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The Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME agency owners

Business development is essential for every company, whether they are Coca Cola or Bill’s Web design down the road. Developing and growing your agency as an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) brings with it its own problems and issues, whether it be embracing technology, finding a consistent flow of ideal clients, or attracting the right talent so you can provide a good quality of service.

But where do you start if you want your agency to grow? Well, that’s the million-dollar question and one that I hope I will be able to help you answer over the course of this article.

Let’s get started with our Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME Agency Owners. 


Avoiding Feast or Famine

I spoke about the ‘feast and famine’ cycle in a previous article (which can be found here) so I won’t go into great detail here. In short, ‘feast and famine’ is the cyclical nature of many businesses as they go through waves of success followed by lean spells.

The ‘feast’ part of the cycle is when times are good. Everyone has plenty to eat and you become preoccupied with serving existing clients to the detriment of marketing your agency and new business and to the detriment of your future agency.

The ‘famine’ comes when the clients dry up or a project ends. And the kicker is, this isn’t always easy to foresee – clients can end projects for many reasons and projects may end due to unforeseen issues completely out of your control.

It’s in a time of famine that most agency owners start to exert the most effort as they dedicate themselves to rekindling their order book through hard work and determination... which, with luck, can lead to another ‘feast’. But it’s also in a space of famine where agencies make bad decisions such as discounting their services or taking on any kind of client just to get money coming through the door and sadly this type of decision-making ensures that the feast and famine cycle repeats.

But the ‘feast and famine’ business cycle is not sustainable and very stressful for you and your team, and all it takes is one extended ‘famine’ to push even the most robust company to the brink of extinction. This past year’s COVID-19 pandemic is a great example of how unforeseen events can cause extended lean spells for everyone.

You may be asking how you can avoid the ‘feast and famine’ cycle. Well. I spoke in detail about this in the article mentioned earlier (here) so head there if you want a full break down.

The one thing I do want you to take from this section is that ‘feast and famine’ can and should be avoided. Make sure you have short-, medium-, and long-term plans and keep your head straight: don’t become complacent during good times. Keep those clients happy, keep focused on new business, and the money will keep rolling in.

If you would like to learn more about avoid

feast or famine then sign up for my

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development


Avoid “The client service hamster wheel of doom”

The client service hamster wheel of doom is all too familiar to many agency owners and it goes hand in hand with the ‘feast and famine’ cycle.

When times are good and you are feasting on the spoils of your success, servicing clients can become a vast black hole of time and effort. Multi-tasking becomes paramount and you seldom have time to think about your agency’s future, which is vital if you want to avoid famines and develop your company.

But eventually, the client you’ve spent so much time and effort on will sail away or the project you’ve worked hard on will finish. What now? The famine is fast approaching, and you’ve had little time to plan ahead or develop your business to succeed beyond right now.

So how do you avoid the client service hamster wheel of doom (catchy, right?)? How do you keep clients happy while ensuring you develop your business to keep the wheels turning and food on the table? There are a few things, that you can do to avoid this particular challenge, including:


Don’t be afraid to say no – You want your clients to be happy but there has to be a line in the sand. Being accommodating is one thing but being a pushover is another. Learn to say no when you have to (and teach your team to). Obviously, do it in a professional, polite way with reasons. Most clients will understand and be totally fine with it. It’s all about having clear boundaries and not just jumping when clients say so!


  • Define the scope of your relationship with the client – Make it clear from the outset the type of relationship you will have with your client. Give them clear indicators of how you work. Don’t lead them on into thinking you will jump through fiery hoops into an abyss when they ask if this is something they are not paying for!
  • Define the scope of the work you will do for your client – Again, make it clear what you will do for your client in terms of work (and therefore what you won’t do). Don’t be vague or lead them into thinking you will do something (to win the business) that later on you either can’t or are reluctant to do. Define the terms of work clearly and make sure your clients understand and sign-up to them.
  • Ring fence time to focus on the future of your agency (let’s call this strategy) – Don’t just say you will do this when you have time but rather set aside time on specific days where you will focus on strategy (i.e., planning, product development and business development). Schedule your clients around these times and be unavailable to clients when you are in your ‘strategy time’.
  • Get clear with clients the difference between a ‘standard’ service (i.e., what is included in the scope of work) and an ‘extra’ (i.e., something they will have to pay for) and if for whatever reason, you decide to do an ‘extra’ for free then make sure the client understands the value of it and that this would normally be charged for (and therefore will be charged for in the future).

The 3 components of business development

Of course, knowing that business development is vital is only half the battle. The other half is successfully implementing ongoing strategies that allow your agency to grow no matter what the current circumstances are.

How you do this is important because flailing around with various strategies with no game plan will prove fruitless, time-consuming, expensive and stressful!

Any successful business development plan will need to address 3 key components (click for more detail):

1. Marketing

2. Sales

3. Client retention & growth

And finally...

 

Business development as an SME agency owner can be challenging but it is essential to deliver controlled growth.


Make sure you do two crucial things that will ensure success:

1. You work out your best business development strategies to engage with your ideal target customer.

2. You ring-fence time every week in your diary to focus on these business development strategies.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME Agency Owners. Have a look around my website for many other useful articles and free eBooks to help you with your continued controlled growth.

Feast or Famine

Download your "How to avoid Feast or Famine" ebook

A step by step guide on how to avoid the feast or famine cycle in your agency.

Creating an Exciting and Motivating 2021 Plan for Your Agency

You don’t have to be a visionary entrepreneur to understand that a business plan is vital for your success. And with the new year just getting started, now is the time that many marketing agencies look at the year ahead and begin to ponder what the future holds.

But while dedicating time for forward-thinking is a good idea, understanding that planning is a whole year process (and more than a finance plan) is important if you want to be successful.

What is a business plan?

A business plan is a formal document containing all the goals of a business, the tactics they plan to use to attain these goals and the timeframe for the achievement of these goals.

It may also describe the nature of the business, give some background information on what the agency does, give the financial situation of the business and list its financial projections, and detail any strategies it intends to implement to achieve its aims.

In basic terms, a business plan is a road map for the business that gives it direction.

Why so many business plans fail

There are many reasons why a business plan may fail, from unrealistic expectations to inflexibility. Let’s have a look at a few in a little more detail:

Not having an all-year-round strategy

I hope that all agencies plan ahead to a certain degree. But how many have a plan that is both flexible, adaptive, and re-visited throughout the year? For most businesses, creating a plan of action is a once-a-year occurrence, like setting a new year’s resolution. But just like new year resolutions, business plans are often too rigid, too short-sighted, or too unrealistic in the first place, and lack the depth to outline HOW the plans will be delivered. To stick with the resolution metaphor, it’s ok to announce that you’re going to lose a bunch of weight this year but without a strategy outlining HOW you will lose the weight, it is likely to just remain a failed pipedream.

In business, setting lofty goals once a year seldom works. Stating that you’ll increase productivity by 10% without taking into account staffing fluctuations or saying that you’ll sell £x by the summer without realising that this is a quieter time of the year, will only lead to failure.

A good business plan will offer both short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies which are both flexible and adaptable when necessary. But even more importantly, it will have designated review points where goals can be assessed and amended, based on what you know today that you didn’t know yesterday.

Not planning for every eventuality

To say that last year (2020) was a hell of a year would be an understatement. Even the most prepared business couldn’t have foreseen the issues faced. But the question is, should they have? Yes, COVID-19 was a bolt from the blue, but if your business isn’t prepared for every eventuality then your plans are essentially pointless.

Disasters happen all the time in the business world. Economies falter and the bottom can fall out of any market at any time.

If you want your business plan to work in any economic climate, then it must plan for every eventuality, and that means making your plans nimble and dynamic rather than casting them in stone.

