We are in the middle of a heatwave in Ireland, and as temperatures soar, we are all feeling the effects of that unfamiliar yellow ball in the sky searing down on us for days on end. As any sensible person will know, we need to protect ourselves from overheating, but when it comes to inbound marketing, many agencies don’t cover themselves and run the risk of getting burnt – both as a company and by clients. Here’s some of the more common mistakes inbound agencies make that see them lose their cool.
You wake up in the morning and look out the window. It’s already sweltering. Common sense would dictate that it is only going to get hotter, so you shouldn’t make plans to conquer the world and try to do too many things at once.
It’s all about having realistic expectations regarding what you can do, and in inbound marketing, this applies to your agency’s goals, and those of your clients. Internally, hoping to see instant growth will leave you overheated and exhausted. You have to be realistic about the timeframe, cash flow and financial investment required to realise your growth plans as a modern agency.
With clients, if you promise the world, they will expect you to deliver it, which leads to disappointment and a loss of business.
Clients must be made aware from the outset that inbound marketing takes time, and that the steady approach will work much better than diving straight into a multitude of tasks. Think of sun cream – if you spread it too thin, it won’t work well. The same thing applies to your inbound agency.
What you need to do for clients is set out a clear path towards success, or as we previously put it, a map to climb the pain mountain, to show what you can do to overcome the challenges they face, and produce the results they are looking for. But you must also outline clearly the timeframe involved, the types of figures they are likely to see, and when they will see them.
Having a new client expect instant increases in sales will only lead to disappointment all round, so explain the process around content creation for lead generation, how you plan to nurture leads to qualify them and bring them down the conversion path, etc, and just as you need to reapply sun cream regularly to avoid getting burnt, repeat the mantra that the process will take time.
Set priorities for your agency and your clients, rather than trying to do everything at once. Do you need to write more content to rank well in search? Increase social media presence? Improve the sales process? Create better email campaigns? Identify the most pressing needs or most promising strategies, and take care of them first.
Giving It Away
Ice cream sellers will be doing a roaring trade in this heat, but if one of them is willing to give away free cones for a day, they will be hard pressed convincing punters that they should pay for them the next. The same goes for inbound marketing agencies.
If you provide any services, or even advice and expertise, you must be willing to charge for it. After all, your advice comes from your experience and skills, so it is a valuable commodity you have worked hard to earn. Why should somebody else benefit from it for free?
Often, in order to try to win a new contract, agencies will offer a free consultation or advice, but this can quickly spiral into daily requests for more and more work, none of it deemed large enough to charge for, until it really gets out of hand and takes up too much time: Time that could be spent on paying clients.
Sure, you want to be there for your clients, and help in any way you can, but you also need to outline in your SLA what is in scope, what the charges are for each specific service, and how much they will be expected to pay for ad hoc consultations, or extra work done.
Every piece of work you perform for a client is worth something, to them and to you, even before they sign a contract, so put in place a pre-retainer sales model that will help your agency bring in funds from the get-go.
Not working together
The majority of us will head out to the beach or a park to enjoy the sun, and will need to bring the sun cream with us. But what do we do when we need to apply it to those parts we can’t reach ourselves? It makes sense to have someone else do that for us, and vice versa, in a ‘you pat my back (or apply sun cream to it), and I will pat yours’ scenario.
Your inbound agency needs to work in the same way. Chances are, you have people with different skillsets, and they must work together to make your agency a success. This needs to be ingrained in the agency culture. Your project manager needs to work well with your content creators, and your sales team needs to work with the marketing team with a ‘smarketing’ approach that means they work together for a common goal.
Rather than facing the chicken and egg scenario in the sales and marketing mix, they need to work to an agreed strategy that identifies the potential clients and buyer personas they want to attract to generate leads, the right CTAs and offers that will turn them into qualified leads, and the best way to convert them into paying customers. It’s about providing the right people with the right content at the right time, and then closing the deal with an effective sales process.
We don’t get many heatwaves in Ireland, so it is important to enjoy it while we can, and it is also important for inbound marketing agencies to make hay while the sun shines, as the saying goes. By setting realistic expectations for yourself and for clients, outlining a comprehensive service and scope model for every contract, and working together as a fully-formed inbound marketing team, your agency can stay hot, without getting burnt.
Discover what we can do to help your inbound agency or your company succeed by booking a call with Clodagh, our expert inbound sales and marketing coach at Get Focused: