So you sell digital marketing services. There are various services that may fit under that umbrella, but you know there's a market for helping people do better online. 

But your sales process to attract those people may be a bit haphazard. It may be a bit unpredictable. You may not have a process at all. 

So, how do you sell your digital marketing services? First, you must know what your potential client needs. Second, set your pricing according to the business problem your prospective client is facing. Third, develop a sales process that allows your prospective client to make the decision quickly and confidently. 

This video and the article below will give you a streamlined baseline for how to think about selling your services more effectively. Let’s get started.

Buyer Cheat Sheet: Who buys digital agency services? There are three types of buyers - Click here to get the cheat sheet

How Do I Sell My Digital Marketing Services?

Let's start at the beginning: What is the most effective sales strategy for digital marketing services? How should you be thinking? 

I think there are two important points here:

  1. The first is to remember that the person that buys your digital marketing services is a person. There's an actual human being looking to make this buying decision. That person can reflect a variety of ages, genders, social status, and interests, but at the end of the day, it is a person trying to make a buying decision. Any information you offer is designed to help this person make that buying decision as quickly and as safely as possible.
  2. The second major point is to remember that your best client is doing digital marketing already. So there's some level of web presence that exists, and they're trying to optimize that web presence. 

So to think about that for a second, your best client might be: 

  • in the content business, like the Wall Street Journal, making thousands on storing thousands of articles on their site every day. 
  • in the e-commerce business, like Nike, selling thousands of skews every single day. 
  • in the software business offering different kinds of apps and downloads and software tools. 
  • running a membership site, with the majority of their offering, the majority of their interaction with clients, behind a paywall. 

Your best client may operate in one of these models or some hybrid of these models. But the point is that your best client already has an existing web presence, and they want you to help them better optimize, to get even more value from that presence.

Know What the Client Needs

What do these clients need? What might they be looking to buy? Let's put them in three categories here.

  1. Beginner. The beginning client already has an existing client base, but their web presence may not be integrated into how commerce is typically done, so they may use the phrase, “We want to put ourselves out there.” They're trying to use their web presence to push beyond their normal community, their normal physical location, their established organic opportunities.

    So for them a web presence means expanded reach. The beginning client knows that they don't have all the infrastructure they need, and they're willing to make the initial investment. It becomes your job to quantify what that core investment needs to be and what they can expect from that initial investment of time, energy, and money.

  2. Intermediate. The intermediate person has most likely made the initial investment, but it was an imperfect investment. They have a system, and it more or less works. They have some things that are set up, but they’re probably broken and need to be fixed. This is probably some version of a break/fix that needs to happen in their world.

    Someone needs to look at the website, look at the setup, and fix what’s breaking so it happens more efficiently and they can begin to depend on it more. Do you know what I mean? The intermediate person more or less is looking for a break/fix solution.

  3. Advanced. The advanced client is looking for speed. They already have the initial setup. It works and they know it works, but now they want it to happen faster. And they have metrics in place to measure that speed. So they start using terms like ROI (return on investment) or ROAS (return on ad spend). 

They're comfortable spending money, and they know they may have to make a significant investment, but there's a way that they measure the investment when it comes back. And so you've got to be willing to look at their situation, see what has the most opportunity for return on it, make the improvement and measure the return.

Avoid This Classic Mistake!  

Now there's a really important point that I have to call out here. It's a classic mistake that we make when we sell digital marketing related services. It's important to sell to the sold, not to the stubborn. What you want to be able to do is sell to people who are already doing digital marketing. 

The mistake that we make as experts is that we see the opportunity—if a company would just do this, if a client would just do that—and so we begin to “evangelize” things to clients. The trouble is that the person you’re selling to hasn't already understood for themselves that an opportunity or efficiency is present. 

If you're selling to stubborn people, that means you have to convince them that a certain web property, web strategy, web element is a good idea. And if you have to convince them, that's heavy lifting on your part, and if you have to convince them, then they don't pay the premium for it.