Too narrow focus

If your business plan only focusses on a few areas of your business, then it simply won’t be comprehensive enough to be successful. For many businesses, money and staffing are the two main priorities when looking at the future. And while revenue/bank balances and staff are important, they are by no means the only things you will have to think about in the future.

For your agency, it’s important to factor in things like your products/services, your target customer, your comms strategy, and the systems and process that underlie your ability to grow.

Overly ambitious financial projections

For a business plan to be successful it must have realistic financial projections. Projecting too much revenue will lead to shortfalls and not taking into account costs, including things like staff pay rises and the increasing costs of materials, can see your business plan fail at the first hurdle.

Failure to delegate

We all need to focus on our special ‘superpower’ and yours as an agency owner, is to create the vision, share it with the whole organisation and ensure it is delivered.

However, if you are constantly sucked back into client delivery and stuck on the client service hamster wheel of doom then you will never have the time to deliver the plan.

This is an issue that many agency owners face since clients want them to work on their account. So if you want to ensure you deliver your vision for the year you need to delegate.

I’ve included a link to one of my popular e-books on best practice delegation. You can grab it here.

What you need to include in your business plan

agency vision

One way I like to think about a business plan is as a journey that you and your team will go on over the coming months and years.

Look at it like planning a trip to the south of France. Think about all the things you need to take into account to make sure your journey is successful. What is the end goal (getting to France)? How are you going to get there (car, train, plane, ferry)? What are the costs of getting there? What pitfalls might befall your journey (getting lost, car breakdown)? Are there times where you might need to revise the plan (stopping for children to go to the loo, extra costs for food)? Think about every eventuality and plan for it.

A business plan is no different and the questions are the same. What are your goals? How are you going to achieve them? How much will this cost or how much revenue will this generate? What could go wrong? If you have answers to these questions, then your plan will be more accurate and have a better chance to succeed.

Knowing where to start with a business plan can be one of the hardest parts of the process. To help you get started, here are a few things to think about when creating your own business plan:

A vision for the year

Every business plan needs to set out the vision for the year. In simple terms, this is the part where you state where want to be by the end of the year. If we take our trip to the south of France analogy from earlier, then the vision would be the destination: that is getting to say, Cannes. In your agency, your vision may be to attain a specific client or to move into a different type of marketing, launch a new service or break into a new market. Or it could just be to increase revenues or increase your market share. The vision is the goal.

Strategy for each quarter (or another specified period)

If the vision for the year is the end goal, then the strategy will be the road map for how you will get there. When setting out the strategy for the year the steps must be broken down into deliverable chunks with realistic time frames. If we return to our trip to France analogy, the strategy for getting to our target location, Cannes (our vision) would be to work out how we are going to get there. Should we take the train? Can we drive? Would the ferry be a cheaper alternative but take longer? Can the journey be split into different chunks, for example, a drive to Dover then a ferry before a train to our final destination?

In business, the strategy for each quarter should give an overview of the goals for that period and how these contribute to the overall vision. It should be detailed enough to know what you need to do at each stage but they won’t dive into the minutiae of the plan. It’s important for this part of the strategy to understand the need to be flexible and the strategy should account for changes in the market and other eventualities.

A detailed plan for each month

So, you have your vision, and you have your strategy for each quarter giving direction on how you will reach your end goal. What you don’t have is the details of how each stage will move you further towards your aims. To finish off our trip to France analogy, this part of the planning process will look into the minutiae of your strategy. What train are you going to catch? Which hotels will you stay in? Where are you going to get food? How will you combat issues like car breakdowns etc?

In business, the plans you set out for each month will give specific targets that need to be achieved and details of how they can be attained. It will explain what needs to be done and how any issues that arise will be combatted.

A detailed plan for each month will not only set out a road map of where you are going, but it will give you a way to come back to the plan at regular intervals to review and adapt as necessary.

