Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue to your Interactive Marketing Agency in 2008

When I wrote “The Top 10 Business Mistakes Search Marketing Firms Make“, I included a few of the items I commonly discover, when working with marketing firms, especially search marketers. The advice, if followed, would certainly help any marketing firm (not just search marketers), hoping to grow their business by avoiding the mistakes and pitfalls so common in the industry. However, while avoiding the common mistakes will help your business to avoid making expensive missteps, if you want to truly grow your marketing firm, you need to be more aggressive and proactive in your efforts.

One of the most common questions I am asked by marketing agencies seeking my advice–especially those that are newly-started or still relatively small–is “how do I attract new clients and grow my business?” While there are many ways to accomplish this task, depending on your resources and your target market, there are some proven strategies that any marketing firm can implement.

The five secret strategies listed in this guide are tried and trusted. I have used them to help grow one firm to $25+ million in annual revenues and another to an annual run rate of $2+ million in its first year. However, the strategies suggested below are not just confined to the companies I have worked with, they are evident in many successful agencies. Take a look at any successful marketing firm–whether it focuses on search, web design, email, viral or interactive–and you’ll likely see they’ve followed at least half the strategies I’ve listed.

I don’t want to sound like one of those overly-tanned, bright-smiled, “gurus” you see on infomercials late at night but, if you follow the strategies I’ve outlined, I’m convinced you can add at least $1 million in new revenue for your agency, over the next twelve months.

Strategy 1–Stand out from the crowd

Revenue Value = $100,000 in 2008

If you’re hoping to establish your marketing firm as a leader in its field, you’ll likely find lots of companies already established and better positioned to win clients. Simply launching a firm and blending-in with the rest of your peers is not the way to enter a market that is maturing or already saturated. Even the young search engine marketing (SEM) industry is filled with hundreds–if not thousands–of search marketing firms, all promising “top rankings”, “increased conversions” and “great customer service”. Too many SEM firms launch with the very same message and then languish in obscurity. If you want to avoid falling victim to this wasteland of mediocrity, you’ll have to be different.

Being different, doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but does mean singing a tune that a prospective client has not heard a thousand times before. If you want to serenade a new customer, you need to catch their attention and convince them you are different from the umpteen other marketing firms, they have heard from, or used, in the past. At, we were one of the first SEM firms to offer content creation with all our search engine optimization packages. At the time, very few prospective clients were hearing the message we were telling: “we have a team of search engine optimization (SEO) copywriters who will create enticing, search engine-friendly content for your site.” Likewise, when we launched Fortune Interactive, we explained how we had a proprietary technology, no long-term contracts, and performance-based pricing models. In each instance, we sang a very different tune, than the many other firms that had called on that company in the same week.

Being different, doesn’t mean being radical. What set’s your marketing firm apart could be as simple as offering a weekly webinar for your clients, or offering live online customer support. The key is to find a niche, something that helps your firm stand-out from the crowd.

Stock Option Auction Plan for Google Employees

A new Google program will allow employees, with vested stock options, to sell them online without the normal hassles of exercising and selling. CNET reports the new program will be managed by Morgan Stanley and is aimed at financial institutions.

It would work like this: once an employee’s options are vested, he or she can look for bidders in the private auction. A financial institution may offer the employee, for example, $150 per option. If the employee’s strike price was $400 and the stock was trading at $500, the employee would have made $50 more per option going the auction route rather than selling them on the public market. Employees can also set a minimum price at which to sell.

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Still Causing a Stir with Google Click Fraud Report

It seems like the conversation I started about Google’s click fraud rate, has rolled down the hill and picked up some momentum.

Matt Cutts wants his readers to read my article and Shuman Ghosemajumder’s own blog post. Danny Sullivan also digs into the numbers.

As my updated report suggested, Google’s user-detected click fraud is less than 2% of all invalid clicks (and not all clicks, as first reported). If that number is in the single digits, isn’t Google now admitting that click fraud across all clicks is less than 0.2%?

I was roasted for helping spread the word that the rate was at 2%, what kind of fury will appear with the suggestion that the rate is actually less than 0.2%?

The conversation continues.

Is MySpace Really Larger than Yahoo?

So, Red Herring tells us that a new comScore report will show that MySpace had more page views in November than Yahoo.

What I would like to know is what was the average length of visit for those page views. It’s one thing to throw a lot of crap against a wall, but how much of it is sticking. In other words, which of the two sites does a better job of engaging its visitors?

At first glance, you may think MySpace is the winner. After all, it has more page views, with fewer visitors than Yahoo. But, there’s so much junk on MySpace, I’m curious to learn the average visit length of a MySpace visitor, compared to Yahoo.

Anyone seen the numbers for this?

Law Requires Disclosure of Affiliate Marketing Links, Word-of-mouth and Paid Reviews

Copyblogger has been digging around a new statement made by the Federal Trade Commission and reported by the Washington Post.

The bottom line, the FTC is pushing to make companies disclose any compensation received when promoting a product or company. While this is not a new law, the FTC wants marketers to know how it intends to interpret existing legislation.

…companies engaging in word-of-mouth marketing, in which people are compensated to promote products to their peers, must disclose those relationships…Word-of-mouth marketing can take any form of peer-to-peer communication, such as a post on a Web blog, a page for a movie character, or the comments of a stranger on a bus.

Have a quickie…

…actually, have two quickies:

  1. Nathan reports that internet browser Opera has renewed its partnership with Google.
  2. Pronet Advertising – home of Neil and Cameron of ACS – are offering to pimp the links of a new site each week.

Maybe Alexa Stats Can Be Trusted After All

Well look what the Alexa folks shared on their blog. They took the publicly available Sitemeter stats for a couple of web sites and matched them against the Alexa traffic history graphs.

Here’s the comparison for TechCrunch.

The green graph is the site stats and the blue line is Alexa overlaying them.

Interesting, Rand, what do ya think? It appears Alexa is able to get the numbers right, relative to data within one site, maybe they just suck at comparing data from differnt sites.