Starting a digital marketing agency is a great idea for aspiring entrepreneurs. But don’t do it. Don’t sacrifice your respectable 9-5, your peace of mind, your personal relationships, and your savings for something that, if you’re honest with yourself, you’re not actually willing to work for. Especially if you think the “digital” in “digital marketing agency” means you’re going to hang out in pajamas all day and do everything from behind an LCD. Here’s the problem with new digital marketing agencies: they think they’re going to find a bunch of leads and nurture them into customers without ever meeting face to face. Crazy, right? Ok, it’s not absolutely nuts but it’s true that an unfortunate number of digital marketing agencies embark on what should be the path to financial freedom and find themselves instead on the path to financial ruin because they don’t want to leave their comfort zone or don’t have the time to network. The things that are possible with technology are seemingly limitless. But even in a digital world, there are at least three areas of the sales process that are more successful with face-to-face interaction. Initial Contact My company provides white label SEO services and software to digital marketing agencies of all sizes, new and established. Our partners only have to sell; we fulfill the services. Of the hundreds of agencies we have worked with over the years, our most successful partners have one thing in common: a willingness to put feet to pavement and network. Specifically, trade shows, chambers of commerce meetings, business association meetings, and similar events are all great places to meet potential customers. Admittedly, it can be challenging. Especially if you’re not an outgoing person. But it is critical. There is so much more you can accomplish via a handshake than you can with an email. In a recent interview, we asked one of our most successful partners if it was ever too early to begin networking activities. He responded by saying, “I got into the networking game much later than I should have. I felt, at the beginning, that I was too new. I wish that I had gotten into networking a little bit earlier.” Take it from a man who knows his way around an event floor: it’s never too late to start growing your Rolodex. Building Trust There are many important value propositions for companies that want to outperform the competition. For local businesses, trust is often the missing piece needed to finally make a hard-to-close sale. Especially considering that your prospective clients might be familiar with the horror stories of spammy link builders, wasteful AdWords campaigns, or half done social media marketing. It happens more than you think. Your job is to set yourself apart from every other option they have. Even in the digital world, that means meeting face to face, shaking hands, and looking each other in the eye. As you may have guessed, there is science behind the trust that you can build through a face-to-face meeting. Touching in a business setting activates the reward system of your brain. Through an interaction like shaking hands, you are conveying warmth and trust. So whether it’s a follow-up meeting, a pitch, or a proposal hand off, consider doing it in person. Even if you don’t make the sale, you still emerge as trustworthy and reliable. Who knows what will happen with their current provider. Or, if a friend asks for a recommendation for a reliable marketing agency. Your name might be the one that comes up. Closing the Sale You would think the case for closing sales face to face hardly needs to be made. And indeed, this is the one area of selling where most of our agency partners understand they need to meet prospective clients in person. But it’s not a no-brainer for everyone, and it should be. Why? Because the rate of converting prospects almost doubles when closing happens face to face. Leads and conversions can be in short supply in the early days of a digital marketing agency. Any advantage you can give yourself is well worth your time. Furthermore, new digital marketing agencies don’t always have portfolios and client testimonials to leverage. They can instead leverage sincerity and availability – a willingness to meet in person and answer questions. This could backfire of course if you don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. But I would argue that you don’t need to be an expert on digital marketing, SEO, or whatever you’re selling to make this work. You only need to be an expert on how you can help their business grow, drive customers to their website, increase their web presence, etc. Ultimately, that’s what they’re looking for and that’s how you’re going to close the sale. Final Thoughts Here’s a telling fact: Agency partners that begin their digital marketing agency with an existing and often impressive network are the partners which value networking the most. It would be easy to assume that these partners don’t need to network. The truth is that these are the partners who have learned that face-to-face interaction is the best way to find quality leads and nurture them into customers.