You want people who are already sold on the idea that digital marketing is a good idea, that digital marketing investments are profitable investments, and that if they invest with you, they can see a compounded return on their effort. You want to sell the people who are already sold. Be careful of becoming an “evangelist” and selling to people who are currently stubborn. 

How Do I Price My Digital Marketing Services?

The basic framing of hourly work, project-based work, and retainer-based work is always sound and will always be appropriate. You can choose from those three, as they relate to your clientele and as they relate to your company.

Let's look at pricing here a bit. We can scroll down to the “average cost of monthly retainer” chart here to help us. What is the average cost of the monthly retainer? You can see that the vast majority of services are sold for between $500 and $7,500. That's quite a spread. You can sell for more than that if you choose. You can sell for less than that if you choose. But you get an idea of where the sweet spot is for how the pricing of services is typically structured. If you think about it in terms of a month, it'll fit somewhere along this scale, typically between $500 and $7,500 a month.

Now let's talk about why that price range might exist. If you want to charge more for your services, make the prices go up, what do you have to do? 

  1. Scope: You’ve got to be willing to take on more scope. These could be simpler projects, just done on a larger scale. So instead of managing one content piece or 10 content pieces, maybe you are managing a thousand or 5,000 content pieces. Larger scope allows you to drive the price up. 
  2. Complexity: If you want to drive the price up, you’ve got to take on more complexity. Maybe you're managing fewer pieces of content, but the topic is rocket science. Well, that's more complex, and that allows you to turn the price of your services up.
  3. Opportunity: Another element that allows you to charge more for your prices is opportunity. That could be a matter of revenue, or it can be a matter of cost. If there's an opportunity in the marketplace that your client is aware of and your digital marketing executions can help them acquire that opportunity, well, that's worth revenue to them. That's worth more to them. 

If they know that if they don't do something in the marketplace, it'll cost them money, if there's some sort of marketplace repercussion if they don't do this thing, they're aware of that cost. Your saving them from that cost, again, allows you to turn the price up. 

So if you want to charge more for your services, be at the high end of the band, these are the kinds of things you need to deal with.

Now, what kinds of things drive the price down? If the price is cheaper, why might that be the case? 

  1. Existing infrastructure: If your client has existing infrastructure, if they already have a team, if they already have software, if they already have assets, the more that they have, the easier the project is to execute. So there's just no need for a premium to be paid if they've already paid the premium in the form of existing infrastructure.
  2. Existing organization: Another thing that can drive the price down is if your client has an existing organization. Right now I'm talking about people. If they specifically have people in place to do the work already, if they have workflows in place to do the work already, then they don't need your team, they don't need your organizational workflows. Those things help keep the price down and a bit more manageable. 

As you think about working with clients and finding a price point that makes sense, all of these options need to be considered, because at the end of the day you're trying to solve the problem facing your client. If your client has challenges that drive the price up, so be it. If your client has efficiency that keeps the price more moderate, so be it. What's most important is that your pricing reflects the scenario your client is experiencing.

How Do I Pitch a Client for Digital Marketing Services?

If you're looking for a mechanical step-by-step process to sell your digital marketing services, what might that look like? Well, the basic process begins by identifying the right people. From there you make contact, that contact leads to a conversation, and that conversation becomes a closed sale. This is pretty much how the process works. 

Now the mistake we make is that we normally have the wrong mindset as we move through these steps. Let's look at how you should be thinking as you take each step.

