We're theGrowth Partneryou're looking for, not just an advertising agency
We were originally founded as a typical digital marketing agency, focused on selling digital media and billable design hours...
But as more and more companies sought us out to help them grow, two truths emerged that forever changed our approach:
1. Advertising never comprises more than 30% of a business' new customers
2. The majority of a company's new clients come from referrals, business development strategies, and other non-advertising sources
So to create scalable growth, we started developing non-advertising-related strategies that not only worked but outproduced a typical advertising campaign by up to 3X, creating millions of dollars of new business for our clients, above and beyond the performance of any advertising campaign.
This realization led us to develop one of most growth-centered approaches of any marketing agency within California.
We’re amarketing agency to some of our clients
We’re also a CMO if you needbig growth
To help companies create big growth, it requires us to wear the hat of an outsourced CMO (chief marketing officer). This approach gives us greater visibility into a company’s customer acquisition channels, their business development outreach, and similar strategies with the goal of developing/refining new methods of outreach, their implementation, execution, and optimization. In other words, we become our clients’ growth partner, focused on increasing the lifetime value of their customers and also decreasing the cost of acquiring customers.
The success of our CMO service is reliant upon gathering as much relevant data as possible, understanding the client’s organization, services, goals, and competition. Then we outline all of the potential customer acquisition channels and with the client in the room, we hold a series of meetings we refer to as the Marketing Summit.
In our Marketing Summit, we come up with a viable idea for all 20 client acquisition channels, and then we rate each idea based on it’s impact, confidence of its success, and its ease of implementation. The top scoring ideas then become the basis of a phased marketing plan.
For more insight, here’s an outline of our Marketing Summit:
20 client acquisition channels
There are many ways to create customers. So we've invested thousands of hours to identify every client acquisition channel, ideas that are currently working for each one, and we’ve listed them below. It’s important to point out this is not an exhaustive list of ideas for each channel. Instead, we provide one or two initial ideas designed to get you thinking about how it could work in your industry, targeting your potential customers.
1. Business development
For many companies, there’s often a handful of relationships that bring in the majority of the business. From businesses that offer complementary services referring clients back and forth, to incentivizing an external sales force to include your product or service, business development strategies are often responsible for over 60% of a company’s sales revenue.
Do you know which business partnerships and local businesses bring you the most amount of customers? Do you actively make relationships with new businesses? Do you analyze your customer base to determine which ones are your most valuable customers and why? Do you take action to activate similar customers that aren’t spending as much?
If not, then you’re probably wasting money on advertising! This is because creating a business development strategy that involves other stakeholders is more difficult than simply spending money on ads.
Yet, the biggest reason to invest more time in business development is that these strategies drive the majority of a company’s sales. In other words, very few companies get more than 30% of their business through advertising, so it’s very important for a company to develop multiple client acquisition channels.
So your business absolutely can and should invest time and money in cultivating better and additional business relationships.
2. Referral programsThe best form of advertising will always be word-of-mouth, and the most successful businesses grow by focusing on two simple things: Increase the lifetime value of a customer Decrease the cost of acquiring a customer This is why referrals are a business’ secret weapon since they do both: they increase the value of each customer as they refer their friends and family, and since they don’t cost anything, they decrease the overall cost to acquire customers. While this all makes perfect sense, very few businesses have created dynamic referral programs that comprise over 40% of their business. Referral programs can be very high yield and low cost, even for service based businesses. But how can small businesses, contractors, and law firms create referral programs that work? The best referral programs start when you first onboard your customer. You then make them feel like a part of your family, and when its appropriate, ask for a referral. This is the pre-digital approach to referrals and while somewhat effective, our strategies take this into the 21st century. We often start by creating targeted outreach with IP address targeting. Google & Facebook retarget but they routinely delete your customer’s data. So we use third-party analytics software like Kissmetrics to store your customer IP addresses, allowing us to hypertarget your customers with digital ads. In addition we reinforce the message through emails and even direct mail. This is a great way to tastefully stay in front of your past clients. The ads can even promote how your company gives back to your community, recent projects, and any other relevant achievement that allows you to remain relevant to them. This is a cutting edge referral process, and we’ve never seen another company managing a referral process quite like the one. That’s why it’s not uncommon for a business utilizing this referral program to increase it’s number of customers by 40%, year-over-year.
