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Digital marketing has been a lucrative industry for the past couple of decades. Just about every business you can think of needs to have an online presence. Every online presence needs to be supported with a collection of marketing, advertising and PR strategies. Perhaps you were ahead of the curve or you have an incredibly talented team. If so, you’ve no doubt made a lot of money helping business owners with their search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click advertising (PPC), social media and other marketing efforts.
Of course, the high earning potential of the digital marketing industry has led to an interesting side effect; the online world is inundated with an overabundance of digital marketing agencies, gurus, experts and other authorities.
With so much direct competition, how can your digital marketing agency stand out?
Expertise and authority
Philosophers and scientists are still divided on whether an argument from authority is valid. In other words, does your position as an authority on a given topic make your argument automatically stronger?
We can continue debating whether this is acceptable from a reasoning perspective. One thing is certain; people tend to hire experts at least in part because of their perceived authority and expertise. If you’re seen as more authoritative, more knowledgeable or more of an expert than other digital marketing agencies, you’re going to win more business.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Content: Content marketing is a huge industry, so it shouldn’t surprise you to see it recommended here. Writing amazing content, complete with original research and innovative ideas, can set you apart from others. This is getting harder and harder to do, with the abundance of online content already available. You’ll need to take your time and invest in quality over quantity.
- Publication: Get yourself published in the most prominent publications you can find. It’s an easy way to get more eyes on your work and be seen as more credible at the same time.
- Affiliations: Network with others and try to reach out and collaborate with influencers. If you’re constantly engaging with big names in the marketing industry, you’ll be seen as an expert as well. You can also partner with or take on clients with recognizable names.
- Talent: Hire the best marketing professionals you can find. You can showcase their collective experience — and provide your clients with even better service.
Differentiation (and niche specialization)
The old saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Instead, if you can’t beat them, do something different. You may not be capable of beating the best basketball player on Earth, but maybe you could become the best player of a much more obscure sport.
As a digital marketing agency, one of your best tools is going to be critically differentiating yourself. How are you different? And can you serve a customer base that isn’t currently overrun with marketing options?
Your goals here are to become more unique and more relevant to a specific group.
- A specific tactic: There are lots of SEO agencies out there, but how many of them can count themselves among the best link builders in the world?
- A specific type of client: You can target specific types of clients based on any number of factors, such as industry, business size, stage of growth, type of end customer and more.
- A unique spin on classic services: You can also offer a unique spin on the classic lineup of digital marketing services. Can you provide additional services or bonuses, or give your clients an unforgettable customer experience?
Flexibility and scalability
You can also make an effort to have your digital marketing agency be more flexible and more scalable. Some businesses are turned off by rigid service plans, long-term contracts and hard limits to service provisions. You can avoid this by offering your clients more options.
- White label partners: Use white label agency specialists to expand the range of services you can offer to your clients. It’s inexpensive and you’ll get immediate access to an external team of experts who appear to be under the umbrella of your brand.
- Independent contractors: You can also take on more clients and provide more services with the help of flexible independent contractors.
- Modular plans: Appeal to apprehensive clients by offering more flexible and modular plans; offer pay-as-you-go models or a-la-carte lists of services in your packages.
- Long-term relationships: Above all, prioritize your long-term client relationships. Make your customers satisfied however you can and keep them invested in your agency.
This isn’t a guaranteed recipe for long-term digital marketing success. But, it’s going to help you differentiate your agency in a market that’s overflowing with viable competing businesses. Spend some time addressing your signature strengths and weaknesses — and customize your approach to suit your unique agency profile.
Originally appeared in Entrepreneur