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Agency Owner Revealing Her Client Acquisition Strategy
Today’s post is a guest post from @BowTiedPrtFish on how she does client acquisition and onboarding for her agency. I’ve made a few small tweeks on formatting (mostly H2/H3’s), other than that, everything below the line is from her.
Brew a pot of coffee or grab a bottle of wine because it’s a long read.
At the end of the post is a few businesses that subscribers like you are creating. Check them out and see what less than a year of good information and action can accomplish. Note - I’m not endorsing any business. Just giving exposure to people that are putting in the work.
Have you ever dreamed of launching an online business, like an agency of sorts and attracting enterprise-sized clients? Sure, dream on – except, it's not as challenging as you think it is if you take the right steps. You can get their business if you understand the fundamentals of client acquisition. I’m going to share my tips, as an agency owner, for client acquisition. So let's look at what that is.
Talk with your existing clients.
Once you know what your clients need and have a general idea of what kind of clients they're getting, it's time to ask them more specific questions. For instance:
"If you could only recommend one service to an enterprise client starting up a new business, what would it be?"
"What's the most important thing they should be doing right now?"
"What was your biggest challenge in working with our company?"
Where to find clients
It's no secret that the way we do business has changed. Gone are the days when you could count on a solid referral network to keep your agency thriving. In today's digital climate, looking for new clients online is more important than ever. In fact, if this isn't already your bread and butter, you're probably doing something wrong! Fortunately, I’m here to help with our list of where to find new clients for your agency online.
Forums are a great way to find new clients and build your brand. You can use forums to post job listings, get feedback on your work, and even hire freelancers. And if you're looking for leads? They're a good place to go. Make sure the forum relates to your service offering.
Facebook groups can also be a good start. It would help if you searched for groups related to your agency and posted about it in the group. Then ask for feedback on your agency. If you want more referrals or testimonials, this is where they'll come from!
LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network, with over 500 million users in over 200 countries and territories. LinkedIn is also a reliable site to find new clients, employees, partners, investors, and vendors. There are several ways you can use LinkedIn to grow your agency:
Find clients from the people who already know you. Use your existing network of contacts to target potential clients who could be interested in your services. You can also hire someone on LinkedIn who has worked for one of these companies, so they will know what it's like working there!
Search for new clients by industry or location. If you're looking for specific industries or locations where your agency would be successful, search using the advanced filters provided by LinkedIn (you may need a premium membership). With these filters turned on, it should only take minutes before finding some potential leads!
You can use Twitter to find new clients. You can best search for relevant keywords to your agency and then follow the people who tweet about them.
In addition to searching for keywords, you can use hashtags to find out what people are talking about in your industry. Hashtags are easy ways to group tweets. For instance, if you're looking for a new client, try #marketing or #SEO on Twitter. Another option is creating a list of accounts that interest you—this makes it easier for you to keep track of them if they don't have their website attached (which isn't always required).
Take advantage of advanced search functions within Twitter itself by using its advanced search tool!
The newsletter is perhaps the most underrated marketing tool. Yet, it's one of the easiest ways to get in front of your ideal clients, keep your brand top-of-mind for them and establish yourself as an authority in your industry.
In a world where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter—and people are more likely to scroll past an email than read it—the newsletter is one of the only forms of communication that stands out from other digital noise. Newsletters don't just skim over the surface; they dive deep into a subject matter while keeping readers engaged with well-designed content.
It might seem like sending out newsletters is a waste of time since most people don't read them anymore, but I'm here to tell you that's not true! If done right, newsletters can boost awareness about what you offer and help grow relationships with potential clients long after their initial contact with you (which will hopefully result in more sales).
You're a busy startup, and you need help. But where can you find the people who will make your agency run smoothly? Various freelance sites such as Upwork, Dice, Freelancer, MediaBistro, Guru, and others.
Are these the best options for your business? It depends. If you’re just starting out and need clients ASAP, then yes, these are the types of sites that can help you build up a steady clientele.
However, as you gain more experience in your field, you will eventually want to raise your rates and look for higher-paying clients on other sites such as LinkedIn or via cold emails from your leads list. More on that in the next section.
Send cold emails to your desired clients
You may think that cold emailing is an outdated practice, but it's quite the opposite. Cold emailing is a great way to get your name out there and make yourself known to potential customers.
While other forms of advertising can cost thousands of dollars in ads and marketing campaigns, sending a simple email allows you to connect with people who might not otherwise have heard of your company or product. The best part? It only takes a few minutes!
