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5 Tactics for Achieving Real Scale in Your Agency

In today's article, you will learn five strategies that you can implement in the new year to see sustainable, lasting growth.

5 Tactics for Achieving Real Scale in Your Agency

Each agency owner needs to look to the future. That means understanding how to scale and grow your business.

Yet, despite this truth, it's easier said than done.

Many agencies face very complicated and common challenges while attempting to grow their business. There's a vast difference in making one client happy with your services, and keeping over 100 clients satisfied.

“Should you hire young talent or bring in experienced leaders? Should you raise another round of capital or opt for an early exit? Suddenly, your early startup struggles seem easy. As the founder of a fledgling startup, you saw the path forward as pretty clear. But, now? You’re in unchartered waters. So, what’s next?”

-- Brian Hughes, marketing consultant

Agencies around the world face a similar dilemma.

Everyone wants to scale. However, many people refuse to recognize the dangers of growing too quickly. If you don't have the right processes and systems in place, you may do more harm than good. The last thing you need to do is hurt your reputation before you have the chance to shine.

In today's article, you will learn five strategies that you can implement in the new year to see sustainable, lasting growth.

Use Scalable Platforms

You need to understand the big picture. It's important if you want to sustainably grow your business. And the business of your clients, for that matter.

When an agency first offers services, they frequently choose a system that's suitable for one-off projects, but not necessarily for a large amount of work.

Example #1: WordPress

Many web design firms begin create websites using Wordpress, but soon discover that cost of development is very unpredictable.

“When choosing a platform, many of our customers originally started with WordPress. However, the popular content management system (CMS) isn’t always the best choice, especially for agencies working with small or medium-size businesses, as it has a way of creating some major scope creep issues.”

-- Itai Sadan, CEO of Duda

Clients often need custom solutions, unique CSS, premium plugins, and utility widgets just to get a basic site operating. It’s just not scalable.

Example #2: Advancing Technology

Building on the challenges of our fictitious web design firm, let's consider Google's announcement of mobile-first indexing being the next important facet of search optimization.

Agencies using Wordpress, for example, will have to massively rework individual websites.

A scalable agency, however, has predicted issues like this and built their websites on a platform designed to take care of large scale alterations for clients.

This goes for every system in your agency whether it's for delivery, production or planning.

“Not having processes in place to facilitate workflow is like turning on a fire hydrant without connecting the hose — no one knows what’s going on and all you end up with is a big mess.”

-- Shaun Buck, customer retention expert

Implementing the best platform before you accelerate growth is important. Not to mention, it enables you to give a higher level of service to your clients.

Pick a Niche

After choosing the right platforms, it's time to pick a niche. this is the core competency that you offer as an agency. It's what you want to be known for.

It seems a bit counterintuitive, but specializing in one specific area can actually help you grow your business. By mastering a specific expertise, you become intimately familiar with the nuances of the industry.

And this is very valuable to clients.

As an owner, choosing a niche makes your life easier too. Every decision you make -- whether about creative, customer service, marketing or otherwise -- becomes much easier.

For agencies, you can niche-down based on a few different factors:

  • B2B vs. B2C

  • Industry-Specific (e.g. Tech, Auto, Finance, etc.)

  • Marketing Vertical (e.g. Web Design, Content, Mobile Apps, etc.)

  • Local (e.g. City, Territory, Region, Nation, etc.)

There is such a thing as becoming too niche. Make sure any market you enter has enough demand for you to supply.

Leverage Scope Creep

It’s important to increase the Lifetime Value (LTV) of your clients. Many turn to account management -- buying expensive dinners and gifts to make them feel special.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very scalable way to do business.

Plus there's a more effective strategy that often goes overlooked: managing scope creep.

I know that doesn't sound as sexy as cocktails, dinners, gifts, and extravagant travels of an account man on Mad Men… But it is effective at scaling practical, efficient agencies.

Smart agencies don’t fear scope creep. Instead, they see it as a sales opportunity. When a client wants more than your initial contract stated, it shows that they want more of you.

So, give them that.

Start identifying moments where you could speak to the client about branching into new territory with you at their side. It’s a simple way to grow. And you didn’t even need to buy him dinner first.

Find Trusted Fulfilment Partners

Rapid growth means in rapid accumulation of work that needs to be delivered. And often in a short amount of time. For many, growth gets stalled simply because they cannot find the manpower to properly service client contracts.

Hiring takes time. Not just actually finding a suitable employee, but also in the additional expenses, training, and attention they'll need from you.

Instead, smart agencies are scaling through outsourcing.

These fulfillment providers give you the opportunity to focus on sales -- while other creative professionals take on the time-intensive responsibility of creativity and execution. It's important to properly vet any third-party vendors. But it's time well spent. If you can find partners you can trust, the possibilities are endless.

Careful vetting of third-party vendors is critical, but finding those trusted partners is well worth the effort. Who knows -- maybe you’ll be helping them scale right along with you.

Conclusion

Do you want to scale your agency in 2018?

It's a tall order, but one that you can accomplish with proper execution.

All it takes is a bit of ambition, understanding, and work ethic. Approach your goal of growth with this mindset and nothing can stop you from scaling to become as large as you want.


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