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Why Cold Outreach To Agency Clients Isn’t Working Like It Used To

Written by: Kristen DeGroot, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Kristen DeGroot

If you’re annoyed at the cold outreach that floods your inbox and distracts you from your work, the brands you are doing cold outreach to are likely just as annoyed. There is a serious need to revamp lead generation at agencies. With agencies being a dime a dozen, brands have many options.

Businessman applying for a loan at a bank teller.

So, how will your agency generate leads without cold outreach? As the CEO of an agency that grows agencies, I gave up on cold outreach long ago, and my agency is better off for it. This means I have lots of insights to share derived from my experience generating leads for my agency and my clients’ agencies.

Why cold outreach is no longer effective

With cold outreach, you first have to sell someone on the need for your service. And then you have to sell them on your agency, leading to a long sales cycle. If leads come in more organically, they’re already aware of your brand and at least have an affinity for the services you offer. Something to remember about modern-day clients is that they’re very self-sufficient. They will seek out information and reviews about your agency before they actually want to talk to you.

So, instead of doing cold outreach, your agency needs to leave a trail of breadcrumbs all over the internet that a potential client can stumble upon and end up on a path to your agency.

At the end of the day, our inboxes and LinkedIn messages get out of control so quickly. It’s frustrating, and you don’t want your agency’s cold outreach to be a source of frustration. That doesn’t land clients. So ...

3 things to try instead

Come in from the cold and generate warm leads to reduce the sales cycle and win more clients. When generating agency leads, I consistently implement these three things.

1. Lead magnets

A lead magnet is a “hub” for all your lead-generation efforts. It’s simply something of value housed on a landing page with a lead capture form.

Usually, a lead magnet is in the form of an industry report, e-book, webinar or white paper. The key with lead magnets is to be strategic in your choice of topic so that the people who download it are self-identifying as having an affinity for your agency’s services.

For instance, I did this lead magnet for Ads By Untitled on what consumers want from brands on TikTok. Since Ads By Untitled is exclusively a TikTok agency, the report got thousands of views from brands wanting to improve their TikTok presence.

2. Thought leadership

Brands are willing to pay more if they think an agency has expertise in their industry. The best way to demonstrate your expertise is through thought leadership (as written about on my company’s blog). There are several ways to become a thought leader, including:

  • An active social media presence.

  • Guest posting on publications your target audience follows.

  • Hosting webinars.

  • Publishing your own data.

  • Joining HARO and providing quotes for high-profile publications.

  • Reaching out to relevant podcasts to tell them you’d like to be a guest.

  • Networking at in-person and online events.

  • Joining LinkedIn groups.

  • Applying to speak at conferences.

If you want an example of good thought leadership, check out Perk Copywriting’s blog and how the CEO leverages his copywriting expertise.

3. Leverage social proof

Social proof speaks to the modern-day customer that you’re trying to reach. The fact is, brands do want to hear about your agency, but they don’t want to hear about it from you. They want to learn about a third party’s experience working with your agency—we call that social proof.

First, you need to earn social proof. Second, you need to leverage it.

To earn social proof, a little incentive goes a long way. You can start by identifying your happiest clients, then emailing them to ask for a testimonial, a social media shout-out, participation in a case study, or a referral in exchange for a gift card.

Once you’ve earned social proof, it’s your job to get eyeballs on it. Incorporate your third-party endorsements in your email marketing, on your website, on social media, and in marketing materials. One of the best websites I’ve seen in terms of how it leverages social proof from clients is Bruce Clay Inc.’s homepage.

If you don’t nurture your leads, you’re wasting your time

Generating leads is a great start. And with the three strategies I just outlined, you’ll be generating a lot of leads in a short amount of time. But your job isn’t done yet.

Often, leads need a little nudge to convert. I do this by putting every new lead into a “lead nurturing sequence” to convert them into a client. This sequence usually consists of three thought leadership emails to establish trust and credibility, followed by a light sales email to schedule a free consultation.

I’ve seen so many agencies make the mistake of putting in a ton of effort to generate leads but dropping the ball when it comes to nurturing them. What a waste!

Final thoughts: Are you ready to ditch cold outreach?

Cold outreach isn’t just ineffective, it actually annoys most of the brands you reach out to. However, there are three effective ways to generate leads—just be sure to nurture them strategically. Brands need agencies but they don’t need their inboxes flooded. Think outside the box, revamp lead gen at your agency and enjoy the influx of new clients.

What are your thoughts on cold outreach? I’d love to read your insights in the comments below!

Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and visit my website for more info!

Kristen DeGroot Brainz Magazine

Kristen DeGroot, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kristen DeGroot is the CEO of The Campfire Circle, an agency for agencies. She has been helping agencies grow for over a decade. Kristen has an English writing degree so a lot of her strategies that she implements for her clients are content driven. Basically, Kristen grows agencies so that agency owners can spend more time on what matters: Doing awesome client work.



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