Be a farmer not a hunter

I read a blog by a very well-respected and very successful Digital Agency Consultant and he maintained that all agencies should go hunting more.

However, on this topic - I fundamentally disagree. Hunting even sounds wrong to me. Here’s why.

If you’re a start-up you perhaps have no choice, but if you’re established then you should be nurturing your clients. Working with them to develop their businesses.

This is even more critical, when you think it’s an established statistic that landing a new client can cost up to ten times that of keeping an existing one.

You should always be going to them with new ideas not waiting for them to come to you. There’s always at least 20-50% more revenue in your client base now that you’ve simply not tapped into. As an agency you often see more about your clients’ business than they do. They’re too close to it. You can see what they need - and that is very often different to what they want.

This is Farming.
Farmers know that to grow a strong crop you need to look after the land, tend the crops, add water, maybe fertiliser, maybe more. Agencies are no different.

With existing clients you can pick up the phone and be in a meeting with them soon and be talking about new opportunities you have found for them. They’ll be grateful for you coming up with these ideas and more often than not they’ll agree and you’ve won more business and developed an even happier client. See below for a few ideas that my clients have had some success with.

  • Updating website versions for ongoing security.
  • Refreshing content and images.
  • Redesigning all digital assets, bringing them up-to-date.
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation plans - particularly for websites that have a lot of traffic.
  • Calibrating and Building in new analytics tools and platforms.
  • Expanding online sales functions (very much a from now task for many clients of agencies).
  • Creating asset banks (brands, logos, images etc.).

The vast majority of clients that walk away from you because they feel you’re ambivalent to them. If they see you actively hunting, they’re not daft, they’ll realise that they are not important to you.

A hunter needs to be hunting all day long with no guarantee of a catch at the end of the day. And when a ‘potential’ opportunity comes along the tendency is for the Hunting agency to put the A team on the pitch and leave their B teams to service their existing clients. This is not good at all.

This approach often is described as inviting new customers through the front door and watching existing ones disappear out the back. Or being in the bath with the taps fully on with the plug left out - DO NOT LET THIS BE YOU.

It’s also true that to grow, inevitably, you will need some new clients. To get the business opportunities you need to be a magnet. Being a great farmer will attract clients that want a partner to work with. Someone trustworthy with a great reputation. If and when clients do come to you because of your reputation they’re almost with you already. All that’s left to do is make sure that they’re a great fit for your agency and you’re a great fit for them.

If all of these tally then you’re looking forward to a great relationship that will stand the test of time.

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