  1. Identification: When you identify people in the marketplace whom you may be able to serve, what you're looking for are problems you can solve. These are people with an existing web presence, and you can tell by looking at their web presence that something is not 100%; something could be improved. There's something about their scenario that reflects a problem to you. 
  2. Contact: So when you reach out to make contact, the offer that you're making here is an offer to have a conversation. So if they have this problem, “Hey, would you like to talk about it?” That's all you're trying to get done. You're not trying to sell in this contact. You're just trying to see if a conversation makes sense.
  3. Conversation: When you talk to that person in this conversation, you are confirming that the issue that you think exists actually does exist. If you're correct and the issue exists, then you can move forward. If not, then you should try to understand what's really going on so you can propose the next course of action. This conversation is about confirming, not forcing their hand to move forward as a client. 
  4. Sale: When they decide to become a client, when they decide to close, then the work begins immediately. You don't introduce any other bureaucracy; just get started solving a problem that you thought existed in the first place.

Now, timeout for a brief sanity check here. I know that what you're looking at here looks really, really simple. We under-appreciate how simple and how elegant the sales process can be. 

The number one mistake that we make is trying to force people down this chain of events. We're so focused on making our sale, hitting our numbers, getting that closed deal, that we don't leave enough space for the person on the other side to move down this process with us. So yes, this process can be quite simple, but it's really important to navigate it in a professional way so that both parties can be comfortable with the conclusion that's made in the end.

How Do I Land Marketing Clients? 

So if you're excited, you're focused and you want to start this process right now, what do you do? I recommend that you go with tried, true, and proven approaches. 

  1. Go with friends and family. There are people in your network who know who you are, who respect what you do, and it makes sense for you to reach out to friends and family first to get your initial point of momentum.
  2. Use social media. You have people who follow you, who have connected with you, who are in your online networks, and it just makes sense to leverage those networks first to build on your initial momentum. 
  3. Use freelance networks. There are a variety of them, and they're all designed to put people in front of you who are ready to make the buying decision, and so you can bid on that work and get your initial thrust of opportunities from platforms like Upwork and others.

Are there nuances? Yes. Are there complexities? There certainly can be. But whatever process you choose to go forward with, what’s important is the essential insight that you're using your process to help this person make a buying decision. The easier you make the decision for this person, the faster they can say, “Yes,” and work can begin. Best of luck.

Buyer Cheat Sheet: Who buys digital agency services? There are three types of buyers - Click here to get the cheat sheet

What Should My Digital Marketing Business Model Look Like?

So you’ve figured out your pricing, you know how to pitch your services, and you’ve landed some clients. Now I want to talk about how you package your services so you can describe them better and deliver them better.

THE BROKEN BUSINESS MODEL

Here's what most digital marketing agencies do: You ask the client, "Client, what do you want us to make? Do you want a new website?" And the client says, "Sure, we want a new website." 

So you dig into your vat of digital marketing services, and you pull out the big long list of possibilities: SEO, SCM, logo creation, digital marketing this, digital marketing that, PPC, CPM, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. You describe all these different opportunities that your client could use in better setting up their digital marketing presence.

Your client's eyes roll to the back of their head, you totally lose them, and even if they decide to buy and become a client, they're not quite sure what they purchased. Then they ask you 100 more questions, you have 40 more follow-up meetings, and the project gets bigger and bigger and bigger, and less and less interesting for you.

It's a broken model. I have no idea why or how we got into functioning that way, but I know that's how it works for most people like you. So let's shift that forever, and let's think about it a totally different way.

A BETTER WAY (LET'S USE AN ANALOGY): FLYING IS FASTER

Here's an analogy. Your client is trying to travel from Point A to Point B. There are three ways they can travel: they can drive, they can walk, or they can fly. When you walk, that's the slowest option. That's a matter of months to get over a long distance. If you drive, that's a matter of days or a matter of weeks to travel a long distance. But when you fly, you can get there much faster. That's a matter of hours.

Now you and I both know that flying is the premium option. You know it costs more for that, but if you want it done, and you want it done right now, flying is the only option. So what I'm saying to you is that you should present your services like you are the flight option, and you should show your clients the flight path to get to where they want to go. Let's draw that out.

So I made the airplane analogy, and I just drew one on the board. Now, warning, I went to school for business, not for design, so don't judge my airplane.

