How to Structure a Marketing Strategy (Exact Onboarding Process For New Clients)


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This week’s guest, Pat Ahern, is the founder of the digital marketing agency, Junto. In this episode we dive into how he onboards and structures a marketing plan for a new client. We discuss the discovery process (his secrets to uncovering which marketing tactics to use) and how he distributes the work to his 100% remote team of freelancers.


Why did you decide to have your agency be run by freelancers?

  • Background – previously worked at an established agency that wasn’t as receptive to change – one of those changes being the freelance economy
  • There is amazing talent in your city, but there is an even wider pool of amazing talent if you embrace the freelance economy
  • Currently, have a team of 30 freelancers 
  • If you hire a freelancer that doesn’t work out it’s mainly on you for not vetting them properly


How do you onboard a new client?

  • Discovery process
    • Usually about 40-60 questions for the client (1.5-2 hours)
    • We have a team meeting before the call to research the business and understand it
    • We also send over a 20 questionnaire

Realize that the client doesn’t always know their target as well as they should. It’s YOUR job to research the client and really understand the target market even better than the client does.


Do you specialize in one specific industry and if not, how do you ensure that your content is at an expert industry level?

  • We are currently working towards achieving greater focus and specialization
  • We started with a general approach and now have a diverse portfolio
  • Now that we have a diverse portfolio, we will narrow down on the businesses we have produced the best results for
  • Focus on working with businesses that will be 1.) profitable 2.) provide great case studies 3.) are fun and enjoyable to work on


Do you ever ask for any data from the clients, like a sales call?

  • We do this for clients that are going to be on larger retainers
  • At what point is the research element going to force us to significantly increase prices?
  • Try just looking at their customers on Reddit or Quora
  • This is appropriate for agencies that are working with $5,000-10,000 per month contracts


How do you structure a plan for a new client?

  • Ask the clients who their biggest competitors are
  • We then create our own external list 
  • Then choose the biggest competitors and look at their top-performing content assets/keywords
  • Evaluate that content and ask if it’s realistic for us to outrank them in the next several months
    • What’s the word count for the article? Study by Backlinko
    • Look at backlink profiles. 

How do you respond to clients that sell a product that doesn’t involve much pre purchase research?

  • I usually don’t work with these types of clients and can tell within the first sales call
  • We often refer people out to paid media companies


How to Build a Stronger Backlink Profile

  • “Links are the currency of the internet”
  • Are the clients we are working with a household brand? If not, we include link building
    • We start with creating the most informative guide on the internet
    • Build relationships with new publisher sites and publishers that have a history of linking to similar content
    • Focus on quality, not quantity. You can test both approaches, but we lean towards quality


Why do you choose to call yourself a Content agency when you really do SEO as well?

  • Clients only care about how keywords are driving sales “Ok, but how does that impact sales?”
  • SEO has a negative connotation


If you were to give advice to someone just starting out today, what would you say?

  • Spend as much time upfront documenting processes
  • The people you have on your team are the most valuable asset you have

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