3. Public RelationsDid you know that a lot of reporters ignore PR firms and prefer to talk with business owners directly? You can reach out to reporters yourself and offer tips, market predictions, and other advice that they can quote in their articles. You can also author your own feature article. Help a Reporter Out is a great way to connect with the reporters who are actively seeking your expertise. They pose a question, and you answer. You can also get success from targeting smaller news outlets. For example, American Apparel targeted the smaller news and media outlets that TechCrunch got their news from. Then TechCrunch ended up writing about them, and after that the New York Times contacted them for a story. PR is pivotal for two reasons, it brings your company a lot of free exposure, and it also legitimizes your service or product since it appeared in a well-known publication.
4. Unconventional public relations
What’s another word for unconventional PR? Publicity stunts!
Publicity stunts can go amazingly right ad result in a ton of business for a small investment, or horribly wrong, like paying homeless people to wear t-shirts.
Hipmunk, a travel site, combined customer appreciation with a publicity stunt when they sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first 500 people who tweeted about them. The ALS ice bucket challenge resulted in $115 million in donations and press coverage that lasted for years.
To be successful with a publicity stunt, it needs to be surprising but it should also incorporate your core message as a business.
5. Content marketing: social media ads, display & video ads
When was the last time you clicked on an ad and bought something? Yeah, it’s been a long time for us, too. But most people click on ads when researching a potential purchase. And this is where content marketing rules!
Content marketing lets you build up trust with an audience so that when they are ready to purchase, they want to purchase from you. The goal with content marketing isn’t to become internet famous, but to be omnipresent to the right people—your target audience.
For example, you could take a 1-minute long TV commercial and break it into 15 second versions so that your target audience sees four or five videos ads from you over a span of three months.
Jumping straight into conversion-focused Google ads can be risky. Many times, you need to build trust and awareness first, and content ads on Facebook are a more affordable way to make sure your bottom-of-the-funnel Google ads convert.
6. Search engine marketing (SEM) ads
SEM ads are the text-based ads that appear at the top of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. These ads are highly effective because you can target people searching for keyphrases that are highly relevant to your business. So the ads only show up to people looking for your service in real-time. The ads can also be geo targeted to zip codes, cities, or states.
However, SEM ads are very expensive, and it can be hard to get ROI from them if you use them all on their own. In other words, it often takes 3-5 clicks to get a potential lead. So if every SEM click costs $15 (for example), you’re paying quite a bit of money to get the phone to ring. That’s why we typically use Facebook or Instagram ads to generate interest because these clicks are much less, then we retarget this traffic with SEM ads since it makes more sense to pay more per click if a person is closer to becoming a customer.
7. Offline/traditional ads
Everybody wants to talk about digital marketing, but guess what? Billboards and radio can still make sense for a lot of businesses like personal injury attorneys and credit unions.
For example, a personal injury attorney often works with people that were recently hurt. So there’s no way to target someone on Google or Facebook that’s about to get hurt! Or if you’re a bank and you’re offering a new checking account, about 70% of the population is a potential member so how can you generate the most amount of views for the least amount of money? This is why traditional advertising is still very effective in some industries.
Bottom line, it’s not smart to throw out an acquisition channel just because it’s not trendy. That’s why we explore this channel in depth.
8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In 2020 and beyond, almost every company should invest in SEO, with very few exceptions. The reason this acquisition channel is so universal is that if people can’t find you on page 1 of Google search results, you don’t exist to your potential customers.
