Agency marketers face a unique challenge. Not only are agencies on the hook for creating and executing monster marketing campaigns for clients, but they also have to run and grow their own business.
My first company, WordStream, was a digital advertising agency that grew to 300 employees, and tens of thousands of customers. The company now manages over a billion dollars of ad spend - I sold that company last year for over $150 million.
Marketing agencies might want to know my top takeaways from analyzing hundreds of different agency growth strategies, and the hundreds of different pricing experiments that I oversaw at WordStream. So in this post, I'm going to share my best strategies, along with some top tips from six other agency growth coaches and strategists from the fastest-growing brands in digital.
1. Larry Kim, CEO and Founder of MobileMonkey
WordStream is one of the world's largest online advertising agencies, and one key way we were able to do this was by offering something new and differentiated.
We were really early to offer support for Google Ads - and this was back when nobody was doing this. Then we jumped on the Facebook ad train early on.
If you're selling Google Ads or Facebook Ads in 2019, chances are that your prospective new clients already have an agency handling this, and you're probably not going to get the client. What you can do is offer something new and different, such as chat marketing in your services mix.
Do a really great job at killing it in that little opportunity that they've afforded you, then land and expand.
It's possible to win the rest of a client's agency marketing business because you've done such a killer job at optimizing the chat campaigns.
2. Mandy McEwen, Founder of Mod Girl Marketing & Digital Agency Growth Coach
"My number one tip for an agency looking to accelerate its growth is to specialize.
Specialize in a type of client (such as a specific industry) and a core service offering.
By doing this you can position yourself as the expert to that particular subset of prospects, making you stand out from the competition. In addition, you can scale much faster by replicating the same strategies that have proven to work for each client.
You'll also attract more qualified prospects when you specialize. Optimizing your LinkedIn profile around this type of client and how you help them, as well as including this on your website, will help you appear in search results for targeted keywords - and will catch the attention of your dream prospects."
3. Eugene Levin, Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer at SEMrush
While the temptation to focus on one thing you know best might be hard to resist, marketing evolves every day.
And evolution might be very unforgiving. In marketing you always have to learn and try new channels and strategies.
When Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018, many businesses were hit - many pure social media marketing agencies lost customers.
But agencies that also offered SEO and Content Marketing services usually didn't have such issues.
SEMrush has over 10,000 agency customers, and we see that the most successful agencies provide multiple different services to their clients.
It helps to increase ACVs, better retain customers and in general help to build more sustainable business."
4. Ty Lingley, Head of Partnerships at Unbounce
"My advice, before you get tactical, is to really understand your agency's positioning in the marketplace, and the customer segments you're going after.
With these set, it's much easier to go to market, and gain traction with your growth initiatives, building the word-of-mouth referrals that are vital to any agency's success."
5. Zachary Rego, Director of Agency Business at WordStream
"One of the most important tactics for a marketing agency to grow is to identify a vertical in which they've been successful, and tailor their marketing strategies to emphasize that success.
Creating a recipe to continually deliver positive results to clients within a new vertical is crucial."
6. Virginia Nussey, Director of Marketing at MobileMonkey
"It's easy to fall into the old "cobbler's child" mentality as a marketing agency, so establish concrete goals, accountability and put the right team in place to run and manage your own marketing and advertising.
That might mean creating a parallel structure for project managers, and dedicated channel managers that work on your own business's marketing campaigns.
Devote the same committed resources to marketing and advertising your business as you do for your clients.
Treat your own business like your most valuable client."
7. Isaac Rudansky, AdVenture Media Group CEO and Founder of Agency Overdrive
"A lot of our best clients now come through referrals, which comes as you start to establish a good track record.
When you have a good handful of clients, you should be forthright in asking for a referral - because you'll never get a referral unless you ask.
Also content. I publish courses, webinars, blog posts - content works.
People will be exposed to your content, they'll develop a sense that you know what you're talking about.
This is advice that most people probably have heard already, but most haven't done it because it's so unbelievably difficult to create good content - and it takes long, it takes a long time.
Creating content itself is difficult but you have to do it consistently, often with no results for some time. Who wants to do that? But when you're very content heavy, it really drives a huge amount of emotional validity when a customer calls you."
More Marketing Agency Growth Strategies
If you're a marketing agency owner, manager or practitioner, it's not easy to find trusted resources on:
- How to effectively build your revenue stream
- How to sign clients with the budget and project scope for significant retainer fees
- The pricing and packaging models that marketing agencies are using to build in bonuses and upsell opportunities
So I'm hosting a one-day, free online summit, dedicated to the strategies, tips and tools for scaling a marketing agency. We've packed the agenda full of agency growth coaches, agency founders, and business strategists from the marketing world's fastest-growing brands.
You can find out more about the MobileMonkey Marketing Agency Growth Accelerator Virtual Summit here.
A version of this post was first published on Inc.com.