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How to create a marketing portfolio that wins clients over

Digital marketing agency portfolio

Your marketing portfolio isn’t just a tool—it’s an opportunity. After all, what better way to engage new clients and land new work? At its peak, the portfolio can serve as a resume, a billboard, and an interactive website all rolled into one.

Portfolio examples are easily accessible, and showcase countless methods and approaches. Separating yourself, no doubt, can be a challenge. But it’s a good challenge—one that you should be excited to meet.

Why an impressive marketing portfolio is good for business

The purpose and benefits of a marketing portfolio are pretty straightforward. It’s a forum to demonstrate your abilities. It’s a chance to launch relationships with prospective clients. And it’s a way to establish your brand.

If you’re doing it optimally, though, creating your portfolio delivers an even wider range of benefits than you might realize.

  • Say exactly what you want The portfolio is a self-contained space where you can do and say exactly what you want. This gives you the opportunity to fully explore, and hone, that message—for the world at large and for yourself.

  • Make room for improvement In creating a document for outside appraisal, you’re also holding a mirror up to your skills and offerings. By showcasing what you do well, you might discover what you can do better or differently.

  • Check out the competition If you’re performing proper due diligence, you’re also studying competitor portfolios. This process can provide invaluable insight into your position in the marketplace, and into the plan of action you can take to improve it.

  • Collaborate with your team The portfolio is a creative project in its own right, ideally involving the talents and perspectives of numerous members of your team. It’s an effective way to get different departments collaborating on one common goal.

10 tips for creating a marketing portfolio that generates leads

To make sure your hard work pays off, follow our step by step guide to creating a marketing portfolio that helps you win the clients you want.

  1. Showcase 5-6 samples of your best work

  2. Keep it updated and current

  3. Create a mission statement

  4. Think about the customer journey

  5. Share how each project performed

  6. Describe the process behind each project

  7. Include your logo, tagline and services

  8. Make it simple to get in touch

  9. Update constantly

  10. Try new stuff

1. Showcase 5-6 samples of your best work

The recipient of your portfolio doesn’t expect—or even want—to look at too many samples. Whether you’re an agency with a wide scope of projects or a freelancer, experts suggest showcasing no more than 7 or 8 past projects. Any more and you can risk overkill. As you assess what to include, emphasize quality over quantity and check out other creative portfolios for inspiration.

A single well-chosen sample can underline your aptitude across multiple mediums, not to mention your strategic-thinking skills and general vision.

2. Keep it updated and current

You might value a piece of older work that’s especially impressive, or that represents a key point in your career. But it’s preferable to focus on samples that are as current as possible. This approach accomplishes a few things. To start, you’re indicating that you’ve created high-quality work recently and you’re assuring potential clients that you’re on top of the latest trends and tools.

If you decide to include projects that go back more than a decade, make sure that the work is particularly strong and distinct—and that it’s preceded by plenty of newer material. Keep updating your portfolio as you produce new work and retire older pieces that may not feel as relevant.

3. Create a mission statement

The date of a project is an important filter for selection. Beyond that, you have a lot of latitude. Consult, or create, your agency’s mission statement, and note which adjectives jump out. What’s the “why” behind your agency or freelance business? What examples most effectively show this?

Your higher-profile jobs might not properly demonstrate your prowess at graphic design. Or you might be proud of some great work you’ve done, but the product is a little off-message. In general, you can rarely go wrong highlighting integrated campaigns, such as one mixing traditional assets (print) with video and other forms of social media.

4. Think about the customer journey

Potential clients aren’t simply assessing your portfolio—they’re taking a journey through it. Every project you choose is a tile in a larger mosaic, and should interlock to create the most satisfying portrait.

Always keep in mind the relationship between samples. If the imagery you’ve used on two large accounts is strikingly similar, are you affirming your brand—or possibly pigeonholing yourself? If your content sounds similar from one project to the next, are you demonstrating resourceful use of templates—or hinting at a lack of imagination? Envision that total experience and optimize the customer journey.

5. Share how each project performed

No doubt, an optimal marketing portfolio does more “showing” than “telling.” Still, you want to be as clear as possible on specs. On each sample, include any relevant dates, costs, assets, and results. Share the project’s key performance indicators (KPIs) and include numbers explaining how you accomplished the goal. Your reader will appreciate the clarity.

6. Describe the process behind each project

As a byproduct of Step #5, consider a short description that takes the reader point-by-point through your process on a particular project. Different projects can give you the chance to dig into different techniques—you can explore, a product-launch, a process-adjustment, or a new customer channel. Display an approach that’s unique to you, and that makes everyone involved look good.

The goal here is not just to show what you did, but how you did it. You’re giving everyone a window into the way you think, work, and collaborate.

7. Include your logo, tagline and services

A portfolio might demonstrate your skills, but those skills have been deployed to construct your client’s image. You want your potential next client thinking about your image. Make sure to build a consistent visual “framework” for your portfolio, ideally composed of your brand’s signature color, typeface, and design-style. On your homepage, feature your logo, a tagline, and the services you offer.

8. Make it simple to get in touch

By truly engaging prospective clients, you increase your chances of converting them into actual customers. Your portfolio affords plenty of opportunity to make that fledgling connection active and personal. Include call-to-actions that link to social media channels, lead-capture forms, and subscription-sign-up features.

As the site-journey gets more active, you’ve started the relationship before that first direct call.

9. Tell you and your team’s story

On your “about” page, include short bios of your team members and profile photos, so potential clients will get a better idea of who your team is. You can add more of your team’s personality and give potential clients an idea of what working with your agency might be like.

10. Go above and beyond

As a piece of artwork, your portfolio can be as creative as it is informative. Every choice represents an aesthetic decision as much as a business one, and there really are no official “rules.” So, once you’ve laid your foundation, don’t hesitate to experiment or even innovate. If you want to include a section on “influences,” use the opportunity to draw the link between iconic designs and your own.