Digital marketing is not what it used to be. Twenty years ago, digital marketing firms faced little competition for clients, many of whom were only just beginning to recognize the potential of online marketing channels. Today, every organization understands that they need digital marketing to survive and thrive — but there are almost more digital marketing firms than there are clients looking for services.
Marketers launching brand-new digital marketing agencies can find success — but they need to be calculating and creative to attract clients. Here are five Rs that can help new marketing leaders build the clientele they need to grow their business:
Referrals continue to be the number-one way for marketing firms to connect to new clients. Though referrals are not as new or exciting as other forms of drumming up engagement with prospective clients, they remain perhaps the most effective way for firms to connect with new clients and convert them into long-term customers. Clients trust referrals more than other forms of marketing because it is essentially impossible for an unscrupulous or ineffective business to spread its name via word-of-mouth. Thus, for a new firm to grow via referrals, it needs to garner the trust of its first few clients through exceptional service.
Professionals often prefer to work with service providers they have existing relationships with — and most businesses already have relationships with one marketing firm or another. However, that relationship could be replaced by a new relationship with a new firm, which might compel a business to make a switch. New marketing agencies should invest time and effort into getting to know target clients. By interacting with key contacts, marketers can better understand the business’s needs, their processes, their culture and other details that can lead them to develop stronger marketing strategies. Though building relationships with prospective clients can be difficult work, it is rewarding for firms just starting out.
Another valuable way to get to know clients — and thereby enhance relationships to drive conversions — is through industry research. Though some of the largest and oldest marketing companies can develop campaigns for almost any client, most small and mid-sized marketing agencies are intensely specialized, delivering services to a particular niche. This helps to reduce the amount of competition amongst digital marketers, and it improves the quality of services provided to clients within that niche.
Marketing entrepreneurs might consider their own industry experience and devote more time to extensive research on the industries they have worked with in the past. Such a high level of expertise is bound to attract clients, especially if they are operating in an industry that is already underserved by digital marketers.
Resellers are specialized marketers who sell their services to other marketing agencies to supplement their clients. The relationship benefits both businesses: The resellers gain access to the clients maintained by the larger agency, and the larger agency gains access to high-quality expertise in what is usually a complex and niche field of digital marketing. SEO resellers are particularly useful, as SEO is one of the most challenging and yet most important aspects of digital marketing. Working with resellers can also expand a firm’s access to clients by broadening its professional network. Single-channel marketing firms might consider becoming resellers themselves, or they might expand their offerings by taking advantage of resellers with services that complement their own.
Finally, new marketing firms need to be reliable in every aspect of their business, from the type of services they offer to their pricing models to the quality of results they deliver to the way they communicate with clients. Reliability is attractive to business clients; it means that they can outsource critical functions, like digital marketing, without expending constant effort in supervision. Clients that experience reliable service from a marketing firm will likely return again and again for similar services, and they are more likely to generate referrals that allow a new marketing agency to grow.
Despite the enormously high demand for high-quality digital marketing services, competition is stiff for new digital marketing firms. Fortunately, by using the five Rs listed above, marketing entrepreneurs can attract more clients to build the agencies of their dreams.