More leads for your design agency are out there. How do you track them down? If you’re here, you’re proof I’ve used self promotion to attract you.
And that’s why today I want to share some awesome design agency self promotion ideas with you.
Very few design agency’s have a great inbound marketing / self promotion strategy.
That makes it huge differentiator.
Why? Because good clients (the ones you want) are sophisticated. They understand good marketing. They also recognize when your marketing is bad. So by demonstrating a good strategy on your own site, you attract better clients.
So what exactly is inbound marketing? It’s a term that’s been around for years. But basically it boils down to creating something that attracts your prospects. These assets are commonly referred to as Lead Magnets, Premiums, or Friend-catchers.
Essentially, a good inbound strategy offers a free incentive of some kind that attracts clients to your business.
You give them something in exchange for, say, their email address or even just some of their attention. That’s how I want you to think of inbound marketing: as an exchange. You are creating and then trading something of value (like a tool or report) to a prospect in exchange for their attention.
You’ve probably seen this in action many times, but if you’ve never used this strategy in your own business, here’s some examples of inbound marketing done right.
My 14 Favorite Examples of Design Agency Self Promotion
In this post I’m going to give you a peek at my freelance and agency lead magnet swipe file. These are examples of awesome lead magnets that freelancers and agencies use to attract clients. I recommend you use them as a starting point for your website, instead of just a typical portfolio.
Why you should use a lead magnet?
Based on the research I’ve done, lead magnets perform 2-3x better than portfolios at attracting clients. The reason for this is that lead magnets focus on presenting the client a compelling offer, while portfolios tend to focus 100% on the freelancer.
As you check out the examples below, ask yourself how you can create a compelling offer for your potential clients. For example, what questions do clients as on sales calls? Can you answer one of them with a free download? That’s typically what a great lead magnet looks like.
Anyone can offer a lead magnet. That’s why I’ve tried to feature several different examples below.
Onto the lead magnet examples…
Shopify Web Design Lead Magnet Example
Kurt Elster’s Shopify web design agency, Ethercycle, features a free marketing guide. It reads: “HOW’S AN ENTREPRENEUR LIKE ME SUPPOSED TO SCALE MY SHOPIFY STORE?” and then offers to teach you how to grow your store via email. Cat-nip for Shopify stores.
Freelance Web Design Lead Magnet Example
Freelance web designer Rachael Kay Albers offers prospects a free ebook called “Don’t hire a designer (until you reed this…)” A counter-intuitive offer that positions her as an advisor instead of just a freelancer.
Fix My Churn
Email Marketing Lead Magnet Example
Val Geisler’s email marketing agency Fix My Churn offers retention focused copywriting services. Her footer reads: “Get Open Rates – Your guide to email marketing that works (and a whole lot that doesn’t). See weekly dissections of real campaigns showing up in inboxes everywhere.” Breakdowns of other companies email marketing helps highlight her expertise.
Design Consultancy Lead Magnet Example
Nick Disabato’s a/b testing and design consultancy Draft offers a weekly newsletter on designing for business value. The headline is: “Profit from what works.”
Next Level Wardrobe
Style Consultant Lead Magnet Example
Cassandra Sethi runs Next Level Wardrobe and is a personal stylist in NYC. Her headline reads: “Find out what the 3 items you need in your closet today!” Then proceeds to list 3 things you’ll learn by signing up: why celebrities looks SO good, brands she recommends, and how to create outfits you’ll love to wear. Awesome.
Squarespace Design Lead Magnet Example
A super simple offer. Benjamin Manley’s Squarespace design agency Knapsack Creative has an opt in on their blog that simply reads: “Knapsack Trail Guide – Tips and tools to help you do what you love.”
Freelance Photographer Lead Magnet Example
Kyle Adams offers free resource with “The Top 5 photos every business needs to impress” which ties perfectly to his freelance photography offering.
Freelance Writer Lead Magnet Example
Kieran Tie, a freelance writer for SaaS and ecommerce businesses, offers a free newsletter that reads: “Discover what’s important and make time for what matters … including new ideas, stories, and links from around the web on balanced ambition, mindful productivity, freelancing, and making time for what matters.”
Compare these websites to your freelance website. What’s the difference?
Then try to see if you can spot the technique ALL of these websites are using. Here’s a hint:
Jay Abraham says the biggest reason businesses fail to grow is that their own expertise gets in the way. They’re just too close to their own business. They have TOO MUCH knowledge and can’t see the forest for the trees.
Creating a lead magnet can help force you to create an offer that focuses on what your clients want, instead of getting lost in a sea of case studies.
1. Search Engine Optimization
To me, search engine optimization is one of the purest examples of inbound marketing. Your ideal client are typing stuff into Google right now. Search engine optimization (SEO) is knowing what they’re looking for and giving it to them on your website. If you can do it once, customers instantly believe and trust you can do it again.
A great example of this is The Wirecutter, they know people are looking for product recommendations. By anticipating this and creating top-notch product reviews, they’ve become a go-to product recommendation site for millions.
To win great clients, you need to build trust. That takes time. And Ebooks give you more time to present your ideas to your prospects than a blog post or tweet. They also have higher perceived value. Although I suggest you don’t want create something massive, writing an ebook on a topic your customers care about deeply can be a huge lead generator.
3. Email courses
In exchange for a prospect’s email address, an email course is a great example of inbound marketing. By offering a meaty written course, delivered via email, you not only get to explain yourself fully, but you get to keep in touch with clients over the course of weeks or months.
