Back in the Mad Men days of 1960s advertising agencies, all you needed to find new customers was a snappy elevator speech. That’s the polished explanation crafted to wrap up your pitch in the time it takes for the elevator to reach the lobby.

“So, what do you do?” asks the cigar-chomping big boss. “Do you know how to get customers for my business?”

You’re confident and practiced in your elevator speech, so by the time the doors open, you’ve secured Mr. Money Bags and all his friends as life-long, loyal customers. Then it’s off for cocktails and drama with the agency’s supporting characters.

It doesn’t quite work like that anymore. Today, if you run a marketing agency, you have to modernize to gain customers, which means you need to increase agency revenue. Just as you probably recommend to customers, your marketing agency also needs a strong and strategic digital presence. That’s how to get clients and expand your customer base.

“After all,” you can type to the next-generation Ms. Money Bags in the online chat room, “you have to practice what you preach.”

Every industry has its best practices for developing a sales strategy, but small and medium-sized businesses in the communications industry must be even more targeted and focused. Searching for new clients won’t work with an off-the-cuff, splatter-gun approach. 

What will work is following a customized, comprehensive plan of strategies to increase sales — complete with a content calendar, budget, and clear understanding of your ideal customer. And you know this because the tactics you use with your current customers are often the same strategies you can use to grow your business.

How to get more clients for your marketing agency

Marketing agencies are ahead of the curve in creating outreach plans. Your team is likely filled with creative, smart professionals who know how to brainstorm effectively and create marketing materials. While looking from the inside out may be tricky, the work comes naturally to communications experts. 

Many companies do this work in the context of a corporate retreat, so it doesn’t feel rushed. You know that the best ideas take time to develop, so announce the meeting well in advance and ask your team to start brainstorming so they can come prepared with their own concepts of what makes your agency first, better, or different from the competition. And make sure you can agree on whether your team is a marketing generalist vs. specialist.

1. Clearly identify your ideal customer to tailor your message

The first step to getting more customers is to have a narrow and focused concept of who you seek as a potential customer. At first, many business owners will reply that “everyone” is the perfect customer. After all, it’s fun to think of brands of all sizes, niches, industries, locations, and styles knocking down your agency’s door. But that’s not the way to grow a company.

Think about it: Your team will constantly start from scratch by researching each industry, increasing the work’s turn-around time and negatively impacting your bottom line. Plus, it will be more challenging to convince business owners that you can do the work if you’ve never succeeded in their specific industry.

That’s why both outbound and inbound marketing efforts are built on a clear buyer persona. This defines your target client by:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Company size. niche, and industry
  • Values
  • Pain points
  • Geographic location

When you have a narrow segment of brands you want to work with, it’s easier to speak their language with marketing materials. For example, talking to members of the Money Bags family — with their corporate legacies and traditional business ideas — is different from talking to smaller mom-and-pop businesses, creative entrepreneurs, or many other business owners. 

Your entire campaign should be built around what would appeal to your ideal client and not necessarily what your marketing team thinks is cool. 

2. Create professional and compelling marketing materials

Online sales and content creation become much easier when you know everything about your potential buyer. You’ll already know the tone and experience level to integrate. Next, your marketing team can begin compiling ideas for your next internal campaign focused on how to find customers for your business.

Some clients will approach marketing agencies with small needs like a brochure or a website landing page. But communication professionals also know that a comprehensive plan will be more effective. So, for your marketing agency, start by developing a plan of marketing efforts for the next quarter’s — or even the year’s — worth of practical deliverables executed within a time-bound schedule. 

This brainstorming can take time, but the efforts are worth it. You know what they say: Plan the work, then work the plan.

As you develop new marketing materials for prospective clients, think back to the same kind of elevator sales pitch of yesteryear. Determine your company’s underlying values and what types of skills, expertise, and experience set you apart from other marketing professionals.

Next, identify and highlight your strengths in a unified theme for your marketing materials. The more concise your message, the easier it will be to share it when the Money Bags family comes around — that’s how to get clients for digital marketing work.

In addition to a strong online presence, you’ll want printed marketing materials for each team member, including brochures and a business card. Almost all digital marketing strategies are built on a centralized goal of increasing traffic to an optimized website. 