That’s a scary position to be in for many companies. If you don’t have an SEO strategy or if your current strategy has stalled out, we urge you to stop ignoring SEO. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Foundational SEO tactics include:
- Targeting relevant keyphrases
- Including optimized meta data and alt image tags on every page
- Optimizing website structure and load speed
- Improving internal page linking
- Updating your listings in online directories
- Creating high quality backlinks
- Fresh content on the site, often times this can be blog posts
9. Email marketing/marketing automation
About seven years ago, a statistic came out proclaiming email marketing as the most cost-effective form of marketing with $1 leveraging $40. Since then and millions of boring email marketing campaigns later, this kind of return is only available to the top 3% of email marketing campaigns.
These top-performing campaigns have segmented their email recipients into many different groups, based on their goals. The content they send them is extremely specific, and based on their online and/or purchasing behavior.
Marketing automation (or pre-written, sequenced emails) are then layered on top of this, enabling a series of communications to be triggered automatically. This is designed to get a conversation started that eventually leads to a conversion.
For businesses that don’t have thousands of recipients, they can seek out industry-specific bloggers, associations, and other communities that have thousands of followers. Then they can send emails to this new target audience, usually for a small fee. In just about niche or industry, there are email partnerships available to you.
10. Viral Marketing
Want to go viral? Of course you do! Just because the majority of videos that are made to be viral never go viral, there are some proven ways to get more organic shares for your content. The best way to do this is with the use of humor.
Check out this example, “Things Accountants Don’t Say,” produced by viral video marketing expert Katya Varbanova.
You should first define what ‘going viral’ means. For example, if you’re a business attorney, you’re focused on targeting successful business owners. Since successful business owners represent less than 5% of the population, you can create a video that targets them and goes ‘viral,’ yet your video only gets 200,000 views. That can still be considered a win considering how small the target audience is.
What makes ‘going viral’ so attractive is that people will share your video with their friends for free. So instead of paying thousands of dollars on YouTube or Facebook to reach a targeted audience, people share your video and you reach your target audience for much less. This translates into higher ROI for your ads.
11. Engineering as marketing
Engineering as marketing comes from the SaaS (software as a service) world, but we’ve also used it with our B2B (business to business) clients.
SaaS companies—being the software developers that they are—will sometimes create side project apps and tools that serve as customer acquisition channels. For example, SEO guru Neil Patel has created a free SEO analyzer tool called UberSuggest. It shows you how well your website ranks, your competition, and potential keywords to target. Once it gives you your analysis it then upsells Neil’s SEO service by saying do you want more traffic on your website? Contact us and we’ll get to work!’
We’ve done something similar with one of our clients, a solar contractor. We created a free calculator that helps prospects generate an estimate of how much solar would cost them. There are really great SaaS tools like Outgrow that make it easy to develop quizzes, calculators, and other interactive content without custom coding.
Since most people shop before they buy, this sort of content can be targeted with digital ads with the goal of capturing an email address of someone in buying mode.
Plenty of marketing agencies will sell you their marketing services, when what you really need is a sales force.
Great salespeople handle more than sales call appointments in their day-to-day jobs:
- Business development
- Cold calling
- Going to tradeshows
Sometimes, hiring a salesperson is the first thing to do before bolstering your marketing efforts. We can help you make that call.
13. Blog targeting
Reaching out to industry & local publications doesn’t cost you anything. The only input is your time or the fee for a copywriter.
You can get free exposure in a business journal, a popular blog, or some other digital publication. This arrangement is mutually beneficial because the owner or editor of that publication needs content, and your business would benefit from the exposure. Not only can blogging on external sites bring in immediate leads, but it can also positively impact the organic ranking of your website, because this would also be considered a quality backlink.
In addition to guest blogging, you can also:
- Pay bloggers to mention you or review you
- Post content to aggregator sites like Reddit
- Sponsor blogs with advertorial-style content or dedicated sidebar ads
- Swap guest posts with relevant, non-competing companies
We help you identify whether blog targeting is a fit for you, and if so, which outlets will put you in front of your target audience.
