Finding your first customers for your agency or productized service can be a daunting task for a few reasons:
- You have no network
- You have no social proof
- You have no audience
So where do you start?
Here are a few tips:
1. Network on Facebook groups
Facebook groups are a goldmine of prospects.
Let’s take an example: Say you run a B2B content writing agency and one of your ideal customers are SaaS companies.
A quick search on Facebook groups for “SaaS” gives these results:
The best way to get ideal prospects on Facebook groups is to share value.
Share value, build relationships, get prospects.
It’s a powerful way to build your network.
Here’s a good example of sharing value:
See the engagement?
32 comments and 64 likes. And probably also several thousands of free views.
While not everyone will convert this is a great way to get yourself (and later your services) in front of potential customers.
Don’t be sleazy: Focus on sharing value and building your network first. Then get prospects interested in your services on the phone.
Another way to network on Facebook groups: Connect with prospects that are immediately searching for your service.
Here’s an example:
How would you approach this prospect?
Most will simply send a DM and say something along the lines of:
“Hey Gary, I’d love to help you write your blog posts“.
While this might work at times, you’re going to compete against many others and that person probably doesn’t know you and doesn’t trust you.
Instead, offer some help.
Here’s how I would approach this prospect:
“Hey Gary, saw your website. I’d love to take a look and make an audit of your current copy and give you some tips. Also, here’s a case study we did for a similar site: … We helped them improve conversion by xx%.
Let me know if you’re interested to have a quick chat.”
You can also go the extra mile and give a few tips. For example, record a Loom video and send it to your prospect, or send a few suggestions. It takes time but going the extra mile to establish trust will not only show you care but help you stand out.
Pro tips to network on Facebook groups:
- Understand what Facebook groups users care about (usually they post tons of questions) and create a value post around these questions.
- Optimize your personal profile: Create a unique cover photo and a featured image.
- Share value on your personal profile as well.
- Connect with prospects and focus on building relationships with them.
- Don’t promote your service directly on groups. And if you do, ask for feedback.
2. Cold Outreach
Cold outreach is another great way of getting customers: You can get your message right in front of your ideal prospects.
But also: You get valuable feedback for your service.
Here’s a message I sent recently to a prospect:
While I wanted to have more customers, I was also interested to get some valuable feedback from him.
See how I personalised the message?
“saw you have an order your ebook now on your website“
This immediately makes the prospect thinks “Wow, that guy cares about my business“. And I actually do, I think that knowing exactly how I can help that person grow his business will be beneficial as that customer will not churn and stay a loyal customer.
Eventually, he signed up for a free trial.
In addition, I added extra value at the end that regardless of whether he would be ready or not I can always jam about anything related to running agency.
Why? Many prospects are not yet ready to buy now, but show you care and are available and they might convert at a later stage.
The whole process took 1 minute (30 seconds to check his website to qualify him as a prospect) and 30 seconds to craft a personalised message.
Our subscription starts at $49/month but can you imagine if you sell a $300-400/month service? The ROI would be immense.
Pro tips to do outreach for your service:
- Before doing any outreach: Understand who your ideal clients are. Building buyer personas and interviewing your clients are a great way to do this.
- Personalize your message. These prospects don’t know you and you need to show some effort that you have researched about their needs.
- Don’t limit yourself on LinkedIn or cold email outreach. Facebook groups and Twitter are a great source of prospects as well.
- People are busy, don’t hesitate to follow up, but always by adding value.
3. Create a low ticket offer for your service
You get a lot of conversations and prospects but they still don’t want to purchase your services.
And that’s totally fine.
That doesn’t mean they don’t need your services.
There are two reasons why your prospects might not purchase your services from the get go:
- They don’t need your services.
Either you need to come up with a better value proposition (that’s a whole other topic) or they’re simply not a good fit for your service right now.
- They don’t trust you.
So you need to find ways to establish your credibility and demonstrate value to your prospects.
One way to solve this problem is to create a low ticket offer for your service.
A low ticket offer is an offer that still gives value to your prospective customers but is either free or low cost. It’s a way for you to build the relationship with them, demonstrate value, and upsell them at a later stage.
Here are some examples:
- A $49 SEO video audit (example below)
- A free landing page review
- An ebook with marketing tips
- A single graphic design request
Here’s an example from Detailed.
They offer both high ticket services ($5-7k full SEO audit packages) and have a low ticket offer (a $40, 10 min video audit with recommendations) to demonstrate their value.
Quick tip: You can use ManyRequests to create low ticket offers.
Here’s an example of low ticket offer I have quickly created:
Pro tips to create low ticket offers:
- Try to create an offer where you can demonstrate your expertise quickly to potential clients.
- Experiment with both free and paid offers (you can create free offers on ManyRequests as well)
- Create a landing page for your offer. Here are two examples of services with low ticket offers: 55Knots (a design service) and Contentago (a content writing service).
4. Content marketing
Another way to get your first customers is through content marketing, and not necessarily SEO (SEO is great but takes a long time to reap benefits).
I would approach content marketing for early stage agencies in two ways:
- Case studies
Let’s say again you run a content marketing agency for SaaS businesses. A good example of thought leadership article would be to write an article such as : “Lessons learned on content marketing for SaaS companies“.
This article can cement you as a thought leader on the topic and drive a few leads. You can also use it in your outreach campaigns (as a follow up message for example to add extra value.)
Another way to do thought leadership is to create a Facebook group around that topic (this deserves an entire blog post on its own as well!)
Secondly, case studies are another piece of content you can create to generate leads. You can put link case studies in your thought leadership article as well as use them in your outreach campaigns.
Pro tips to do content marketing for your agency:
- If you produce case studies, produce video case studies as well as written case studies. Video is more engaging and real!
- Collect emails. For example, a thought leadership article could include a link to a case study where you say to visitors they can receive the case study in exchange for their email address.
- Nurture leads with more content and some offers.
5. Job boards
Lastly, job boards are an amazing source of leads for your agency as well.
Say again you run a SaaS content writing agency. A quick google search for “Content writing jobs” gives a few generalist websites as well as specialist websites with job offers for writers.
Here’s one of them which is quite generalist:
While not all jobs will match the services you offer, it’s a great step to approach things.
Let’s further refine that. Say one of your target are funded software companies in need of content. I would use look at specialized job boards where startups advertise content marketing roles.
Here’s an example of specialized job board:
Angel List is a massive website with many startups actively hiring. This could be another source of leads.
Finally, another way to find leads is by using Google Search:
I used Google Search as well as some applicant tracking software (in this case: Workable, but there are are many others such as Greenhouse, Lever, BreezyHR, Recruitee…). With the right keywords, you can find tons of recent openings.
Early stage marketing for agencies is a lot about outreach and networking in communities.
However, content is a central piece in this strategy to establish credibility and build trust with your prospects: Case studies and thought leadership articles are a great way to achieve this.
If you’re interested to grow sales and improve client acquisition for your agency, we regularly share helpful tips to help you find more customers on our private Facebook community so make sure to check it out!