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How do you find your ideal clients that are a good fit for your agency? How do you avoid taking on clients who aren't a good fit? Often times we take on the wrong clients because we're too eager for the work or because we didn't screen them thoroughly enough. Learn how to avoid these mistakes and the questions you need to ask before you even begin working with a new client.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How do you keep your agency the right size for you?
  • 3 questions to ask prospective agency clients.
  • How do you deal with clients who just don't fit?

On today's show, I talked to Erin Bailey, partner at the digital marketing agency, Matrixx. Erin has spent the past eleven years at Matrixx, first as part of the team and later as a partner. She has seen the agency evolve from a team of three people designing MySpace pages for clients to one that works with common household brands such as Coleman, Zest, and Hefty. While other agencies have a vision of becoming the biggest and most well-known, the Matrixx partners choose to stay the size they are. Erin is here to share why and how they made this decision.

How Do You Keep Your Agency the Right Size for You?

Erin says, in order to keep your agency at its current size, you have to be selective about who you choose to work with. Some agencies want to grow and add to their team. But if you're happy where you're at you need to know your team's bandwidth and then be more selective about what clients you choose to work with. "Everyone makes mistakes," she explains, and usually one of the biggest is taking on the wrong clients out of desperation. When you have a clear vision for your agency and you understand what clients want from you, you'll find the right balance between size and success. The best way to accomplish this is:

  • Be honesty with yourself about the capacity you and your team have to take on new work.
  • Have a clear understanding from the clients about the type and amount of work they need.
  • Honesty with yourself about your ability to meet the client's expectations.

Erin encourages agencies not to rush into large contracts with new clients. Instead, agree to work on a specific project for the client. This gives you and the client the opportunity to each evaluate the fit before entering into a contract for additional services. "There is a fine line between making sure you keep the business healthy and spreading yourself too thin," she says.

3 Questions to Ask Prospective Agency Clients

So, if you are being selective about the clients you take, what are the questions you should ask them? These questions are an important part of the qualification process at Matrixx:

  1. What's your goal? This is the first question to ask, as the client may be seeking services beyond your normal scope of business.
  2. What's your timing? Does the client have a deadline that will pull your team away from the work for other clients? Is it feasible with your current workload?
  3. What's your budget? Erin says this is often the most difficult question for clients to answer. If the client claims they don't have a budget, usually providing a range will get them thinking. You can also try this tactic for getting the client's budget in order to make sure they can afford the solutions you offer.

How Do You Deal with Clients Who Just Don't Fit?

As Erin says, mistakes happen when selecting clients. Sometimes it's overeagerness, and sometimes it's being afraid to say no. And yet, in other cases, the person you were working with leaves the company, and their replacement doesn't have the same vision. "Don't be afraid to say no to a client," she says. "There are other companies out there that you can work with." If you find yourself in a contract with a client that isn't a good fit, Erin suggests:

  • Ride out the contract, but don't pitch a new contract. The loss initial loss of revenue might be hit but reframe your thinking and remember the loss also frees you up to work with more of the right clients. It's OK to fire a client -- it can be very freeing.
  • Continue being honest and transparent; and encourage the same from your clients. Erin explains when the fit isn't good, usually, both parties know. If you're communicating often and identify it early on it's easier to work through.
  • Use your time and energy wisely. Don't target small businesses with the notion that smaller clients mean less work. A lot of times the small clients with small budgets often have big expectations and demands.

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Direct download: How_to_Find_the_Right_Agency_Clients_and_Avoid_the_Wrong_Ones.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT