The 5 key steps for hiring an agency that’s right for your business

As readers of Smart Insights will know all too well, digital marketing is a vast field with many different elements and nuances. From media planning and strategy, through to SEO, CRO, and UX, digital marketing is constantly evolving and keeping up with all the trends can be very time-consuming. Many companies opt to bring marketing expertise in-house, which can be advantageous for keeping a grip on resourcing costs, maintaining control and building a strong team for the future. However, there are also pitfalls to this approach, mainly around the attraction of creative talent and the lack of an independent, outside perspective that agencies bring to a creative brief. Having worked both agency and client-side throughout my career, I believe there are many benefits to working with an agency to partner on strategy, campaign planning, and capability building. However, the…

Who in the agency should work on discovery and how can you convince clients it should be paid for?

In the Smart Insights Agency Guide to Discovery, I suggest a checklist of the areas you might explore as part of a discovery process for clients. But is a guide needed, we all know what ‘discovery’ entails, don’t we? If you search Google on the agency discovery process, you’ll get between 35M to 75M results, depending on the phrase you use. In any case, that's seemingly a huge number of agencies or training providers talking about discovery. So you may think it’s a well-understood topic. But from my direct experience and from conversations over the past few years with industry contacts, there’s still some uncertainty within agencies around three areas: What should be examined, which stones turned in the process? Who is best to carry out this activity? Can an agency charge for what can…

Knowing where to search for prospective clients and understanding how to pitch your SEO services, you'll be presented with opportunities to expand your client base and become a real big fish in your market

In 2019, it may seem the internet is already flooded with countless SEO agencies, and new quality clients are almost impossible to get. But the truth is, every day, a huge amount of new stores, brands and products move their operations online. In the US, e-commerce accounts for only 9% of sales. This means there are loads of new website and business owners entering the online space and waiting to be found by you. Knowing where to search for these prospective clients and understanding how to pitch your SEO services, you'll be presented with opportunities to expand your client base and become a real big fish in your market. [si_guide_block id="96392" title="Download our Business Resource – Agency guide:…

A great proposal can make a world of difference in closing a wobbly deal, while a poorly written proposal will lose even a rock solid client

In the world marketing, proposals are one of those sales elements that most people dislike but still recognize its importance. A great proposal can make a world of difference in closing a wobbly deal, while a poorly written proposal will lose even a rock solid client - and there are a lot of businesses that acknowledge this phenomenon, too. Writing marketing business proposals is no rocket science and getting it right takes just a little bit of knowledge and a lot of practice. Here are some of the key elements of great business proposals and how you too can use them in your proposals to win new business with ease.

1. A…

The only way to keep your agency growing is to get comfortable with discomfort

When you think back on those first few years of owning an agency, somehow the tough parts get muted. You remember the late-night pizza strategy sessions and the euphoria of signing that first big deal. You even remember stressing over payroll problems or going without paychecks (sometimes for months) just to keep the doors open. [si_guide_block id="74955" title="Download our Free Resource – Agency digital marketing services - the top 10 mistakes to avoid" description="This guide explains the 10 most common (and costly) mistakes that agencies can make."/] But it’s easier to forget about the fear of saying "yes" to a prospect and wondering how you were going to deliver. It’s even easier to forget about how you were often one mistake or choice away from having to call it quits. OK, maybe we don’t need to rehash all those…

Cost-plus (times based) or value discussion - which one works better for your agency?

When I was putting together the new agency guide to pricing digital marketing, I made a conscious effort to call it exactly that - a pricing not a costing guide. I grew up in agencies that talked about ‘cost proposals’, ‘costing projects’, ‘cost to client’ and spreadsheets that had cost against each deliverable rather than ‘price’. In putting the new guide together, I referred back to two existing project budget workbooks that are on Smart Insights. But I refreshed them and renamed the line items from cost to price. Why am I reinforcing point this so much? Because if you start with the idea of ‘Price’ and not ‘Cost’ (Time + Materials + a markup) you are on the way to actively thinking about how your agency makes money – by providing value to clients (and therefore earning a…

Review where your marketing agency is at and the next steps you should take with our new tool

A question I have been asked when I work with agencies to grow their digital marketing services is ‘how can we benchmark our approach to growing our digital services?’ To answer that I have used the excellent benchmark framework that Smart Insights has used for other areas. These one-page templates let you quickly review where you are on a five point scale (from laggard to market-leading). You can spot gaps in your approach to transformation and your capabilities.

The services transformation matrix

I divided this particular benchmark matrix into two areas: Your ability to grow with existing clients or to attract new business to any and all digital marketing services. Your ability to service that work effectively and profitability. The specific digital services you might offer (from site design and build to SEO to social media community…

Follow Michelangelo’s lead and turn a daunting task into a work of genius by planning strategically, collaborating with stakeholders, and using your resources

Great marketing and great art have a lot in common. After all, marketing without art is just mkeing. To create something meaningful in either field, you need to be creative, innovative, and able to connect with your audience — all while being business savvy, on brand, and aware of the market in which you’re operating. It’s no easy feat, but great art has a long history of engaging people and capturing their imaginations: just think of the countless pilgrims who have flocked to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa since it went on display there in 1797. As marketers, we know how essential that kind of engagement…

If you're trying to market an agency, these 7 resources and our 'Marketing your Agency' guide will help you

Where do you turn to, to check your Agency’s new business framework is as comprehensive and potentially as effective as it could be? Well if you're reading this, then Smart Insights is one of those places. But there are other ‘new biz’ coach or consultancy voices out there with lots of experience to share. So I thought it would be useful in this post - that accompanies our recent guide about marketing your agency  - to share a few of those with you.

[si_guide_block id="103432" title="Download Business resource – Marketing your agency effectively " description="A best practice guide with case studies and checklists on how to effectively market your digital agency."/]

Marketing an agency

As part of my work with agency clients, I talk about taking a structured approach to raising their profile,…

The Marketing Minds series share real-world stories from marketers showing how digital marketing has helped them develop their careers or businesses.

Marketing Mind:

Sharlene Lopez I am the founder of a branding agency that supports health tech startups define their purpose and grow their tribe for long-term sustainable growth. I am passionate about creating a world that is inclusive and equal. Eye catcher works with brands to achieve this. We empower founders and impassion teams to fulfil the brand's mission through mentoring, building bold brands, and crafting change-making communications. LinkedIn | Website

What is your background in Marketing, and how did you come to be in the position you are in now?

I have worked in many aspects of marketing, from promotional marketing to sales, to research to communications. I am CIM trained but the best education has been over 20 years…

Get FREE marketing planning templates

Start your Digital Marketing Plan today with our Free membership.

  • FREE fast start guides to review your approach
  • FREE digital marketing plan templates
  • FREE alerts on the latest developments

Need help with your Digital marketing strategy?

Get more from your digital marketing with in-company or remote training and consultancy from Smart Insights

Get FREE marketing planning templates

Start your Digital Marketing Plan today with our Free membership.

  • FREE fast start guides to review your approach
  • FREE digital marketing plan templates
  • FREE alerts on the latest developments