“There is no such thing as a free lunch.” These cautionary words of wisdom have been repeated around offices since before the 1930s. Fast forward to the digital marketing landscape of 2017, and the saying might be as relevant as ever.
Earlier this year, the social media management platform Buffer wrote a post on the law of the double-peak. As their chart below succinctly explains, there are two “waves of opportunity” for brands and influencers on any social network.
The first wave is the organic peak. This occurs as social networks pick up mainstream popularity. The opportunity is for early adopters who create engaging content to build their audiences along with the platform itself. Think Gary Vaynerchuk on YouTube or King Bach on Vine.
Later on, as social networks become mainstream, the massive amount of users (and associated noise) makes it hard to stand out. It becomes much more difficult to build an audience from scratch, and established brands and influencers suffer from diminished organic reach. The opportunity then emerges for paid early adopters, who can pay rock bottom prices to reach lots people. This second wave is the paid peak. (And the inspiration for my biggest takeaway of 2016.)
So, what does this have to do with marketing your agency and free lunches?
A recent article by the Ladder, a growth agency for SaaS products, put it best. If you aren’t running paid social media ads, you are leaving money on the table. The most important B2B marketing platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are somewhere along the paid peak right now. Couple that with a recent report from Grist, which found that 79% of senior executives consume business content on Facebook—along with 73% on Twitter and 68% on LinkedIn—and a huge opportunity for agencies to use paid social marketing to generate leads emerges.
Social marketing was never free. At the end of the day, hours dedicated managing your agency’s profiles are a huge opportunity cost, especially for companies reliant on racking up billable hours.
Instead of abandoning social channels as organic reach disappears, it’s time for agencies to ride the paid social marketing wave. Here are four concrete ways to do it.
Compete With Bigger Agencies and Defend Against New Entrants
We recently wrote a post on how thought leadership, and by extension content marketing, can help growing agencies compete with bigger players and defend against new entrants. Paid promotion is gas on the fire, especially when used to amplify content against target accounts.
Nail Your Positioning
Fail fast. Just like startups that use paid marketing to find product/market fit, agencies can use ads to experiment with their positioning. For example, if you write a blog post around your unique selling proposition and promote it against your target persona, there should be validation in the form of click-throughs and leads. If not? Time to go back to the drawing board.
Keep Your CRM Fresh
You have your head down, working on executing amazing work for clients. But what happens when you lose a big one, for reasons outside of your control? Having a CRM filled up with fresh contacts is not only an opportunity for growth, but an important safety net.
Promote Your Excellent Work
Don’t wait for an industry trade publication to find and feature you. Get your best client work in front of key decision-makers without relying on PR.