How to Scale Your Marketing Agency Quickly and Effectively
When it comes to agencies, growth is the name of the game. You grow or you die trying. And, sadly, it seems that a large chunk of digital and creative marketing agencies have done this over the past 24 months.
The reason most marketing agencies don’t survive is because they don’t understand how to scale. effectively. They may experience growth, but this is usually gradual. In other words, a 10% growth is usually accompanied by a 7-10% increase in expenses. Thus, despite the increase in turnover, the net profit remains relatively unchanged.
Evolutionary growth must be the goal. In other words, you need to look for ways to effectively grow your agency in a way that generates exponential profits. My goal in this article is to show you exactly how the best agencies are doing it in today’s market.
Are these factors limiting the growth of your marketing agency?
Before we get too deep into the weeds of scaling your marketing agency, let’s look at some of the factors that can really limit your growth.
- Interchangeability. If someone lands on your website, reads one of your emails, or visits one of your social media pages, is that totally, undeniably, 100% unique? Or could they visit any other online agency’s website and find the same things? If your online presence is interchangeable, you will never evolve at the rate you desire. You must be unique.
- No discretion. Are you accepting new clients interested in your services? This may be fine in the early stages of starting an agency, but a lack of discretion with new clients is one of the biggest factors limiting growth.
- Poor UX. How is your online user experience (UX)? If it’s full of friction, good luck convincing the best clients to work with you. They are judge your ability to help them based on your own online presence. If it doesn’t pass the smell test, they’re gone.
- Poor financial management. A lack of proper behind-the-scenes financial management can wreak havoc on your business and prevent you from achieving the kind of growth you seek. A great example of this is not having an emergency fund (which is caused by you withdrawing all of your profits from the business each month).
- Customer creep. One of the tricky parts of running an agency is that you are responsible for so many different aspects of your clients’ business. Unfortunately, the lines can get blurry and you can end up working on things you really shouldn’t be spending your time on in the first place. This is called “customer creep”.
- DIY mentality. Do you have a DIY mentality where you feel like you have to do it all on your own? Again, this stifles growth. You need to learn to outsource, delegate and take a step back (so you can work on your business and not in this.)
Chances are at least one of these factors is at play in your agency (and it prevents you achieve the kind of growth you want and need). Start by identifying what these factors are. Then move on to the next section to learn how to easily scale your agency.
5 tips to scale your marketing agency
Alright, now that we’ve discussed some of the factors that inhibit agency growth, let’s take a look at some of my favorite strategies for scaling an agency.
If you’re a generalist, good luck scaling your agency. No one wants to work with a general agency these days. You have to niche in and build your agency on a very specific and unique message.
Niche options include geography (businesses in New York), industry (financial services), company size (500-2,000 employees), or even business model (software as a service).
Once you’ve identified a niche, it’s time to develop a unique selling proposition (USP) to communicate exactly what sets you apart from the competition.
You can create a USP using a number of different formulas, but here is a very simple and effective one:
“We help [NICHE] reach [BIGGEST DESIRE] without [PAIN POINT].”
For instance, “We help lawyers add 20 new clients a month without having to run obnoxious radio ads or TV commercials.”
It is also useful to be able to create a name for the system or process you are using. (This is often referred to as a “one-size-fits-all mechanism.”) You don’t actually have to change the way you do business – just give your process a name. Here are some examples:
- The exhibition plan
- Online growth system
- Digital Catalyst Process
You can include your unique mechanism in your USP. Using the example above, it would look like this: “Lawyers use our ‘Digital Catalyst Process’ to add 20 new clients per month without having to run obnoxious radio ads or TV commercials.”
Do you see how much more powerful your message would be if you were to nestle, name your unique mechanism, and create a separate USP?
You can save a lot of time (and reduce customer creep) by improving your onboarding process. Specifically, you need to take that time to gather the right information and set appropriate expectations.
When a client agrees to work with you, they should be required to fill out very specific forms that give you all the relevant information you need to help them grow. This includes things like logos, hex color codes, mission statements, value propositions, all digital assets, company history, social account logins and passwords, etc. .
At the same time, you need to review exactly what is included in your services and what is not. Make it very clear that anything not included in your services incurs additional monthly charges.
- Outsource time-consuming business areas
Some elements of your client packages just don’t save you time. In other words, they take a lot more time than they’re worth (or they’re outside of your area of expertise).
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a prime example. Unless you have a background in SEO, it probably doesn’t come naturally to you. The good news is that you can still offer these services to your clients – you just need to outsource them.
With white label SEOyou are able to partner with an experienced SEO company on the backend and offer fully customized and personalized SEO services to your clients on the frontend.
- Have freelancers on speed dial
Part of scaling an agency is being ready for anything. While it would be nice if your business called very predictably, that’s not always the case. One month you can add one customer and the next you can add 11. You need to be prepared for both scenarios.
Because it’s not practical (or smart) to hire more employees than you need right now, the best option is to have a list of reliable freelancers on speed dial who can accept contracts. to help you fill in the gaps temporarily.
- Create SOPs for everything
The first time you do something will always be the longest and most expensive. But if you learn to document and repeat these processes in the future, you can save time and money down the road.
Want an easy way to organize your business and get to where jobs can be handed over to new hires with minimal training? The secret is to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs). These are documents that explain how a task is handled in a series of simple steps. Whenever an employee is promoted or leaves, all you have to do is hand the SOPs to the replacement and they can take over from there.
Execution in scaling your marketing agency
I just gave you a lot of information and ideas. And that being said, don’t try to implement them all this week (or even this month). Instead, pick one tip and act on it immediately. Once you feel like you’ve perfected that one, move on to another. This patient approach will eventually yield results. It may take time, but you’ll be looking in six to 12 months and finding your agency in a much healthier place.