I was recently one of three guest speakers at Social Media Week, running a session entitled How to build a £1m agency.
Constant Contact, a co sponsor of the event, subsequently asked me to run an extended version of this to their partners, with a focus on helping them build their small marketing businesses.
The core principles discussed are summarised below and can be applied to a range of growth objectives. For example, agencies looking to grow in new markets or agencies looking to take a new proposition to current clients/markets.
1. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-driven) goals for your business, ideally in terms of increased turnover.
For example, if your current turnover is £500k, then your goals could look like, £650k by the end of 2016, £800k by the end of 2017 and £1m by the end of 2018
2. Translate these goals into key client acquisition targets
a. Profile your current clients by
i. Market sector
v. Issues/challenges they are likely to face
vi. Solutions they are likely to need
vii. Their target demographic
viii. Retained income
ix. Project income
b. Consider who is most likely to want to work with you from these profiles (deselection of leads is as important as selection)
c. Breakdown your client gains to date by:
i. Outgoing activity (sales/marketing)
ii. Incoming client – referral/recommendation/WOM
iii. Incoming client – other
iv. Time scales involved in securing the business, from first contact to invoice (new business time scales are typically 6 months PLUS)
This will enable you to predict future incomings, thereby identifying any gaps, which you need to fill through outgoing activity
3. Once the best fit leads have been selected, determine the best way/channel to engage with them. This could be any one (ideally several) of the following:
b. Social media
Remember that people buy from people so any level of human interaction is a MUST to start building relationships.
4. Internal process/culture:
a. Make sure you have an internal process, ideally a CRM system, that enables you to record activity, log call backs etc. etc.
b. Create a new business culture, encourage and maybe incentivise your team to win new clients
c. Give responsibility to an individual or team with clear KPIs and measure/monitor/amend accordingly
d. Grade prospects according to their receptiveness/likely responses and approach them differently (for example, send out a high value piece of DM to the top 50 targets but an email or call the remaining 150)
5. Maximise meetings set – I have written numerous blogs about how to manage meetings, so have a look at these on our site!
6. Set up strategic alliances with other agencies
7. Set up formal referral schemes with suppliers/partners
8. DO NOT chop and change, give each approach time to work
9. Do NOT take rejection personally
Keep an eye out for future events – maybe you’re thinking of starting your own agency, maybe you want to expand your existing agency, maybe you just want to refresh your memory or use these events as a good networking opportunity. Whatever the reason they are well worth a visit.
If you would like to chat about your specific business development issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.