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Are You Why Your Digital Marketing Agency is Failing?
In my experience, a digital marketing agency business, or any agency for that matter, is either growing or failing. There’s no standing still.
If you aim to maintain the status quo, you’ll end up freelancing. Why? Because you won’t or can’t risk taking on too many overheads that empower growth, e.g. employing a team. Your revenue forecast is just too unstable and unpredictable.
Either that, or you’ll end up with the worst job in the world (see Michael Gerber’s eMyth). Long hours, little security and lots of risks.
I’ll write another post arguing my point on why digital marketing agencies can’t standstill. But, for now, we’ll focus on why – as agency principle – it’s your fault your agency isn’t growing a.k.a. it’s failing.
Let’s assume you’ve made the sensible decision to grow your agency. You’ve gone through the critical steps for creating a lead generation engine:
1. create a big hairy audacious goal and a vision that inspires
2. choose a niche service and or sector, so you aren’t the jack of all trades
3. define a set of values that align with your vision to motivate your team
4. work out your target audience and value props so you can market effectively
5. start producing content that engages your audience around their pain points
6. manage your pipeline well including proper lead qualification
But guess what. It isn’t working is it? You simply aren’t growing.
You’ve been at this for 12-months, and your digital marketing/web dev/PR/influencer shop is still working on shitty accounts. You know the ones – those with bugger all budget, no idea what they want and no clue how to brief, let alone manage your agency.
Here’s why it isn’t working. It’s you. And here are the mistakes you’re probably making.
Problem 1: you’re taking on shitty accounts for cash flow.
You know the clients, those with no budget and no clue. You know you shouldn’t be taking them, but you have the pressure of cash flow and payroll to meet as well as winning blue chip clients.
Before you know it, you’ve got 10 of these crap accounts, and you’re spending all your time managing clients.
Problem 2: you’re hiring very junior team members.
When you decide to grow, the chances are you start by hiring a junior account exec type to get you going. You do this because they’re cheap – after all, it’s your money, and you like holidays too. Also, you’re the expert in your trade, and you can teach them the product quickly enough.
But you didn’t realise how much time it would take to hold their hand, teach them your product and placate upset clients after they f*ck it up too.
Problem 3: nobody can really do the job as well as you. Right?
If you started your agency, the chances are you’re good at your trade. Nobody can code a website as well as you, or they don’t have the media contacts, or they haven’t the same experience in the Google Ads platform.
As a result, you oversee every account, managing the biggest yourself and keeping a close eye on progress. Your clients are happy because you’re very visible. But you have limited time available for anything else.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
When, as an agency principal, you’re managing accounts, clients and projects, you’re not working on growing your agency business. And, as an agency principal, your job is no longer about client management – at least not in the day to day running of projects. Your job is to run your agency and make it grow.
This job means important things like:
• marketing your marketing agency
• managing team performance and minimising staff churn
• qualifying enquiries
• mapping out operational processes
• meeting prospective clients, partners and investors
That’s where you add real value.
Being an agency principal is not about being the best media relations practitioner, or coder, or digital advertiser or being a ninja in Adobe Illustrator.
It’s about running a business — something you probably haven’t done before.
So, here’s the hard truth. If you’re not comfortable with that and you’re still delivering websites, or brochure, or events, or other marketing services, then you’re almost certainly the reason why your agency is not growing, i.e. failing.
And that’s fine. There will always be room for lifestyle businesses and freelancers. But it’s not okay if you want to grow and eventually exit with a decent earn out.
The fact is, you need to get out of your way and let your digital marketing agency team breathe life into client service, while you build the business infrastructure. You know the old cliché of “working on the business and not in the business.”
If you want to work out how best to run your business, take a look at the Agency Squared training courses, masterminds and coaching. Agency Squared is run by experienced agency folks, people like you, who have already walked a mile in your shoes.
Join our tribe and find your ‘A Game’ in digital marketing agency management.