Few industries are more competitive at the moment than social media marketing. Agencies are popping up left and right, and it’s often difficult for newer ones to generate enough business to keep the doors open. In order to succeed, you need a plan for winning over clients.
In order to understand the challenges new startups in the social media space face with lead generation and client acquisition, let’s look at a simple illustration involving two fictional companies: Company Alpha and Company Beta.
Company Alpha sells a widget that costs $1.99. The widget is a brand-new product that’s never been seen before, but the company has no trouble generating early business.
Company Beta is in the business of social media marketing. It sells three packages of services, with monthly subscription fees of $399, $999 and $3,000, respectively. It finds it nearly impossible to close any leads.
The irony is that Company Alpha sells a product that’s brand-new to the market, while Company Beta sells something that most clients are already familiar with. Why, then, does the first have so much success, while the latter can’t earn any business?
The biggest sticking point is the price. It’s easy to get a customer to try a product that only costs $1.99. If the product is terrible, they’re only out a couple of bucks. No harm, no foul. Company Beta, on the other hand, is selling something that’s exponentially more expensive. As a result, prospects feel more comfortable working with proven companies that have a track record of success. This pushes startups to the back and makes it challenging to stand out.
In other words, it’s the lack of experience and value (real or perceived) that holds many social media agencies back from success in their early days. In order to win over clients, you have to clear these hurdles.
You’ll often hear business leaders and entrepreneurs talk about the advantages of being small. They talk about things like flexibility, simplicity and focus. And while all of these are helpful, none of them matter if you’re incapable of attracting clients and generating business. Unfortunately, the competitive nature of the social media niche makes it hard to onboard those first few clients.
Here are some tips to get you moving in the right direction:
- Under-promise and over-deliver: You’ve probably heard it before, but there’s a saying in business that you should under-promise and over-deliver. This typically leads to low expectations and enormously positive results (even if you miss the mark).
- Understand your value: What is it that you bring to the table? In other words, why should a prospect choose you over the competition? You should be able to answer this question without hesitation. If you’re having trouble justifying your value, you need to return to the drawing board.
- Meet face-to-face: The nature of the social media niche is such that most agencies pitch clients remotely. (Email, phone and videoconferencing are the most commonly used methods.) If you really want to make an impression on prospective clients, meet them face-to-face. A face-to-face meeting makes a statement. It shows effort and transparency. In addition to making a presentation and setting aside time for a question-and-answer session, hand out print materials that explain your service offerings and what you do. “In an age of PowerPoint and email, there’s something powerful about tangible presentation materials,” Printing Center USA explains. “Being able to hand a physical representation of your work over to a prospective client helps them see it for what it is: A thoughtful, high-quality product that can take their business to the next level.”
- Nail pricing: There’s nothing worse than speaking with a client and not being able to talk specifics with pricing. You need to be confident in your pricing strategy. Otherwise, you’ll find it difficult to be taken seriously. Here’s a quick guide to help.
- Partner with other businesses: If you don’t offer enough value to attract clients on your own, you may need to find other businesses to partner with. “This can start very simply. Just sit with a notepad, identify who your target clients are and write a list of the other services they might want or need—services that you don’t offer,” digital marketer Matt Caspell writes. “For example, when you’re looking for social media clients, it’s likely that they have websites that require design and development, search-engine optimization, a blog they need content for, pay-per-click ads to drive traffic and so on.” By partnering with these businesses, you can increase your value offering and make a more positive first impression.
Winning over social media clients requires ambition and finesse. In the early days (especially), you have to communicate value, establish trust and convince clients to take a chance on you. By implementing the tips highlighted in this article, you’ll find it much easier to gain traction and experience positive results.