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7 Proven Ways To Promote Your Agency In 2020

Feb 21, 2020 6 min read

It’ll take more than posting on social media to effectively promote your digital agency in 2020. See the most proven, efficient strategies for attracting more clients and revenue here.

Have You Set a Target Growth Rate for Your Digital Agency in 2020?

Is it 10%? 25%? 100%?

Whatever your goal is for 2020, good for you for setting it. Here’s how it compares to other digital agencies performance from last year, according to a recent survey by HubShout:

annual growth rate

As you can see, half of all agencies grew at 1-24% in 2019. About a third attained an impressive growth rate of 25-75%, and about 15% crushed it, growing their agencies by 75 to 150% or more.

If they can grow at a rate like that, you can, too. Especially if you put some of these proven agency-promotion tactics to work.

Get Serious about Referrals

If you want to promote your agency effectively, it’s smart to know what the #1 source of leads and clients is for other agencies.

One channel beats all others, and by a lot: Referrals. According to HubShout’s survey, half of all agencies say their primary source of leads is from referrals.

primary source of leads

Referrals beat out all other channels for new business in another survey of agency owners done by WordStream. More than twice as many agency owners named referrals than any other channel.

acquiring new clients

And yet… according to the HubShout study, 29% of agencies don’t even ask for referrals.

You’d be crazy to ignore referrals if you want to promote your agency in 2020. In fact, if you only picked one promotion tactic, referrals would be a smart choice.

There are plenty of SaaS packages designed to help agencies get more referrals. GrowSurf, Ambassador, Influitive, and Viral Loops all get high marks. There are also several good books available about referral marketing, like The Referral Engine and Generating Business Referrals Without Asking: A Simple Five-Step Plan to a Referral Explosion.

So the resources are there… but you’ll need to figure out how to create a referral program that works for your particular agency.

Publish Case Studies

Blogging is a great way to build visibility and keep your audience and your clients engaged. But don’t let it consume all your content marketing resources. Case studies routinely place in the “which content is most effective” contest, as they did in the Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2020 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report.

brand awareness

Case studies are especially good for actually closing business… and as you know, you don’t want to just focus on the top of funnel content. You need content that converts visitors into clients.

Despite how effective case studies are, only a third of digital agencies use them on their websites.

web visitors

Their miss-step can be your gain.

Do More of What You’re Good at and Less of What You’re Not

This isn’t a promotion tactic so much as it’s a positioning strategy, but it’s critical to your success - and it will influence the success of your agency promotion tactics.

As you know, many businesses are moving their marketing in-house. And if they haven’t already moved their marketing in-house, they’re seriously considering it.

One way for your agency to retain and even attract these cautious clients is to do what you do better than they ever could. And the best way to do that is to specialize.

Tim Williams, founder of Ignition Consulting Group, talked about this in an interview with ThinkGrowth. He believes becoming a “best-in-class” marketing partner will be key to agencies’ success in 2020 and beyond:

“Because the best marketers are increasingly looking for multiple best-in-class marketing partners — not AOR [agency of record] relationships — agencies will have to get better at playing a supporting role instead of just a ‘lead agency’ role.”

Honing your service offerings will also boost your agency’s profitability. It may even help you attract better talent. And besides… it’s just good business to drop the services that aren’t profitable or that your agency isn’t doing a stellar job with.

Ask for Testimonials

What do you see on the home page of pretty much every competent business these days? Testimonials. Lots of testimonials.

If a digital agency has enough testimonials to go around, they may even sprinkle them in at the close of blog posts, on landing pages, and even in their email updates. Just like the Boston agency KoMarketing has done here at the close of one of their blog posts:

testimonials

Leverage Non-Competitive Partnerships

These can be with vendors, other agencies, freelancers, old employees, or influencers.

Business partnerships with complementary (but not competitive) businesses are one of the best channels for new business. They’re basically a channel for referrals, but in this case, you’re getting the referral from a business. One good business partnership alone could grow your agency by 20% or more in 2020.

Treat Your Agency’s Marketing like You Were a Client

Oh, it’s so easy. You do great work for a competitive price, and word gets around. Suddenly, you’re booked. Chasing deadline after deadline. And then you look up a few months later (or even a year later) to realize your website looks a little shabby… your social channels aren’t all that impressive… or your organic traffic is on the decline.

This is the curse of success for agencies. You fall prey to the phenomenon of “the cobbler’s children have no shoes.” If this goes on too long, you could find yourself short on a few clients, and with a mediocre marketing machine of your own.

Here’s how one agency pro described it in the HubShout survey report:

"We're your typical start-up Agency. We are very good at what we do for our clients, which means we have less time to work on our own (internal) projects to promote www.thehunterco.com. But hey, as long as we keep generating business for our clients and they are happy then the referrals keep coming."

There’s a simple way to fix this. Just treat yourself as a client. Schedule your marketing and promotions like you were a client. Build the cost for this work into your overhead and your financial planning. Give it a line item in your budget, if you have to. Taking time to promote your digital agency is part of the cost of doing business.

Use a CRM

Nearly 22% of digital agencies do not have an outbound Sales team. Even when they do, their Sales “department” maybe one or two people.

To get maximum results from limited Sales resources, get systematic about your work. Part of this is having a documented strategy for your client pitches and outreach. Another part of this is having the right tool for the job. Namely, a CRM.

Of course, there is no shortage of CRM software packages available. HubSpot is one of the most popular for agencies, but Copper and Taskade also get recommended a lot.

If you’re new to using a CRM, Salesflare might also be a smart choice. It’s affordable, for one thing. But it’s also extremely easy to use. Too many of us have worked with CRMs that seemed to take more time to manage than we spent managing clients – and that’s exactly what you don’t want. So try finding a “minimum viable” CRM so you can use your pitch time optimally, and minimize how much of an expert you’ll have to be with CRM software.

Test as Much as You Can, and Track Everything

Let’s face it: Only about half of the agency promotion tactics you try are going to work. The only way to find out what will work for your particular agency, your clients, and your resources is to try. You just have to be willing to dive in and test things to find out which tactics will deliver.

That’s where good reporting comes in. If you track your work and make reporting easy, you’ll be a data-driven marketer who knows what works and what doesn’t. Over time, all your agency promotion efforts will get more and more effective.

So let your competitors say they don’t have time to track and test. If you keep tracking your work, you’ll eventually come out ahead and achieve your growth goal for 2020.

Pam Neely
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