The uncomfortable truth is the vast majority of marketing and advertising agencies haven’t got a scoobie how to market themselves. Odd you may think given the sign over the door - but it’s a reality I know all too well from a past life running an agency. Relying on the agency principle’s chummy network, entering a few industry awards, posting pictures of a team night out and the creatives playing table tennis … is not marketing.
Nor is hiring a BDM to hammer time poor client-side brand managers. Something I did with spectacular failure. The result of listening to a sales guru. Not a marketer!
So what would I do now?
The formula is simple. I’d invest time, energy and resources in building my online audiences and staying top of mind by putting value-based content in front of them on an on-going basis.
With almost no exception, the agency used to get leads through word of mouth referrals. It’s the best type of referral of course as it’s drenched in social proof. Yet it’s completely unpredictable.
In fact word of mouth marketing is chaotic and serendipitous. Meaning you don’t quite know when and where leads are going to come from. So, by building a large network and staying top of mind, you put yourself in a position to get lucky! Essentially, I’m talking about using social media to put an engine behind your word of mouth marketing.
Most marketing agencies are out there saying ‘choose us, choose us … we’re really good at what we do, we work with all these fabulous brands, trust us with your half a million dollars…”
But prospective clients are out there thinking “… but why should I trust them?”
And that’s the starting point … if I was running an agency now - these are the 3 things I’d start doing today:
- Embrace the chaos and serendipity of word of mouth marketing and pop a social media 'engine' behind it. Buy into the reality of the long game. Understand that we must stay top of mind with our network and prospects and enjoy ‘virtual cups of coffee’ with them every week to get ‘lucky’!
- Create ‘snackable’ content - most likely video - that shows the people behind our agency. I’d empower all of my team to ‘show’ their expertise in their field. To share their IP, show people how we think and consistently produce value-first content that educates or entertains.
- And lastly I’d pick a social media channel and go all in. My pick would be Facebook because of the eyeballs and targeting tools.
Technically the first thing I’d do is to ensure my content is being seen by my ‘warm audiences’ - people that have heard of my business or shown some intent in the past.
With Facebook I’d set up 3 ‘custom audiences’:
- An audience of anyone that is on my database (current clients, prospects, suppliers, partners, mine and my colleague’s LinkedIn connections)
- An audience of anyone who has visited my website
- An audience of anyone that has engaged with my Facebook Page
And then I’d produce a piece of value-based content every week and ensure that content is promoted to my warm audiences. And I would commit to doing this moving forward forever … viewing it as an ongoing body of work.
You have to hold your nerve and believe in the process. If you’re still doing it in 12 months you will see wonderful results. Resist the temptation to try it for 2 months and give up. That’s what most people do. Which is precisely why you will succeed if you commit to the course.
So there you go: if I was running a marketing agency … that’s how I’d promote it.