If you're worried about being rejected by potential clients because they won't take time out of their busy lives to read through your message, don't be! In fact, research shows that most people spend more time reading emails than reading other types of content (like books).
Cold emailing is a great way to get your foot in the door with larger companies, especially when starting.
If you’re a small business, it may be hard for you to get noticed by more prominent companies and make them realize how valuable your services are. With cold emails, you can reach out directly and show them what you've got, which will help establish yourself as an industry expert or innovator with something to offer their business.
It also allows you to showcase your skills without being too demanding (as long as they're relevant). Instead of asking for work directly from someone who may not even know who they should be hiring yet (like me!) A piecemeal approach can help show off how well-rounded and capable of completing jobs quickly while giving people more time than usual before making decisions about new hires or contractors.
There are fewer barriers to entry.
There are many benefits to sending cold emails. The most obvious benefit is that it allows you to reach more people. Not only can you get new clients, but also existing clients and potential customers who don't know who your company is yet. It's also great for reaching people who don't know about your product or service because they may not have received any marketing materials from the company in question beforehand.
You might be thinking: "But how do I get my prospects' attention?" First, remember that this isn't just about getting their attention—it's about convincing them of something (whether buying one of your products or signing up for one of your services).
It helps if you have some hook or unique selling proposition (USP)
for why someone should choose what you're offering over other things on the market today; otherwise, there could be nothing stopping someone from opening up another tab and checking out some other options instead.
Here are some simple tips for making your following email the one that gets the response you need.
Keep the intro short and sweet.
The subject line of your email should be short and sweet. It's the first thing your prospect will see, so it has to immediately catch their attention and make it clear they want to open your message (and not just delete it).
Take a look at this example: "Hey [Name], I noticed you've been looking for marketing help lately—do you have a few minutes? I wanted to share some tips on how we can help. Thanks! -Sam"
Notice that the subject line uses only two words (and even those are appropriate abbreviations), but they say everything you need them to say: "Hey [Name]." Then there are two more words clarifying what kind of communication is coming next — in this case, a cold email.
Finally, there's one last sentence asking for something specific from the recipient — in this case, an open-ended question (if you want) or request for consideration or action (that could be as simple as scheduling time together).
Be authentic and personal
To make an excellent first impression, you need to be authentic. In the same way that people can tell when someone else has copied and pasted something into an email, they can also tell when it's been copied from another source. You don't have to write a novel; make sure you use your own words.
It also helps if you aren't afraid of being yourself in emails—especially when cold emailing leads! It might seem more accessible than sending out traditional marketing material, or direct mail offers because it allows for more spontaneity (and less time spent crafting), but that doesn't mean we should leave our personality at home when composing these messages.
Add character and humor to your emails; it'll help inform potential customers about who they're dealing with on an individual level rather than just seeing another faceless company name pop up on their inboxes.
Include a CTA
Include a clear call to action in the email.
Be specific about what you're asking for. Do you want them to get in touch with you? Fill out a form? Download something? If you don't tell them, will they know what they should do?
Use buttons if possible. Many emails have buttons these days, but some people still prefer text links to copy and paste the URL into their browser without having to click anything at all.
Use a simple format that's easy to read
The most important thing to remember when sending cold emails is to use a simple format that's easy to read. This means using bullet points, keeping your paragraphs short and sweet, and using a template that doesn't require the reader to scroll around on their screen too much.
To make sure you're keeping things clear, try these tips:
You want people who are new to this process or have never heard of you before so they can understand what makes your business different from others.
Make sure there are no complicated terms or jargon used in the body of your email; once again, make it as straightforward as possible for them.
Remember why you're writing this email for potential clients/customers may need more information about what exactly does this mean? What kind of services do we offer?
Give it a week before you send a follow-up email
Giving the recipient time to read and digest your email is only polite. Please don't be too pushy, or else you'll come across as someone who doesn't respect their time. If they've taken a few days, wait a few days before sending another follow-up email.
If you don't receive a response after sending one or two emails, then it's best to leave them alone (for now). You should always wait until you receive an initial response before sending additional emails—this is because many people will only respond if they're interested in what you're offering, so if there's no immediate reply, that person wasn't interested at all.
Also, keep in mind that sending more than one follow-up email can make things worse for both parties involved: if the first follow-up fails to get any response from your prospect and yet still sends another one, later on, this could come off as desperate rather than professional — especially since prospects are already aware of how much time has passed since their original inquiry.
