There are THOUSANDS of tweaks, tips, tricks, hacks and opportunities to help you grow your marketing or ad agency. There are gurus, shamans, visionaries that will tell you about Facebook pixel hacks, or “hidden” AdWords tricks that only the insiders know. There are courses out there, some of which are actually full of great information, that will tell you how to “Start A 6-Figure Facebook Agency in Under 30 Minutes” (by the way, that is totally possible – but it will take you months and months to hit the 6-figure level). But I don’t want you to be distracted by all that noise – I want you to focus on the 6 Simple Laws of Business Development for Your Marketing Agency:
- You Need A Target: Even the biggest agencies have a sense of what makes an ideal client for them. You need a vibrant description of exactly what makes a great client for you. I write a lot about this, but in order to land business efficiently, you need to be able to clearly articulate the pain and potential solution for your client. If you are too general in your description of the pain your target has, the less likely your solution is to resonate with them. Here is a quick primer on the thinking behind this concept – Niche It, Nail It, Scale It!.
- You Need Leads: The best services, the best performance, the best reporting or strategy is all useless without leads to whom to tell your story. My suggested framework is outlined in this free training Fix Your Agency Lead Gen In 15 Minutes. But you have to have clear, diverse, scalable sources of leads that will match up with your target profile. Without the ability to generate leads at scale, you simply don’t have anyone to close.
- It’s Not About You – It’s About Them: Clients buy solutions – and in the marketing agency world, they buy results. They buy customer growth, or marketing efficiency, or better economics. They buy the answer to a business problem. Here is what they don’t buy: culture, process, or brand. As you sell, the things that drive your ability to create client results, namely your culture and process are key elements that justify the client’s decision to purchase. They are never the reason why you make the short list. So you have to have your biz dev priorities straight 1.) Solve the client pain 2.) Show how your stuff (brand, culture, process, tech, etc.) makes you able to solve it best. Think about it from the client perspective first. (Read a little more – Market from the Outside In.)
- You Have To Provide Value Before You Can Close: This doesn’t seem fair in a lot of ways. You often have to give stuff for free – it can be pre-sales content on your blog, or maybe it is an audit, or high-value training, or maybe it is a strategy session that is truly helpful. For smaller agencies, this can be a drain on time and resources. But you have to do it, because the client knows less about your world than you do. Think of this as your first date. During that date, you get to show off a bit, and your prospect gets to dream a little bit about your future together. Make the investment in providing value before you close – it will do three things a.) it will set you apart from the hard closers who are transactionally driven b.) it will give your prospect the time to see you as a valuable resource (and maybe spend some time doodling your company logo inside of a heart…) c.) it will reduce your churn rate since you will have the chance to establish authority, empathy and expertise during this short dating period.
- You Can’t Close on a Prospect That Is Not Ready, So You Need To Get Them To Tell You Where They Are In The Process: In a world where there are sales quotas and sales forecasts that must be fed. Agency owners and business development folks that need to keep their Salesforce or Pipedrive pipelines looking fat and happy tend to overestimate how close their leads are to closing. Creating a sales process that includes process checkpoints along the way is powerful. These checkpoints, can be as simple as asking “When are you planning on hiring an agency?”, or they can be more aggressive and act as a trial close, such as “If I could put together a program that solved X, and met your budget of Y, do you think we could have a decision by Z?” Or during the sales process, you can use qualifying questions, as you might find in Ryan Levesque’s Ask Method. Simple answers to simple questions can help you rank prospects into buckets of ready to close Now, Then & Later.
- It’s Never About Price – It Is Always About The Reality of After: Throughout your sales marketing process, if you are clear, cogent and credible about how you can solve the prospect pain, you can realistically paint a picture of a future state where the pain is gone. Once your prospect is transported to that future state, your agency fees will be seen as an investment in that transformation rather than a cost. Be cognizant of that process – the entire journey from lead to customer is an exercise in creating a travel guide that takes your prospect from today’s pain to the wonderland that is the “after”. Consistently creating a positioning that your efforts as a transformative journey to a future state where today’s frustrations are removed is a key element to getting yourself into the nitty-gritty of closing.
These 6 laws are broad, but they are immutable. (And they are horizontal across a lot of industries, too.) But in the world of the marketing and advertising agency, they are especially applicable. And luckily enough, they play to your strengths. If you are a competent marketer, creating targets and leads is right up your alley. Marketers are creative and inquisitive, so asking questions to qualify timing, and creating vivid and realistic stories of a world where the current pain is removed is like a core strength of yours or your company. The marketing agency has an unfair advantage because the process of client acquisition is what your company does for others. Remembering and heeding the 6 Laws of Agency Business Development should be easy. I know it’s not easy to keep all of this in the front of your mind, but remember that this process is natively in your wheelhouse…
And if you need help shaping your approach – that’s why I am here. Reach out and we will get you squared away.