4 Expert Tips for Separating Yourself as a Marketing Agency

My branding agency doesn’t advertise. There are two ways we get marketing clients — word-of-mouth referrals from other clients and simply interacting with prospects whether at tech industry events or by interviewing them for thought leadership pieces. Today is about the first one:

What do you have to do to build a marketing agency that gains you passive inbound leads? How do you build a marketing agency from the ground up on a reputation of customer-focused, efficient, and reliable?

You could look at this as a guide to how to pick the best marketing agency — and it does work for that. But it’s really about how to build a reputation as The Best marketing agency, which is why we asked the experts. Whether you’re a new marketing agency or one that needs a boost, read through these expert tips to help you stand out from the rest.

What makes for a reputable marketing agency?

To answer this, we have Ecommerce Growth Consultant William Harris, who sets the tone for this piece:

“Your reputation hinges, first and foremost, on results. It’s not about the tasks you complete or anything else — it’s a matter of meeting or exceeding the results you set out to achieve. That being said, the second factor is setting the right expectations, and, lastly, the third factor, is being transparent about the whole process.”

William Harris Twitter

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In order to become an agency that successfully meets clients’ needs — the ones they know and the ones they don’t just yet — you need to create an open and honest rapport that’s focused on results. But just how do you set the right project management goals? Let’s bring some more expert advice in.

Ask the right questions

Great customer service and customer-centric marketing actually starts with the Socratic sales method. Don’t go in assuming anything — I don’t even research a potential client until we’ve had our first meeting so I don’t bias myself toward their needs. This allows me to respond to specifically what they are looking for. Only ask open-ended questions: about what are your client’s challenges, what are their objectives, and what they had in mind. That doesn’t mean the customer is always right, but it helps frame you as a curious, flexible, client-centric marketing agency, and it provides you with the backstory you need to make your case. Plus by asking all these questions, you give your client the feeling of control, while you’re really steering the meeting.

Expert Marketing Tip: Following my first sales director, now tech business development expert, Paul’s trick, end each important strategic conversation with one question: Is there anything else I should be asking you? You’d be surprised by how often this opens up the conversation to client needs that would never have been brought up before and opens up the path transparent two-sided feedback.

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Keep ‘em up to date

Transparency is key in any client project management. And it’s extra important when you work in a creative industry like ours that is often underestimated. After all, people think marketing is just the window dressing, right? While we are indeed the secret MVPs behind most products and brands, we have to work harder to prove our work’s value — and this is a learned skill that doesn’t come naturally to most overworked, fledgling teams. That’s why using a tool like Redbooth that offers clients a transparent view into your work is essential. Plus, acting transparently by default is a great way to manage your clients’ expectations. Project management tools offer you the ability to keep your client up-to-date on how their budget and your time is shaping up. And it saves you both time and money usually wasted on update meetings by keeping your briefings actually brief, so you can instead confidently talk strategy and how you can move forward together.

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Expert Marketing Tip: Redbooth’s Head of Content Dennis Williams warns that having a clearly defined project outline is necessary for any new client project. And he says this is true regardless of your agency’s size. He offered the tip that, “Many agencies use Subtasks in Redbooth to turn project outlines into a bulleted list of actionable tasks, designated to all included team members.” These Subtasks are available in paid plans and allow agencies to list tasks that can be checked off upon completion. This workflow creates a clear roadmap for the execution of client projects.

Dennis Williams Headshot

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Start quantifying what you do

Here is the part myself and some of my math-phobic marketing peers struggle with the most. Measurable marketing is the oft-forgotten part of our marketing mix, particularly when you’re bootstrapping. Yes, you can measure website traffic and search engine optimization (SEO) to a certain extent. And you can definitely set lead goals and measure conversion rates. But it’s best to share other quantifiers as you go, which include hours spent on what. How much budget is left? Is one aspect of this marketing project shifting toward more important than another and resources or personnel need shifting? As marketers, we need to work harder to hone the habit of quantifying our work, so we can then support that message of trust and transparency.

Expert Marketing Tip: Try following B2B Product Marketer Sasha’s advice and start your client work by saying: “Tell me X — where you want to be and I’ll get you there.” He says turn this into one metric that acts as “your North Star, the one you work hard on every day. You should look at it every morning and take actions that will lead to its improvement. There will be supporting numbers that help you gauge the progress, but bring all your focus to just this one most important goal.”

Sasha Kovaliov

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