The Best Advertising Agency Website… Sells
I’ve been talking to an increasing number of advertising agencies about how to rebuild their agency website to be a more effective sales tool. The operative word here is – sales. It is critical that agencies think very hard about how to funnel a visitor from ‘just visiting’ to making direct contact.
Your website is most likely the first time a prospective client will spend the time to get to know your advertising, design, PR or digital agency. It could also be the last time they see you, and worse, you might never know that they even took a look.
Getting your website right is critical to growing your business. Not setting it up to sell could be one of your worst business development mistakes.
Here are some general thoughts about how to turn agency websites into sales tools. I know that this is timely because most agencies, even ones that just launched a new website last week, are always thinking about their next website. I’d bet that you are too.
The Optimal Agency Website
Prospective clients give an agency website about 8 seconds to hook ‘em. That means 8 seconds to describe the agency and give the prospect a good reason to read on. 8 seconds! You know what I’m talking about… you probably give most sites you visit just 8 seconds to tell you why you should stick around.
Once you’ve hopefully sparked interest, clients look hard at agency websites for a clear understanding of what you can do for them (your skills); who you have worked for (proof); past work (more proof), agency thinking (brains); who runs the shop and agency personality (chemistry).
Once you’ve satisfied a potential client’s information needs, you will need to corral them into making contact. After looking at hundreds of advertising agency websites over the years, I can tell you (no surprise) that the great majority do not employ the basics of site visitor conversion. Most agency websites do little more than offer a very basic contact page to, hopefully, help the client make contact.
Sorry, it isn’t that simple.
Some Website Food for Thought
You have limited time to capture the attention and interest of a visitor. How do you do that? Here are some ideas.
Simple Works Hard
I am a fan of simple, fast read design. It’s hard to argue with the power of simplicity. As support, here are some words from the master of keep things simple.
“That’s been one of my mantras—focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
Here is an example of an agency that not only preached simplicity; it used super clean and direct design to support its very own brand proposition.
See how M&C Saatchi tells (well, once told) prospects what they will get from the agency as soon as the visitor hits the home page. M&C Saatchi delivers its message in about 1.5 seconds. Given the main message, could you imagine the agency having a complicated design to express this thought?
Maurice called the delivery of simplicity: One-Word Equity. This was their pitch from a few years ago. And, there can be no argument that his direct statement still works in today’s over-stimulated ADHD world.
OK, One More Uber Simple Website…
Just to hammer the KISS point, I am including the home page of Playground. It took me 1 second to know what Playground is.
While I am not sure that saying “We are a digital creative agency” is a standout agency pitch, it is, without question, direct and therefore stronger than the front door of most agency websites.
What I Like: Website Elements
Once you have stopped the website visitor with your direct home page message (something compelling via copy or a video), you’ll have the time to tell them your agency story and supply key information.
Tell me what you do in words that do not sound like everyone else. Long lists of every single service you can provide does not inspire or work in your favor.
Testimonials = Proof
Clients could use some third-party proof of your brilliance. Client testimonials deliver that proof. Testimonials can be copy or videos. Make sure they are informative, entertaining and… brief, please.
Cases = More Proof
ROI-based case histories, which can include that testimonial, add more proof of your expertise. Cases do not have to be boring or… long. Create an easy to digest format and use it for all cases.
Consider ‘branding’ your cases like London Advertising’s “Straight-Line Thinking” that leads a reader directly from the client’s objective to the solution to results. Simple, fast, convincing.
Something else to consider: There are some new data visualization tools that can help you bring cases to life. For some ideas, go visit Jess3.
Clients Like Clients
Clients like to see who you’ve worked for. So, show them. Don’t be too worried about showing past clients – you worked for them, right?
A leadership list with cool photos is OK. But how can you bring that first ‘personal’ impression to life? This is a big opportunity to sell the heart and soul and brains of the agency. Clients buy both brains and heart.
Tell me a story. Who are you? What’s your opening – first impression – reason for me to love you – and WANT to talk to you? By the way, if you are really good-looking, then do a page like this one from Wexley School For Girls.
I am thinking of an easy to create 1-minute video. Get past having a boring static leadership page.
Video… Take a look at the L.A. PPC agency HawkSEM. See how they use videos on their website. The first is a playful home page animation that clearly delivers the primary sales message. The second video is more people oriented but also clearly sells their ROI-based sales proposition.
Think Analog – Add An Agency Fact Sheet
Visiting websites is a very ephemeral experience. Help out your prospects by giving them an agency fact sheet to download and hold in their hands.
In fact, why not also include single page agency summary on your website? Deliver all the information that an ADHD marketing director needs in one place.
Give visitors VERY good reasons to raise their hand. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.
I realize that this might sound like a ‘duh’. But, stroll around a bunch of ad agency websites ans see that many don’t act all that friendly.
Sales & Salesmanship
Portland’s The Good website is designed to sell. Here is their focused pitch that includes a serious eCommerce marketer pain point and a promise:
98% of your website visitors won’t buy from you today.
We improve your conversion rate turning more visitors into buyers.
The client pain point is front and center. The entire website points the visitor to offers and a contact form. The website is designed with a call-to-action to drive lead generation. The Good’s sales funnel works.
Unignorable Thought Leadership
There 400,560 tons of advertising agency-related thought leadership articles, blog posts, podcasts, Infogrames, webinars, and presentations on the Internet. I counted them.
With this much agency related thinking, you need to make sure that your thinking is Unignorable. That means that you have to ask yourself why anyone should pay attention to your stuff.
Here are four paths to being Unignorable:
One: Act Like A Leader
Leadership comes from having a clear agency positioning that is based on expertise. Support your expertise with content, or an angle, i.e. a POV that makes you sound like a leader.
Expert Positioning = Unignorable Thought-Leadership = Business Growth.
L2 www.l2inc.com is one of the most successful ‘research’ companies in the digital space. L2 launched out of NYU’s Stern School via the delivery of MUST! Read competitive research on the luxury market. Today they offer insights into key business categories and the media. Their content is hard to ignore and has grown their brand.
Have you seen L2’s videos? It is clear that L2 is all about leadership.
Two: Have A Must Read Point Of View
Must read means that you are offering high-value insights. Not ‘me-to’ insights.
Make sure you think hard about your target market’s personas and needs. Build your insights based on what keeps them up at night.
I like using Google Surveys to get a quick read on a market and to unearth compelling insights. I’ve also seen agencies use Google Survey results to win pitches.
Three: Tone Rocks
Tone is all about how you represent yourself. Are you bold? Meek? Look alike? Too quiet? Your thought leadership tone will be a key element of your sales system.
Having your very own stand-apart persona and voice is critical.
I am continuously blown away by how many marketing communications agencies do not stand out or display any attitude. You may not be Gary Vaynerchuck, but try to look and sound irresistible.
“Man, these guys are everywhere.”
We’ve all felt that. It’s the sense that you see the same thing, or hear about the same company in multiple places.
I call one way of getting there The Rule Of Five. Take every single piece of thought leadership and expand its reach by a factor of five. Amplify it via LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook; put it up on SlideShare; turn it into a guest post on a highly trafficked website; send it out to your email list; if it is a real winner, send it as paper to your top prospects.