In Conclusion

 

A business plan is vital for any agency. For it to be successfully delivered it’s equally important that your plan is realistic, adaptable, and easy to monitor, especially in difficult times like we find ourselves in right now. If you follow some of the tips set out above and avoid the pitfalls we mention, then nothing will derail your goals. Not even a pandemic!

My Top 17 Productivity Tools & Apps

do more

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again to do a round-up of my favourite tools and it’s been quite a change for me!

I am a big believer in using software tools and apps to help us become more efficient. Simply, by automating as many of those recurring mundane tasks as possible, to allow us to be more organised and productive.

To that and I tell my clients they need to do one of the four Ds:

and I’ve added a fifth element to this:

So in this blog, I want to share with you some of the tools that I have experimented with and spotlight the ones that have made an impact for me.  This is all about becoming more efficient and automating tasks rather than getting distracted by shiny new objects. Trust me, for everyone one tool I mention here, I tried at least 5 others! That lead me to want to share my experience and advice with you. I wasted loads of time trying tools that promised a lot and delivered little and I don't want you to make the same mistake!

Listed below are the key categories I think every business needs to look at and then the tools I have personally used.

Stuck for time?

Download this blog as a PDF short cheatsheet to read & share it at your leisure

All-in-One Integrated Tools

But before I jump into a review of my favourite tools I want to share the big change that I made this year.

I decided to try and consolidate a plethora of tools I use (many of which are listed below) to run my business, with as few tools as possible. That meant consolidating my email automation, my online content delivery, video hosting and many others, into ideally one platform.  Let me explain the rationale behind this:

Integration

This was my primary driver in that I became frustrated at getting the various tools I used to communicate with each other.  I often ended up using Zapier (and yet another cost) to try ‘tape together’ one tool feeding into another.  This was frustrating and never quite did what I needed it to do. 

Also using a set of disparate tools meant I had less analytical data to act upon. For example, if someone watched 20% video then do ACTION A but if they watched 100% of the video then do ACTION B.  With a set of disparate tools, this kind of analysis and behaviour is not easily possible.

Cost

A secondary driver was cost.  When you add up the cost of all of the annual subscriptions of about 10 different tools I use, it amounted to several thousand pounds a year.  So was there a more cost-effective way of getting the functionality I needed in fewer tools?

Based on these 2 drivers, I started exploring the options and it came down to 3 platforms:

  • Kartra ($1 for a 14-day trial and then from $99/month)
  • Kajabi (free 14-day trial and then from $119/month currently)
  • Builderall ($1 for a 30-day trial and then from $99.90/month)
 

1

Kartra 

Kartra Home Page

$1 for a 14-day trial and then from $99/month

In the end, I chose Kartra, it seemed robust, could do most of what I needed it to do and was cost-effective.

Now, I don’t want to do a full review of Kartra in this blog because there are plenty on the Internet already but let me tell you the tools I was able to consolidate and stop paying an annual fee for once I moved to Kartra:

  • ConvertKit (email marketing)
  • Teachable (online courses)
  • Calendly (scheduling)
  • Thrive Architect (website design)
  • Vimeo (video hosting)

So collectively these add up to more than my monthly fee for Kartra.  But, more importantly, because I am using the same tools on one integrated platform, each tool talks with each other in a seamless way. This makes my customer's experience a smoother one, and provides me with more analytical data.

Now before we move on, I need to give an honourable mention to GroovePages.  This is a product created by one of the founders of Kartra and is something that I have invested in, in the hope that I may be able to move everything from Kartra to GroovePages in the future (because it adds even more functionality such as live broadcasts and webinars). However, it is still in beta development so I don’t feel it is reliable enough yet to move my whole business on to this platform.  If you are interested in exploring it, whilst it’s still in beta, you can get FREE lifetime access to it.

OK so that is my rationale for consolidating a number of tools into one platform. The list below outlines individual tools and they may well be better suited to your specific business needs. I have put them into categories to help with reading.

