2018 is the year for small, specialized, and niche marketing agencies to shine. This shift is something Joe, our beloved CEO, will be addressing at Social Media Week NYC. We dug deeper on the topic and asked some of the digital marketing industry’s esteemed thought leaders about it to help your specialized agency reach its apex this year.

Reach your small agency growth goals

We wanted to know what they thought about niche agencies, what these firms do well in the digital sphere, and what specialized agencies can do to capitalize on their existing strengths and assets.

Current Niche Marketing Agency News Update:

In case you haven’t heard, up until recently, advertising and marketing giants were pulling a great deal of the market share. However, large brands are beginning to shift their dollars towards smaller, specialized agencies (like yours!).

Eight marketing and social media consultants, strategists, and experts have a lot to say about why this shift is happening, and how you can harness your specialized agency prowess to grow exponentially this year.

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Are you looking to grow your agency? Start by streamlining your accounts and approvals today!

We predict that there will be plenty of work for the opportunistic small agency this year (and beyond), which is why Joe is talking about it at Social Media Week NYC.

His talk, “Blood in the Water: How Specialized Agencies can Outmaneuver the Industry Giants,” will address the changing agency landscape, and how small, specialized, and niche agencies can (and are) adapting to it.

We asked some thought leaders the following questions to gain additional perspective:

“With large traditional marketing agencies and holding groups like WPP losing ground, how can specialized small agencies or consultants best capitalize on this trend?

Here are their responses:

Specialized Agency Skills And Qualities That You Can Own In 2018

Be Hyper-Localized And Get Personal With Your Digital Strategy

Small and niche agencies should focus their strategy on their ability to hyper-localize outreach to their audiences. Social media provides effective and not-too-pricey means for targeting specific audience slices by location, jobs, family status, and more. Whether you are using social ads or reaching out to locals via your social channel of choice, make sure your messaging is personal and specific to the demographics of your audience. What’s more, you can supplement your personalized outreach with appropriate bot outreach, offering discounts, specials, and other treats to loyal customers and prospects.

Holly Chessman (Twitter)
Principal of Holly Chessman Marketing

Earn Trust By Focusing Your Niche, Quality of Service, And Authenticity

I believe, and have witnessed first hand, that your business means nothing if no one knows who you are. People want to do business with those they know and trust. And to earn trust, people have to see you and get to know you. Traditional marketing agencies used to hold the keys to such exposure, but those keys are outdated and today’s doors don’t need keys.

As social media platforms take the spotlight, companies and individuals are finding that many of the traditional PR functions are simply obsolete. This is where smaller agencies can capitalize — by delivering a full suite of services helping businesses and executives learn media features and grow a presence on relevant social platforms. Essentially, by helping clients build personal brands.

But as small and niche marketing agencies and consultants flood the space with cookie cutter offerings, it means more noise. The quality of the work being done is the determining factor. Not all content is created equal. Followers that are not your target market don’t count. Engagement that is shallow and inauthentic is not true engagement. Agencies and consultants who focus on the quality of their services, who are able to listen to their clients and help them discover a core and focused brand, then help create content to support the client’s area of expertise, will win.

Branding is a long-term play, and as more executives face the reality that they need to be seen as thought-leaders, they will be looking for people to help them develop social proof.

Ryan Foland (Twitter)
Brand Consultant, TEDx Speaker and Creator of the 3-1-3 Method

Be An Expert Storyteller: Tell Specialized Stories That Convert Your Client And Their Audiences

To succeed in a crowded marketplace, smaller specialized agencies can act as educators and partners vs. the less personal traditional agency model. They also need to get better at telling their own stories.

On the first point: Their goal should be to help clients understand the value of new technologies (AI, chatbots, virtual reality, new platforms) – ferreting out which ones will generate true ROI, and which are a business distraction. Agencies have the expertise within their marketing niche to develop smarter content strategy and development that will resonate with their clients’ audiences.

And on the second point: Small agencies need to get better at telling their own stories to demonstrate what makes them different, what sets them apart. Small agencies have an opportunity to tell a unique story that will resonate with potential clients. “What do you stand for? What are you all about? And why does that matter to the companies you work with?”

Answering these questions well and with authority is the key to winning new business.

Ann Handley (Twitter)
CCO of MarketingProfs and WSJ Bestselling Author

Leverage Your Small Size To Expedite Creative And Innovative Marketing

Three words come to mind when I think of a small marketing or ad agency: Nimble, Responsive, Personal.

Smaller agencies have fewer layers of bureaucracy to deal with, fewer power struggles, and fewer stakeholders to keep happy. This opens up more creativity, risk-taking, and innovation in marketing.

