If you’re an agency owner, you know that generating leads and keeping clients are the most important, and also most difficult, tasks you do. People stop responding to your cold emails, advertisements stop generating traffic, and your funnel starts to look emptier than ever before.
So, why do agencies have trouble finding and keeping clients?
It’s not for lack of prospects. Businesses, no matter the size, need good marketing. And there are plenty of new and growing businesses to go around.
Usually, the lack of leads is because agencies go about getting clients all wrong…
You don’t need a big advertising budget, or a massive internal marketing team.
You just need to ask one simple question.
“Need some help with that?”
All the budget in the world won’t get you further than simply offering the right help to potential customers at the right time. And when you can follow up that one question with stellar marketing services, you’ll find yourself with more good leads than you know what to do with.
Luckily, we’ve put together a checklist for you, so that you can make sure you not only get those leads, but get them to come back. And it all starts with a good plan.
Creating a plan for your agency
Creating a plan to convert prospects into clients isn’t obvious or easy. It’s hard work. Which is why our first piece of advice is: don’t get discouraged.
Developing a plan is a necessity, and knowing where to start is half the battle.
This process often takes a lot of trial and error. For some agencies, that process of trial and error can become too costly or too time-consuming. For others, it doesn’t produce instantaneous results, and they get discouraged. In either case, they revert back to their old strategies that may produce results for a little bit but will inevitably run dry after a little while.
We’ve witnessed hundreds of agencies try, so we know a little bit about how the process works—which means we know a good place to start: The Agency Growth Funnel.
The Agency Growth Funnel is a 4-step process that we’ve identified from examining what lots of successful agencies do. It’s the fool-proof formula that has the potential to work every time, all you have to do is execute it correctly. It goes beyond advertising budgets and lead magnets—it delivers predictable growth for agencies that are willing to commit to the plan.
It’s easy to implement, there is only one thing you have to make sure you are able to provide: value.
Remember that One Big Question? Your whole goal as an agency should be to help your customers the right way at the right time. And that means providing value. If you have an understanding of advertising, and you know your clients will be happy with the job that you do, then this formula is all you will ever need to make sure your funnel stays as full as your bank account.
Let’s break down this 4-step formula…
(NOTE: And if you want to learn even more about how to grow your agency or start your own “Fractional CMO” consulting practice, we’re offering a free training webinar so you can learn the in-depth details about the process that can unlock your potential.)
Step 1: Acquire prospective clients through value in advance content
The best way to get prospective clients in the door isn’t through some slimy sales pitch. It’s offering your hand in help and then actually helping them. The best way to do that is through value-heavy content.
It’s important to note that this content needs to be low-cost or even free. Your end goal is to turn your readers into clients, and charging them to even get acquainted with you will directly inhibit that. You want to get as many people as you possibly can to view your content, so that way you can get your agency’s name out there. Not only will it build your reputation, but it will also help you bring in more leads.
This content can come in many different forms: blog posts, webinars, online videos, and everything in between. All that matters is that you produce content that people can actually get something out of. You should be able to teach them something new with your content, which will make a big enough impact for them to remember you and your agency. Once you do, you’ll be able to establish a bit of credibility with your prospective clients in your industry, it will be a lot easier to get them in the door for a meeting or get them to attend a discovery session.
By following through with your offer of help immediately and for little-no cost, you set the foundation for a better, long term client relationship, especially since your new clients will know for certain that you know what you are talking about.
Step 2: Invite them to a free “discovery session”
Once you’ve got them interested in what you have to offer, you can get them in the door to have them learn more about your products or services. But this isn’t some sales pitch in disguise—it’s a meeting to figure out what their needs actually are. You can do this organically (interview-style), or maybe you’ll want them to fill out a questionnaire. No matter the strategy, you just need to learn more about what their business does and where they want it to go.
This is when, instead of asking if they need help with anything, you say “let’s figure out how I can help you.” This isn’t really about what all you have to offer, it’s about what they need from you.
In reality, this meeting is actually more for you as opposed to your prospective client. This meeting can help you learn more about their business and what problems they’re facing. The goal is for you to work with clients that you actually like and enable you to do work that you actually enjoy doing. If you don’t think you and that client are a right fit, then you can move on to other leads.
When you have your prospective client in this meeting, it’s important to map out their Customer Value Journey—it will be the foundation of the strategic plan that you implement. Understanding what your client wants out of their customers, and what goals they want them to hit in each step of the journey, will go a long way in determining if that client will be a right fit. If you can effectively map out the CVJ with your client, and you both feel excited about the work that needs to be done, then you know that they’re going to be a good fit.
Step 3: Convert your prospect into a short-term paying client
The next step is simple: get your clients on the book. Once you know who they are and help them iron out a predictable system that could work for their business, you need to make the partnership official.
But you don’t want to make a critical mistake that lots of agencies make… Don’t just sign them to a long-term retainer deal right away and act like the deal is set and done.
Remember, this partnership is as much about you as it is them. So by starting out with a shorter term contract, they don’t feel as trapped in a new partnership. It also gives you a much better chance to shine.
You’ll help them figure out where to start, come to an agreement on what “success” looks like, and then figure out what metrics will illustrate that success.
Stay by their side and walk them through the process. Ideally, they will see more immediate success, and it will incentivize them to continue working with you. Especially if you complete the project and have another potential contract in mind. Prove your value in the short term, and then re-pose the simple question: “it looks like you’re also struggling over there. How can I help?”
Step 4: Ascend your clients into an ongoing retainer
Now that the hard part is done and there is a relationship built not only on trust, but also on results, you can ink a long-term deal. Your agency will provide the marketing help when they need it, and you’ll have yourself an extremely loyal and satisfied client.
All you had to do to get them was ask that one simply question. Then, once you’ve got your client up on their own, all you’ll have to do is keep asking it. You’d be surprised at the fact that, a lot of the time, the answer will probably be no.
If their plan is airtight and you’ve taught them how to execute it, asking “need some help with that?” will become more of a formality than an offering. They’ll be able to do it themselves (perhaps with some guidance), and it will be because you didn’t just fix a problem, you offered a wholistic solution that actually helps your client help themselves.
If they do encounter problems later on and need serious help, there is no one better qualified to help them than you. You understand their business, their pain points, and their customers. You’ll officially have a relationship where everyone wins, and both you and your client will be able to reap the benefits of it.
Then, once your success is documented, you’ll have businesses lining up to learn more about your agency.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s because this was the abbreviated version of the process.
There is a lot more that goes into the process of the Agency Growth Funnel, so be sure to check out our free training webinar.
Once you’ve mastered the process, it’s almost impossible to stop. Many of the agencies we work with have seen 25–30% of their free discovery session meetings turn into paid clients. And yes, they actually want to work with those clients.
Even if you follow all the steps laid out in the post above, you still need to make sure that qualified candidates are walking through the door every time.
There are lots of qualified leads out there, and there are tons of creative ways to find them. You’d be surprised what just talking to people in line at the store will accomplish for you. But if you also want to learn about how to identify and contact those qualified leads, we can help you with that.
Click here to download our new guide on how to Refill Your Pipeline by Friday. It will walk you through all the different ways to find leads, as well as the messages that will get them interested in you.
Then, once you understand both sides of the agency equation, you’ll be able to accomplish the growth that you envision.