How to Differentiate Your Agency Marketing to Build a Sustainable Pipeline
Do you dedicate time to work on your agency’s marketing? Would you hire a dedicated team to handle your agency’s short-term and long-term marketing strategy? Today’s guest talks about two common mistakes that sabotage your pipeline and how he built a dedicated marketing team for his agency.
Jeff Gapinski is the founder and president of Huemor, a web design agency that focuses on building memorable website experiences. They focus on helping their clients vastly improve your key metrics, and display your brand with pride. After eleven years in this business, Jeff says the biggest change came with building a sustainable pipeline by focusing on his agency’s marketing.
In this episode, we’ll discuss:
- Building your agency team around your needs.
- 2 mistakes to avoid in building a sustainable pipeline.
- Long-term and short-term strategies for marketing your agency.
Sponsors and Resources
E2M Solutions: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out e2msolutions.com/smartagency and get 10% off for the first three months of service.
Building Your Agency Team Around Your Needs
Jeff had been freelancing since college when he got a referral for a very good opportunity for e-commerce. Ecommerce was quite new and, although he was a talented designer, he knew he would need help. He put together a team to tackle this challenge and the client was pleased with the results. It was a natural progression from there to forming an actual agency.
After finding a cofounder for his agency adventure, Jeff went on to hire several former classmates for key roles. He admittedly built the team around the needs of their original client but quickly figured out this was not sustainable in the long term. Subsequently, the agency went through a couple of iterations as they shaped the team to what it needed to be.
For the first few years, he was the sole project manager, which he acknowledges lasted too long. It wasn’t until year three they finally hired a dedicated project manager. By contrast, the agency now has six project managers and a director of projects. Things now run much more smoothly.
2 Mistakes that Sabotage Your Agency Sales Pipeline
When it comes to building a sustainable pipeline, Jeff believes agency owners make two common mistakes:
- Falling back on their network. Many fall into the trap of using their immediate network to get business. This usually consists of contacts from past jobs and referrals from existing clients. Ultimately it is a very limited pool.
- Not marketing the agency. Agencies seldom spend time working on their own brand identity. In fact, they tend to end up with a very generic site and generic marketing you can theoretically stamp any logo on.
Work on Your Branding to Differentiate Your Agency
Always keep in mind brand identity is paramount for an agency. It is the foundation you build on to get business. However, many agencies use their website primarily to show their clients’ work and hence their identities become their clients. Of course, you don’t want this because clients will likely change over time.
With this in mind, Jeff and his team set out to create a very distinct visual identity. They created a mascot featured on their website which sets them apart from other agencies. They tied their website and mascot to the concept of space, which relates to the idea of breaking boundaries and going to places unknown. These elements tie their brand identity together. According to Jeff, it has been a huge differentiator for the agency and they have gotten positive feedback from prospects and clients.
Short and Long-Term Strategies to Build a Sustainable Pipeline
You should be thinking about your strategy in terms of long-term and short-term moves. Companies, in general, make the mistake of trying to do all the strategies at once. With this method, nothing really gains traction.
A long-term strategy should include any sort of owned media as a cornerstone of your brand. This will take six months or even longer to gain traction. This includes podcast, SEO, and content marketing.
Of course, you also need a short-term strategy to bring in results while you set your long-term strategy into motion. This includes things like paid ads, cold LinkedIn outreach, paid social, etc. Both are essential because one is sustainable and built for the long term while the other secures opportunities immediately.
For their long-term strategies, Jeff’s team writes long-form content targeted at marketing managers, produces long-form articles once a week, and then adapts those for email distribution and posts on LinkedIn and other social channels. They also plan to eventually start a podcast.
4 Key Hires to Build Your Dedicated Marketing Team
It’s normal to get distracted by client work and as the agency grows you may find there is less downtime to dedicate to agency marketing. You maybe won’t have the means to hire a dedicated team from the very beginning, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Jeff attributes the agency’s exponential growth over the last two years to hiring a dedicated marketing team comprised of:
- Marketing Coordinator
- SEO Specialist
It was a big investment to make, and you can rely on freelancers at first. However, Jeff says it wasn’t until they made the decision to invest in a dedicated marketing team that he started to see the results.
Don’t procrastinate working on your own brand as an agency. It’s an element that will help you succeed. You may not see the results in the short term but it will build up to be a very valuable investment.
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