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Why Cold Calling Is The WRONG Advice For An Inbound Marketing Agency

Posted by Mike Lieberman on Aug 30, 2017 1:06:00 PM

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AND 6 Better Inbound Marketing Tactics You Can Start Doing Today To Get New Leads Immediately

Inbound Marketing AgencyI just watched an hour webinar from the sales consulting crew at HubSpot. The session was on the virtue and application of cold calling and warm calling for agencies trying to grow their inbound marketing companies.

Having worked with hundreds of agency owners I know where the advice is coming from and I know why it’s being delivered. Over the past few weeks I’ve received many emails and calls from owners who responded to the new Biz Dev CohortI know getting new clients is one of the most strategic pain points for agencies trying to grow. 

However, I don’t think making cold calls to prospective inbound marketing agency clients is the right advice nor do I think it sends the right message to the very people you’re trying to help understand inbound marketing and how it works.

In today’s Square 2 Marketing blog there’s more content on why cold calling remains a challenging tactic for anyone to execute regardless of training and skill.

The question now becomes what CAN an inbound marketing agency owner drive new client opportunities while you’re waiting for your inbound marketing programs to start driving business. Folks, there is a lot of good news here. There are a lot of tactics you can execute that fall right in line with what you’ll be talking to your clients about.

Here are some inbound marketing agency new business development options for driving leads TODAY!

Speaking Opportunities, Conferences, Events

Every local city has entrepreneur, CEO, marketing and sales groups. Every local city has Chambers of Commerce. Every local city has groups where your potential clients are already spending their time and those groups are desperate for quality speakers to come in and help educate their members. These local groups represent low hanging fruit for agency owners and they represent very low risk speaking opportunities if you’re intimidated by this type of content delivery.

If speaking scares you, start small. I’m not suggesting you try to get on the Inbound docket, or the Marketing Sherpa Conference program, or the MOZCON agenda. Yes, speaking to 1,000 people might be intimidating but speaking to 10 to 20 people should be like having a big team meeting. Consider doing a panel with another speaker. Make the content more conversational or use a Q&A formats instead of a formal presentation. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. Any way to get you and your brilliance in front of a group of people is your goal.

Not sure what to talk about? Come on! You have a great story to tell. The marketing and sales tactics they’re using won’t work anymore. Don’t be afraid to be shocking in your delivery. You want to scare them, you want to disrupt their status quo, you want to get them thinking about their businesses. Buyer behavior has changed and that’s why their calling, direct mail and trade show programs don’t produce the same results they did five years ago. Another great reason to NOT be making cold calls. Resist the urge to sell. Just be smart and after the session, when they come up to talk to you, make sure you have a compelling offer that gets you into their office to talk about their business.  

Host Your Own Event

Back in the day, we used to host a quarterly breakfast event at a local restaurant. We invited local business owners and CEOs to learn about marketing. We typically got between 10 and 20 attendees, spent about 90 minutes talking to them about the changes going on in marketing and spent around $200 for the food.

The event usually converted two to four attendees into sales opportunities and we usually turned about half of those into new clients. If you’re ok making cold calls with an interruptive (yet helpful) message you should be thrilled making calls inviting CEOs to a breakfast meeting on the future of their company’s marketing and sales. Call 50 people and you’ll be sure to get at least 10 to show up. Promote it with email, promote it with the restaurant and promote it with local business organizations. It works like a charm.

Account Based Marketing

This is going to be a little different. I like to call it inbound in an outbound package. This won’t produce leads overnight, but you can start working on this immediately and it has the potential to produce some high-quality leads once you start executing it.

First, know who you want to target. What companies and what people in those companies? I think for most of you, local companies are going to be a better fit than large national brands. Keeping it local will play into your differentiation and most people like hiring local firms. You’ll need to know the people at those local companies too. Social media is a great way to identify the individual targets. Keep this number to 50 or below to start.

Next, create a message that disrupts their status quo, connects with them emotionally and positions them as the hero in the story you want to tell. Build a series of emails and social outreach assets that tell your story. Here’s an example of a partial email or social connect message.


