers, and client account managers who now handle much of what she used to do all by herself.
Creating this system allowed her to immediately take on more clients than she ever could have before, and still ensure all the content lives up to her high standards and the quality she would create if doing the work herself.
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It’s one thing to start your marketing agency, but growing the business is an entirely different story. We here at Content Ninjas have been exactly where you are when it comes to trying to grow your marketing agency.
Agencies face some unique challenges. Not only are you responsible for creating and executing marketing campaigns for clients, but you also have to run and grow your own business.
We can help you with this. For instance, one of our clients has always had difficulty finding writers to provide quality blog articles for their SaSS company. Our writers created the content she needed while adhering to their strict style guide and incorporating all SME and requested information.
This is what she had to say (the client’s information is not included because we’re a white label agency — meaning we don’t divulge who our clients are and what we’ve written for them.)
You can spend your time researching topics and keywords for your content, limiting the time you have to work on your client’s needs.
There is no shortcut to success in the marketing world. But, with these steps, you can build more solid strategies and become a successful digital marketing agency.
We’ve been creating great content for agencies for years to help them become a trusted source of knowledge. We can do the same for you.
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