Every marketing agency wants to be successful. Signing a ton of clients means more billings and more revenue, but it isn’t easy. There are a lot of digital advertising agencies out there to compete with, and with a looming recession, businesses are scaling back instead of hiring additional help and expertise.

However, with some creativity and proactive tactics, your agency can expand its business successfully, even in hard times. Here are some tips for getting your agency seen and finding clients that will want to partner with your marketing agency.

1. Business Review: Know What’s Working

Before introducing something new, it is important to review current strategies to identify what’s working, what isn’t, and what needs improvement.

Asking these questions will put you on track to identify the things that most urgently need your attention. Then, you can either focus on fixing the things that aren’t working or strike them and put your attention elsewhere.

2. Set Business Goals and Milestones

Without concrete business goals, your agency is directionless. With business goals, you create a sense of purpose for your agency and a definite direction of where you want your agency to be within a specific time frame.

Beyond providing direction for your business, spelling out your agency’s business goals impacts how you, your team, and others perceive your business.

Start by ensuring your agency’s business goals and milestones are SMART.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

3. Shift The Focus: Create Unique Value Propositions

Defining your unique value proposition is an important aspect of your agency’s sales and marketing activities. Your unique value proposition clearly shows prospects why they should use your services instead of doing business with your competitors.

Shifting the focus away from pricing to your unique value proposition helps clients see the value in what you’re offering and how that benefits their businesses. With the right value proposition, you set your agency apart from its competitors, help clients understand what you’re offering, and attract the most relevant prospects.

4. Apply Proven Sales Closing Tips

Your marketing activities will ultimately lead you to the all-important sales close. You must learn and apply proven sales closing tips and teach them to your sales team to get more business for your agency.

There are many ways to close a sale, but the following traditional and modern sales closing methods have proven to be the best:

  • Now or never closes – create an offer with a unique benefit and a sense of urgency to encourage prospects to act quickly
  • Summary closes – Reiterate prospect’s agreed-upon points into one package
  • Sharp angle closes – catch your prospects by surprise by agreeing to their add-on requests or reductions and introducing the close at the same time.
  • Question closes – a win-win approach that addresses the prospect’s objections while pushing the sale.
  • Assumption closes – assume good intent from the start of the sales process, which lends authority and credibility to how you interact with the prospect.
  • Take-away closes – remove a feature from your offer to provide would-be clients with discounted prices. This is best for people who love your offering but are concerned about cost.
  • Soft closes – state the benefits of your offering and give the prospect the room to learn more which also allows you to learn more about their business.

5. Introduce a Sales Enablement Framework

Sales enablement fuels content tailored to your prospects’ needs, thoughts, feelings, and pain points using insights gathered from previous sales. With sales enablement, the focus is on content that helps the sales team prime and nurture prospects throughout the sales cycle. You could think of it as a fusion of your sales and marketing activities.

With sales enablement, you can close business deals faster, improve the sales process, and improve your agency’s interactions with prospects and buyers.

6. Promote Yourself

Get a profile on websites like Clarity.fm, where you can be easily discovered by others looking for the service you provide. The only downside is that these websites can be crowded. If you really want to stand out, consider giving away some free advice to build some trust and rapport.

Alternatively, you can create a free or paid course on a site like Udemy, similar to Gary Vaynerchuk’s. This will boost your visibility and build brand awareness, allowing prospects to see your expertise and seek out your services.

7. Network Like The Pros

Professional networkers understand that getting clients is a game, one which they’re determined to win. In addition, they know that they are in it for the long run, so they play their cards right.

Real networking isn’t about a quick win. It’s about building a long-lasting relationship. First, you establish a connection, and then you look for ways to help your new connection. Don’t try to sell right away; that will just appear selfish.

Here are additional tips from the experts that you should adopt:

  • Research your target client, and then personalize your follow-up with them.
  • Be mindful of your attitude. Positivity and tone can come through in emails, so take care to pay attention to them.
  • Take a genuine interest in those you are trying to network with.
  • Listen carefully when people speak and then try to add value to their lives before asking for their business (e.g., by connecting them with someone who could assist them with a problem they might be facing).

And speaking of connecting with people…

8. Partner Up – Even with the Competition

Partnerships are a great way to gain new clients. As a marketing or advertising agency, you can partner up with non-competing companies and organizations that are complementary to your business and whose target audiences are similar to your own.

You can even partner with other agencies. An agency that’s much bigger than you can refer clients with small projects that are below their usual scope and vice-versa.

9. Prospect Strategically, with The Power Of Referrals

When prospecting for new clients, it’s good to remember that there are three markets.

  •  Cold market: people you don’t know
  • Warm market: people you know already
  • Neutral market: people your contacts know

The first market tends to have the lowest conversion rate while the highest conversion rate will come from the warm market. No surprises there, right? But what about the neutral market? Tapping into this is a great way to expand your client base.

By asking people you know for referrals, they’ve broken the ice for you. What’s more, 92% of people trust referrals from people they know. A prospect is more likely to do business with you after you’ve been introduced by a mutual friend.

