7 Behaviours of Underperforming Agencies #5 - Using Hope as a Marketing Strategy

articles sales and business development strategy and planning Dec 01, 2022

Google processes over 3.5 billion searches every day. Even back in 2019, 1.1 billion hours were spent on social media. 

The world is online. And you want to connect with them. One of them is your next client. 

But, let’s be blunt… the occasional tweet, from your rarely-active agency account (still using your old branding [joke!] ) is unlikely to get you leads. 

Whilst referrals have got you so far, over-reliance on them is a high-risk strategy for any agency seeking growth. 

Hope is not a marketing strategy 

No.5 in our series on the characteristics of under-performing agencies is a ‘cross the fingers’ approach to marketing. GYDA has asked 310 agencies to rate their performance out of ten on their marketing: the majority scored themselves at less than five… and 63 percent of businesses don’t have a documented content strategy. 

If you’re like them, read on. 


Lead the way on Leads

Inbounds and referrals can get agencies so far and, of course, a good job fosters new enquiries and a growing client base. And they count: referral leads have a 30% higher conversion rate than leads from any other channel.

But if you’re solely reliant on these referrals for GROWTH (and to cover churn) then you’re exposed. Industry changes, new competitors or - and it does happen - that one less-than-happy client who influences your reputation negatively, are real concerns. 

Lead generation, left to chance, puts control of the growth of your agency in the hands of clients, and to cope with sporadic or unexpected dips and peaks in enquiries… you need to take back this control and lead on lead generation. And this is why: 


  • You need to be able  to predict the quantity/quality of future leads to feed into your forecasting and budgeting 
  • Investors/acquirers aren’t interested in your optimism - but in a concrete, repeatable strategy that future-proofs your lead generation 
  • To deliver your business strategy, you need leads to convert: without them, strategy will falter and growth will come to a halt 
  • And, crucially, if, for whatever reason the worst happens and referrals stop… your business will die.

So, you need a marketing strategy. And that’s likely to be, more specifically, a digital marketing strategy. 


Start with Strategy


Marketers that reported they proactively plan their marketing are 331% more successful than their peers. Learn from them. 

Hiring a CMO or strategic consultant to support you in your plan is advisable, but it’s possible to do it within your team. 

Then put meat on your marketing strategy bones: detail the actions you’ll take. 

You’re going to start with zeroing in on WHO you are - your business’ purpose, aims and what sets you apart from the rest: your unique proposition, your brand’s identity. 

(Be warned: this might throw up some issues. We’ve covered the advantages of niching your offer in previous blogs, but if your proposition is weak, you’re going to be hard-pressed to dress it up via even the most inventive or compelling marketing. A pig with lipstick is still a pig!)

Once you’ve established your agency’s outward-facing identity, you want to set out who your target leads are, why they will want to work with you and set out a framework for speaking to them: in what tone of voice, how frequently, on what channels. 

In summary:

  1. Who we are, what we believe in, what we do
  2. Target audience and personas
  3. Positioning within the marketplace
  4. Multi-channel activity plan (blogs, social channels, nurturing emails, newsletters)
  5. Business as usual commitments: what you post, where and how frequently

Note: we’re yet to mention one key word… advertising. 


Beyond Banner Ads

In 1993, the first clickable banner went live, perhaps marking the beginning of the digital era of marketing… and boy have things moved on. 

Intrusive advertising - the dreaded pop-up - now seems crude… and risks actively repelling leads from engaging with brands. (A recent HubSpot survey found that 73% of respondents dislike online pop-ups with 51% of respondents considering pop-up ads to be “frustrating to deal with”.) The era of cookies is part of a raft of more subtle and sophisticated ways of targeting audiences at optimum moments. 

Advertising clearly works, though. The digital advertising industry is now valued at around $200 billion, with Google Ads accounting for 96% of the company's revenue. 

BUT… and it’s a big one: paid for advertising must sit alongside other actions and always within a cohesive strategy. Throwing money at Google Ads or even paid-for posts on Facebook will have little impact without being aligned to other content. 


Marketing has evolved. Content is king.

72 percent of marketers say that content marketing increases engagement and leads: and again, this is not haphazard posting, but planned and consistent engagement across multiple channels. 

And yet it’s more than socials: 70 percent of organisations list blog content as one of the top 5 content channels and emails have a 50 to 100 times higher click-through-rate when compared with Facebook and Twitter.

No wonder the marketing machinery is frequently sent out-of-house to specialist agencies. It’s huge. And yet vital. You will need, at the very least, a marketing manager to execute it. 


Track and Change

One of the most important aspects to a successful strategy is to realise it will evolve - it must evolve - and will do so by your team tracking its impact. 

Whilst scrutinising the analytics is time consuming, it will reveal what works and what falls flat. Your instinct won’t tell you that: data will. The experts agree: according to Google two out of three marketers state data-based decisions to be more effective than gut instincts.

Our message?

Hope less; plan more and market with meaningful content to connect to and engage with the humans you want to work with next, not whoever comes calling on a whim. 

We can help you work on strategy. Read more about what support GYDA can give you and our Peer-to-Peer learning options here: https://www.gyda.co/what-is-a-mastermind