3. Build an effective website and optimize it for search engines

You cannot master the art of how to increase online sales if your business does not have an effective and optimized website. Your customers may operate exclusively through their social media accounts, but you know that’s not good enough for selling on the internet

An optimized website must:

  • Include keyword-focused copy 
  • Feature SEO-friendly images with captions 
  • Operate error-free on the backend
  • Load quickly
  • Have plenty of internal links
  • Be visually appealing on all kinds of devices
The marketing firm The Firefly Group in Palm City, Florida, uses an interactive yet simple website to share their expertise and experience.

As you optimize your website, spend extra time researching keywords for your marketing agency. This data will help develop other marketing campaign elements — like your blog.

4. Create valuable content through blog posts that demonstrate your expertise

Your agency may specialize in writing blog content for clients, but do you also offer valuable content in your own branded voice? Content marketing is a proven answer to those wondering, “How to get more customers for my business?” 

Create an editorial calendar as part of your next digital marketing strategy, planning blog topics for the next quarter of the year. This document can be a spreadsheet with columns that include:

  • Blog topic
  • Keywords to include
  • Length of blog
  • Date of publication
  • Online places to publish: email list, website, social media platform, etc.
  • Writer (guest blogging is a great idea)
  • Editor
  • The person responsible for responding to comments and online engagement
  • Any additional notes on the topic

It’s essential to publish your blog regularly and let your customers know when to expect a new one. It’s better to post every week than three in one week and then nothing for the rest of the month. When you drop too much content at once, you compete with yourself in the already-overwhelming marketplace of information, limiting the effectiveness of all that hard work.

Let your entire team know about the blog topics and guest posts, which should focus on improving the customer experience. Answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) and provide advice and expertise on marketing. 

When Ms. Money Bags asks one of these FAQs, you can answer by getting her email address and sending her a link to the blog post. When she’s on your email list, you’ve got her in your sales funnel and a step closer to hiring a marketing firm.

5. Attend and speak at industry events, conferences, and seminars

It’s not every day that you find yourself sharing an elevator with even a distant relative of Mr. Money Bags, but you’re more likely to find such a soon-to-be happy customer where such people gather. 

When determining how to get clients, attend all the industry events, conferences, and seminars you can in order to learn essential skills and meet business representatives while learning how to attract clients to your business.

You can have a presence with a table in the vending area, but you don’t have to limit yourself there. Work the crowd by handing out business cards and listening to what these professionals need. You can create relationships and help them gain trust in your expertise by showing them how to increase sales and improve customer service.

Research ways to speak at the event. You’ll want to start early, so create a list of targeted events at the beginning of the year so you can make the connections needed to get on a panel or in a keynote speaking slot to share ways to improve sales techniques. 

Choose themes based on your expertise. One could be “How to get clients for a marketing agency!” When you come up with a suggestion, you’re helping the organizer and improving your chances of gaining more customers.

6. Provide potential clients with a free consultation

One way to get more customers is to give more than you ask for in return. Business owners who can learn from you without paying upfront will see that you’re genuinely interested in supporting the growth of their brand. Sharing your expertise with a free consultation for your client base will make it easier to sell the actual work when the time comes.

Your clients likely know their business and industry like the back of their hand, but they may not know how to improve sales. This is where the consultation comes in. 

A 30-minute meeting is enough time to explain what goes into the creation and execution of a marketing plan. You can answer their questions and give them a feel for what it’s like to work with your agency. Then, you’ll know how to get more business.

This is also a good idea for you, too. If a potential customer doesn’t fit your target audience, you can decide whether to expand your offerings or if another agency may provide better customer service. Be clear about your rates, too. You want clients who know and appreciate your worth.

7. Invest in targeted online advertising campaigns

Sometimes, in order to get more clients, you need a marketing budget. While sales prospecting offers opportunities for organic traffic to your website, paid advertising can supplement those efforts and diversify your leads.

Consider where your target audience spends most of their time online, such as sites like Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Once you know your targeted platform, you can structure an online advertising campaign that focuses effectively on how to drive sales. 

Like all ad campaigns, start with a goal and create measurements to determine success. Set a theme, budget, and timeline — and pivot if you aren’t seeing the results you expected as you learn how to get marketing clients.

8. Register your agency on relevant online directories and listings

Another way to meet your clients where they are is to ensure your agency information is listed in all the relevant guides, online directories, and business-to-business (B2B) listing services. People don’t use the yellow pages like they did in the Mad Men days, but they may reference sites like:

  • Your local Chamber of Commerce directory
  • Angi (aka Angie’s List)
  • Facebook Business
  • Google Business
  • LinkedIn

Look at specialized sites, too. For example, if your agency wants to work with a yoga studio seeking more clients, you might suggest they list their services on the Yoga Alliance website. 

