How the best agencies market and promote themselves

The marketing sector can be a complicated place as new marketing tools and techniques are launched, almost on a weekly basis. Powered by The Drum Network, this regular column invites The Drum Network's members to demystify the marketing trade and offer expert insight and opinion on what is happening in the marketing industry today that can help your business tomorrow.

Kate Mulligan of The Future Factory.

Most people, with notable exceptions like Kanye West, don’t really like to blow their own trumpet. Leading the charge of self-imposed humility are marketing agencies.

It’s easy to forget how your agency’s very own talent can be put to use for your own promotion. There can be a tendency to let the work ‘do the talking’, which sounds reasonable at first but is actually a pretty ridiculous suggestion. Imagine if one of your clients decided to just let their, for example, latest chocolate bar ‘do the talking’. One suspects no sales records would be broken.

I’ve summarised a few key areas that I believe many agencies are not fully exploiting in the search for new business. It’s by no means exhaustive, but should provide a useful checklist for any agency looking to indulge in a little self-marketing.

Events: Ah, networking. Often seen as a necessary evil, but by taking control and leading your own event, that chat over miniature versions of the street food du jour might not be as painful. Events can be a great opportunity to demonstrate your interests and expertise. They can also be a great opportunity to get your workforce involved in the agency’s promotion.

Social Media: You may feel a little patronised by this one, but put to one side your numbers-based vanity and start focusing on converting those interactions into valuable leads. Set aside time to look at who has followed or mentioned you and what may have triggered their engagement. Strike whilst the iron is hot and follow up with a call or email. A conversation is—usually—warmly received.

Don’t forget good old LinkedIn; make a point of linking up with potential clients after initial meetings. Stay in their mind by sharing work or thought pieces that might be of interest to them.

PR: Thought leadership pieces are extremely valuable, particularly when you’re looking to edge into a sector in which you lack experience. An intriguing subject, fresh insight and a relevant press title make for an offer one cannot refuse. Use your various social channels to spread your press coverage.

Newsletters: One of the easiest ways to remain on a potential client’s radar. If you can make a strategic plan to share genuinely valuable content or insights, you will organically grow a database of prospects who value hearing from you.

SEO: Hugely under-used and under-respected by agencies. Even senior marketing professionals turn to Google for inspiration and a quick over view of the top players in the market.

Showreel: A fantastic way of showcasing your best work, claims to fame and agency personality. Be sure to limit it to 1 minute max.

Trade bodies: Think beyond membership. Can you take a leading role or support in their content generation?

Speaking opportunities: Surely within your agency there is one person with the gift of public speaking and story telling? Look beyond the Marketing industry’s key events and aim for sector specific events for true category ownership.

Awards: Award-winning always sounds pretty good, particularly when it’s a widely recognised award that validates that piece of work you’re so proud of. And remember, the work doesn’t stop after you’ve won. Make contact with the judges, network with other nominees; awards ceremonies provide fertile ground for developing your new business pipeline.

Website: It seems obvious, but it’s important to remember that your website is often the first impression a client will get of your agency. The client page is the most viewed page on all agency websites, so make sure yours is easy to find and tells the right story about your size and expertise. If your website isn’t up to scratch your work most likely won’t get a look in.

Using a new business agency: A good new business/lead generation consultancy will be able to leverage and maximise a lot of the above activity. By having someone solely dedicated to setting up meaningful meetings and discussions with potential clients, you can place more focus on delivering the work you’ve always dreamed of producing.

Katie Mulligan is an account manager at The Future Factory.

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