Generating new business is always toughest when you’re doing it for yourself.
As an agency, it’s easy for you to identify all the holes in clients’ marketing strategies — fixing them with a landing page here, an AdWords optimization there. But when it comes to your own, things never seem to be that simple.
Many times, though, the answers to your troubles are hiding right in front of your face.
If you’re having problems coming up with new ideas to boost leads and generate new business, try one of these 7 customer acquisition strategies on for size.
7 Little-Known Ways For Agencies to Sign More Clients
1. Convince your prospects that they have a problem
Copywriter James Young was a master storyteller whose abilities were put to the test when he was hired in the early 1900’s to help sell underarm deodorant. Just one major societal roadblock stood between him and marketing success:
Most people didn’t think they needed deodorant because they didn’t believe body odor was an embarrassing personal hygiene issue.
So how do you sell a product to an audience that feels they have no need for it?
You convince them that they have a problem.
Through a series of advertorials, Young exposed body odor as a problem nobody would confront you about face-to-face, but would gladly gossip about behind your back. The campaign was a huge success, birthing the 18.5 billion-dollar deodorant industry we know today.
But you’re not trying to spawn a new industry — you just want to generate more leads. Here’s the thing, though…
If your prospects don’t know they have a problem, they’re not going to be on the lookout for your solution to it.
For example, being able to rent a video from Blockbuster was pretty awesome before Netflix told people they could have their movies delivered to their doorstep. Then, the inconvenience of leaving home, waiting in line at the store, and late fees all became a problem.
And that was pretty convenient too — that is, before Netflix unveiled its streaming service, which allows us to watch our favorite shows on demand. Then, waiting for new movies to come in the mail became the annoying problem we all needed a solution to.
In lead generation terms — this translates to challenging the status quo and convincing businesses they need you.
The people who say “We don’t waste time creating landing pages for our promotions” or “Nah, we don’t need SEO services,” don’t understand what they’re missing out on.
When you can challenge them with statements like “Businesses with 40 or more landing pages generate 12x more leads” or, “People are trying to find you online, and without a presence on SERP’s, they can’t,” you can prove they’re missing out on earning business without you, and in turn, perhaps earn theirs.
2. Listen more
"When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen."
Today, Ernest Hemingway’s advice is just as valuable to agencies as it is to the everyday Joe. While many marketers focus on bombarding their prospects with an endless stream of their own content, it’s the listeners that generate the most business.
What do we mean? Take a recent example from our blog.
Last week, we taught you how to boost email open rates with secrets from headline-writing masters like John Caples, and best practices from successful businesses like Salesforce. In it, we mentioned a lot of brands, and one in particular reached out to us to say “thanks” for including them.
Long story short, the conversation evolved from a mere “thanks for including us, can you add a link to our website in your post?” to “maybe we can work together somehow.”
Right now the details are still being worked out, but who knows — maybe we eventually become a client of theirs. Or maybe the way we work together is a collaborative ebook that can be used as an offer to generate leads — or maybe we write a joint blog post together.
Regardless, all those roads lead to new business. A joint ebook can be used as a lead magnet for either one of us, and a guest blog post gives us access to each other’s audience.
The point is, the more you know about what people are saying about you, the more opportunities you have to turn those conversations into leads and new business.
3. Try switching up your lead magnets
You’ve put together a comprehensive research report that you think your prospects will love.
From it, you’ve generated some leads, but you expected to get a whole lot more out of this resource for the amount of time you put into it. So what’s the issue?
It could be that you’re offering the wrong content at the wrong time.
Remember that prospects will likely follow a path to purchase that matches up with the buyer’s journey, which can be separated into three stages:
What stage your prospects are in, along with what content you have available and your buyer personas, all affect what you offer. The process of determining all these is known as “content mapping.”
Use tools like Google Analytics to figure out the path that your clients have followed to sign up for your services, and try to replicate that as best as possible.
You might find that instead of a research report or case study, a webinar or a white paper would convert more leads at the stage your prospects are in when they reach your landing page.
