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How To Manage a Thriving B2B Agency in Tough Economic Times

Successfully managing a marketing agency has never been an easy task, and has recently become even more difficult in these tough economic times. That said, B2B agencies that can steer their way through this current minefield will be in a great position to thrive once the economy is in full recovery mode. As the CEO of a mid-sized, B2B search marketing agency, I’d like to share a few thoughts on ways to improve your odds of navigating through these difficult times.

Focus And Differentiate

Being able to differentiate your agency is critical to success, especially in today’s climate. Specialization helps to create a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and distinguish your company against the competition.

The past two years have reaffirmed my firm’s commitment to serving the B2B market place. Our focus on B2B search marketing solutions definitely limits the pool of eligible companies we serve, but also provides a competitive advantage over general marketing agencies and firms that try to be “all things to all people”.

Specialize Based On Expertise & Clients

Specialization is reflected in an agency’s people; their skills, experience and expertise. It is reflected in the firm’s proprietary technology and processes, and it is reflected in the company’s client roster.

Take a look in the mirror to determine if in-fact you do have a specialization that perhaps you’re not even yet aware of. Sometimes, by simply looking at your customer list you will see a trend that can be defined as a specialty.

Another enabler might be the background and experience of your staff. Perhaps several employees have deep experience working in specific markets like software, hardware, or manufacturing.

Successful examples of marketing agency specialization include B2B, education, finance, travel and luxury goods.

Expand Your Service Offering

It’s and old sales adage that the more products and services you have to sell the better your chances of selling something. Consider the iconic Fuller Brush salesperson saying, “Well, if you don’t need a toothbrush today… how about a hair brush?”

By expanding into complementary products and services you can increase the revenue received from each existing client. i.e. “Do you want fries with that burger?”

Offer Complimentary Services

In the world of search marketing, if an agency (or company) implements only SEO or only PPC — the most obvious expansion strategy is to add the other core service. This allows you to better serve customers through the integration of related services and capture a larger share of total marketing budget.

Additionally, several search marketing shops are adding web-development services in the form of landing-page and microsite development, testing, and conversion improvement services. This is a strategy that my firm started to implement several years ago. Conversion services are now a major component of our offering and a solid point of differentiation in the marketplace.

Our expansion into post-click, conversion services has proven to be successful because in addition to providing a new revenue stream we are also able to increase client satisfaction and improve overall marketing ROI by increasing website conversion rates.

Other areas of expansion for the B2B search marketer to consider include:

  • Reputation management
  • Integration with CRM and lead management systems
  • Optimized copywriting to support SEO efforts
  • Advanced result reporting such as competitive tracking
  • Content development to support blogging and other social activities

Survive Today. Thrive Tomorrow!

Past economic cycles clearly demonstrate that businesses that survive in a down economy are in the best position to thrive once recovery begins. By implementing strategies today such as specialization and expansion you increase your odds of future survival, growth and success.

A focus on B2B search marketing solutions coupled with a commitment to conversion improvement services is one agency’s approach to this strategy.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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