How Marketing Agencies Get Clients

Want to know how marketing agencies get clients? It’s referrals. Our research shows that about one-third of new business comes from referrals. It’s easy to see why. They tend to happen organically (aka: owners don’t need to do much work to get them). Their baked-in social proof leads to higher close rates than other sources. And they’re often for services well within your wheelhouse.

Unfortunately, referrals are far from reliable. To consistently grow a digital agency, you must build out dependable sources of new business.

Understanding how your marketing agency can get new clients is key to your long term success. When you’re busy putting out fires for current clients and handling day-to-day operations, it’s easy for your own business development efforts to become a low priority.

Ready to put your strategy to the test? Our strategic audit takes a full look at your current plans and ensures all your efforts are lined up for success. 

Client Concerns Marketing Agencies Face

Sales-related challenges were the top concern for owners in our 2021 Digital Services Outlook. We partnered with the Bureau of Digital to perform the annual study with the goal of providing a high-level understanding of the digital services market in 2020 and gauge owner expectations for 2021. More than 100 digital agency owners participated in the study. They cited everything from building sales pipelines, to moving up market, to generating more predictable revenue. Clearly, client acquisition is a hot topic.

How Marketing Agencies Get Clients

The No. 1 way marketing agencies get clients is that they become their own client. You already have a process that works for your current clients. What would you tell a client if they asked you how to get more work? Use that same advice for your own business. Follow your process with the same amount of thoroughness that you would for your clients. Below are some of the ways to get your agency’s name out there and grow your client list.

Use Your Knowledge for Promotion


It’s easy to start feeling like the things you know about digital marketing are common knowledge. But it just isn’t the case. Think about how you can use what you know to get in front of more potential clients. For example, what are the common questions in your industry? What do clients always ask you about, or where do they commonly need help? Take those topics and turn them into blog posts, webinars, online courses, or even free products. 


“Sales is not about selling anymore, but about building trust and educating.”

Siva Divaki


Not only will you help people with information, you’ll also establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry. And you’ll promote your business to each person who reads, watches, or participates. In short, you’ll solve problems while getting your brand’s name out there.

Multiply Leads with Partnerships

Is there a company or organization with services that are a natural fit to partner with yours? If so, use those partnerships to produce content, host events, etc., and multiply the leads for both organizations. The only catch with partnerships is that they need to be mutually beneficial. All groups need to get something positive from participating in the partnership. 

Some successful partnership options include a marketing agency partnering with a dev shop that can more effectively execute the technical aspects of projects. Or a PPC shop partnering with a design shop. Partnerships that bring additional expertise allow both firms to take on larger projects.

The types of partnerships you seek out are dependent on your revenue generation strategy.

Partnerships with established, service-adjacent companies are a great option if you’re trying to move up market. With these, it’s easy to co-create content around your expertise that’s distributed to both audiences. This type of partnership lets you leverage their brand position to demonstrate your abilities while allowing them to provide additional unique content.

If your goal is to break into new industries, then partnerships with industry organizations can be effective. These most often take the form of blog posts, webinars, or podcasts. 

Embrace Content Marketing

You’re already using content marketing strategies with some of your clients, but are you using them for your company? Businesses with active blogs get 55% more web traffic than those without. And content marketing costs 60% less than other marketing tactics but creates three times as many leads! 

If you aren’t already posting blogs and videos on your website, now’s the time to start. Potential clients are using the internet to determine who they do business with. Don’t miss out on the chance to reach them there.

Launch a Newsletter

There’s a reason that it seems like every company has a newsletter right now. They work! More than 90% of people in the U.S. use email every day. Marketers who use email newsletters to communicate with audiences see significant revenue increases. This information isn’t new to you, but it’s tough to find time to compile a regular newsletter. Consider what’s realistic for you, content-wise. Could you post at least daily on social, weekly online, and monthly in a newsletter? That’s a great start!

Show Up on Social

More than half of the world uses social media every day. That’s almost 4.5 billion people! Don’t miss the opportunity to meet them where they already are. You know you need to be active on social media for your brand. If you’re not already, figure out how to work it into your routine. 

If you don’t have a social media strategy for your organization, you know it’s past time to create one. An active social media presence will pay dividends for your agency. 

More than half of the people who use social say they use it to research products or services. It’s another excellent way for you and your brand to become more well-known. Also, if you start producing more online content, you’ll have more to share.

Solicit Referrals

People are more likely to do business with a company if a trusted friend or colleague suggests the contact. Happy clients don’t mind helping you grow your business, they just don’t always know how. Ask current clients to write reviews or recommendations that you can put on your website. Or ask them to fill out online reviews for your company in a place that really matters. Your Google My Business page is an excellent place to display these. Then they serve as bragging rights plus aids in SEO efforts. 

If you have a few clients willing to go the extra mile then have a high-quality video produced. There are services like Lemon Light that you can use and are more affordable than you think. Then you have a show piece for your website, social or to use in your sales process. 

Don’t forget to encourage them to refer your services to others they know who also need marketing help. People likely won’t think to help you with referrals unless you ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say no, but they’re unlikely to if they have a positive relationship with you and your company.

Show Your Work

Showing work

People don’t want you to tell them how great your work is. They want to see it for themselves. Your online portfolio should show what your agency can do in the best digital format possible.

Show variety in the work you display in your portfolio, but also make sure to highlight the type of work you want more of. 

Don’t want to risk clients thinking you do one kind of marketing? Highlight your various work, then do a special edition portfolio for the niche you want to embrace.

If your online portfolio is the only thing a potential client looks at, will they want to work with you? If not, it’s time to revamp it and show exactly what you can do.

Don’t Forget Potential Clients

Sometimes a “no” is just a “no for now.” Review your past lead list. Does it include strong leads that you lost track of? Are there potential clients listed there who just weren’t in the right place for your services at that time? Think about how you can check in on them with a new approach or offer. A simple “checking in to see how business is going and to let you know what we’re up to” is worthwhile.

You can do this same type of check-in with former clients. There likely are people on your former client list who left on good terms but could no longer use your services at that time. Touch base with them at a regular cadence to check in and see if you can partner again.

How Promethean Research Can Help  

How do marketing agencies get clients? You apply the same advice you would give your clients to your own business. A huge key to increasing your client roster is improving your reach by making yourself and your brand more well known. Want to know if you’re taking the best steps for your business? Are you spending your time and resources in the most effective places?  Contact Promethean Research for help creating data-based decisions on how to move your agency forward and accomplish your goals.

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Get your copy of The Pattern Report. A detailed look at 84 digital service companies. 94% owner respondents. Results from North America to South Africa. This is how digital agencies, consultancies, and creative firms are not just surviving 2020, but adapting and thriving

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