Starting a social media agency or consultancy can be exciting, but it’s also intimidating—especially if you’ve never had a client of your own. Attracting new clients and landing deals can be a cakewalk if you’re already running an agency with years of experience and a reputation to match, but if you’re a solo consultant, or a small business without an existing portfolio, convincing a client to work with you can be a major uphill battle.
Landing your first client is a major step on the path to growth, and with these strategies, you can make it happen.
Establish a Reputation
Somehow, you’re going to need to establish a reputation. You won’t be able to claim that your agency has years of experience, or a history of happy clients, so you’ll need to find an alternative way to prove your worth. You could do this by establishing social media profiles for yourself and/or your agency and building a following for each one. In this way, you become your own client, and use it to prove your capabilities. You could also simply explain your past experience, if relevant; for example, if you’ve been the chief marketing officer (CMO) for a well-known brand in the past, that can warm people to the idea of working with you.
Develop the Right Proposal
Next, you’ll need to develop a strong social media management proposal. Assuming you’re able to start a conversation with a potentially interested lead, you’ll need some way to close the deal—and that means presenting them with a professional, polished summary of the work you’re going to do.
You’ll start with a social media proposal template, and tweak it for the individual lead you’re working with. There are three main factors that require your attention if you don’t have an existing client base or portfolio of work to show off:
- Work summary. You can earn a lot of confidence from a prospect if you’re able to describe your work intelligently. Be detailed when describing the services you’re going to provide, rather than reducing them to something simple like “social media management.” The more precise you are in describing your strategy, the more comfortable your prospect is going to feel.
- Guarantees or assurances. It’s usually inadvisable to “guarantee” any kind of results in social media, since the social media world is somewhat unpredictable, and subject to volatility. However, if you need to close a deal, you may want to make some kind of guarantee or assurance, in the realm of “satisfaction or your money back” or a promise to “double your current followers within 3 months.” Just make sure you can deliver.
- Pricing. Pricing is a big sticking point for most clients. You don’t have much authority or reputation at this point, so it may be wise to lower your price as an incentive to land your first paying customer. It’s a long-term play, so don’t worry if your profitability is compromised in the short term.
Find the Right Prospects
If you can find high-quality leads that would be interested in your services, half the sales job will be done by the time you even develop the proposal. There are a variety of ways to scout for leads, but as a new agency, your best approach may be to make use of warm introductions and other one-on-one interactions. You won’t have the online visibility necessary to cultivate an inbound lead pipeline, and you won’t have the authority to convince cold prospects; instead, consider spending your time networking, and having personal conversations with people who may have social media needs. You may even be able to “trade” your social media services in exchange for other products or services your business needs to start.
Prioritizing a Portfolio
When onboarding your first client, and beginning the search for your second and subsequent clients, your first priority should be building a portfolio. Make sure you’re keeping track of your “before” and “after” metrics, and measuring the results you’ve gotten for each of your clients. The better-established your history of results is, the easier it will be to close new sales and onboard new clients. Use your portfolio as a leverage point to appeal to a wider base of prospects.
After you’ve landed your first social media management client, you’ll have a gateway to attract more. Assuming you’re able to satisfy this client, you should be able to use them as a case study, which you can use as proof-of-concept for future leads; you might also be able to get a few client referrals out of them.
In any case, you’ll have a stepping-stone of experience you can use to set your agency or consultancy on the right path.