Follow these steps to create an effective cold email
Before you start sending cold emails, you should be sure to follow these steps:
Be authentic and personal. The person receiving your email must know that what they're reading comes from someone who cares about their business and success. You can accomplish this by using a personal salutation (e.g., "Dear John") instead of something like, "To whom it may concern," or something generic like "Hi."
Include a call-to-action (CTA). Your CTA should be simple and direct, such as "Read my blog post on xxxxxxxxxx." This helps ensure that clicks are occurring on links within your message to track which ones are working best for driving traffic back to your website or landing page.
Keep it short, sweet, and straightforward. As much as possible, keep all emails under 500 words, so they're easy for people to read quickly without feeling overwhelmed by text or having important information lost in long paragraphs or overly complicated language structure/sentence structure.
Following the tips above will ensure that your potential customers have a positive first impression of you and make them feel confident in their decision to respond.
We've all heard the adage that life is a marathon, not a sprint. And while I think it's essential to work hard and push yourself as much as possible, I also believe there's something to be said for pacing yourself.
When you're new to an industry or starting fresh with a new business idea, it can feel like your competitors are way ahead of you. You see their substantial social media followings, fancy websites, and everything they have accomplished in a short amount of time (compared to how long it takes you). It can be discouraging.
The best thing you can do in this case is take a step back from the situation, take some deep breaths, and remember that every business has its own pace for success—yours is no different.
Design your pitch.
The next step is to design your pitch. The most important thing is to clearly understand the client's needs, which can only be achieved when you ask them questions. Ask them what type of business they are in, their target market, etc., so that you can get an idea of what they are looking for and whether your product would suit their needs.
Create a template that will help you make sure you cover all the critical points in your pitch and not miss anything out. It's best if this happens before meeting with a potential client so that when it comes time for meetings later down the road, there won't be any surprises!
Finally, practice makes perfect! Practice pitching with someone else first until it feels comfortable talking about yourself, and then try again with more people (preferably non-family members).
This way, when it comes time for pitching actual companies/people who could potentially hire us, we'll feel comfortable enough so as not to risk looking silly during those crucial moments where we need everything working perfectly together.
I'm going to tell you a secret: The best way to pitch a new client is by not pitching them at all.
When I give presentations to clients, I try my best to avoid mentioning the name of our agency or any of the work we've done for other clients.
My presentation talks about their problem, how we've helped others with that specific problem, and why it's likely that we can help them as well. Doing this puts the client in a position where they have no choice but to hire us. Of course, there's more that goes into it than just that—here are my five tips for winning over new clients.
Your pitch must only address the problem, not attempt to solve it
You need to be able to articulate the client's problem in a sentence or two. Explain how the client's unique situation isn't just a simple fix. In addition, your pitch needs to be about the client's problem, not your solution.
Introduce yourself and your team
It would help if you introduced yourself and your team in the first paragraph of your pitch. If you have a photo of yourself, include that as well.
You might also want to include a picture of your team's office or workspace (if they don't work from home), so potential clients can get an idea of how much space you have for meetings and how many people work at their location.
It could also be helpful if they see what kind of equipment is required for these meetings; for example, if it takes place at client sites where Internet access is limited or non-existent, then clients need to make sure they have proper gear before scheduling time with agencies like yours. You might also want them to know whether or not there's room in the office where all their employees can meet (if this is relevant).
Explain how you've helped other clients with similar pain points
It's easy to focus on yourself when you're pitching a new client, but it's important to remember that the client cares about results, not just what your agency does. So it would help if you talked about how your agency has helped other clients achieve their goals and objectives, as well as the impact of your work on solving their issues. You can also show off any awards or honors that demonstrate the quality of your work or its effectiveness in getting results for clients.
For example: "We have won two Webby Awards, and our website has been named one of the top 100 websites by PC Magazine."
Include testimonials from previous clients who faced a similar problem
Share references from previous clients who faced a similar problem. It's critical to include clients that have equal opportunities and challenges as your new prospect, but it's also vital that you choose only the best references. Of course, ask these clients for permission before including them on your list of references.
Once you have the client names and descriptions, create a short blurb about each one (no more than 1–3 sentences). This is to convey how serious their problems were, how they were able to solve them with your agency, and why they think you're so great at solving this issue in general–think of it as a mini case study.