10. Don’t Give Lost Clients the Cold Shoulder

Another simple way to get a quick boost in new business is to simply re-approach lost clients, especially when you have good news or something exciting to share.

Don’t just come over with a request for a new business. Look into why they left in the first place, and then treat them like a fresh lead. The reality is that if someone has done business with you in the past, they’re highly likely to do so again (as long as you’ve found a way to address their previous issues).

11. Build More than Campaigns – Build a Product

“Engineering as Marketing” is a term coined by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares in their book Traction. It involves building a free product to help your customers in order to generate leads.

QuickSprout is a great example. QuickSprout has a tool that analyzes a company’s site traffic and pinpoints bugs and issues. It’s a win-win – companies get the advice they need for free, and QuickSprout has a new prospect in their conversion funnel.

12. Fill Out RFPs

It’s great to spend time networking at marketing industry conventions, meetups, and conferences, but there’s another marketing channel you may be missing out on: RFPs.

Consider the fact that the average RFP win rate is 44%. This means that for every 10 RFPs you fill out, you stand to receive a positive response from four companies.

To write a compelling and professional RFP that could land you new work, remember to:

  • Introduce your marketing agency briefly and succinctly
  • Outline your capabilities
  • Explain how you plan to complete the project, including milestones and deadlines
  • Demonstrate how your agency meets the selection criteria
  • Include examples of past work that aligns with the demands of this potential new client

13. Influence Prospects with Awards

Does winning awards in the industry really matter? And can it help you land more clients?

In short, yes, it matters, and it can definitely assist you in securing quality leads.

Awards can help to cement a marketing agency’s credibility, especially if the firm is relatively young. They provide free publicity, boost brand awareness, and promote the agency.

To get started, scroll through usagencyawards.com for a comprehensive list of agency awards your business may be eligible for, but note that some of these awards have specific requirements. For example, some awarding bodies require marketing agency nominations to be submitted by third parties, while other awards allow the marketing agency to apply directly.

14. Revive PR to Build Inbound Links and Brand Awareness

By using tools like pr.co or HARO, you can easily connect with journalists and pitch them your feature or simply contribute to the article they’re writing with a quote or statistic. This is, of course, if your agency has valuable proprietary data, a compelling brand story, or industry news to offer.

Alternatively, you can pitch major publications to republish some of your best content, just as James Clear describes in his interesting article on the topic.

These efforts are great when you’re looking to build your links, increase your SEO, and rank higher in search results—all help to put your agency out there in front of an online audience looking for solutions. By being easily found online, your audience is able to know more about you, access your website, and start to consider using you for their needs.

15. Warm Up to Cold Sales

Cold selling is yet another tactic you may want to consider. Some of the recently available tools, such as Overloop, make it much easier to build clientele this way.

As Steve Jobs famously said in a 1994 interview: “Most people never pick up the phone and call; most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act.”

It’s rare for an agency to reach out to prospective customers cold, but there may be local customers who need your services and would rather work with someone in their community. We all know that cold calling can be a nightmare, but there are ways to do it right.

16. Diversify Spend with Offline Ads

Direct marketing and offline advertising are considered obsolete, but they can work. Also, it’s cheaper than you’d expect and allows your agency to stand out in the crowd. Why not separate yourself from all of the internet noise with a billboard or radio ad in your target market?

Be smart about it. Set out a small budget and experiment. Track your results and see where the business is and what works and what doesn’t.

17. Uncover Opportunity with Twitter Search

Twitter offers some powerful search features that you can use to find people looking for help and referrals.

You can use Warble to automate your searches and create alerts that get delivered to your inbox each day.

18. Tap Into Social Capital

Social media influencers have an engaged and trusting audience. By partnering with them to promote your agency, you can get some incredible brand exposure.

Using tools like BuzzSumo, Brandwatch, and Twitonomy will help you identify people with reach and influence. Connect with them using a tool like Traackr and start building a relationship. Instead of pitching your service, think about the ways you can offer some mutual value. However, when partnering with an influencer, keep in mind their audience and the specific area of influence they operate in. It needs to be a match for your agency in order for the partnership to work.

19. Flex Your Creativity with a Publicity Stunt

Richard Branson has built a billion-dollar empire on the back of his publicity stunts. Who says you can’t do the same? Stirring a controversy or launching a hilarious campaign can get you some valuable exposure and boost your business.

For example, a couple of years ago, Viceroy Creative launched a controversial campaign that got them featured in many of the major marketing media.

20. Consider an Unconference

Apart from landing slots at relevant conferences, consider finding some relevant meetups on meetup.com and becoming a speaker. Many of these events are constantly looking for speakers and offer some exciting audiences.

Alternatively, you can sponsor some or even launch your own meetups and events. For example, a London SEO agency runs what is now one of the leading industry events called SearchLove.

Don’t let a recession get your agency down. Hit the ground running with these 15 amazing tactics, and you’re sure to sign some new business before the end of the quarter. Best of luck!