OK on with the other tools.

Broadcasting tools

As well as recording content for my online courses, I have been running webinars and live broadcasts.  So here are the tools that have helped me get more slick, speedy and professional.

 

2

Zoom 
https://www.zoom.com/

FREE for a personal plan or from £119.90/year for teams & business plans

This doesn’t need much of an introduction since I’m sure most readers will know about Zoom.  I use it for my private coaching clients and also for my group coaching calls as part of The Self-Running Agency Programme (screen from last week's call below):

The Self-Running Agency
 
 

3

Loom
https://www.loom.com/

FREE up to 100 x 5 min videos

I still love Loom because it saves me so much time.


On a daily basis, I have clients asking me questions or asking me to review documents (I never want my clients to be stuck so encourage this).  Before using Loom I would spend ages crafting an email response.


Now I simply open their email or document, turn on Loom and review their document in real-time on camera and send them the Loom video in response. I estimate this is making me around 50% more efficient when it comes to responding to the client's emails.


Now let me tell you a secret here: often when I get prospects emailing me, rather than sending them an email back I will use Loom to shoot a short video which is personalised to them.  This is a great way of impressing them and building empathy that you can't achieve through a one-dimensional email.

 

4

LiveWebinar 
https://www.livewebinar.com/

FREE for up to 5 attendees or from £9.60/month for larger groups

I talked about LiveWebinar last year and I'm still using this for the time being for marketing webinars that I run.  However, I will be moving to GroovePages when they launch their webinar technology.


I also want to give an honourable mention Be.live - a great tool if you do Facebook lives.

 
 
 

5

Vimeo (and YouTube)
https://vimeo.com/

£192/year

As I've mentioned, I have moved my video hosting to Kartra but I'm still currently using Vimeo until my licence runs out. It is still a great platform!


I use Vimeo for short promotional videos that I may not want in the public domain. The advantage Vimeo has (over YouTube) is how you can control what the user sees and embed calls to actions etc. Vimeo also offers higher quality video.  


It enables you to remove all their branding and offers more features and customisation opportunities (such as password protection and analytics).

Design and layout tools

We all need to make sure our output is professional yet we don't want to be spending tons of money using designers all the time.  

Here are a few of my favourite tools to solve this problem.


 
 
 

6

Canva

https://www.canva.com

FREE for single-use or from £107.88/year for multiple users & additional functionality

This is great for creating social media images, eBook covers and other graphics. It is really simple to use and saves me a ton of time, especially if I start with one of their predesigned templates or image sizes. 


This year I switched to a paid version of Canva. It adds additional functionality such as resizing, removing backgrounds and animation. 

 
 
 

7

Designrr
https://designrr.io/

I use a lifetime Pro version (no reoccurring fees) that costs £90

If you create a lot of PDFs and e-books then this is a really useful tool (although you can also use Canva to perhaps more easily create some of this content).


Another useful function is that you could take a blog post and import the contents and automatically create an e-book from it.


Web development

 
 
 

8

If you have a WordPress website then this is my favourite tool to use to easily create engaging websites using lots of beautifully designed templates (however if you've read this far you will know that I have moved from WordPress from my website to Kartra).


It's a WYSIWYG builder that sits on top of WordPress and makes it super easy to create new landing pages.  It's easy to connect to your email marketing system and do other clever things such as A/B headline testing, creating demand and scarcity by using countdown timers, writing quizzes and so much more.


This is one of the more affordable tools in this category. I am a ThriveThemes member and I pay about £175 a year for all the tools and support and all upgrades. This is a fraction of the cost compared with other website building software.


External communications

 
 

9

I am still a fan of ConvertKit even though I have now moved my email marketing to Kartra.


I have used a range of email marketing automation tools over the years including MailChimp, MadMimi and ActiveCampaign but in the end, settled upon ConvertKit because its functionality met with my needs.  It is also more cost-effective and it’s easy to set up automations, (think sales funnels).  It plays well with other systems such as ThriveArchitect, Teachable and so on.

