Something I’ve heard said quite a lot is that the worst people at marketing themselves are marketing consultancies. I think this is perhaps too broad a statement, but there is undoubtedly some truth in this. In the busy world of the agency sometimes there doesn’t seem like there’s enough hours in the day to focus on yourself as well as all your clients.
A lot of agencies do manage their marketing efforts really well and I think there are a few common denominators for success.
- The lead needs to be taken from the top.
I’m not sure how well it works when an agency delegates the marketing effort to a more junior member or staff or in some cases even appoints another company to do it.
It definitely works best when the founder/chairman/CEO/MD is the one who takes the initiative and responsibility. He or she is the one that is seen commenting on industry issues, putting out stories, evaluating various marketing and promotional initiatives, attending conferences, meeting and greeting, etc.
It shows energy, excitement and passion for the company. That is contagious and inspirational. Other team members learn from that and they are then in a position to be a figurehead or spokesperson for the company. Making and then having these rock stars then provides you with a rich array of marketing collateral to play.
- A process really helps.
Although there might be no apparent news to come out of your agency, get creative! There are always things to talk about.
Even if it’s not stuff that is worthy of an ad on Google or a press release, there’s maybe a tweet or post on LinkedIn that it is good for. Plan ahead, do a calendar for your marketing plans and topics like you would for a client. Work out the cost of any paid-for spend that should be done and budget for it accordingly. Having an amount you have committed to spend provides more focus.
- Start on social.
Your agency’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages, in addition to your website, are your shop window.
The content that you post on social media needs to live and breathe your brand so you need to work on your style and tone accordingly. Also, the use of gifs and video content is more important in order to be relevant and interesting.
Don’t just “do social” as an after-thought like I see so many agencies doing. And have a look at your website again, things have moved on in terms of design, look and feel, but too many agencies haven’t.
- Invest in awards.
I’ve always found that there is a direct correlation between agencies who are always there and thereabouts in their various industry awards and the amount of incoming new client enquiries.
Winning awards is good for business and one of the best forms of marketing. Investment in things like a specialist copywriter for entries should be budgeted for, it is the sort of marketing money that is worth its weight in gold.
And get out more! Not just at awards dinners, but also try and get on the speaker platforms at conferences and other industry things. Think of something interesting to talk about and pitch to the organisers.
- Know your own brand.
It may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many agencies have never done an exercise where they work out what they stand for and how best to express that. It’s one of the first things I normally do when I go into an agency as a Dutch Uncle.
Not having an agency brand plan and something you can hang your hat on means that your communication can feel a little disjointed and not quite right. Or sometimes a bit out of touch with the rest of the business world. It is worth taking time to plan a session to look at this. Get someone to sense check it.
Great examples of where an agency brand and its positioning are intertwined are Edelman and Trust, Frank and Talkability, and M&C Saatchi and Brutal Simplicity Of Thought.
In terms of measurement, the main reason agencies market themselves is to increase inbound client enquiries. I’d suggest that a dashboard is set up to track new business and specifically how a client has arrived at your door.
Break that down further into things like reputation/word-of-mouth, industry profile, referral from another client or stakeholder, friends and family, Google, or other specific marketing initiatives that you might have run. Keep track of it over time and compare results to build a picture of how effective certain things are for you.
Track and analyse what works for you. I’ve also seen some agencies that have enlisted research companies to assess how their brand plays out in their sector and this can be useful as a first stage in planning and as a follow up to see if your marketing efforts have moved the dial. This can involve measurement of your net promoter score and the movement in this over time.
Graham Goodkind is a Dutch Uncle – a new type of non-exec business adviser – to several agencies in the marketing services sector, in addition to being founder and chairman of agency Frank PR. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org
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