Much of what I write on these pages deal with how a business, any business, can use digital marketing and related tools for success and growth. And, that’s important, especially for small businesses who can’t afford a full-time digital marketing staff or for marketers unfamiliar with the ins and outs of digital marketing, including marketers who spent their careers in traditional marketing and new hires who might not have extensive experience in digital marketing (most universities still don’t have faculty or curriculums that teach these important skills). Today, I’d like to share some amazing marketing agency tips I learned over the years of running Hausman & Associates.
Just as the shoemaker’s children have no shoes, marketing companies often don’t take the time or spend the money it takes to market themselves in their focus on helping their clients. Unfortunately, failing to spend enough resources to market yourself not only hurts your brand by reducing reach, ineffectively building a positive brand image, and failing to convince clients to use your agency, it also makes you look like you aren’t able to effectively market a company since you’re doing a terrible job of marketing your own agency.
Instead, focus as much energy on building your marketing agency as you do on your clients. This is especially true in the early days when you need new clients but also need a way to prove the success of your marketing strategies. Toward that end, I’m sharing some amazing tips for success in marketing your agency.
Marketing agency marketing
Face it. Marketing dollars are some of the hardest dollars to squeeze out of a company, especially a small business due to competing priorities and an unfounded belief that anyone can do marketing. I worked several years as a consultant for the US Small Business Administration. The startup owners who came to me for advice often allocated funds for operational expenses, often not considering their burn rate and revenue-positive point so they had too little runway in terms of cash on hand to survive. If they set aside any of these scarce resources for professional advice, it was usually an accountant to keep them out of hot water with the IRS or an attorney to ensure the protection of their personal assets in the event of corporate bankruptcy. Never a marketing professional to ensure they sell their products.
This always seemed backward to me since revenue is the life-blood of any organization and it doesn’t matter how well you do everything else unless you can reach your target market and convince them to buy. And, that’s marketing.
The other thing that always amazed me is that everyone seems to think anyone can do marketing successfully. I once had a “client” who was spending her entire budget on radio advertising, She wasn’t advertising on the station popular with her target market because it was “too expensive”. Instead, she wasted her money reaching folks who didn’t need her product. Or, the guy who bought an entire package of cable TV advertising because it only cost $9/ ad spot. Unfortunately, the package included a heavy dose of HGTV (home and garden) and the Cooking Channel, when he was marketing motorcycles and jet skis. Both actions were as effective as flushing the cash down the toilet.
These are the battles your agency must fight, and fight effectively, to capture business even before you compete against other marketing agencies for the business. With these facts in mind, let’s shift our attention to my marketing agency tips.
Proving the value of your marketing agency
Since there’s no rigorous test to pass like the CPA or Bar exam, anyone can (and does) hang out a shingle claiming they’re a marketing agency. Armed with a skewed understanding of what a marketing agency does from TV shows like Mad Men, these folks think marketing is easy. Some have a certain subset of the skills necessary to operate in the increasingly digital environment surrounding marketing, such as developers, graphic designers, or even English majors who think they write well.
The fact is, marketing is much more than creating a nice brochure or a video. It starts with understanding basic marketing concepts, such as segmentation, consumer decision-making, and distribution. Unless you can build a sound marketing strategy grounded thoroughly in these concepts, your fancy graphics, cute TikTok video, and sleek website are doomed to failure.
And, these skills don’t grow on trees. In fact, here’s a graphic showing the most desirable digital marketing skills according to a recent study. Notice, many of these are specific to those trained in digital marketing and not within the wheelhouse of those in other fields.
#1. Show your skills
Successful marketing agencies show their skills by listing the certifications held by key team members. Among the most valuable certifications are:
- Google Analytics Certification
- AMA (American Marketing Association) Certified Professional Marketer
- Python Certification
- Adobe certifications in Photoshop (image editing), InDesign (design), and Premiere Pro (video)
- HTML/CSS certification for web design/development
#2. Refine your agency’s strategy
Develop a marketing plan to get you where you want to go. Build this marketing plan and ensure it’s up-to-date as the world changes around you and as you gain new competencies within your agency. Anticipate where the marketing world is headed and stay ahead of the curve to do the best you can for your agency and its clients. At a minimum, review your marketing plan every year and flesh it out as completely as possible.
#3. References and reviews
Show your accomplishments by listing references and reviews from previous clients. A particularly useful way to do this is to display client logos on your home page or pull out quotes from clients to highlight in your marketing brochure or sales page.
#4. Identify what’s not working
A lot of times, being on the inside means we miss a lot of things that people on the outside notice right away. It’s a great idea to hire someone to come into your company, take a look around, and help you smooth out what’s not working. Companies like Six Sigma have trained professionals who know how to identify problems and find the best solution to fix them before these become a bigger problem for your agency. You could also consider paying for one of your employees to get their online Six Sigma Black Belt certification.
Networking is a great tool for building your brand, establishing collaborations with other agencies, and learning cutting-edge marketing tactics. Don’t forget to talk to your clients and build a relationship with them that goes beyond just doing the job. Ensure you capture their opinions of your work and your people but also remember to ask for referrals to other businesses who might need your services.
Here are some other networking tools you might use to build your agency:
- Join the local chapter of the AMA
- Look for meetup groups involved in both marketing and groups containing members who might hire a marketing agency, such as startup groups, small business groups, and the like
- Offer your services to local non-profits. These businesses often desperately need your services but can’t afford them. In exchange, you make connections with board members who often own their own companies and you get a tax deduction
- Get on the program or, if that’s not possible, attend webinars, seminars, and conferences to meet potential clients
- Ensure personal connections know you operate a marketing agency without being too pushy
A few tips for making the most of your networking efforts;
- Don’t simply try to hand out as many cards as possible. Spend time to build a relationship with those you meet
- If invited to speak, make sure your presentation is informative and provides value rather than acting as a commercial for your agency
- Don’t hide under a bush. Meet people and tie your conversations or presentation to your work. Make it easy for those you meet to contact you afterward
- Show an interest in those you meet. This isn’t a one-way street
- Dress and act professionally
These are just a few tips for marketing your agency. I’m sure you can find many more if you search for advice, but these are my top tips. If you have a tactic that worked especially well in marketing your agency, please share your tips in the comments below.
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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.