10

LinkedHelper

https://lh2.linkedhelper.com/

Free to try, then $99 / year

I am all about time-saving. In fact whilst this blog is about my favourite tools, it's all about using timesaving and efficiency tools and none are better than saving you time than LinkedHelper.


LinkedHelper is an app that enables you to automate some aspects of LinkedIn engagement (think of it as a sales funnel for LinkedIn).


So for example, you can send personalised connection requests to a targeted audience or you can send more detailed personalised messages to 1st connections.  I typically use it to find new ideal connections and also to let my audience know when I have some interesting things happening such as this blog being published or a new webinar.

Talking of LinkedIn, I also upgraded to Sales Navigator because I can drill down my search in more detail and create lists and 'tag' contacts.


Now a word of caution here: LinkedIn doesn't like these automation tools so use it carefully and don't use it to spam your contacts!

When you find a contact in LinkedIn but there is no email or phone number in that contact's profile then RocketReach is the tool to use.  

It is free and will find someone's email address if that is at all possible.

Select from dozens of search criteria to narrow your search, and then lookup personal emails, professional emails and direct-dial phone numbers for your matches.


 

12

Dictation

FREE

Here is a tip if you're a Mac user: if you press the function key twice it brings up the microphone and you can dictate voice to text (this is how I'm writing this blog).  


This massively speeds up my content creation.  But don't worry, if you're not a Mac user you can also click on the dictation microphone in Word or Google Docs etc.


This has two big advantages:

  1. Firstly, it speeds up the creation of content because it's much faster to dictate than it is to type.
  2. Secondly, it also ensures that I capture my tone of voice in my written content. This is important because I want my users to have a consistent experience whether they are reading something, listening to my podcast or meeting me in person.  Voice to text ensures that I maintain that consistency.

Finance

 

13

Xero

https://www.xero.com/uk/

FREE for 1 month, then from £10 / month

I started using Xero, which is an online finance app, some years ago to streamline my bookkeeping.

 

The thing I like about Xero is it speaks to you in plain non-accounting terms and it connects to your bank account making reconciliation very simple.


It also connects directly with my accountants, which means they can rescue me when I make a mistake and submitting my end of year accounts is much simpler than it used to be.

 

14

ReceiptBank

https://www.receipt-bank.com/uk/

FREE 14-day trial then £120 / year

Receipt bank is a sister tool that works well with Xero.


I don't know about you, but in the past I have been terrible at submitting all my receipts. ReceiptBank removes this issue by making it very easy to simply take a photograph of a receipt, which it then digitises.  


You can then submit these receipts directly to Xero -  making the process very straightforward.  This one saves me a ton of time and a ton of money!

Planning and organisation tools

15

Google Drive
https://www.google.com/drive/

FREE for 15GB storage, from £1.59/month for more

I love Google Drive and have slowly moved all my client work from my drive to Google.


This has the huge advantage of easily being able to share docs.  You can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want–no email attachment needed. It ensures that both you and your clients are collaborating on the same version of the document. 


You can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. You can access these docs anywhere, so wherever you go, your files follow.


It also protects you against a hard disk drive dying (which happened to me this year) and losing all your data.


16

I am a big proponent of getting super organised and if you have read any of my previous content, you’ll know that I am a fan of "morning and evening rituals" (thanks to Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus book).


In the process of trying to be super organised, I've tried several tools to help me manage my to-do lists.  Last year I  started using another tool (with a stupid name but a good product) called Amazing Marvin. 


I had a free trial and now have upgraded to an annual license. Amazing Marvin is a task and to-do list manager.  It integrates with my calendar and enables me to create daily and weekly to-do list.  I can cross tasks off as I get them completed (and you know the importance of seeing items ticked off and crossed out as you complete them).  


I appreciate everyone has their way of managing their time but give this tool a go!

