Growing a Digital Agency as a business is hard. You start out with one or two customers that want the world from you, even if you’ve agreed to provide much less than that. You want to keep your niche and develop from there but to win more business you find yourself jumping in every direction. Before you know it you call yourself a full-service digital marketing agency and are a jack of all trades, which is the very thing you promised your agency wasn’t going to be. Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

So, where do we go from here?

There are a few strategies and tactics you can put into place to help your digital agency create a steady stream of successful clients and help you, as the agency owner prosper. Having organized three virtual events with twenty-two key speakers on the growth of digital agencies, we’ve learned a thing or two about it. Here are ten quick tips that should get you started in this post:

  1. A method for winning new business
  2. Productizing your agency
  3. Getting (internally) organized
  4. Your website copy
  5. Focussing on Value
  6. Achieving super profitability
  7. Continuous training
  8. Efficiency and outsourcing
  9. Networking and Events
  10. Marketing

Tip #01 – Develop a process for winning new business, then repeat it

When starting, it’s important to have a repeatable process for winning new clients. This could involve creating outbound marketing strategies such as writing proposals, responding to RFPs, or even cold-calling potential customers. But before you put your sales hat on, make sure you have a repeatable process that will help you focus your efforts and increase your chances of winning new clients. This means making your agency’s team create a process for executing digital marketing campaigns at scale and having very clear follow-up tasks. You should know exactly what needs to be done and in which order when client referrals or new hot leads come in. Who answers which lead magnet? Who initiates the onboarding process? What happens when that person is away?

You need to put your marketing agency hat on and treat yourself as your own best client.

Your potential clients are surely out there, make sure your digital marketing efforts are reaching all of them. It doesn’t matter if you’re targeting small business owners or big eCommerce businesses, you need to understand how your service offerings map to your client’s business. Once you have built a way to identify that fit, organize yourself around that niche, create lead magnets for it, build data around it, write about it, study it. This is the genesis of specialization for your digital marketing agency.

product

Tip #02 – Productize your digital agency

Offering a wide range of services can be difficult when it comes to pricing and profitability. It’s much easier to price and sell products than it is to price and sell a service. Try developing agency-specific products that can be easily added, removed, or changed as needed. This will help you become more profitable while also allowing your agency to grow at your pace. Your new revenue streams strategy should be built on prioritizing product revenue rather than specialized services revenues, unlike the vast majority of other agencies. Don’t get us wrong, most successful agencies are great at providing general digital marketing as in content marketing, search engine optimization, google ads, or SEO audit services for their current clients, but serious agency growth is at productization and adopting new pricing models.

For clarity, we’re not talking about developing software tools here.

Software product development could involve a tool that’s specific to your agency’s or client’s needs. But it also requires a very specific resource and skill set for a marketing agency. This could be something as simple as a WordPress plugin, a payment gateway, or even a custom CRM system. After all, digital agencies are known for being on the cutting edge of technology and innovation, If you can, so why not provide that to clients?

But the type of productization we’re talking about here is around the packaging of your digital marketing services and your service operations model more than anything.

Here’s a great video masterclass to watch on what Productization means for your digital agency. Hear Mr. Lee Goff, Founder of Your Marketing Agency Coach talk about how to create client relationships based on products as opposed to time-based billing like many full-service agencies. This speech was live-streamed at the Brands SUMMIT by Agency Growth Events in December 2021.

organized boxes

Tip #03 – Get organized, divide and conquer (the tasks)

In the beginning, you may find yourself doing everything for everyone to get new business and keep customers happy even if you know that’s not the recipe for a successful agency. This can be a lot of work and can quickly become overwhelming. Try to get organized as soon as possible by creating project management processes and procedures for common tasks for your in house team. Not only will this make your life easier, but it will also show potential clients that you’re professional and capable of handling their projects. You’ll need to build up muscle memory in your sales process, marketing reports, content marketing, and pretty much everything else. Do this by creating agency-specific templates and a system that can be used for all your projects.