YOUR SERVICES SHOULD HAVE A "FLIGHT PATH"

The point here is that your client begins over here, and they want to be over there, and your job is to design a plane that gets them there as fast as humanly possible. 

But here's the thing about flying on a plane: there are some things that you have to do before you can get on the plane. You've got to pack your own bags, you've got to drive yourself to the airport, you've got to park your own car, and you’d better be at the gate by a certain time so you can make the flight. These things have to happen.

If you'll do that, then here's what happens: There's a pre-built plane; the plane's already made. There's a cockpit, there's a pilot who's flying the plane, there are flight attendants waiting to serve, and there are seats for you to sit in. Right? All you have to do is take a seat, and the plane can take off.

Now there is some communication that happens while we're on the plane, a bit of experience that happens while we're on the plane, but the vast majority of the plane is already built. The promise that the airline makes you is that if you'll do your job and get on the plane, we'll take you exactly where you want to be.

Your services should be designed in the exact same way. So let's think about how that might be applied.

TAKE YOUR CLIENTS EXACTLY WHERE THEY WANT TO GO

If you're doing digital marketing services, there are certain things that your best client needs to already have in place, right? 

  • They need to have an existing web presence, if that's important. 
  • They need to already have a target client. 
  • They need to already have metrics that matter to them. 

These are things that should already be in place, and so you've got to be clear with your client about what should already be in place. 

If they'll get those things in order, then you can invite them onto the plane where things are already set up. There's already a captain to fly the plane, there are already flight attendants, there's already a seat waiting for them. They can jump on that plane, they can experience the process, you go through that process with them. 

And when they get to the last step, they are exactly where they wanted to be. Whether that's more views, more likes, more shares, more revenue, more clients, whatever number is important to them, they’re exactly where they wanted to be. 

The rub for you is: are your services designed this way? 

  • Do you challenge your clients to get their act together before you start working? 
  • Do you make it clear to your clients that there is a pre-built process designed to get them where they want to go and it’s already staffed and waiting for them? 
  • Do your clients already understand that there's an elegant way that you take them through the process that is easy and enjoyable for them to receive? 
  • Have you made it clear that by the time they get to the last step, they will be exactly where they want to be?

Your services should not only be described this way, they should be designed this way, so that when you make the promise to your client, you and your team are already prepared to facilitate it for them. 

If you're not doing this, that may be why you're having trouble selling your services. I’ve posted a series of videos and articles detailing how to put this process into practice for specific digital marketing niches. So whether you’re a web designer, copywriter, social media marketer, or what-have-you, you’ll find advice and examples tailored to your specialty.  

Digital marketing services: 10 different examples

  • How to Sell Twitter Marketing Services - link here
  • How to Sell Facebook Marketing Services - link here
  • How to Sell LinkedIn Marketing Services - link here
  • How to Sell Web Design Services - link here
  • How to Sell Graphic Design Services - link here
  • How to Sell Conversion Rate Optimization Services - link here
  • How to Sell Copywriting Services - link here
  • How to Sell Content Marketing Services - link here
  • How to Sell PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Management Services - link here
  • How to Sell Youtube Marketing Services - link here

Click on one of the links above to learn more about piloting your particular plane model in a way that takes your clients where they want to go. Remember, if you can get your clients where they want to be, then you’re exactly where you want to be. 

5 Comments

  1. AbsoluteRays Digital on March 29, 2020 at 9:36 pm

    Hi Alzay
    It’ very helpful for us to dig more about marketing on various platforms.
    Thanks.

  2. Damien Kash on August 3, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Very Interesting. Run, drive or fly. It makes sense! Great article Thanks.

  3. Patryk Miszczak on January 10, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Very helpful tips.

    Thanks!

  4. Jake Symons on January 30, 2021 at 9:55 am

    This was a really helpful read love the “flight path” idea!

    • Coveted Consultant on February 1, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Glad to hear it Jake. It can be a complex topic, I try to simplify it 😉

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