End your pitch with a clear next step
Finalize your pitch with a clear next step. Integrate a call to action, a deadline, and an explanation of what the client should do next. You also want to make sure you have an email address that is easy for them to remember (the one you used to send your pitch or cold email), a phone number where they can reach you if necessary, and the name of someone who can provide them with additional information about your agency if needed (this might be you!).
Following these steps will structure your pitch and help clarify to the client why they should hire your agency.
Give examples of what you can do for them. Whether developing a new website, creating a social media plan, or handling SEO, give examples of how you've done this before.
Stick to one problem at a time. If you're working on multiple issues in one presentation or email, it will be difficult for them to see how each issue relates to the overall picture.
Offer a dedicated account manager.
If you want your business to attract larger clients, offering a dedicated account manager must be offered. The account manager will be responsible for managing all aspects of your client's needs, including:
Communicating with the client and providing updates on the progress.
Handling any issues or concerns, they may have.
Acting as a liaison between the client and other team members from yours or any other businesses involved in their project.
In lieu of a dedicated account manager, use a client portal and ensure you’re always available to them for questions and feedback during normal business hours.
Streamline your client onboarding process.
The onboarding process is arguably the most crucial part of client acquisition. It separates a good business from an excellent one, and it's where you'll have to prove yourself as the right person to help with your client's needs.
Here are some things that you can do to make sure that onboarding is appropriately executed:
Make sure you have the right tools in place so new clients can quickly get set up on your platform or system (e.g., CRM, invoice management software). If you don't already have these tools available, figure out how much it would cost and how long it would take you to implement them before bringing on new clients. Fortunately, there are many free tools available with CRM and invoicing features. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive, it just has to be functional and reliable.
Next up on my list of items needed for proper transition for a prospect into becoming a client: Is having enough resources available so that everyone involved understands what their roles should look like during each stage of this process (i.e., what training needs exist during initial setup versus later stages). This way, no one feels overwhelmed by too much information coming at once and gets frustrated by feeling lost while trying their best to learn something new without any guidance during those early days/weeks/months here working together toward achieving mutual goals.
Don't undervalue yourself or your services.
Your worth is in your hands. If a client believes you are valuable, they will pay for it. You don't need to be afraid to ask for more money or better terms than what they initially offer.
If you undervalue yourself and your services, the client will quickly realize that too, and they will take advantage of it. Don't be afraid to charge what you're worth!
Show your expertise and experience.
Your firm's website is a great place to showcase your talents, especially if you have a team of designers, developers, and strategists on hand. If you don't, there are several ways to display your experience:
Showcase your portfolio. A client can see all the websites and apps you've created for previous clients. This makes it easier for them to trust you with their project because they can see how well other companies were satisfied with what you did for them in the past.
Share testimonials from happy clients who used your services before. This shows potential clients that other people were happy with what they got from working with you – which might make them more likely to work with us too.
Be clear about how long you've been in business.
One of the most common questions I hear from potential clients is, "How long have you been in business?" This is an excellent question because it shows they're interested in working with a legitimate company. They want to ensure that we are established and have a track record of success (i.e., they don't want to work with someone who's just starting).
The problem is that there's no easy answer to this question because:
The truth might scare them off if you've only been around for six months or less, in which case you can say something like, "We're still growing quickly, but we are well-positioned to serve your needs now.”
If you answer honestly about how long your business has been around but then mention something like, "We were founded by two recent college graduates who were looking for their first job after graduation,"—this may not seem as impressive as an established company that's been around for several decades; or
You could try answering honestly by saying something like, "For the past few years..." This will work if they don't ask any follow-up questions and let it drop there, but some people will be bothered by this response because it doesn't sound right when someone has worked at their current job for more than five years.
Give examples of past work for similar clients.
Using examples of past work for similar clients is an excellent way to showcase your expertise and experience in the field. This can be done with a portfolio, case studies, or testimonials from companies that have used your services. You can also use this method to show what you've learned from previous mistakes and successes.
Here's another tip: Don't undervalue yourself or your services. You deserve to be paid fairly for your work, and large clients are more than happy to pay top dollar if they're getting a quality product or service in return.
Also, here’s a few businesses being created by subscribers just like you. They’re putting in the effort. Are you?
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Disclaimer: Nothing written here should be construed as legal for financial advice of any kind. These are opinions and observations, written by an anonymous cartoon Opossum, built up over years working in e-commerce & affiliate marketing.