Smaller agencies are able to better adapt to the ever-changing demands of the business landscape. For example, what worked just last week may not be viable this week due to whatever current scandal is in the news, and small agencies can be agile and adapt to this within their specialized marketing niche. Additionally, the smaller agency can be more responsive to the client’s needs as they change quickly.

Smaller agencies can also incorporate more of that human touch. Clients want to feel like they matter and interacting with the faces and voices behind the marketing will go a long way toward establishing trust and a long-term relationship.

Gene Petrov (Twitter)
Leadership & Marketing Consultant

Having The Authority To Say “No,” And Remain Specialized

As a consultant or a small agency, it’s important to learn to say “no” to your clients. It’s always tempting to say “yes” whenever a client asks if you can do an activity that’s outside of your team’s core capabilities. But you need to ask yourself if you can deliver what they need at the same level of excellence as the rest of your work for them. If the answer isn’t a confident “yes,” then don’t branch out!

Identify the market niche – be it industry or specific marketing activity areas – and stick to it. But at the same time, build your network of allied agencies that complement your efforts. That way you have trusted teams you are comfortable collaborating with and referring your clients to. That way you can essentially cover the scope of a larger agency without losing the focus and creative excellence your clients hired you for in the first place.

Erika Heald (Twitter)
Content Marketing & Social Media Consultant

Don’t Just Advertise, Engage

Social Media has brought power to the people. Consumers no longer want to be talked at by ads created by ad agencies. They want to feel part of a community. Ad agencies that engage with consumers and make them feel a part of them is changing the way that ad agencies need to market their ads to the consumer.

When a global brand can make an impact on the Super Bowl without spending a cent on advertising, by encouraging fans to tweet its hashtag, #VolvoContest, during other car brands’ Super Bowl commercials, this demonstrates the need to connect with consumers on a more human level than with the tradition one-way communication approach. Consumers want to be engaged with. Not talked at.

There is still a market for large, generalized agencies such as WPP. Of course there is. But, there needs to be a shift towards communication and connection with the consumer in order to continue to make a difference in digital advertising.

May King Tsang (Twitter)
Social Media StraTEAgist and #teapun lover

Work Your Agency’s Personable And Flexible Nature

I maintain that the largest advantage small and specialized firms have is that they’re less far removed from humanity. They’re raw, they’re real, and, if they play their cards right, they’re able to resonate more with consumers and appear more trustworthy.

A small agency can also flex faster than a large agency can; there are fewer layers to get through, fewer stakeholders to obtain buy-in from, and thus the potential for a lot more creativity. This means that they can react to what’s going on and either join in on it or throw it on its head, rather than waiting until a trend or hot topic has already become “safe” or even passe before working through all the levels of approval. The super-small often have an even greater advantage, which is proximity.

If you’re a small-town, local agency or consultant, you’re literally THERE, where your clients and their customers are – experiencing what they’re experiencing, and likely having greater insight into what will resonate with them than any market data could ever convey. Use this to your marketing advantage!

Christine Gritmon (Twitter)
Social Media Strategist & Speaking Coach

Remain Personable And Stay Passionate About Being An Agency

Marketing is growing increasingly personal. And while the most effective marketing always has been personal, we’re finally seeing the education happening around that need. With giant companies like WPP you lose that personalization. A client of theirs can feel like another cog in their machine of revenue production but not an actual person who needs to grow their business, to support their family, and live out their goals.

A small agency or consultant’s best form of capitalizing on this trend away from the big boys, is to get back to the heart of WHY you’re doing this. If you have a heart of service for your clients, you’re going to be able to make this work for you in a positive way. The move to automation, AI, machine learning is all well and good – but you need a person at the helm to keep it focused on not just efficiency but humanity.

Steph Nissen
Director of Digital at Atomic Revenue LLC

8 Small Agency Traits That Will Help Your Firm Grow In 2018

Small and niche agencies can leverage their existing traits in order to triumph over industry giants this year. Digital thought leaders and consultants firmly believe that small marketing and ad firms can offer unique services and client experiences that make them very desirable in comparison to existing industry giants.

Building better client relationships within marketing agency

The TL;DR list of small and niche marketing agency skills and traits goes as follows:

  1. Target a specific audience. Leverage your ability to hyper-localize your social media outreach.
  2. Build trust. Focus on your niche, quality of service, and brand authenticity.
  3. Tell great stories. Leverage your relationships and partnerships to improve your marketing and storytelling.
  4. Celebrate agility. Capitalize on your ability to make quick creative and business decisions to benefit your clients.
  5. Truly fulfill your niche. Say “no” to campaigns outside your scope in order to maintain marketing focus.
  6. Engage. Communication and connection with consumers is as important as it is with your clients.
  7. Remain flexible. Be attentive and connected to your humanity, your city, and your clients.
  8. Be personable and passionate. Always remember why you do what you do and let this passion shine in your client service.

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