Agency New Business Website Series, Pt. 1: Is Your Agency Website Driving New Business Away?
Welcome to the first in a series of posts about building better agency new business websites.
Your agency website is the hardest working member of your new business team. Period.
Yet, as important as it is for an agency website to communicate a consistent message and position the agency to acquire new business, you’d be surprised how often we run across websites that fail in those tasks.
We recently put out an agency new business website ebook that’s a great primer on some of the topics we’ll be covering in the series – I recommend giving it a download.
My seven-year-old son recently became obsessed with ants.
My family was out on an evening walk a few weeks back and we couldn’t go 25-30 feet without him stopping to muse about the busy little creatures scurrying between the cracks in the sidewalk.
Any parent out there can guess that our stroll was just the beginning of his fascination with ants, which meant it was also the start of me facilitating his ant fancy.
“Dad, can you look up carpenter ants on Wikipedia?”
“Dad, are there any more videos on Youtube about the Argentine ant supercolony?”
“Dad, what kind of ant farms can we buy on Amazon?”
I tell you all this not simply because I’m a proud papa and I think he’s a cool inquisitive kid, though I am and he is.
I relate this because, as we searched the web for ant facts, it occurred to me that my son has never known a world without websites.
In the analog world that I grew up in, if you wanted to learn about ants, you went to the library.
If you wanted to buy new sneakers, you went to the store and bought the ones the TV told you to buy.
If you wanted to hire someone to repave your driveway, you looked in the Yellow Pages or you knew a guy that knew a guy.
Pretty backward, huh? Well, keep your pity.
We had The Fresh Prince of Belair and Nirvana. We were doing just fine, thank you very much.
The First, Second and Third Line of Defense
The way we consume information, products, and services has changed drastically over the past 20-30 years.
A potential client could discover your agency, research you, forget you, rediscover you, research you again, and then finally decide your agency isn’t right for them…all without ever giving you the chance to intervene.
This is where your agency website comes in.
I mentioned earlier that your agency website is the hardest-working member of your new business team.
It’s on 24/7, never takes a day off and won’t steal post-it notes from the supply room.
But is your agency website also an agency new business website?
As powerful and tireless as your website is, it’s also pretty stupid.
It will repeat over and over whatever you tell it to say to visitors.
Which means that if it wasn’t developed with new business acquisition in mind, the message it communicates to potential clients may not be helping you get closer to closing business.
It could actually be hurting your chances.
Stick to 3 Simple Questions
Part of developing any new business program is a period of self-evaluation.
It’s an exercise that requires an agency to honestly assess its strengths and weaknesses as well as its short-term and long-term goals.
Depending on the scope of the agency’s objectives as well as their size and tenure, this could take a principal a few days or it could involve dozens of people and take months.
Either way, this self-evaluation is crucial if an agency is to hone in on its most valuable targets and thus its prospecting communications strategy.
Once you’ve done the hard work of defining your agency’s brand position and setting your new business goals, the subsequent website assessment is relatively straightforward.
At RSW/US taking stock of a new client’s website is one of the first steps of our onboarding period. T
There are 3 questions that we feel an agency website should answer quickly and effortlessly.
- What does the agency do?
- What makes them better or different than other agencies?
- Why would a prospect client work with this agency?
We don’t think it’s an unreasonable expectation for a home page to answer all of these questions in the span of a few minutes…and maybe even seconds.
The more direct you are the more clearly the prospect will understand what you’re all about.
Some might counter, “We don’t have to spell those things out. Our website’s design, logo/tagline and quality of work will speak for themselves.”
Others might say, “My agency can’t be quantified in less than 3 or 4 pages of copy.”
Maybe you expect me to disagree but I can’t.
These are both valid viewpoints.
It could very well be that your agency is the cream of the crop in its sector and that your work propels you beyond your competitors.
And it is certainly true that any agency’s culture and history defy being summed up in a few sentences and images.
But this too is true: Prospects don’t care until they do.
Let’s look at things from the marketer’s perspective.
On any given day they are likely fielding prospecting emails or calls from multiple agencies and marketing services companies.
Some of that outreach will be on point, some of it will be ineffectual, and a lot of it will be downright annoying.
After a while, these types of communications will amount to little more than white noise.
But let’s suppose that, by whatever means, you do break through and make an impression.
Let’s then assume that the marketer is actively searching for a new agency right now or willing to humor the idea of looking at a new agency, which is a lofty assumption to make.
From the moment the prospect clicks on the link to your website and your homepage loads up, they’re making mental calculations. They will start trying to check boxes off of their list.
This agency works with companies in my industry. Check.
This agency has experience providing the services my company requires. Check.
This agency can show success with well-known brands in my category. Check.
This agency understands the obstacles a brand like mine faces. Check.
If you can help them check those boxes quickly, you give yourself a better chance of going from a blip on their radar to a potential partner. Prospects don’t care until they do and your website can do a lot of the heavy lifting to get them there.
You Don’t Need to Start From Scratch
How will you know that your website needs a new business facelift?
Disappointing lead generation is an easy answer but that can have many causes.
Some are objective and easier to pinpoint.
Low search rankings, inability to make updates easily, and poor page load speeds are failings you will either gradually notice on your own or that you can easily test.
Poor visual design, ineffective messaging, or outdated content will be more difficult for you to self-diagnose.
For this, you’ll want to enlist someone you trust to give you honest feedback. Have your volunteer(s) review your homepage first as a standalone item and then your website as a whole.
How easily can they answer the three questions we mention above, and how well do their answers align with your new business objectives?
Redesigning your website can be daunting and costly.
Best practice guidelines differ but most companies will redesign their site every 18 to 30 months (Business2Community, 2019).
However, regardless of when you last redesigned your website, your agency should make changes right now if your site isn’t getting the job done!
A mistake that some agencies make is thinking that updating their website is an all or nothing affair.
Even worse, they will often postpone starting their new business program until they can do a complete website overhaul, a project which could take months.
That’s a mistake.
Making changes to satisfy your new business objectives shouldn’t mean razing your website and starting from scratch.
Even incremental adjustments to messaging and content can reap rewards.
Start with your homepage since improvements there will trickle down to the rest of your site.
Will Your Website Lift You Up or Drag You Down?
Having worked closely with many of our New Business Directors, I will tell you that an effective agency client website can make them squeal with delight.
On the other hand, the howl of despair a “bad” client website generates is chilling.
They will still give it their all to hustle for their client and put new opportunities in front of them.
However, instead of a website that acts like a rocket booster strapped to their back, they know they instead have a cement block tied around their ankle.
To anyone who loads up their homepage and thinks, “We can do better” stay tuned to the blog in the next few weeks and know that there are small changes you can make to improve the new business functionality of your site, in the short and long term.