When I first started my marketing agency I thought I was going to rule the world. I was a great marketer in the corporate marketing departments and knew everything. Man, I was wrong. Starting a marketing agency was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.
If you are like me and planning on going at it alone, I fist say good luck. I also know you are going to do fine as long as you stay motivated, hungry, and customer focused. However, today I want to share with your 10 marketing problems I faced when starting my marketing agency.
Not Investing In Marketing
First off, if your read the internet you know that you can market your business with no marketing budget. I mean you are going to blog, use social media, and SEO your way to clients.
Well, the internet is wrong. It has lied to your once again. Yes, you can find clients through blogging, social media, and SEO. However, this takes time and most marketing agencies rely on cash flow to be successful. Without cash flow, you will be looking for that next corporate gig.
You are going to need to invest into marketing to make this thing happen. Trust me, it is not fun to go months without a sales meeting. This can cause you to lower price and get desperate, not a good thing.
Lack of Time
Okay, you are one of the marketing agency owners that left their 9-5 with a large contract in hand. Cash flow at the moment is not a problem because you have that one huge client.
Well, now time is going to become a huge factor in the growth of your agency. As you are trying to keep your client happy, doing everything under the sun to keep your client, you forget about the marketing for your agency.
This becomes a very dangerous proposition. What happens when that great client moves away from your marketing agency? In order to build your marketing agency empire, you need to fill your pipeline and this takes time. Start now.
Not Selling at All Times
You are a business owner and you should be thinking of ways to drive sales at all times. This is now your role, business development. It can be very hard for many people, including yours truly.
I landed my first large client while talking to a random guy at a happy hour. I was out at a networking event and not feeling the room. So I left the meeting and went into the bar while the event finished. While I was at the bar watching a game, a guy sat down next to me and we started chatting about sports and business.
It turned out to be the owner of a well-established recruiting agency that they needed help marketing their services to companies. This conversation turned into a very lucrative deal for my agency and we continue to do business.
The point here is to always be looking for new sales opportunities. You never know where your next big deal is going to come from.
Not Adding Value During The Sales Process
Inbound marketing is going to work for your marketing agency. Trust me. However, one of the biggest mistakes I see in the inbound marketing process is the lack of value agencies give in the sales process.
“Download…fill in the blank.” The agency then delivers a poorly written one-page document that adds very little value. Well, this shows your potential client what you think of them, not much.
Create a whitepaper and guide that actually adds value to the customer. Offer your potential client a “real” marketing audit, not just a couple emails with a generic plan. Audit their current marketing activities and see how you can help them, or give them a free month of service to prove yourself. Adding value is the best sales tool you can come up with.
Not Being Selective
Have you ever taken on a new customer and quickly found out that the project is not going to be profitable? Even worse, have you taken on a client and found out that you can’t stand the guy?
Make sure that when you are marketing your agency that you are marketing to the clients that you want to work with. Be selective as your agree to marketing services. In order to be truly effective, you need to ensure that you are working with great clients.
Using Old Technology
We are marketers, we are always looking for new ways to do our job better or more efficient. Well, this is not really the case, I have talked to a handful of marketing agencies that use old antiquated technology.
Do you have a CRM to manage your sales pipeline? No, you are not alone. In fact, most marketing agencies do not have a CRM in place or do not use it. I have even talked to many agencies that have never sent an email from a list of subscribers. You guys, it is 2017.
I know that marketing tech continues to change daily. But, as a marketing agency, it is your responsibility to understand the tools to get things done. If you are not exploring new options, you are doing your clients disservice.
Trying To Maintain Your Talent
Finding talent is hard. The recruitment process for top marketing talent feels impossible. All the big companies like Apple and Google snatch the top tier marketing talent. As you continue to find the right marketing talent it is okay to use contractors, freelancers, and even outsource your work.
Using external talent is a great way to lower your overhead and only pay on the jobs you need them for. As a inbound marketing agency, it took 2 years before I hired my first blogger because I needed industry specific writers. It was much easier to hire on a job by job basis.
Invest in the right talent when you find it. Great marketers are hard to come by.
I know it is cool to call yourself a “boutique” agency and you still can. However, the reality is that most marketing agencies offer a limited service offering leaving money on the table.
It might be best for the agency to make a strategic partnership with another agency or freelancer that helps expand your service offering. This is a great way to find new leads and build lasting business relationships.
The more you can offer your client, the more valuable your agency will become to the client. It is hard to master everything, but your client will appreciate you bringing talent that will help improve marketing and drive a return on investment.
Not Documenting Your Deliverables
This is not really a marketing problem, but it is a customer retention problem that I have been guilty of many times.
Does your business struggle with scope creep? Yeah, we are trying to do what is right for the client and we agree to do more than we bargained for. “Sure, we can create that new landing page and continue to support your marketing automation software. No problem. In fact, we can take your retainer amount down by 25%.”
We do stupid things when we are trying to keep our clients happy. This is why you need to create a clear scoop of work with details about what you are going to be delivered within the agreed upon timeline. This will help you keep your clients happy and on track.
Trust me, in my early days of agency ownership, I struggled with this. I would either lose a client or do way too much work.
You are probably going to argue with me on this point, “customer retention is not part of the marketing process.” Well, I would beg the differ.
If you are retaining your customers while growing your book of business, it gives your marketing agency more cash to invest in marketing. A focus on customer retention is also part of the last stage of the inbound marketing process, delight.
Delighting your customer and focusing on customer retention is the best way to grow your business through word of mouth. Let your clients do the selling for you. Customer retention will help your agency develop predictable monthly cash flow.
If you are a startup marketing agency or a well-established marketing agency, I hope you can learn from some of the mistakes that I have made in the past. These marketing problems can really slow the growth of your marketing agency.
o what is right for your client and produce amazing work. Don’t be the marketing professional that gives us all a bad name. A true marketer holds themselves to a higher standard.
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