The Harvard Business Review recently published that 90% of CEOs say they won’t respond to any type of cold outreach. How are you adjusting your sales and marketing approach to deal with this dramatic shift in buyer behavior? Here’s an article [LINK] that outlines how you might be able to adjust what you're currently doing and exceed your revenue goals. Let me know if you’d like to continue the conversation about your company, your goals and how we might be able to do something similar for you.


Mike Lieberman
Chief Revenue Scientist 
Square 2 Marketing 

You might need six to ten of these messages before you finally break through and you need these crafted and ready to go. Once you get the connection and then engagement, meaning they request the meeting, now your sales process proceeds as designed. But sending out 10 of these once a week makes much more sense than making six cold calls once a week. At least in my opinion.

Paid Ads, Social Paid and AdWords

AdWords campaigns have always been a little borderline for me. People are searching and you’re buying your way to the top of the listings instead of earning your way up so perhaps it’s a little of both, inbound and outbound. If you use content, create a landing page, and deliver that content in the context of your prospect’s challenges you should see new visitors to your website landing page in days not months.

If you have solid bottom of the funnel offers on those pages or you use your ad campaigns to promote your bottom of the funnel offers then you can create sales ready leads this afternoon. Yes, you’ll need a budget to support the campaigns, but we’ve ran successful Facebook campaigns for under $500 a month and successful AdWords campaigns for under $1,000 a month—it can be done.


Infuencer MarketingIf you’re ok calling one potential prospect then you should be ok calling someone who can put you in touch with thousands of potential prospects. People who write for popular blogs, people who manage targeted LinkedIn Groups and people who manage large communities of prospects are influencers who with one call or some active email outreach might be able to put you and your content in front of their entire audience in one afternoon.

This has the potential to drive a lot of new visitors to your site and if your site is good, if it has the right content and if you’re clear about why anyone would want to do business with you—you can find a lot of new prospects in short order.

Yes, targeting influencers is like the old PR effort of targeting editors. You have to stay on them, you have to get to know them and their writing style. You should get to know their agenda and their editorial calendar but once you cut through the clutter, prove you’re not trying to sell anything and that you have high quality content that their audiences are going to love—you’re in. Once you’re in, you can use this audience regularly to drive leads for your agency.

Affiliate Marketing

We’ve had a lot of success collaborating and partnering with affiliated associations. Vistage is a great example of an organization filled with CEOs, COOs and business leaders. By creating a relationship with them, we provide content to them and they distribute that content to their members. That content drives visitors to our website and those visitors convert into leads. Again, one to many produces bigger and more scalable results than one to one.

And since these people are asking for our information, we know its inbound, it’s not interruptive, we’re practicing what we preach and any conversations that come from this type of marketing are initiated by the prospect—not by us.

The best advice I can give you is to invest time and money into your own inbound marketing. The flow of leads into your shop is a constant stream of opportunity. If you don’t have this you’re working from a disadvantaged position. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get the results you’re looking for. Keep in mind, you’ll make mistakes. We sure did. But you’ll learn from those mistakes and your program will improve after those setbacks.

If in the meantime you need leads today, the tactics outlined above give you a much better opportunity to create something scalable, something inline with the advice your giving your clients/prospects and still produce opportunities for new business in the short term.

Newly Launched BIZ DEV COHORT - We have an active and growing Cohort dedicated to business development. Click here to schedule 30 minutes with me and I'll share the ciriculum and advantrages the cohort is offering agency owners.


Start Today Tip – I know you have a lot on your plate. Get new clients, take care of current clients, pay the bills, hire and fire. It can be overwhelming. But marketing and sales should be at the top of the list. You must create time to work on your own marketing and to refine your own sales process to the point of it being exceptional. Instead of putting aside one hour a week to make six cold calls, put one hour a week aside and secure speaking gigs, reach out to influencers, connect with people who control associations that include your target prospects and start doing some highly effective and targeted outreach via email and social media. Your hour is going to produce much better results than the one “live” conversation you might actually get to have from your cold calling efforts.

Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping Your Agency GROW Beyond ALL Expectations!

Topics: inbound agency new business development, new business development

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