Your clients can even reply to any email in the course and start a conversation with you directly.
Similar to email courses, newsletter provide the benefits of email – in a more free form structure. You can promise to deliver value to their inbox around a certain topic, or format, or even just your random thoughts. Newsletter’s have become super popular recently because companies are realizing that direct access to people inboxes means direct access to their attention.
5. Quick tips
You don’t need to write a 5,000 word blog post to get inbound leads. Boiling down your expertise or advice to a tweet or simple before/after graphic is enough to bring people to you. Quick tips are easily sharable so more people see what you create.
Guides are almost a combination of two inbound marketing strategies: ebooks and blog posts. They’re meatier than blog posts and usually written more like a stand alone book. But unlike ebooks, guides are typically free. Because they’re online, guides can even be interactive including graphics or tools to help you make progress on your goals. Julian.com is a great example of this.
If your clients are looking for them, templates related to the work you do, are a great way to bring in leads. If you provide them with a useful template they can use again and again – they will make your brand natural part of their workflow. DocSketch is a great example of this.
8. Planners and calendars
Another tool that clients may be looking for in your niche are calendars and planners built to help with a specific goal. These are popular in content marketing, because they help multiple people get on the same page.
The business world runs on spreadsheets. But creating them can be time-consuming and complicated. It’s likely you already use a spreadsheet in your business. No matter how basic it might seem to you, a prospect out there might find it useful.
Reports are a great way to get more inbound leads because they get have a higher chance of getting linked to from large media companies. Bonus points if you can run a study or survey in your industry.
11. Free consultations or assessments
Another great way to attract inbound leads is to offer a free consultation or assessment of your clients business or problem area. This is a good one to start with because it takes almost no time to create.
Calculators are great for inbound marketing, particularly in the financial or accounting space. However, you’d be surprised to learn how many different industries use custom calculators on a regular basis.
This is similar to a calculator – however instead of a numeric output – an analyzer can give you almost any result. For example, a free analyzer can give you an SEO report, a headline analysis, or even a personality test. We all love tailored information so analyzers are attractive to clients.
Free software is another great example of inbound marketing. It works by creating a tool that you give away for free. I’ve seen all types of software be used this way, from: entire SEO keyword planning tools to background noise generators.
Why inbound marketing?
There’s a recurring theme around all of these examples. Email marketing. I’ve used email to make hundreds of thousands of dollars both in project work and selling products. And while I don’t mind cold emailing, I prefer emailing “warmer” contacts.
That’s what makes inbound marketing so great. It allows you to grow your audience with trust from the start. By using inbound marketing, you’re able to not just claim expertise, but prove it by showcasing it.
So does inbound marketing and creating lead magnets actually work?
Yes. I’ve found that having a good lead magnet is still an untapped resource. In fact, lead magnets are 2-3x better than your portfolio alone at attracting clients.An actual inbound marketing strategy, like creating a lead magnet performs 2-3x better than a portfolio at attracting clients in my experience. Click To Tweet
The caveat is that in order for any marketing strategy to be worthwhile, it must provide value to your audience. So you need to drill down and figure out how you can help them, without giving away all of your secrets for free.
What should you create?
You might be wondering where to get started with your inbound marketing strategy. If you don’t already have a list of ideas derived from your client’s needs, start with some research. For example:
- Do you get asked the same questions over and over in sales calls that could useful if answered on your site?
- Are some posts or topics on your blog getting more engagement? Can you expand or cover different parts of this topic?
- Can you survey your email list and ask what the biggest challenges and concerns are?
- What are your competitors doing? Are they offering lead magnets in their blog posts?
- Can you mine reviews and answers in places like Amazon or Quora from your prospects to find content ideas?
Pick a format from the inbound marketing examples above
Once you’ve identified a problem area you’d like to solve with your inbound marketing, now simply choose a format that makes the most sense out of the options above. Think about what your prospects are most likely to want to consume.
You can also mix and match inbound marketing examples. For example, you might create an SEO blog post that offers a free downloadable template.
How will you get people to sign up?
Here are a few tips to consider for getting people to come to your site.
- Copywriting. Make your headlines and supporting copy agitate pains and provide solutions to compel them to take action.
- Numerous offers. Show several different opt-in boxes on your website. Give multiple opportunities to sign up.
- Design. Think about the flow that you want new people coming to your site to experience.
- Promotion. Make sure to budget time promoting the content you create.
- Consistency. It takes time to build an inbound engine. Keep a regular cadence and publishing cycle.
Tips for effective inbound marketing that attract clients
I have a few final tips for you as you build your inbound marketing strategy. Firstly, follow this checklist:
Inbound marketing strategy checklist:
- Does your content clearly identify the audience and ensure your language / voice targets them?
- Did you identify a real problem that your audience has and can help solve?
- Are you promising at least one “quick win” – something that your audience can put in place and achieve quickly?
- Does it demonstrate your expertise and leave you curious for more?
Secondly, monitor your results! Are you getting sign-ups that you’d expect? Do you need to make any changes about how you market or present your offer? What impact do those changes have?
Focusing on what your clients want is at the core of my new course Endless Clients. I teach you how to find 10+ $10,000 client opportunities in under 30 minutes whenever you want, as well as finding endless content ideas through advanced client market research.
It’s currently closed (we only open twice a year) but if you sign up below you’ll get notified when spots open up again.
One last thing…
It’s important to know exactly what you need to do to find your next client. Check out my free video course that can help you figure out exactly what you should be doing each week to find $10,000+ projects in less than 30 minutes a week.