How to develop an agency marketing strategy.
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
As an agency founder you understand the importance of marketing. No matter whether you’re a digital, design, events, or full-service agency, in some way big or small you impact your clients’ marketing.
So, you know the need for a solid marketing strategy and plan for your own agency brand. But your top team are busy delivering for clients and if you’ve got a marketing function already, while brilliant at the execution, they may not be experienced enough to design a multi-channel strategy that delivers on your business goals.
Plus, your agency has been your baby for so long, you’re too close to it. It’s hard to uncover and articulate your true purpose and unique positioning.
Here is how we help agency founders do just that. Follow these steps yourself or give us a call if you need support along the way to develop a sound marketing strategy and plan for your agency.
It’s crowded out there. With a low barrier to entry there are new agencies setting up every day with little to differentiate one service provider from another. What we offer as agencies is broadly the same.
Before you even think about marketing tactics and channels you need to carve out your position in the market.
What do you stand for?
What is your purpose and reason for being?
What makes your agency’s approach unique?
What challenge do you solve?
And who do you do it for?
The first element of your marketing strategy requires you to go right back to basics and consider all these things. This is exceptionally tricky to achieve when you’ve been working in the business for so long and have little time to give it the head space it deserves.
We like to use Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle as starting point, but there are plenty of models to try on for size.
We help agencies uncover their Why, How and What. You can read more about the art of authentic agency positioning here.
If you’ve distilled your agency’s purpose, you’re already winning! That’s when you can move on to your messaging. How does your positioning live and breathe across everything you do, including all your marketing communications?
Your messaging articulates your positioning to the external world. This is when you can get creative with tag lines and web copy to bring your unique brand positioning to life.
We often see agency founders get bogged down in the detail here, moving words around, trialling never ending options, working in an echo chamber away from their teams and clients or worse still in death by committee.
Stay focussed, try not to overthink it and bring in external support if you need to.
Your agency’s content pillars are next. These are high level themes that bring your positioning and messaging to life.
We tend to select three to four per agency to guide your content marketing. Every single piece of content you create or marketing tactic you employ should ladder back to your positioning and content pillars.
These differ for every agency. For some their pillars may be an evolution of their values, for others it’s about their way of working or the challenges commonly found in the industries they serve.
They must be significantly broad to allow you to craft a range of content, but tailored enough to feel entirely authentic to you, your team, and your target clients.
Your content pillars are purely internal facing. They guide you and your marketing team to develop content ideas, tactics and campaigns that will help you cut through the noise with your prospects.
Once your content pillars are in place holding up your positioning, your content ideas should flow easily. Everything you develop now will ladder neatly back to your positioning, messaging, and content pillars.
Your content ideas should take many forms, from simple blog articles and social posts through to more labour-intensive research projects, speaking opportunities and lead magnets.
Your content must reflect your agencies services and what you sell to clients. If you’re a video production agency and you’re not using m video, there’s something very wrong!
Some of your content ideas may hit multiple content pillars, if they do, then great! But if you’re struggling to see how your content will fit into your new strategic marketing framework, then it’s back to the drawing board.
This is a great time to get the wider agency involved in taking ownership for your marketing and contributing their ideas.
Tactics and campaigns
This is where so many agencies start their journey to creating a marketing strategy, right near the end. But only now we can bring your content ideas to life.
The tactics you employ and campaigns you build will be hugely dependent on your marketing budget, internal resources, external suppliers and crucially, your target audience.
You can extend the life of your content ideas, stretch them across multiple channels, carve them up into bite size social chunks and fuel 1:1 meaningful conversations with your clients and prospects.
Your choice of tactics and campaigns will also be selected based in your goals. Brand awareness in a new niche or industry will require a different approach to generating top of funnel MQLs (marketing qualified leads) or adding value to your current clients.
This is where you develop a channel strategy, mapping out which channel will serve each of your target audiences and what its purpose is.
From here, go on to think about what is truly achievable across each channel on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
So, now you have your marketing strategy. But to make it a reality, you need a timed marketing plan.
Timed marketing plan
The timed plan keeps your internal teams and external suppliers on track. Map out your strategy into a calendar: week-by-week and channel-by-channel.
Make sure you build in national awareness days that speak to your content pillars and industry moments so you can augment your proactive planned activity with relevant reactionary content too.
You can build this in a Spreadsheet or better still embed it within your existing workflow software such as Click Up, Trello or Airtable. It’s more likely to be populated and used by the wider team if it’s somewhere they can access.
This document should be referred to on a weekly basis. As deadlines and priorities naturally shift throughout the year, you will need to update your plan accordingly.
So now you can crack on. Get going and make some impact. Build in regular measurement and reviews throughout the year to make sure your marketing strategy and plan is resonating, achievable and adding value.
There’s no point in doing something just because it’s always been done that way. Iterate and evolve if you need to.
You should have everything you need here develop your agency’s marketing. But if time and resource is still hampering your progress, give us a bell.