You can look at three key areas to identify domain-specific processes and appoint key people to take care of them:

  1. Sales
  2. Marketing
  3. Finance and other Admin

As a digital marketing agency, you must already be really good at marketing, so we’ll leave that to the side for now.

Sales

The sales function of a digital marketing agency is responsible for acquiring new clients and generating revenue. The sales team must be able to identify and qualify potential clients, and then develop and execute a sales strategy that will result in closed deals. They must also be able to manage the sales process from beginning to end, and continually track and report on sales performance.

The sales team is also responsible for maintaining relationships with current clients. This includes developing long-term client relationships, providing excellent customer service, and responding to client requests in a timely manner.

Finance

A digital marketing agency’s finance function is responsible for all the financial aspects of the agency, from bookkeeping and accounting to financial planning and forecasting. To effectively manage the agency’s finances, the finance team must be able to accurately track revenue and expenses. They must also be able to forecast future income and expenses so that the agency can make sound financial decisions.

The finance team is also responsible for ensuring that the agency remains profitable and sustainable. This includes setting and monitoring budgets, as well as developing strategies to increase revenue and reduce expenses. The finance team must also ensure that the agency complies with all financial regulations.

A fully outsourced finance team is also a good way of focussing on where you ad value, and letting others add value where they can. Our friends at The Wow Company might be a very good place to start inquiring about that.

So, which key process to tackle first?

One of the key points to get right in building relationships with existing clients and new clients alike is the client onboarding process. Most digital marketing agencies concentrate too much on getting more clients or selling additional services to existing ones that they may overlook how transformative a well-designed onboarding process is from a customer success and retention standpoint. Happy clients buy more services, become your advocates and willingly take part in your referral program. Try to see your own client as a multiplier for your agency.

colour selection

Tip #04 – Live what you preach: Build that perfect website

A digital marketing agency website must have cutting-edge web design, industry-leading content marketing, a perfectly placed lead magnet for prospective clients, professional headshots of the in house team, quotes from a few select current customers, a clear list of service offerings and so much more. You can experiment, show off your creative side, be bold and go crazy or even go the other way and build something that is a lean mean lead generation machine. But be aware, when it comes to impressing a prospective client, your own website is the first measure of your pedigree. Specialized agencies have the upper hand here as they inherently understand their client’s business domain better than most agencies that do not have an industry specialization.

Your blog

As agency owners, we know you’re not just digital marketing experts: You also have a great understanding of the ins and outs of your field, so your website must be up to date with industry knowledge. The agency blog can be a place where the agency owner shares some insights on relevant topics such as market trends or best practices for solving different marketing challenges. This is where you nurture thought leadership.

Your Copy

Perhaps the most important part of any website is the copy. You need to be very clear on what you do and how you can help potential clients. Remember, people will not spend more than a few seconds scanning your website before moving on, so make sure the key messages stand out.

We were very lucky to have Roland Gurney, Founder and Senior Copywriter at Treacle, speak at our Agency Growth Events Camp One in September 2021 on this very topic. In this recording, you’ll find tips on how to write copy that stands out and tells a story to your potential clients and helps you build relationships with them even before they become customers.

Price and value

Tip #05 – Focus on value, not price

When it comes to selling services, many digital agencies just focus on price. This can be a mistake. Instead of focusing on price, focus on the value you’re providing your clients. What are they getting for their money? How is your agency helping them achieve their goals? When you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to sell your agency’s services at a higher price while still providing good value to your clients.

Digital Agencies need to remember that they’re in the business of solving problems for their clients.

So, think about what solutions you can offer your clients and focus on communicating those solutions to them. Don’t just offer digital marketing services like paid ads management or opening up gates of the content marketing world for your client, but talk about the value the qualified leads they’ll get after all your efforts will bring for their business. Position yourself as a growth enabler for your customers, not a mere digital marketing service provider that bills for services provided and not the results. Make sure you tie your results all the way into revenue generated for your customer.

