In the service-based business world regardless of your skill and industry, we’re all met with intense competition in a noisy marketplace. Digital marketing, in particular, is an industry that has exploded in popularity at a pace that has left the traditional advertising world wondering what on earth just happened. With this intense popularity comes many new faces, new strategies, and new ideas. Sometimes it feels like there are more marketers than there are clients.
As a business venture, digital is relatively inexpensive to get into. Many of us begin as lone wolves with a few key clients, and gradually build our portfolio, services and team to meet demand. There comes a point where scaling your business from an independent or small agency to an in-demand, well-oiled, digital powerhouse becomes necessary to be seen and heard above the competition, and to become the first choice for your ideal clients. To do this, you need more clients… so what exactly are the best client acquisition strategies to scale and grow your agency?
How to win great clients in digital marketing
The first critical step in winning your ideal clients is to identify exactly who they are. Every marketer has that dream client they just love working with. The relationship is sound, your digital efforts are kicking goals, you look forward to chatting with them, reporting to them, and knuckling down to work for them.
On the other hand, you may have had a few prickly experiences along the way. While your services can likely assist any business, sometimes it’s nobody’s fault when the shoe just doesn’t fit. It’s important to identify the reasons behind this and focus your energy on acquiring the customers for which you’re most likely to succeed with and enjoy working with.
Understand what your ideal clients are looking for
Whether you’re shooting for fortune 500 accounts, exciting tech startups, or the local takeaway, getting inside the head of your potential customers is key. Think less about what you’re looking for, and more about what they need. Every business and every position suffers with unique pressure points and problems they’re itching to solve.
If you have prior experience in a particular field of business, you might focus your efforts on acquiring clients in that industry. Your knowledge, understanding and expertise in their field will likely be highly regarded in their search for the ideal marketing team.
Develop your pitch – but it’s not about you
When you look at a group photo that you know you’re in, who do you look for first? Yourself. So does your customer – everyone does. Your acquisition strategy must be customer-focused, and authentic.
Begin to write the script for how you’ll approach your potential clients, regardless of the medium by which you’ll do it. This is where you develop the language that will best resonate with a prospect and demonstrate that you are right for them.
Refrain from harping on about yourself, your achievements and everything you can do. At the early acquisition stage, your customer simply will not care until they know that you have something that they want or need. At the onset, understand your customers are concerned about themselves, their goals, needs, worries, and how to move forward with their business.
Now you’ve got your ideal client in mind and value proposition down pat, let’s get out there and bring in those accounts! What strategies can you employ?
Attend Business Networking Events
One study found that networking is vital to the success of 78% of startups.
One of the best characteristics of a networking event is that everyone in the room is EXPECTING to be building their network by meeting new people and learning about each other’s offerings. While sometimes these events can feel a little awkward (quick find the bar!) remember that everyone there is in the same boat as you.
Give yourself some realistic achievable goals on how many leads you’d like to generate; but remember to be friendly, attentive and approachable. Ask people lots of questions, help them to relax and show that you’re interested in what they do.
Marketers have a secret weapon at business networking events…and that is that EVERYONE in that room is a potential customer. All businesses need marketing – that’s why they’re there. You’re one of the few people in the room who can probably help everyone, although you’re probably not the only marketer. Stand out by forming the beginning of a relationship with prospects, find common ground and get to know them and their business.
The aim is not to walk away with a stack of business cards; but rather some meaningful interactions.
Follow up with your potential customers after a networking event. Always reach out a few days after the event to thank your newfound network. This is NOT the time for a big sales pitch or a generic email sent to all connections. Add a personal touch and mention things that you learned and liked about what they do. Perhaps offer a helpful free resource or ask further questions about their business and what they hope to achieve.
There is a famous trio in sales: Know, Like and Trust. At this stage your customer already knows of you. This is the stage where you can work on getting them to like you.
If you get a favourable response, keep up the dialogue in a natural and authentic manner. Invite your new connection for a coffee. It’s at this stage you can begin to talk about how you’ve helped businesses or people like them, what you helped them achieve and how. Talk about ways in which you can collaborate and help each other…remember it’s about addressing their needs and goals.
