Across a decade, I have been working client-side with several digital marketing agencies (both global and local ones) and I am also collaborating with a very young digital agency as a consultant.
In my opinion, for young agencies the best customer acquisition strategy pass via referrals. Delivering the best service to your current customers will dramatically increase the chances of getting newer clients via them. From my experience, specially in some sectors (Retail, Consumer Goods, even B2B) this is one of the most effective strategies.
On top of that, you would need to have your digital marketing and communication strategy sorted out. For instance:
- have a relevant, clear, SEO optimized website
- a coherent social media strategy across a variety of channels. Social Media is key to reach a broad variety of leads
- a localized PPC strategy may also work under certan conditions
- depending on budget, some digital agencies also run "guerrilla marketing campaigns".
Happy to provide more details in case you are interested.
Having effectively run a young digital agency as well and growing revenue by over 400% within 6 months, I will share what worked for us.
Word of mouth remains your best customer acquisition channel. Referrals paved a way for us in an industry that was already overcrowded.
How did we achieve this?
We did three things.
1. Niche Marketing: We offered our services strictly to the growing startup community in our city. This tightly knit community who watched each other's moves closely began to notice our work on other startups and reached out to achieve same results. We spent $0 on marketing at this point just by doing this.
2. Free! Free! Free! - Give out free items but be strategic about it. A unique way we applied this was by finding influential business leaders within the startup community and offering them our service for free - A free explainer video.
Who says no to free stuff? Most of the CEOs and founders we reached out to were 'delighted by the honor'. In turn they became our brand advocates as they were very pleased to tell other people about us, most especially at speaking events.
This strategy alone accounted for 40% of our revenue.
3. Brand Positioning: This strategy is the most effective. It hinges on the idea that by making your agency an expert in a certain field, you make your agency a lead market.
People like to share their problems with experts who they believe know and understand the problems best.
You can easily do this through many ways, here are some unique ones:
1. Industry thought leadership Articles.
2. Gaining massive press exposure (Everybody wants to work with the popular brand)
3. Distributing Free guides on topics your target audience cares about.
I hope this helps.
Are you referring acquiring clients for your agency or customers for your clients? I assume it's the former as the later would obviously vary greatly by clients. As someone who spent 7 years on the agency side including identifying, pitching, and winning new business as well as currently on the client side (being pitched), I would say networking is going to be your most effective tool from both getting your foot in the door and not breaking the bank. Go to conferences, events, etc but don't buy a cheesy sales booth. Just make natural conversations and when appropriate, chat about how you can help and present it in a way that minimizes risk for the clients (first 30 days free, cancel anytime, etc). Just don't be too salesy :)
I have a lot of experience in this area especially on the brand side knowing what I'd want to hear if I'm being pitched. Feel free to schedule a call with me to chat further on this!