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Winning New Business at Your Agency


Image from Tom Fishburne.

Recently, UK accounting firm The Wow Company surveyed their creative agency clients about different aspects of their business. They then released the results as a benchmarking report, which you can download HERE. The report presents a “state of the nation” for UK agencies, showing what problems they are facing and how agencies are reacting to a changing marketplace.

One of the most interesting sections of the survey asked firms first to list the activities they were doing to bring in new clients, and then compared this list with their rating of the activities that were most effective at bringing in new clients.

Here are the most common ways agencies seek out new business:

  • Networking: 62%
  • LinkedIn: 56%
  • Twitter: 52%
  • Applying for Pitches: 41%
  • SEO: 41%
  • Niche Focus: 38%
  • Email Marketing: 37%
  • In-House Sales: 32%
  • Winning awards: 29%
  • Advertising Online: 28%
  • Facebook: 28%
Contrast this list with the list of where these same agencies are receiving their new business:
  1. Networking
  2. In-House Salesperson
  3. Strategic alliances with referral partners
  4. Telemarketing
  5. SEO
  6. Winning Awards
  7. Winning Pitches

What does this tell us about the way agencies win new business? Are there some lessons here you can apply to your own agency marketing? Here are five tips for agencies to help you bring in new business:

Networking is Vital To Agency Success

It seems that good old fashioned “hand-shaking” and “small-talking” results in the biggest influx of new business for agencies. Consequently, it is also the area in which most agencies exert most of their marketing efforts.

Networking might include attending or organising local events, becoming part of a local referral group, such as a Business Network International or Business Over Breakfast, creating partnerships with other complementary businesses, participating in online forums and discussion boards, and generally just being a helpful person with a stack of business cards always on hand.

Get more ideas on using networking to grow your client base in our networking tips for creative directors article.

Pay attention to SEO

I was surprised to see “SEO” listed quite high on both lists. For one thing, I’ve never really considered SEO an “ongoing” exercise. You create a website that’s optimised for searches, ensure all your titles and hyperlinks include SEO best-practice techniques, and continue to produce great content via a blog or other platform that can be indexed by search engines.

Spending time ensuring your website is fully optimised and your staff understand SEO basics for content production is a big part of your ongoing client attraction campaigns. It’s worthwhile taking the time to make sure your SEO is on track.

Want some more tips on increasing your traffic with an agency blog? Check out our post on how to win business through your agency blog.

A Dedicated In-House Salesperson Gains Better Results

Something successful firms seem to have in common is a dedicated in-house person charged with bringing in new business. With someone taking care of schmoozing new prospects and following up on leads, you can get back to what you’re good at: the creative work.

Want to know how to find the right person for the role? Check out our article on How to Hire the Best People in Your Agency.

Social Media Should Not Be Your Priority

While it’s vital for any creative agency in the digital space to have some kind of social presence (your clients will expect it. After all, I wouldn’t hire an agency to manage my Facebook page if they didn’t have their own Facebook page) it seems that all that time spent on social media is not resulting in new business coming in for most firms.

The absence of any social media networks from the second list despite Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter being listed in the main list shows that time spent on social media is not correlating to new business (although this does not mean social media is not a valuable tool for other aspects of your agency).

Our article on content marketing tips for agencies has some great ideas on how to use content curation and social media to improve your agency brand.

Pursuing Strategic Alliances Leads to Good Things

Agencies listed strategic alliances as their third most effective way of picking up new business. This is despite strategic alliances being ranked at only 12th place on the first list, with many agencies putting more effort into LinkedIn, Twitter and email marketing.

Think about the types of companies or individuals with whom you could establish a mutually-beneficial relationship. For example, print shops, web developers, app design companies, freelancers and other professionals who offer complementary skills.

Running a creative agency is hard work, and getting new business is a huge part of that. Spend your time wisely by focusing on the tasks that gain the best results.

For more tips on successfully running and growing your agency, check out:

What is your agency doing to gain new business? Could you find a way to improve?

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Steff Green
Steff Green is one of WorkflowMax's resident wordsmiths, writing everything from website pages to blog posts, ebooks, emails and everything in between. Steff is also an award-winning author, with several fantasy novels available on Amazon. When she’s not writing up a storm, Steff lives on a lifestyle block with her musician husband, two cantankerous cats, several sheep and chickens and her medieval sword collection.

Steff Green