14. Trade shows
While companies spend around $72 billion on TV advertising and $77 billion on digital advertising, closing a deal is often done face to face.
Are you investing in in-person marketing the way that you should? Many B2B companies only do business with the companies they meet at trade shows. Consider a trade show as a way to get in front of the right people, and establish a real connection.
Every company that attends a trade show needs a strategy before, during, and after the event. Afterall, many trade shows cost thousands of dollars to attend when you factor in cost of attendance, cost to exhibit, food, and lodging. That’s why it’s imperative that you make the most of your time at the event:
- Have a strategy to engage with likely participants before the event
- Capture lead information while you’re there
- When possible, get a speaking engagement at the event because this props you up as an expert in your field in the eyes of the attendees
As an example, we were a featured speaker on Google Advertising at SXSW (South by Southwest), one of the largest interactive media conferences in the world. After our presentation, we ended up securing one of our largest clients.
15. Offline events
You don’t have to be an amazing party planner to host effective offline events. You can host something as simple as a meetup. Invite different speakers monthly or quarterly, then have an informal Q&A and mingle at the end.
Meetups are a great way to get in front of potential customers in your area. Make the content relevant to what your target audience is interested in. For example, if you serve small business owners, you can invite speakers who are experts in marketing and small business finances.
Organizing and attending meetups is a great way to brand yourself in your industry which over time, always results in new business.
16. Swag products as client acquisition channel
We all like a little swag. Pens, coffee mugs, notepads, refrigerator magnets…
If your target customer is staring at your name everyday while writing their to-do list, they’ll remember you. Swag can be passed out at trade shows, meetups, and marketing events. It can also be delivered via direct mail or door-to-door.
Sure, this might not be as trendy as Instagram, but for a lot of businesses it’s a very effective branding technique.
Webinars allow you to get in front of your target audience without having to leave your office. There are essentially two kinds of webinars:
- Evergreen (pre-recorded/automated)
While webinars are commonly used in online businesses, they can also be a fit for local businesses too. For example, a CPA might host an informational webinar about how to maximize tax savings, and an estate planning lawyer may talk about ways to protect your assets beyond just the standard will.
Whether live or evergreen, paid ads can target people by interests, age, and location to get the right folks signing up.
18. Influencer marketing
This will always be one of the most effective forms of marketing because it involves building on established trust.
For example, insurance companies are all selling the same or similar coverages, so how do they stand out and build enough trust to get you to call or email them for a quote? They use celebrity spokespeople that already have an established brand in society: State Farm uses Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes, and Farmers insurance uses JK Simmons.
While spokespeople like these are cost-prohibitive for most businesses, if you’re selling a product or service with a local or regional reach, it’s often very affordable to get a recognizable and trusted face to represent your brand.
These people can be well-known in your community or on the other hand, they may have thousands of social media, blog, or podcast followers. And in many cases they will post about you in their channels in exchange for a fee, free services, or free products.
No matter what industry you’re in, there are influencers who have amassed a following of your target customers.
It’s always about who you know, so you can create strong business channels by participating in networks and associations. For example, Nettra is a member benefit service provider for the Fresno Bar Association, and this has turned into a great source of leads and connections.
There are likely nearby events, communities, and associations that are relevant to your business. We can help you identify which ones are fit, and how to engage in a way that prioritizes impact over effort.
20. Guerilla tactics
Guerilla tactics focus on standing out in ways your competition isn’t. This involves coming up with some out-of-the-box ideas designed to ‘tastefully’ get you noticed and eventually, new customers. Guerilla marketing usually focuses on highly creative direct mail and brand activations. A brand activation is when something is placed out in the wild, like a makeup brand doing quick, free makeovers in Union Square in San Francisco.
This can work for local businesses and service firms too. Guerilla tactics can include (legal) signs and physical advertising in unexpected places, pop-up shops, and ad hoc events. Just make sure to keep it on brand and helpful or interesting to your target audience.