There’s one thing that unites almost all of the marketers I’ve met over the years– they’re bad at marketing their own companies.
When I say “bad,” I don’t mean to say they’re poor marketers. They’re actually competent, skilled marketers who do great work for their clients. When I say they’re “bad,” I just mean to say they don’t do a good job of marketing their own agencies. They’re so caught up in client work that marketing themselves falls by the wayside.
This is a problem we’ve faced ourselves many times. With RevenueJump, we get caught up not only in client work, but also in trying to innovate new marketing ideas, better budgeting, and building more efficient systems.
As a result, we’ve let our own marketing slide more than a couple of times.
You can probably relate. But how do you get out of the rut? How do you make time to market your own marketing agency?
I’m willing to bet you consistently help your clients reach their marketing goals and, in turn, become more profitable. You definitely earn your keep. You probably sign new clients through word of mouth, but you don’t have as many new clients as you’d like.
To be frank, that’s likely because you just don’t make time to market your marketing agency.
The Time Dilemma
It’s a shame there are only 24 hours in a day. Marketers work harder than people in many other professions do. Perhaps you or your team members have already put in extra hours on a project this month.
Deadlines, goals, quotas, and reporting are all facts of life for us. They’re inherent to marketing, and there’s no escaping them.
So you’re constantly going above and beyond to deliver results to your clients, and it feels good when you help them increase leads and profits– sometimes they even thank you for it!
These deadlines and quotas don’t leave you a lot of time and/or resources to market yourself. That’s not to say you haven’t tried. You’ve probably started and completed one or more marketing projects for your own agency once or twice already this year. Maybe you set up a Facebook remarketing campaign or sent out a direct mail piece.
But once you complete a marketing project, you may feel like you guys are behind on client work again– you may even feel like you’ve been neglecting your clients, when that couldn’t be further from the truth!
It’s easy to get stuck in this cycle:
- Find a few spare moments to brainstorm your own marketing strategy or campaign
- Put all of your spare time into executing your marketing project
- Send the project out the door
- Immediately return to client work until you can find a few spare moments for your own marketing again
I can’t add more hours to your day, but I can help you get out of this cycle so you can market your marketing agency.
Getting Out of Your Rut
The easiest solution I’ve found to this problem is to treat your agency like a client.
“To stop putting your company on the back burner, start treating your company like it is an AOR (agency of record) client. Compile a team of people as you would for any client, with senior- and junior-level members and an account manager. Ensure these people feel responsible for taking your agency’s brand and marketing efforts to the next level, just as they are responsible for their billable client work.”
So, it really can be that simple– set up a team to work on your own marketing. Budget the hours like you would any other client.
But, as I’ve learned the hard way, you have to hold you and your team accountable. It’s easy to take time away from your agency, the client, to devote more time to your actual paying clients.
“We’ll make it up next month,” is the common excuse.
If you want to succeed at marketing your own agency, you have to stick with the hours and resources you allocate to your project.
You have to give your agency the same care and respect you give to any other client.
Just so you’re not setting your agency up for failure, I recommend starting small.
Once you assign your own agency as a client, it’s time to take some baby steps. Don’t allocate more hours or team members than you can afford. Every agency works differently, but try assigning your smallest possible service package to your own company.
That may mean you’re only budgeting 10 hours a month, or it may mean you’re budgeting 40. Whatever the case may be, set a realistic number and start there.
So you don’t end up getting discouraged, don’t start with a big project; instead, start with strategy and branding.
Ask your team members what your brand identity is. Ask them how you’re different than other agencies. Once you and your team agree on those points, you can set some goals, and then implement strategies to reach those goals.
Once you all agree on what makes you stand out from other agencies, those client hours you set aside for your own agency will all go towards a common purpose. You’ll know what you’re marketing– remember, you’re marketing yourself, not just your services.
We all know how marketing works, but we sometimes forget the fundamentals when it comes to marketing ourselves.
This blog post from Work Zone explains why it’s important to differentiate yourself before you tackle big marketing projects:
“Your ability to make yourself stand out in a crowd will speak volumes of your capability to make your clients appear unique. You need to work on differentiating yourself from your competitors, give the potential clients a strong reason why they should pick you over them, and why you’re the best among the lot.
No company would want to hire an agency which gives the impression that they offer the same services and solutions as others. You need to let them know that you are original and one-of-a-kind, and that your approach to work does not involve selling old wine in a new bottle.”