This will help you sell your agency’s services at a higher price point while still providing good value. And when it comes time to renew a client’s agency contract, you’ll be able to sell more services and get the renewal at a higher price. Remember, price is only a conversation in the absence of value.

more is more

Tip #06 – Get more profitable. Easy to say right?

To grow your agency, you need to be sustainably profitable, there’s no shame in it. This means finding ways to increase your margins and becoming more efficient with your time and resources. you can keep on adding a lead magnet here and there, executing more digital marketing campaigns and all, but in the end, if your operations are not profitable enough to start with, more clients won’t lead to more profit.

There are a number of ways to achieve high profitability, including developing agency-specific products, increasing your prices, and becoming more selective with the clients you work with. Many digital agencies fail to measure the profitability of their service offerings separately and end up pricing their services with a combination of gut feel and trial and error. You need to go past this point to achieve true Agency Growth at scale.

Here’s some incredible insight on how to grow your profitability with a combination of different strategies by Peter Czapp, Co-Founder of The Wow Company. This talk was recorded live at Camp One by Agency Growth Events in October 2021.

weights

Tip #07 – Train your team, create a competitive edge.

As your agency grows, you’ll need to start training new employees. This can be a difficult task if you’re not used to it. As part of your onboarding process try creating a training program that covers the basics of what you do and how you do it and make it mandatory for all new starters no matter how senior they might be. This will help new employees get up to speed quickly while also ensuring that they’re learning your agency’s way to do things. Thanks to the latest training software, there are far more efficient ways of doing things now than there were a few years ago, so make sure new employees get up to speed with the latest trends and techniques.

How to choose a good digital marketing course for your team?

If you’re unsure of where to start, a great place to look for digital marketing trends and the latest courses, as well as corporate marketing training, is DAN Institute. Our friends at the Digital Agency Network have compiled a great selection of training programs at their new dedicated page and you can access it right here.

You could also have a look at one of our Videos on the Agency Growth Events feed by Ezgi Ada, the Director of the Growth Academy by NBT. She gives a whistle-stop tour of NBT’s Growth Marketing Hub, which is a self-service learning platform.

f1 car

Tip #08 – Get more efficient, especially where you don’t add value

To grow your agency, you need to be efficient with your time and resources. This means finding ways to do more with less. There are several ways to do this, including using project management software, outsourcing non-essential tasks, and automating agency processes.

As for project management and collaboration software, you can try out agency project management tools like Asana, Trello and Smartsheet or internal communication and collaboration tools like Slack and others. These tools will help you to manage your team’s efforts without having a lot of overhead or extra staff that doesn’t add value. If you’d like an exhaustive list of productivity tools, look no further than our Community Partner Digitial Agency Network’s lists of tools!

Outsourcing non-essential or low-yield tasks is another great way to free up time and resources.

For this, there are several different outsourcing platforms available, so do some research and find the best one for your agency. You could consider using a service such as Upwork for some extra web design, Dribbble for illustration, and other agency-specific tasks. These services can help you to outsource the production of assets that don’t add value while freeing up your agency resources for more important projects. And finally, there are many business process outsourcing companies that will automate many agency functions such as sales follow-up emails or client invoicing. There’s an incredible selection available on Upwork if you know where to look.

If you have basic development resources available, agency processes can be automated with the help of software tools like Zapier or IFTTT. These tools allow you to create “recipes” that automate certain tasks or actions between different applications. For example, you could create a recipe that automatically creates a new contact, appoints that to a salesperson, and create a task to follow up in your CRM whenever a new lead is added to your email list. These take some advanced integration skills but we’re sure you can get the hang of it after a few tries.

virtual event speakers

Tip #09 – Stay up to date, attend virtual events, and network with other Agencies and Digital Marketing Leaders

The digital marketing agency landscape is constantly changing. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to stay up to date on the latest trends and changes in the digital world. This means reading industry blogs, attending conferences, and networking with other agency owners permanently.

In search of an industry Blog, A great place to start is our friends at the Digital Agency Network.