NO, don’t make me network!!
Connect with potential customers where possible and share valuable information that might help them, and which also demonstrates your expertise. Join business networking groups and follow the same steps as above…just from the comfort of your office. But remember, nothing beats a very raw and honest, in-person human to human connection.
You can meticulously plan all your customer acquisition techniques to a tee, but some of the best opportunities are truly stumbled upon by chance. At your best friend’s wedding, one afternoon at the gym, on a weekend getaway, waiting for the train…you never know when opportunities will come knocking. Keep your ears and eyes open to the world and always be prepared…expect the unexpected.
How do you prepare for chance encounters?
- Have a killer elevator pitch. Don’t get caught off guard and fumble through explaining what you do, memorise your key points and messages so you can deliver the right words on the spot with confidence.
- Always carry business cards or promotional material you can give to a potential client, and remember to capture their contact details too.
Advertising for marketers
We should be geniuses at this right?! It’s what we do! The truth is, many growing agencies are so busy marketing their clients, they seldom have time for their own campaigns. Quite often we can expertly and objectively apply strategic thinking to our clients’ businesses, but struggle to do the same for our own – are we too close to it? Are we too stretched?
While we don’t need to tell you this, the simple truth is that even the warmest of leads will be doing their research and weighing you up against your competitors. This is a critical decision for their business after all. When you’re selling digital services of any kind you really need to walk the talk.
This is where your unique value proposition comes in. Focus your marketing efforts on the channels your target audience most frequents and deliver your message around the specific services you provide that will help them most. Other leads will still trickle in sure; but as you’re trying to scale, quite often less is more. Don’t try to be everything for everyone.
Ensure you outline the RESULTS your services can deliver for your prospects – something specific to their industry that they need and want. Increased profit margin, better customer retention, brand recognition. .the list goes on. Your focused value proposition might look something like this…
“Honed expertise on helping restaurateurs and foodservice businesses retain more repeat customers, and increase average spend on a minimal marketing budget.”
“We apply our extensive B2B sales background to help wholesalers and distributors have a 10x surge in their digital presence, reach a wider retail audience and significantly increase profit margin.”
With a very focused marketing message, it’s a lot easier to streamline your design and branding material, define your target audiences, choose your marketing channels, and spend your advertising dollars wisely.
Word of mouth and referrals
The King Kong of customer acquisition. When you’re referred by an existing customer, 90% of your sales process as been ever-so-kindly done for you. We as humans don’t think twice about taking a recommendation from someone we trust.
And so, your happy customers are therefore, your greatest cheerleaders.
Care about your customers. Particularly if you work directly with business owners, their business is an extension of themselves. You know the hard work, blood sweat and tears that goes into starting and building a business. Support them in their journey – understand and strengthen their business plans and goals, not just their marketing. The more you become a trusted confidant and advisor, the more you can help them and continue to grow the relationship.
If you look after them well, they, in turn, will look after you – it’s human nature.
Don’t be afraid to ASK if your loyal customers might be able to refer your services. If they love your work they’ll be more than happy to spread the word and help you grow your business – that’s what you’ve been doing for them after all.
When a customer does refer you, make a song and dance about it and show your appreciation. Send them a nice bottle of wine or a little thank you gift. They just saved you a WHOLE bunch of time and money, and you’re one step closer to successfully scaling.
Customer retention is key to smooth scaling
It costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one.
All the advertising, acquisition and onboarding in the world isn’t going to help you if you’re losing clients out the back door as another walks in the front. While winning a new client is fun and exciting, in digital it takes TIME and EFFORT to get to know your customer, their business and to develop the right strategies tailored just for them.
Even preparing proposals and quotes can be a mammoth task. That time can be much better spent nurturing existing accounts and levelling up your current services.
If it’s a matter of needing to charge long term clients more for your services as you grow, TALK to your customers about it. They’re business people, they’ll know where you’re coming from.
According to research conducted by Fredrick Reichheld of Bain & Company, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%!
Do you have under-leveraged clients on your books that you could be doing more for? Get your thinking cap on and pick up the phone! Good luck and happy scaling!