You know I like to answer common questions with this blog and you also know that I like to use those questions as a basis for content strategy. One question that I almost never get but I know you all want to ask is “How do you get leads for your clients?”
If you’ve spoken to me personally and asked me this question, you also know that most of the time my answer is, “You already know what to do, the tactics are all the same, we all do exactly the same thing, we just do it in a different way.” So after all those vague and side stepped answers, I’ve decided to lay it all out for you, step by step. I hope you’re not disappointed.
Marketing Strategy Must Come First
Every agency who is struggling to get results probably isn’t doing strategy and planning correctly. To do this right it takes 2 months. To do this right you have to ask hard questions of your clients and challenge their thinking. To do this right you need to understand how the marketing tactics connect to the marketing strategy. If you know this—then you know you should never start doing client tactics without a solid marketing strategy. Another major mistake inbound agencies may every day.
Connect All The Disparate Tactics
The days of siloed marketing are over. Search, content, web, email and social media all have to be perfectly connected with a thread of messaging and stories. If you miss this connective tissue the program falls apart and won’t generate results. This is the second biggest missing piece in most inbound programs. There are efficiencies and a dramatic lift in performance from using all your tactics to send out your client’s marketing messages. Call it integrated marketing if you want, but inbound programs are integrated differently than traditional marketing tactics. Think this through as part of your planning exercise and lead gen gets much easier.
Blogging Gets Visitors
The more you blog, the more visitors you get. This assumes you’re blogging correctly with search engine optimization, content planning, marketing messaging, stories, differentiation and website strategy in mind. Yes, blogging is much more complicated than you might think and much more complicated than any of our clients think. Write for humans but keep the search engines in mind and please make sure your clients see a dramatic uptick in blog subscriber numbers. It’s very frustrating to be putting so much time into blogging if no one is reading it. Make sure that early promotions are focused on getting blog subscribers.
Optimize All Sources Of Visitor Traffic
If you need more visitors, then you need to optimize all the sources of traffic. Organic, referral, email, social media, direct and yes, maybe even pay per click. Most agencies focus on a couple of sources but to drive dramatic results you have to work on all of them. By working on all of them, you’ll go from 5% a month in incremental website visitor growth to 20% a month and that over 12 months can be the difference between success and failure for an engagement.
Content Converts Visitors Into Leads
Blogging drives visitors, content publication drives leads. If you need more leads, you need to create more original content. Make sure that content has variety. No one wants to choose from 10 different whitepapers, no matter what the persona profile says. Reuse original content to impact referral sites and drive new visitors from social and other websites. This generates backlinks which improves rankings. This is another example of how interconnected all the tactics are today and as you can start to see, if clients are only paying $4k, $5k or $6k a month you’ll never be able to profitably produce content month in and month out.
Commit To Monthly Program Optimization
I don’t care how good you are at inbound, no one gets the program right on day one. Make sure you’re planning budget and time to optimize the performance every single month. This is valuable time that the client needs to pay for and valuable time for you to be working with your team to point them in the right direction. Look at this, work on that, analyze this, run this test, see if you can improve this number. That focus needs to be built into every engagement.
Set Goals And Work Towards Those Goals
Goal setting is not for the client. It’s for you. Your team has to know that there are performance expectations around inbound. They have to know what to shoot for and what to do if they fall short. Yes, the client needs to see this and yes, this helps clarify the difference between their expectations and your reality but goal setting is primarily to focus your team on what moves the needle.
Educate Your Clients Ever Day
Except the fact that this is new for almost all your clients. They don’t know inbound like you do and they definitely don’t know what you and your team are doing every day, so make it a priority to constantly educate them on what you’re doing, why you’re doing it and how it’s going to help them get to their business goals.
Pick The Right Clients
This might seem obvious too, but if it was we all wouldn’t have war stories about our worst clients. It’s better to be picky upfront and turn down business than it is to take everyone and worry about it later. Bad clients are a giant suck on profitability, team morale, resources, and your attention. It’s better to be smaller with less client than bigger with more bad clients. Take it from me, I’ve been both.
Charge Enough To Get Them The Results They Expect
If you remember anything from this article, please remember this. We all undervalue our services. We all charge too little for what we’re doing and it’s an epidemic that is costing all of us millions. Clients who want dramatic results, need to pay dramatic retainers. Clients who want fast results, need to pay even bigger retainers. Based on my experience most clients expect results in around four to six months and if that’s the case, then you need to charge them $10,000 a month minimum so you can do everything you need to do to generate those results.
Hire The Best People
Don’t cut corners here. Interns can’t handle a $10,000 a month engagement. Kids right out of college can’t go toe to toe with a CEO and explain why they should stop telling you what to do and trust that you have the experience to get them leads. You have to invest in your team. You have to hire great people and you have to show them how to run your inbound programs.
You’re going to read this and probably say to yourself, “I’m doing all that.” Maybe you are doing all this but maybe you’re doing it differently than we’re doing it. That’s what I was trying to say in the beginning of the blog. When you write down what you need to do to get clients leads, it all sounds very straight forward. It’s hard to capture 10 years of experience running inbound marketing engagements and an inbound marketing agency in a 1,000 word blog article.
You have to develop a feel for it. You have to know how to tell the perfect story to the client at the perfect time to get them to move forward. You need to know how to mentor your consultants so they come off as confident and not arrogant. It takes hundreds of experiments to know exactly how much lift you get when you move from three blogs per week to five per week in the technology space. It’s because of all the gray area that I answer the question so vaguely and it’s because of all this gray area that I stand by my motto—if you’re not ALL IN ON Inbound, you’re not going to ever be all in on inbound.
Start Today Tip – You can start evaluating everything you do in comparison to what I wrote above. But the facts remain, if what you’re doing is producing results, then you’re doing the right stuff. If it’s not than you need to be able to quickly change what you do to produce better results. The faster you can adjust and deliver and operationalize that adjustment when it does deliver is the difference between success and failure for inbound agencies. That’s what you need to be good at, the rest will fall into place.
Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping You Go ALL IN ON Inbound!