Building an engaged online community should NOW be a core responsibility of business development.
The battle for new business has moved online which makes community development indispensable in marketing your agency online. Knowing how to build an online community has become an important skill-set for those charged with agency new business. Community development comes before business development.
How to Build an Online Community of Prospects
1. Create a Niche Blog
For over eight years, I’ve recommended creating a niche blog for agency new business and have helped create over 200 personal blogs for agency principals.
A personal blog can provide small to midsize agency owners a perfect platform to create positioning of expertise which appeals to a very specific target audience. Think of it as a fishing expedition. You fish for a specific fish with a particular bait. You fish away from the boat (the agency’s website) so you don’t scare off the fish. Since it lives offsite, the niche blog can be much more targeted than the agency’s website, which tends to show a diverse client base and very little differentiation from other agencies.
Blogs focused on a specific topic and audience are more successful for a new business objective. Recently, a client won a significant national account through their niche blog, www.thestorestarters.com. This small agency, with only a creative staff of three persons, was awarded the business of helping a national brand launch 22 new stores because of their positioning of expertise as the store starting gurus. They got the work without an RFP or pitch. This is what a niche blog can do for your agency.
Last year, it seemed like everyone jumped aboard the content marketing bandwagon. But most of the content wasn’t focused on a particular theme or a specific audience. This produced a gluttony of generic content that doesn’t create appeal.
If you really want a blog to provide new business opportunities, you must pick a niche and be the expert within that niche. My blog, Fuel Lines, has created great success because it is focused on a single idea – ad agency new business. This helps to cultivate an audience that is attracted to your writing and becomes the foundation for building your online community.
Prospects are searching for expertise. The essential element of developing a positioning of expertise is to write.
2. Be Personal
From the beginning of launching my consultancy, I’ve found success by understanding two fundamental truths:
- Social media is all about PEOPLE connecting with other PEOPLE.
- PEOPLE want to work with other PEOPLE that they know, trust and like.
As agencies grow, the more faceless they become. If you really want to generate new business through social media – get personal. Learn to use social media to humanize your agency. It’s the secret sauce that most agencies have neglected.
Nothing will connect more with your readers than being personal.
People don’t hire agencies, they hire people. The person behind the agency. It’s important to find ways to show your personal side. A lot of agency principals have a difficult time doing that.
Growing your personal brand is made much easier through social media.
3. Really Know Your Target Audience
My approach allows you to quickly define your target audience, engage and get to know them. How?
a) By Creating Content
I can intimately attest how difficult a consistent writing program can be. But, the reason that I’m such an advocate are the many benefits content marketing provides. It makes new business more focused and much easier than the interruptive type tactics of the past, such as cold calling.
One of the primary benefits of content marketing is that it can provide an organized system to personally get to know your prospects. But you must be willing to provide the time and resources to do it the right way.
b) By Creating Value
Here’s a crucial tip for building your online community of prospects: Stop trying to sell your agency. It’s not about touting your credentials, capabilities and case studies. You will never build an audience without value.
Value is simply being of service.
You identify the needs of your potential clients and then create and share information that is relevant to their challenges. You must be willing to share your expertise freely.
This is the secret of success in social media and growing your personal brand. Spend more of time thinking about them than about yourself.
You won’t be valued if you are constantly touting your agency’s capabilities, accomplishments and awards. It’s not about you or your agency, you must stay focused on the challenges and needs of your audience.
c) By Creating a Direct Connection to Your Agency’s Brand Leader
As spokesperson-in-chief, your skills and experience in social media has become even more important.
Prospective clients expect to have direct connections to the agency’s brand leader. As an owner, you should communicate through social media to help your agency appear more human and to create a strong emotional connection with those you are trying to reach.
Traditional corporate communication is beginning to give way to social communication.
Agency principal’s communicating through social media provides an efficient and effective way to be accessible. The time has arrived for social media to become an expectation for agency leaders.
For additional help, check out my article on How to launch a blog for ad agency for new business — fast!Build a Community for Ad Agency New Business