How to Convince Clients to Hire You: The Maths Behind Agency Success

Ian Leadbetter
7th June 2017

The average annual salary for a full-time digital marketing manager in the UK is £32,183.

At 40 hours a week, that boils down to £15.47 per hour.

Most UK agencies, on the other hand, charge an average of £86 per hour. That’s more than five times the amount a business would pay for a full-time staff member.

Looking at these numbers alone, it would never make sense to hire an agency.

Of course, agency owners and staff understand that a comparison of the costs alone is a flawed approach.

Clients aren’t just paying for someone to execute tasks on their behalf.

They’re paying for incredible subject-matter expertise, impressive levels of experience, and detailed ROI reports.

Although, knowing the value of an agency and proving it are two very different things.

When pitching new clients, many agencies focus on proving the value of the services they provide.

However, in doing so, they neglect to highlight the value of working with their agency.

Clients are convinced to invest in services, but because they’re focused on the bottom line, they hire a full-time employee to perform the recommended tasks at a significantly lower rate.

For this reason, agency pitches must be two-fold: you must prove the value of your services and the value of your agency.

By making a strong argument for the value of working with your agency, you’ll be much more likely to win the client, and much less likely to lose business as the result of a decision to hire someone full-time to perform the services you sold so well.

Build Agency Business by Proving Worth in Value Per Pound

Looking at the maths superficially, it can be difficult to prove that hiring an agency is cost-effective.

On paper, hiring a full-time employee saves a company £2,821.20 per every 40 hours of work. Although, this provides only a superficial view of the costs.

Studies have shown that the average office worker is only productive for about three hours per day.

The other five hours are spent browsing social media sites, reading the news, chatting with coworkers, eating, making personal calls, and texting.

This means that businesses only really get 15 hours of productive work for each week of salary that employees are paid for.

Productivity isn’t the only factor that affects the actual cost of having someone on staff full-time.

Many additional factors must be considered, including employer National Insurance contributions, matching contributions to personal pension plans, and costs related to office space and work equipment.

Additionally, employees are paid for time off for holidays and sick leave.

The average for global employment costs is an additional 25% of employee salaries, and while most employees are paid for 253 working days per year, they only work 225 days.

When considering that none of these additional costs applies to hire an agency, there is much less disparity between the costs:

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When considering actual costs, it’s only £26.40 more expensive per hour to hire an agency with a rate of £86.00 per hour than to hire a full-time employee at £15.47 per hour.

This provides a much more effective argument than the superficial difference of +£70.53 per hour (£86.00 – £15.47) for an agency.

Once you’ve established that there isn’t as much disparity between rates as a superficial glance might indicate, you need to prove what extra value will be provided for that additional £26.40 per hour.

How to Get Clients by Highlighting Experience and Expertise

The real value of hiring an agency comes with the experience and expertise a team of dedicated practitioners brings to a business.

The bottom line is that a single digital marketing manager can never fill the shoes of an agency’s entire team of specialists.

While it might be possible for a digital marketing manager to have a working knowledge of SEO, PPC, UX, analytics, content marketing, and social media marketing, it’s highly unlikely that a single individual will have detailed knowledge of all of these disciplines.

He/she is more likely to be an experienced content marketer but only understand SEO, PPC, and analytics basics.

An agency, on the other hand, generally has a specialist overseeing each discipline.

That person is experienced in the discipline, has executed and learned lessons from multiple campaigns, and fully understands the best practices and approaches of that discipline.

Instead of hiring one full-time generalist to oversee all digital marketing initiatives, hiring a full-service marketing agency provides a specialist for each individual area of concentration.

Those specialists will not require the hours a generalist needs to train in each discipline, will not go through a period of trial and error, and will be able to suggest and implement proven practices from day one on the job.

When pitching the value of your agency, consider putting together brief career histories and case studies for each individual who will lend time and expertise to the client’s projects.

This will highlight the experience that the agency brings to the table, and it will make any prospective full-time employee resumes pale in comparison.

Below is an example from Digital Marmalade, who have taken this technique on-board and featured it on their website:

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Their company page includes the number of years each team member has in the industry, as well as their proficiencies in different services the agency provides.

Another great example, though not related to agency services, is the team page for Exceptional Exteriors. It provides an excellent case of how team member profiles can be expanded to highlight experience and expertise.

How to Start a Marketing Agency 5 Lessons from David Gilroy of Conscious Solutions -

While it’s good to provide case studies and successes for the agency in general, providing these for the individual agency team members that clients will be working with can help establish the value of working with your team over hiring a full-time employee.

Drive Agency New Business by Proving Revenue Impact

Marketing teams and individual contributors often lean on metrics like increased traffic, leads, and clicks to highlight the value of their contributions.

The problem is that while increased traffic, brand awareness, and engagement are all wonderful benefits of marketing, they don’t highlight how marketing activities drive business revenue.

What clients want from agencies—more than experience, expertise, or any other benefit—is more money.

It’s why clients look for agencies: they want to increase revenue.

Therefore, the best way to negate discussion on why your agency is worth the added hourly cost is to show how the investment will pay for itself through increased revenue.

With modern technology, it’s possible to engage in closed-loop marketing.

Closed-loop marketing connects marketing campaigns with actual sales, allowing agencies to establish exact dollar amounts that were earned from marketing initiatives.

If you use technology to track marketing-driven revenue, you can show the client not only how they’ll get back what they pay you, but also how they’ll earn additional profits.

With the right setup of marketing and analytics technology, it’s possible to identify exactly what revenue was the result of marketing changes and campaigns.

For example, with Ruler Analytics you can:

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This allows you to track and report on exactly how much revenue you’re earning for your clients.

This helps solidify the value of your agency for existing clients—and prove your worth to new clients.

If you can show how paying your agency £100,000 per year can earn the client £200,000 per year, the value of hiring your agency is quantifiable and obvious.

The best part is that these revenue reports can be built into the services you provide, allowing the client to cancel their relationship with your agency at any time if results are poorer than expected—a much simpler process than getting rid of a full-time employee.

Additionally, measuring the performance of a full-time employee would require an additional investment in the types of technology that measure marketing revenue, and would likely bring costs associated with assistance getting set up and utilising the technology.

Crafting the Perfect Pitch for Agency New Business Development

Hiring an agency is costly, and it can be difficult to convince clients to hire you if they’re only looking at a superficial bottom line.

For this reason, it’s important for agency marketing materials and pitches to include justifications for the cost of high hourly rates or retainers. These justifications should include:

By including these items in your pitches and marketing materials, you can easily win over new clients, convincing them that your value is much greater than hiring a full-time employee to perform the work.