They’ve compiled a fantastic blog section that’ll give you everything you need on Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, AI Marketing, Email Marketing, Mobile Marketing, SEO&SEM, Social Media Marketing, Startup Marketing, VR & AR, and Web design; all in one place -> here

Another blog we’re proud of is our own! Check out our other blog posts on our feed -> here

You can find guest posts from our esteemed speakers and some of our humble content here. Topics we cover range from how digital agencies help their clients grow to how they take care of their own growth in various ways. Trust us, it’s definitely worth a read!

Attending live events is another great way to stay up-to-date with the latest digital agency trends and strategies.

Live events offer the opportunity to network with other agency founders. However, attending live conferences can be expensive and time-consuming. Add to that the complexities around international travel due to the covid-19 pandemic, your best bet might be attending virtual events from the comfort of your own home, office or home office for that matter. They’re a great way to learn about the latest trends and hear from industry leaders, without having to leave your office or spend a fortune on travel costs. And If you’re unable to attend on the day, most virtual events offer recordings of their sessions which you can watch at your leisure. Speaking of which, here’s the full video library of our Agency Growth Events Season ONE, where you’ll find 16 Episodes and 22 speakers giving you all the insights on achieving agency growth at scale!

To find other upcoming virtual events, check out Digital Agency Network’s events listings pages here.

Networking with other owners is another great way to learn about new techniques and strategies for growing your agency. The best way to network with other agencies is also online, through agency-specific communities and social media groups. You might want to check out our friends at the Agency Collective to start with. If you’re looking for more specific topics, the Guild Communities Directory is a great resource to find micro-communities that match your exact needs.

marketing automation

Tip #010 – Market your agency

Here’s another live-what-you-preach or be-the-change-you-want-to-see-in-the-world type tip. To grow your agency, you need to market it using all the best practices and know-how you possess and employ for your customers.

Simple right?

Marketing your agency is essential for growth but it’s not always easy to know where to start. We surely cannot lecture digital agencies on how to market a marketing agency but to make things a little easier for you, here’s what ticks the boxes from your potential customers’ eyes.

Search

As a digital marketing agency, it’s essential that you have a strong SEO & SEM strategy in place if you want to compete in today’s market. Your potential customers start with a web search on the type of digital services they need and most probably add their location to it. And they want the people that rank best (that is after the ads) to work on their account, not the people on page 2 or below. Make sure you dominate your niche and your location in those results! If you try out a search like the above, you’ll persistently see Digital Agency Network’s listing pages outrank most of the digital marketing agencies. It’s a good idea to be listed on DAN, and here’s the link. You’ll thank us later!

Social media

As per above, social media is an essential part of a customer’s search for a Digital Agency. Once the client has spotted your marketing agency as one of the top five they’ll consider in those search results, next up they’ll hit your agency website and social media platforms. They need to be impressed with what they see. Most creative agencies and specialized agencies do great in Social Media with all the content they’ve got but digital marketing is not just about creativity. As discussed earlier in this blog post, a great UX on your agency website, great copy building relationships with the target audience directly, a few carefully placed lead magnets, and your bold vision will go a long way in generating leads!

summit

Summing up

The first thing to remember is that your digital agency plays a crucial role in assisting you, as the company owner, in developing a steady stream of happy customers. So, how can you help our digital marketing agency grow? By making sure that all the strategies and tactics listed in this blog post are covered off in one way or another.

Always remember that agency growth is an evergreen topic that should be revisited regularly.

Tactics and strategies change with the times and so should your agency’s marketing efforts if you want to stay ahead of the competition. If you have strategies or tactics you’d like to share with our Community feel free to reach out to us. You can even guest blog with us if you’d like.

Thanks for reading our blog so far. We hope you find this useful and worth sharing. To get agency growth tips and insights straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter below.

That’s it for this post! If you have any questions or would like some assistance in putting together a solid growth strategy, feel free to reach out. We’d love to hear from you!

Written by: Dr. Barış Onay, Co-Founder & CEO | Precision Communities