Why Agencies Find It So Hard To Market Themselves
Here are our top tips on igniting your agency marketing plans to stand out in 2021 ?
This is probably the biggest tip we can give which should always be front of mind in everything you do, is the word value. You should be asking yourself:
- Is the audience taking anything valuable away?
- What value does it bring the agency?
- Does this point back to our business value proposition?
Organisations that know why they exist and who they’re built to serve will be the ones set up to be more successful in 2021.
Outline your goals first, strategy second, and the tactics third
It sounds obvious, but from our experience it doesn’t always happen. Just like you would for a client, you need to define your audience, what their challenges are and what your agency can do to help. Cross referencing with your last year successes and analytics, you’ll be able to strategically define what your goals are and what tactics you can use to reach them. You may also find it helpful to rank tactics in priority order to keep you focused and optimise them to the best of your ability.
Though note, the one thing we have all learnt in 2020 is the need for agility. Marketing strategies and plans should be fluid and flex to the market needs and behaviours. We would suggest detailed plans should be in 90-day sprints.
Work to ensure you stand out in all of your communications – and be creative!
As you know competition within agencies is fierce, so take some time to work out what your USP focus is within your marketing and messaging. This may be similar to someone else’s, but it should be about what you are good at. The days where clients are looking for a jack of all trades has gone, they want to know they work with the best experts in a particular field – that doesn’t mean you have to scrap all your services, this can still be used in secondary messaging and in the sales process.
Content is king
In simple terms the content you produce is the shop window to your business – the way you think, your expertise, what you offer, the way you work, your people, your values etc. In 2021, clients and prospects will continue turning to agencies that can demonstrate their value, how they can educate and help them have a successful year.
The content you put out will depend on your proposition, expertise and audience, but here are some additional themes that you should be thinking about in your 2021 content strategy:
- Continued Covid assessment and opportunities – focusing on the ever-changing needs and behaviours of your audience and the wider world
- Values and trust – ensure your promises are in sync with the ability to deliver them
- Increased action on social issues
- Be human – as you’re essentially selling your services, the people behind your services should be brought to the forefront of your marketing.
- Make your content snackable as most audiences are time poor, these then can ladder up to bigger pieces.
- And don’t forget video! Every year the engagement stats for video content rises you need to make sure you’re using video content.
Sharing is caring
With 75% of B2B buyers using social media to make purchasing decisions, you’ll want to ensure all the great content you create is being seen and shared. Utilising your colleague’s professional networks is a great way to do this. However, you’ll need to make it as easy as possible for your time-poor team. The aim is to ensure that everyone in your agency is an advocate for your brand.
Email marketing starts from the second you go looking for people to send to, it’s so important that before you’ve spent time crafting your outreach you’ve lined up a great mix of contacts that are likely to open your emails, read and take action.
A top tip is to widen your search from the core group of people you want to respond. Don’t just look for today’s decision makers – if your client just wants C-Suite marketing directors you could be neglecting future decision makers or their influencers and missing out on some great opportunities.
Utilise all the tools available to you. With Alf and Winmo for example, they show you similar companies to those who you’re already looking for. You can’t possibly know every brand, company and agency out there so really understand the tools you’re using and the additional extras they have. If they aren’t offering helpful services, you need to be evaluating if it’s worth the fee.
To be clever, keep it simple
The best emails and content are easily digestible, if someone has to look up words or phrases then you’re making it too hard and they’ll end up hitting unsubscribe before they click a call-to-action link.
You want your initial outreach email to remain natural so keep it quick and snappy.
Get personal and stay relevant
From your outreach you should have all the data you need to really personalise your emails so don’t be afraid to use it but not too much.
When you see your name in the subject line, you’re more likely to wonder what the email is (great for open rates). If in that email you then see your company name used to ask a question it doesn’t look like a generic ‘send to all’ email. But don’t overdo it seeing that same piece of data repeated is a massive give-away that you’re not reading a personal email.
Avoid 2020 key phrases and think about the personal challenges your audience may have been through before you open with a ‘jaunty’ ‘I hope you’re feeling positive and testing negative’. And don’t forget to tailor your comms to show where the challenges lie and how you (or your clients) can help solve those problems.
A culture of marketing
Following on from the above points, one downfall of agencies is not treating their own marketing as if it were a client’s, and often the issue is that the push from the management is missing. Martina Lacey, Head of New Business & Marketing at iCrossing UK adopts a ‘One Marketing Team’ strategy which is a great tactic to create accountability from the whole team. We would also recommend that you have at least one person who ‘owns’ your marketing function. This will help ensure all your marketing is managed, remains on brand and consistent across your platforms.
A way of getting round this problem is to find out how much capacity your team has for internal marketing and then input your agency through your project management system, exactly as you would do for a client. Obviously, there will be times where unexpected client work will bump your resource but having booked resources means that they will be aware of what they need to do and communicate any delays with you. This may also highlight that you may need an external partner.
Before creating your new, exciting marketing strategy, you should be looking back at the previous year. Utilise all the analytic tools you have to review all that hard work, results and audience building you have achieved. This can be challenging for B2B marketers, as the sales cycle can range from anything from less than a month to a couple of years.
Work closely with your sales team to identify where your leads have come from and encourage them to ask any prospects where they found you and what prompted them to get in touch. Record all the touchpoints your prospects have with your agency and develop an ethos of continual analysis in what is driving your leads. For example, did they download a piece of content or attend your webinar? Keeping track of all this data is a great way to see your clients’ buying journey and identify what elements of your marketing are working.
Nothing here is rocket science and all very much within the basic fundamentals of marketing. However, in our experience, prioritising your own marketing over the needs of clients is never easy and often means the basics are missed.
These ideas only just scratch the surface of agency marketing, but hopefully will give you some food for thought and encourage you to take your agency marketing to the next level for 2021.