You can’t grow an agency if you don’t get new clients. Heck, you can’t even stay the same size, as some clients will leave eventually. And that’s why new client acquisition is always a top challenge for agencies.
AgencyAnalytics proved what most know: getting clients is a constant struggle for agencies.
What’s even harder is finding the right clients. You know, the ones your agency can make successful and that you actually enjoy working with.
That’s why we included tips in this guide that will not only help you get new clients, but also sift out the clients that aren’t a great fit (and will become a drain on your resources).
We’re focused on ad and marketing agencies here, but most of these principles will help any service provider get more amazing clients:
Referrals come from happy clients that introduce your agency to new prospects. That means a referred lead already has some trust in your agency, making it one of the most valuable types of leads you can get.
The first step in generating more referrals is simply to ask for them. Reach out to current and even past clients and ask if anyone else they know could benefit from the results you’ve provided.
But to really put your new client acquisition on overdrive, take a page from other high-growth companies and create a customer referral program.
B2C companies like Hello Fresh rock customer referral programs and your agency can, too.
To get your referral program going:
🛑 We’re just getting started! Get this free guide and learn actionable strategies to get new clients, expand your team, and refine your agency offerings.
Reviews are like referrals on blast. A single detailed review of your services in a highly visible place like Google can influence hundreds of would-be clients. And since 88% of people say an online review is as influential as a personal recommendation, reviews are an important method to get clients.
Reviews on popular online platforms are new-client magnets.
Of course, the first step in getting great reviews is to provide great service. Assuming you have that covered, you’ll want to attract new reviews in as many ways as possible.
Here are a few tactics you can use:
Don’t forget to respond to reviews, since most people reading a review also see your response. It’s a chance to celebrate great reviews and rectify the less-than-flattering ones.
Other businesses in your sphere need clients, too. You can help each other out by trading referrals.
LinkedIn is an amazing place to build your professional network. Message complementary businesses and let them know you’ll look out for them if they do the same.
Each of your employees has a network and a sphere of influence. As they work in their field longer, their influence grows. Tap into this network by helping your employees become ambassadors for your agency.
Even if it’s just reposting content your agency creates, employees can introduce your agency to lots of new audiences.
An easy way to do this is to ask your team to post about important company milestones on their social media accounts. Maybe it’s your 100th client, 10-year anniversary, or the company retreat. Posts like this help build your brand without pushing a hard sell—something many people would be reluctant to do on their personal feeds.
Another option is to send employees to conferences. Junior team members can benefit from the educational and networking experience. Senior employees could be speakers or panelists. In either case, you’ll have people out in the field drumming up awareness for your business.
Most people will run marketing in house before they turn to an agency. Teach people how to do it themselves, and your agency will be at the top of the list when it’s time to hire.
That may sound counter-intuitive, but some of the biggest modern businesses grew rapidly using that exact technique.
TikTok is a sleeper hit for educating prospective clients with quick, fun videos.
The good news is, there are plenty of formats and channels to educate your future clients. Without getting terribly creative, here are 10 options:
With a little imagination, you can probably come up with more. The goal is to pick the platforms that you’re comfortable with and that will appeal to your future clients.
This is an underrated tactic for getting new clients. Google companies in your target niche and see what their existing ad campaigns look like. Make a list of what you’d do differently, then email the company with ideas for them to improve.
This strategy works great for any type of marketing agency because advertising is, by nature, public. You can also use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to learn more about what’s working or not with your prospect’s marketing efforts.
Sure, some will take your thoughts and run with them. But many will want your help to make sure their next campaign is better.
Agency pricing isn’t just about making a profit, it’s part of your brand. Let’s break this down.
Do you offer a truly a premium option with white-glove service? Then your pricing should be a little higher than your average competitor. Not just to cover the costs of the additional service, but also to signal to clients that what you do is different.
Alternatively, if your niche is helping fledgling businesses get a foothold online, and you do it at scale using automation, then your pricing might be lower. Again, it’s not just about the cost-plus-profit calculation. It’s another way to express your brand.
👋 Want to know how other agencies price their services (plus what they see as their biggest challenges)? Download the free State of the Digital Marketing Agency Report and find out.
But here’s the thing: you can’t just be a lurker. You have to be consistently active to get the benefits of social media.
Don’t just post on social media; reply to comments on your posts and comment on other people’s posts.
Here are a few actions that’ll get you more clients quickly from social media:
An ideal customer profile (ICP) is a little like a buyer persona, but it focuses more on your client’s organization than just the point of contact. This works well for agencies selling to other businesses, since people change positions, but the company remains relatively the same.
Creating an ICP takes a few minutes, but the time is worthwhile. An ICP will help you find the clients that help you be more successful while filtering out those that’ll drain your agency’s resources.
Here are a few steps you can use to create a basic ICP for your agency:
Place all of this on a spreadsheet. Then continue to refine your ICP based on the success of new clients. Over time you’ll have a foolproof way of finding the best clients for your agency.
We’ve already mentioned how positive reviews and referrals help you build a fast-growing agency. Social proof does the same thing, only it’s much broader and more flexible.
Splash your awards, reviews, and results all over your website.
Social proof is just about any trust signal that shows people how awesome your agency is. That can be quotes from customers, the total revenue you’ve earned clients, logos of companies you’ve helped, or awards you’ve won.
Social proof can also be long form, like customer stories or case studies.
As you gather proof that your agency is awesome, put that stuff on everything. Landing pages, emails, proposals, anywhere a potential client might learn about your business should be decorated with social proof.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of signing a new client. But it’s really important to communicate the realities of working with you at the very beginning. If the truth of what you do and how you do it scares a client away, that’ll save you a ton of headache later on (and allow that client to find the right agency for them).
Here are a few points to make clear as you’re wooing new clients:
You may turn a few clients away who have unrealistic expectations. But know that they’ll be back after the agency that lies to them doesn’t deliver.
If you don’t have a team of dedicated, experienced business development professionals selling your agency, then you might find it difficult to keep new clients flowing through the front door.
No problem! Just remember these tips and you’ll find plenty of ways to get clients, even without a team of salespeople.
Rob is a Senior Copywriter for LocaliQ and WordStream where he uses his content marketing experience to write about all manner of advertising, sales, and adtech topics. When not turning phrases, Rob loves to travel, cook, and spend time outdoors (especially hiking and mountain biking) with his wife and dog.
See other posts by Rob Glover
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