Building an agency from scratch already requires considerable time and effort. Scaling doubles the toll your business will exact on you. You may be able to retain existing clients, but what about attracting new ones?
60% of agencies cite the issue of finding new clients as the biggest pain point for expansion. Agency expansion, however, doesn’t have to be intimidating if you follow these steps:
1. Know Your Client
Update the client personas you have. Consider their goals, pain points, the solutions they need, and how they conduct their business when working with agencies like yours.
Another key topic in understanding your client is their buyer journey, which can be separated into 3 stages:
- Awareness — They know they have a problem but don’t know how to solve it yet
- Consideration — They know what they need to do but are considering different tools and solutions
- Decision — They are deciding on which agency they want to work with to best accomplish their goals
By triangulating these factors, you’ll close in on what your clients want and how you can better provide solutions for them.
2. Have a Strong Portfolio
It’s critical that you build a rock-solid portfolio that shows exactly what you can do for prospective clients. A strong portfolio strikes the balance between showing diversity and expertise:
- Diversity — Show them a broad range of brands that you’ve previously worked with.
- Expertise — If a potential client is in, say, the health industry, highlight the relevant parts of your portfolio that show how you can help in this space. This is also beneficial if/when you’re ready to niche down.
A portfolio like this also doubles as your social proof, as you’ve undoubtedly gained positive testimonials from current and previous clients—all of which you can post on your website.
3. Refine Your USP
Your agency’s USP should be the guiding principles as you grow your business. You can improve it in two ways:
- Finding your niche
The more obvious way of refining your USP is by concentrating on a core aspect. It can be laser-focusing on a set of solutions (e.g. website design and branding), catering to a particular audience (e.g. health industry), or doing both to corner a hyperspecific market (e.g. web design for health businesses).
Once you’ve locked your niche down, reinforce your USP in every piece of marketing material to make your message stand out and stick to your prospective clients.
- Expanding your agency offerings
More services and increased capacity help attract new clients. You don’t necessarily have to go beyond your agency’s field of expertise. Your agency can, for instance, focus on health businesses and offer full-stack options that include UI/UX, branding, graphic and digital design, content marketing, and SEO.
However, expanding your agency’s offerings, while a definite way to stand out, entails additional resources for you to actually deliver the additional services. You need to train your current staff, hire new ones, and dedicate time until they can get up to speed.
If you think that your agency is not yet ready to increase headcount, while you see the opportunity to expand your services, outsourcing can be a more cost-effective solution. This can come in the form of freelancers, agencies, design marketplaces, or flexible design services like Design Force. They will work as an extension of your team to help scale your design production, so you and your team can better focus on core strategic work. And for solutions like Design Force, you can even avail of on-demand subscription plans, which makes it even more accessible.
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4. Conduct Lead Generation
Instead of waiting for clients to find you, actively look for leads to grow your business fast. We recommend exploring these online avenues:
- Q&A websites and forums — Look for questions tackling issues your agency can solve, then answer them with how your business specifically does it. You can also post questions yourself and promote your agency with sponsored posts.
- Social networks — Similar to Q&A sites, the main idea is to genuinely want to solve issues that people post about. Also, make sure that you only join groups where your target audience will most likely be (e.g. Facebook is good for any niche, LinkedIn is best for B2Bs).
- Open directories — Browse directories like YellowPages, Manta, and Yelp using their filters to narrow down your search by location and industry to build a list of potential leads.
- Events — Online conferences present networking opportunities much like in-person events.
5. Promote Yourself The Right Way
Self-promotion has to be done tactically to maximize your reach without overstepping boundaries, especially when you’re trying to establish genuine connections with leads:
- Ask for reviews/testimonials — Ask your clients to leave a review of your agency on trusted sites like Clutch, The Manifest, TrustPilot, Hubspot, and Agency Spotter to prove the legitimacy of your business.
- Ask for referrals — Good relationships with existing clients can afford you to ask them to refer you to their networks.
- Seek bigger platforms for promotion — Guest blogging on popular sites or guesting in podcasts are tested methods for reaching a bigger audience.
- Blog about your niche — Populate your site with content that’s helpful to your target audience, effectively displaying your expertise in your niche.
Audience Connection Leads to Agency Expansion
The throughline for all five tips is that you need to communicate to leads that you hear them, whether it’s presenting a portfolio that resonates with their needs, providing a specialized service for their particular problems, or joining industry-influencing conversations. By doing so, you’ll be able to present an agency that is human, approachable, and dependable.
Bolster your agency offerings with the help of our on-demand world-class designers. Meet your Design Force team today and let us show you how it works.