Take some advice from HubSpot on the best content to offer at each stage:
4. Create a valuable tool your prospects can actually use
Ebooks, tip sheets, white papers, guides — many times marketers offer these on company landing pages in exchange for prospect information like name and email address.
But today, free content is becoming harder to give away. A lot of times generating more leads comes down to strengthening your offer by turning it into something your prospects can physically use, like a tool.
Andy Nelson, Director of Growth Marketing at Moz, explains how they do it at Moz:
Moz invests a ton of time and resources into our free content to help people do better marketing. When we ask customers what drew them to Moz, we often hear stories about how they learned the industry through our content and community and trust our expertise.
The value we provide to potential customers increases their awareness of Moz and earns us consideration when it’s time to look for a tool. If our first interaction with someone was asking them to buy our product, it’s far more likely that we’d be treated like a commodity and judged solely based on our feature set and pricing.
Moz’s free toolbar, the “Mozbar,” is a great example of this, and so is Open Site Explorer. Along with the many free, in-depth guides they offer, these resources keep Moz at the top of prospects’ minds.
Instead of just writing up an ebook or a tip sheet — consider offering something even more valuable that your prospects can physically use instead of only gain knowledge from. Think along the lines of a template, or the tools mentioned before.
By pairing a guide or an ebook with a template or tool, the way HubSpot does with this buyer persona guide/template combination, you strengthen your offer to the point it becomes even harder to resist claiming.
5. Just ask
When it comes to earning new business, sometimes all you have to do is ask for it.
A recent report from the Agency Management Institute revealed that one thing, above all else, will put you on a business’s radar when they’re searching for agency representation:
Recommendations by business contacts is the most frequently cited source of prospective agency names when organizations are developing their initial list of agencies to consider. Industry experts are second, and recommendations by other vendors or service providers is mentioned by 45% of respondents.
More than 80% of companies say they’re willing to refer your marketing agency if you ask them to.
So, you could do great work and hope that at some point your client recommends you to one of their business contacts, or you could be sure they do by requesting they do.
6. Show off
Most of us are taught from a young age that bragging is unbecoming — but when you’re competing with other agencies for business, it’s necessary.
In a survey conducted earlier this year, Hinge found that something called “visible expertise” (or lack thereof) is a major factor when a business is deciding whether or not to work with a particular marketing agency.
“Our research shows that over half of buyers — a full 51.9% — report they have ruled out firms without talking to them,” said Managing Partner, Lee Frederiksen.
Since their data also shows that the first place potential customers check you out is online, it’s important to make sure you’re making a great first impression — on your website:
If your agency is award-winning, say so, the way advertising agency Barker does on their homepage:
Showcase all your biggest, most well-known clients:
And display some of your agency’s best work:
It’s all about showing your expertise while trying not coming off as an egomaniac. Your website should say “We’re the agency for the job, here’s the proof,” without dominating the communication between you and your prospect.
Remember — it’s always about them.
7. Leverage the power of LinkedIn
If you’re one of the many millions of LinkedIn professionals who sorta-kinda use the platform on occasion, you’re missing out on a major source of new business.
According to a survey conducted by Social Media Examiner, LinkedIn is the most valuable network for B2B marketers — even more than Facebook:
Make it a habit of connecting with clients, prospects, and anyone you've remotely done business with on LinkedIn.
With referrals and recommendations being as powerful as they are, you can’t afford not to engage routinely with professionals that at some point may be looking for the services you provide.
Remember that, like in the Moz example; it’s all about staying top-of-mind. The more you “like”, comment, and share updates from people in your network, the higher chance they’ll think of you when one of their contacts asks something like, “Do you know where we can find someone to manage our content marketing strategy?”
With LinkedIn Pulse’s power to boost your brand authority, the ability of the new ProFinder service to get you discovered, versatile third-party plugins, and the network’s paid advertising options, it’s maybe the most powerful lead generating social platform for agencies.
What’s your favorite customer acquisition strategy?
Do you have any little-known new-business-bringers to share with the Instapage community? Let us know in the comments, then begin generating more leads with a landing page built with Instapage’s designer-friendly platform.