You’re already familiar with your agency. On a gut level, you already know what makes you different from the rest. But, if you’re struggling with your own marketing, perhaps it’s time to refocus and rediscover what makes you unique.
Rediscovering your passion, and why you’re doing this in the first place, is a great first step when you’re getting back in the swing of marketing your marketing agency.
Dedicate your first month to differentiating your agency and building a strategy. If you already know (and can eloquently articulate) what makes you different, skip that step and work on a marketing strategy you can follow in the coming months.
As Liz Grimes notes, everyone on your staff can contribute to your own marketing effort. Even if they’re not assigned to your agency’s monthly project, they can still add insight and help with the workload.
Again, from Liz’s blog post:
“Internal projects take time, but they are critical. Whether you are creating a website, launching a PPC campaign, or shooting and editing a video about your corporate culture, it is essential that you leave time open for your organization’s projects as well as ongoing maintenance and updates. While your designers and developers are finishing up a slick new client website, who is making sure your new hires’ bios and headshots are added to your company’s website? If your company is hiring, who is posting the job listing? Time from every department, from employees of every skill, must be allocated to aid in the marketing of your company.”
If everyone is involved, then everyone is on the same page. Make sure you take it slowly out of the gate, and work up to bigger projects– but also make sure you hold yourself accountable and produce results.
Once you get the ball really rolling again, you’re ready to tackle larger projects.
Effective Ways to Market Your Marketing Agency, Dammit
Once you’ve outlined a strategy, and made goals to accompany your unique selling proposition, it’s time to start tackling projects. Depending on how many hours you’ve set aside for your company as a client, try taking on one or two of projects per month.
Don’t rush to do everything at once, or you’ll just get frustrated and back off of your own marketing efforts again.
Here are a few ideas I’ve seen success with in the past:
- SEO and Link Building – SEO and link building are both ongoing projects. You can’t just “set it and forget it.” You probably can, however, fix your on-site SEO basics in a month’s time. You can build a couple of links per month. If you ever take on local clientele, I recommend building at least one local-relevant link when you’re working on a link building project. Plus, it feels great to know your website is properly communicating with Google!
- Reviews – Ask your clients to leave you reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other platforms. Walk them through the process if you have to. Positive reviews look great to potential clients, and they can also help boost your local search rankings.
- Testimonials – Gathering testimonials is easier said than done, so leave yourself enough time to interview the client and post the testimonial. Testimonials are a great resource for your own website, and they can make for excellent social media posts, social proof for physical marketing materials, and much more.
- Inbound Marketing – I’ve done a good amount of inbound marketing in my life and, if done properly, it can really pay off. Even if you don’t want to go all in, make sure your own website features more than one call to action, and make sure you’re capturing email signups. Here’s a great case study from a marketing agency that started following inbound marketing practices.
- Email Newsletter – Once you’ve captured email signups, invest time in building a monthly email newsletter. Instead of just posting links to your blog or your YouTube channel, write something akin to a personal letter to your email list every month. Include some links and calls to action, too, of course, but try to write something memorable, too. Give people a reason to open your emails.
- Guest Posting – For RevenueJump, I found guest posting as a good use of my time. Guest posting spreads the word about your agency, and helps establish you as a thought leader. Try to post on websites like YouMoz or Inbound.org, where conversation is encouraged in the comments. You never know what you might learn by talking to other marketers, and you never know who you might meet!
- Case Studies – I love how TopRankBlog refers to case studies: “Case studies present a picture of a company’s breadth and depth of ability to solve a variety of issues.” Show your work in action, and have a compelling case study ready to show potential clients.
There are thousands of ways to market your marketing agency– these are just a few endeavors I’ve found success with.
For more ideas, check out:
25 Ways Marketing Agencies Market Themselves
12 Actionable Marketing Tips for Marketing Agencies
If you want to start marketing your marketing agency, and if you actually want to stick to your guns, you have to treat your own agency like a client. Put yourself on the whiteboard, or in your project management system, or wherever you keep track of client work. Compile a report every month, just like you would for any other client.
Don’t take on too much at once, but give your own projects the same quality of work you give to your clients.
Also, realize that you’ll slip from time to time when client work just has to take priority. Don’t beat yourself up, but do hold yourself accountable.
We’ve all let our own marketing slip in the past, and most agencies continue to ignore their own marketing needs in favor of client needs. Take yourself on as a client and push forward.
It’s time to stop making excuses and market your marketing agency, dammit.
Thanks for reading!