9. Develop an email marketing strategy for potential customers

Remember asking Ms. Money Bags for her email address so you could send her one of your blogs? Email marketing is an integral part of the sales process for all businesses, including your marketing agency.

Email marketing offers the highest return on investment (ROI) of all digital marketing methods because personalization lets you communicate directly to your audience by delivering a targeted message to people’s inboxes. Online marketing platforms like Constant Contact even have email template tools to add your clients’ first names as part of their email marketing tools.

A regular email newsletter is better than trying to send cold emails. Have your monthly message to current and previous clients include links to your most recent blogs, a calendar of events, and other relevant, engaging, educational, and entertaining news. You can also highlight the biographies of your marketing team and share successes and invite feedback.

10. Host webinars and workshops to educate your prospective customers

If you fall short on events to include in the regular email newsletter, consider hosting your own. You can host webinars and workshops, which you can announce through email, on your website, and on social media pages. Create a digital flyer that highlights the topics you’ll discuss. 

You can have a live event, a live video on Instagram or Facebook, or both. But remember, go easy on the sales tactics. No one wants to log on to learn something, only to be met with a hard sales pitch. Save that for follow-up emails that thank participants for spending time with you online.

11. Collaborate with influencers or industry experts

You can also get others to speak on your behalf. Influencer marketing is a popular and modern method involving collaborating with people with a strong online following that overlaps with your target audience. You can approach the influencer or other industry expert to ask about their rates, as many already have a menu of offerings.

Be clear and careful when having someone outside your company advocate your work. Since you’ll relinquish some control, you’ll want to ensure your values align. You want to learn a lesson about how to increase sales — not how to handle a communications crisis.

12. Encourage happy clients to refer your agency to their network by offering incentives

Your satisfied customers are the best people to provide testimonials for your work. And yet, many business owners are so busy with excellent customer service that they neglect to ask for a referral. Creating official referral incentives is one way to integrate this into your marketing plan.

These incentives are often structured as a win-win for the current client and their friend. See what you can offer in terms of discounts. Don’t forget to segment out these VIP clients within your email list so you can give them extra attention over the holidays and throughout the year.

13. Showcase your agency clients’ success stories and testimonials

Your website should have a page filled with testimonials, success stories, and white papers outlining the good work you’ve done over the years. Ask your most loyal clients to write a short testimonial explaining your experience together to post online. And make sure they post the same testimonial on your Google Business page, Facebook Business page, LinkedIn profile, and every other online directory possible.

In your work to learn how to get new customers, you should share these testimonials everywhere. Create stories on your social media platforms and add a section to your email newsletters.

14. Focus on providing exceptional service and delivering results

Of course, you won’t be able to gather those testimonials, success stories, and referrals if you don’t offer excellent customer service and have many happy clients. As you and your marketing team focus on sales promotion, don’t forget that your current customers are the most crucial element of your business.

My friend Anna uses her Facebook page to share personalized messages about marketing and business with her target audience. Always remember that connection with current clients is an important way to help your agency thrive.

It’s essential to have a realistic marketing plan. You and your team have limited time, so you want to be strategic in your work to enhance your brand and please your clients. With each deliverable, check in with the team members responsible for the work to ensure they are comfortable with the workload. You can also determine what marketing work can be automated.

15. Continuously track the performance of your marketing efforts

Since you’ve already created goals for your internal marketing efforts, you’ll want to track the metrics to determine if you’ve reached those benchmarks. Pick a few measurements, such as ROI, the number of visitors to your website, the size of your email list, or the number of new clients. Check in with the growth every month.

Remember that a marketing plan is never written in stone, especially if you do not see the expected results. Perhaps you’ll want to try A/B testing to refine your strategy. As you know, some marketing work can take time, but you’ll always want to ensure you’re focused on the most effective methods.

Maximize your client base with effective marketing strategies

If it feels overwhelming to integrate all 15 steps at once, worry not! Your company’s marketing plan is something created by your team, so you can decide which actions to integrate now and what to phase in later. While you can scale up as clients appear, in the beginning, you’ll want to balance internal growth with the needs of current clients.

As a first step, research what other marketing agencies in your region do. Look critically at the different websites, social media campaigns, and other marketing materials they use and consider ways to improve on what they’ve done. After all, you’re the best, baby — and it’s time the Money Bags of the world know it.