Agency marketers face a unique challenge.
Not only are they on the hook for creating and executing monster marketing campaigns for clients.
My first company, WordStream, was a digital advertising agency that grew to +300 employees and tens of thousands of customers.
The company 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 I did at WordStream.
So I’m sharing my best strategies, along with the top tips from six other agency growth coaches and strategists from the fastest-growing brands in digital.
Larry Kim, CEO & 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 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 differentiated 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, and then land and expand.
You can take over the rest of the client’s agency marketing business because you’ve done such a killer job at optimizing the chat campaigns.
They’ll think you’re a magician with the kind of results you can drive with Messenger marketing compared to conventional Facebook advertising.
Mandy McEwen, Founder of Mod Girl Marketing & Digital Agency Growth Coach
My No. 1 tip for an agency looking to accelerate business 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 majority of the competition. In addition, you can scale much faster by replicating the same strategies that have proven to work for each client.
You 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.
Eugene Levin, Chief Strategy & Corporate Development Officer at SEMrush
Diversify. While 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 algorithm in 2018 many businesses were hit. Many pure SMM agencies lost customers.
But agencies that also offer 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.
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 so much easier to go-to-market and gain traction with your growth initiatives, building the word-of-mouth referrals vital to any agency’s success.
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 have been successful and tailor their marketing strategy to emphasize that success.
Creating a recipe to continually deliver positive results to clients within a new vertical is crucial.
Virginia Nussey, Director of Marketing at MobileMonkey
It’s easy to fall into the old “cobbler’s child” mentality as a marketing agency, so have concrete goals, accountability and the 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.
Isaac Rudansky, AdVenture Media Group CEO & Founder of Agency Overdrive
So a lot of our best clients now come through referrals and as you start getting a little bit of 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.
Really be forthright with asking for a referral and potentially asking multiple times.
And also content (is how you can attract new clients). 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, and you’ve got to specialize in a niche.
This is advice that most people probably have heard already, but most people 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 with no results for a year. 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.
Think about it like this, if you call a business say, “Hey, can I manage your Facebook Messenger marketing for you?” like goodbye.
Or you write a really good insightful post about five Facebook messenger techniques with specific results with case studies with a financial analysis and some people see that, that will go so far for you in terms of getting people to think about who you are, who your company is, they’ll want to follow your posts, they’ll want to follow your information.
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 create your first six-figure or seven-figure revenue month.
How to sign clients with the budget and project scope for $5k/mo 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.
And we’ve partnered with many of the biggest names in marketing to bring this free, virtual summit to life, including SEMrush, WordStream, Unbounce, Agorapulse, and Growth Marketing Conference.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.