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Optimizing Agency Growth for Today & Tomorrow

Accelerating Short Term leads by Building Long Term Brand Value

Recent articles on new business have focused on the trend of adopting Content Marketing (CM) to build your agency business.  Most agencies we speak with are either trying to incorporate CM into their new business strategy or are making the commitment to begin one.  The reason is clear: Content Marketing is a proven proactive strategy to engage your new client prospects 365/24/7.

As we all know, your prospects are in control of IF and WHEN they will engage with your agency. On the surface it seems like this puts you in less control of their journey to engage with your agency. The good news is there’s an “app” for that: with marketing automation (MA) technology you are able to monitor your prospects behavior to determine when to move into lead generation (outbound sales) to turn the online relationship into a conversation and a meeting opportunity.

So now you’ve solved the short term demand and lead generation challenge.

But is that enough for sustained long term agency growth?

The danger lies in adopting a Content Marketing strategy with short-term thinking – focused only on getting opportunities and leads, fast, due to an immediate need for client revenue.

While an inbound Content Marketing strategy will drive demand and leads for the next 6-12 months, there are other, equally important opportunities to build long term agency brand value, which will keep the pipeline filled at each stage of the buyer’s journey and increase sustained demand for your agency.

Ultimately, for both short and long term success, the CM strategy must be created in the context of the  long term objectives of your agency brand. Look beyond the next 6-12 months with this analysis:

Agency Growth – long-term parameters:

  • What is the vision for the agency in 3-5 years – and what needs to be done to build the bridge from here to there?
  • What are the new services and capabilities that will support that vision?
  • What kinds of clients will be on your roster – which are your ideal “destiny” brands that will take time to cultivate?

advertising-week

Why is this so important? At a recent conference held by LinkedIn during AdvertisingWeek in New York, the focus was on how to improve B2B customer engagement – over the long haul – by not trading it for a singular focus on the short term. Some of the insights gathered included:

Data driven technology has created an expectation that sales results can be determined with a solution that can provide a predictive ROI.  This is a very data-driven mindset, in an industry that is grounded and differentiated by leveraging creativity.  The focus on data and using direct strategies has often been at the expense of Brand building strategies to generate new business results. It seems to be an either, or approach.

Yet research has identified that success in increasing your brand’s value requires a minimum of 6-months, to 3-years to pay-off the investment.  LinkedIn’s point of view is there is a better model to drive short term results (direct) and still grow long term results (brand value), including:

  1. The optimal spending mix: 60% on brand/40% on direct
  2. Focus on reach – precision targeting is not the only goal
  3. Maintain consistency across touchpoints
  4. Re-think measurement – invest in long term brand building

The takeaway for agencies: Brand building strategies for the long term vision + content marketing for short term leads = a sustainable agency growth model.

Here are a few tips from the front lines – 10+ years of Linkergy experience – to create the foundation for agency brand building:

  • Identify what your agency’s unique position is to whom? Which brands are your “ideal” growth targets in the near future, 24-36 months from now – these are your Destiny brands.
  • Identify if your agency has current expertise to engage the Destiny brands or if you need to build a Growth Bridge Strategy to attain them. If IBM is a Destiny brand goal, but you don’t have previous experience with a leader in technology products, consider creating a short term target list with challenger brands in the category – these wins will create credibility. The short term strategy helps build your long term brand value for the Destiny brand.
  • Begin to create Intellectual Capital that further supports your insight and credibility in understanding the needs of the Destiny brands and sector. Put your money where your mouth is and invest in research, to gather intel of value to your Destiny brand/sector. (For more insight into how to develop own-able Intellectual Capital, download our WhitePaper: Fueling Agency Growth through Intellectual Capital.) Intellectual Capital provides the credibility as to why X brands should engage with you and the basis of content and a unique agency positioning.

By investing in brand building strategies you will have long term success AND accelerate the value of your content marketing strategy to drive better short term leads.

How to Evaluate the Long Term Value of your Agency Brand

For insights from the B2B space into the value of a brand, consider how the team at BrandZ/Millward Brown evaluates the brands considered to be the most valuable in the B2B space each year. Brands are evaluated on:

  • A strong brand purpose (the brand’s WHY) – following the Simon Sinek model to determine your agency’s WHY. Or leverage the Linkergy Brand Map tool (example below) – the process synthesizes the most important aspects of your agency, and what value it brings, to drill down to your agency “why”.

Agency Brand Map – Example

brand-map-tool2

  • Level of social responsibility and trustworthiness
  • Innovativeness
  • Level of Brand Love – the ability for customers to flock to brands that perform well

Don’t trade long term objectives for short term leads … driving sustainable and scalable growth is the key to long term agency success. When developing your new business strategy ensure you are driving short term lead opportunities that build your brands value.  Short term content marketing executed in context of the long term brand vision is the comprehensive new business strategy that will deliver revenues today and ensure a pipeline for tomorrow, and the years to come.

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