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5 growth marketing tips for agencies and freelancers

3 Mailchimp partners share how they grew their businesses

A looming question for many entrepreneurs is, “How do I keep growing my business?” The answer? It depends.

Everyone’s business is different and various, complex factors shape each one. As a result, the possibilities—and opportunities—are endless.

In our 2022 Mailchimp & Co Benchmark Report, some respondents shared tips on how they’ve achieved business growth. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to boost yours, or you want to learn what others in the industry are doing, this report is a great place to start.

We’ve included some of last year’s report highlights in this article, along with tips designed to help agency owners and freelancers, like you, gain more business growth opportunities.

Along the way, we spoke to 3 Mailchimp partners: Brett Farmiloe, Mailchimp partner and founder and CEO of startup Terkel; Minaz Noormohamad, Mailchimp pro partner and digital marketer at Wired Messenger; and Sander Bosch, Mailchimp pro partner and team lead of Happy Horizon.

Here are 5 tips to help you grow your marketing business.

1. Use your pricing to help seal the deal

Warren Buffet remarked that “(the) single most important decision in evaluating a business is pricing power.” No matter what size your business, you can use pricing strategies to help keep customers coming back—even if prices rise.

Case in point: In our 2022 Benchmark Report, responding freelancers who said they offer 3 or more pricing tiers in their proposals reported winning 20% more new business than those who reported only offering a single option.

Before selling his previous agency, Brett followed this strategy by setting 3 price points for his services: Starter, Standard, and Premium.

These were the results, he says:

  • The tiers helped clients’ decision-making.
  • They won new business pitches thanks to their simplified pricing model.
  • Over time, the agency was able to streamline its client list, focusing on just the first 2 tiers.

Minaz of Wired Messenger also implemented 3 price points. He agrees with Brett: “In the past, our pricing was all over the place. Our accounts team was always angry at us.” Now, Wired Messenger’s clients and accounts team have a clear outline of the cost of services. Another added benefit: transparency. Minaz says his customers appreciate getting invoices minus any surprises.

2. Become your own best client

When you’re busy helping your clients’ businesses thrive, it’s key to find the time and resources to do the same for yours.

In last year’s Benchmark Report, 41% of responding agencies that said they spent more than just 1% of their revenue on their own marketing reported 25% or more growth, compared to 23% of respondents who invested less.

Case in point: After founding his previous firm, Brett saw it quickly gain an SEO ranking for “digital marketing agency.” By maintaining that ranking while also gradually expanding to other search terms, Brett says he sustainably grew his business, while focusing its offerings.

“We got about 2 or 3 new clients—not leads, but actual clients—per month based on that search ranking,” Brett says. “There are more digital marketing agencies than coffee shops. So, you have to find a way to differentiate yourself. Make sure you have a presence on search, whether it’s organic or paid.”

When it comes to new business, think beyond driving web traffic: social media can be an invaluable client acquisition tool.

  • Start with 1 or 2 channels that you can update regularly, then scale up your presence.
  • Use your social channels as a forum to see what type of content resonates with your potential client base.
  • Over time, learn which channels are helping your business grow, and which ones aren’t.

3. Find your staffing sweet spot

The size of a company’s full-time staff is often seen as a growth indicator—but this isn’t always the most important one. As you consider what kinds of hires make the most sense for your agency or freelancing business, you might find that some jobs are best outsourced, at least for now.

  • In last year’s report, 55% of freelance respondents who reported outsourcing elements of their job said that they earned more than they had in their previous job.
  • Some freelance respondents reported sharing operational duties (rather than creative or strategic). These duties included bookkeeping (26%), administrative work (11%), and IT (10%).

What kind of work you should outsource depends on your particular business. The key, according to Brett, is to use outsourcing in a way that empowers your entire staff to focus on what they do best.

  • Since his former company mainly focused on SEO, they sourced outside content specialists, rather than trying to cultivate their own in-house SEO team.
  • Next, the agency’s internal team strengthened standard operating procedures, training, and onboarding to keep everything running smoothly. “Good inputs are critical to having great outputs,” says Brett.

On the other side of the staffing strategy: bringing more talent in-house. While working with freelancers makes sense for agencies like Brett’s, other companies might achieve growth with a few key hires, or something much bigger.

Case in point: When Happy Horizon wanted to expand their offerings, they identified and acquired small agencies with the expertise they lacked. That’s how Sander, team lead of email conversion rate optimization at Happy Horizon, found himself going through an acquisition 4 years ago.

  • Before his agency, Invest Online, was acquired by Happy Horizon, Bosch says his agency had expertise in SEO, Google Ads, Facebook marketing and other platforms.
  • But with Happy Horizon’s resources, they could push into new channels, solving one of their biggest challenges.
  • Sander notes that this scale empowers his clients, who can now work with a single agency instead of multiple vendors.
  • Additionally, Happy Horizon’s size enables its distinct, specialized teams to focus on what they do best.

“We have one team focusing 100% on TikTok right now,” says Sander. “They’re producing, scripting, filming, and doing everything themselves without outsourcing, and I think that’s kinda necessary to keep up in this fast-paced industry.”

4. Give back to your community

Doing charitable or pro bono work in your community using your expertise can be rewarding in its own right, but there may be tangible benefits beyond that. In last year’s report, responding agencies who said they participated in social and environmental initiatives reported faster growth than those who said they didn’t.

Case in point: While Wired Messenger doesn’t actively publicize their charitable work, Minaz says they regularly donate their time and skills to good causes. In the past, they have also worked with large institutions, like a local children’s hospital.

  • It’s good for morale—his staff enjoys investing time into their own communities. Keeping your staff motivated and engaged with innovative, fulfilling work can help increase employee retention and engagement—a key to sustainable business growth.
  • Minaz says that pro bono clients tend to give him and his team more freedom to push the envelope with their work. This approach isn’t always possible when working with a strict budget, timeline, or established strategy.
  • On the business side, Minaz says giving back can occasionally lead to landing new clients, too. His team’s good deeds may get recognized by someone in need of their services for another project, or it may lead to a referral and an introduction.

“That’s all we can ask for,” says Minaz. “We can start building those relationships and just see where it goes because a lot of our business is referral-based.”

5. Build your network

In last year’s report, 48% of responding agencies said that referrals—originating from a mix of previous clients and industry peers—were their best driver for new business. Another 14% of respondents said networking was their most successful means of finding clients.

For that reason, Minaz is a fan of Mailchimp & Co, particularly the benefit of having a listing in the Experts Directory. “We’ve established partnerships with other agencies, so if there’s overflow, they’ll send that work to us, and if we have overflow, we’ll send work to them—it’s really great,” says Minaz.

Sander reports a similar experience with the Mailchimp & Co community. “There are so many positive vibes,” he says. “We can share stuff, we inspire each other, and we can [connect] with Mailchimp specialists. I can’t name any other partnership where we get to be in touch with lead developers from a big tech company.”

As a member, you can grow your network through Mailchimp Academy too. These training courses can help sharpen your Mailchimp expertise, hone your marketing skills, and earn certifications that tell the world you’re a marketing pro.

Get growing with Mailchimp & Co

Whether you’ve just launched your agency or you’re a seasoned freelancer, the Mailchimp & Co community can help you unlock more ways to grow your business. When you sign up, you’ll gain access to exclusive tools and resources that can help you deliver your best work on behalf of your clients and, maybe, even win over your next prospective client, too.

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