 

17

Toby

Free to use Chrome extension

This one was a game-changer for me.


I don't know if you're like me but during the day I open way too many web browser windows and tabs.  I then struggle to find what I'm looking for so I end up opening yet another tab!


Well thankfully I have found a solution to this and now I am much more in control and have way fewer tabs opened.


And that's all thanks to this chrome browser extension called Toby (another rather stupid name!).  


This enables me to create a frequently used library of tabs and put them into various categories.  Now when I open my chrome browser the first thing I see is the library of tabs.


As I said this is a game-changer for me.

In Summary

My Top 5 Favourite Apps


  • Kartra
  • Loom
  • Voice to Text Dictation
  • Canva
  • Linked Helper
 

In Conclusion

I spent (wasted!) a lot of time researching and playing with tools and apps and I have shared with you my top 17 best productivity and time-saving tools - so you don't have to waste time searching the web and trialling 100s of tools to find the ones that work for you.  


If you have any of your favourites that I did not mention, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and please share this article with your colleagues.

Productivity

Download the Productivity Tools eBook

A quick cheat sheet of my top 17 productivity tools. 


Make sure you check both boxes below otherwise I won't be able to send you the eBook!

5 tips to improve your website

5 tips to improve website

Welcome to today’s episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

It drives me crazy that so many websites fail to truly serve their audience, so much so that I decided to record a episode of the podcast on this topic.

I recently posted on LinkedIn about this and it generated lots of opinion including some conflicting viewpoints to my own which I always love and show that this is an important topic.

If you follow my podcast or regularly read these emails you will know I am a big fan of making your website the “centre of your marketing and business development universe” and that means all of the various biz dev activities, such as email marketing and social media, should drive traffic to your website and then when the reader gets there, it should be really clear about the action you want them to take next. It also means making your website more than just 'brochureware'.

Yet most websites fail to do this.....

Instead, so many marketing agencies pay little attention to their website but rather make it look the same as their competition following the same old designs. For example, they start off by saying how great THEY are & what THEY can do for YOU! 

This is a typical website header (taken from a random agency website I found on Google):

'We’re a creative design consultancy. For fifteen years we’ve been creating and redefining brands, helping our clients stand out and be more successful'

Let's explore what is wrong with this:

1.  Your website should very quickly demonstrate who it is aimed at & show that you understand your audience so that it motivates the viewer to want to read on. So talking about what you do at this stage, is completely wrong! And this headline gives no clue as to who they help.

2.  If your website is full of 'We' then you need to change your language to make it about YOUR CUSTOMER, not YOU (at least at first).

3.  The “above the fold real estate” of your website is super valuable & you want to make it clear what you want your reader to do next. That usually means adding in a button to download something of value (e.g. an eBook, a top tips sheet or a tool) in return for their email address.

Bear in mind in this part of your website you want to show your customer that you really understand their pain points and then show how you can solve them. So for me, I might say on my website “Is your agency taking one step forward and one step back?” or “Are you frustrated that you can’t win a consistent flow of ideal clients?” or “Do you wish your staff would step up?” I know these are some of the key pain points and if a viewer were reading these and they fit my ideal target customer profile, then they would be inspired to read on because they would feel the website was talking directly to them! 

4.  Using a "subscribe to my mailing list/newsletter" or "contact us" link is a waste of time because people who don't know you will rarely jump to this stage of the sales process (and without being a mind-reader, I bet you get few enquiries/leads this way). 

Remember you need to build KNOW-LIKE-TRUST before someone will buy from you.

5.  Be clear what you want your website to be: If it’s just ‘brochureware’ then you're missing out on a great opportunity to use it as a lead generator.

As I said, there seems to be comfort in conformity, in that if you look like every other agency then it’s easy, safe and you are not rocking the boat.

But surely it would be better to buck the trend & look different, and that starts by showing your ideal target customer you really understand them and their pains (that your product or service can solve).

Useful links:

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Thanks so much.

Rob

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