Business growth strategies for agencies: Are these challenges holding you back?

Agency life is fast-paced and hard work. It can also be very rewarding. Watching your agency grow – with new talent, higher value clients, and bigger and better campaigns – is incredibly exciting.

Right now, however, there’s a serious side to business growth, too. With many marketing agencies still reeling from the effects of the past few turbulent years, focusing on your business growth strategies has become a crucial survival exercise.

In fact, a Mediahawk survey of more than 60 UK agency marketers found that 84% are focused on revenue growth as their primary objective in 2022.

A Mediahawk survey of more than 60 UK agency marketers found that 84% are focused on revenue growth as their primary objective in 2022.

But growing your agency isn’t without its challenges. Whether you specialise in content marketing, branding, SEO, web design, PR, or something else, you’ll be facing many of the same growth challenges as other agencies.

Here are five common challenges marketing agencies face and our thoughts on how best to tackle them.

1. Retaining clients

It’s well known that retaining clients costs a lot less than finding new ones. If you want a quick-win strategy to growing revenue, look no further than the clients you already have on-board.

However, retaining clients in the longer-term isn’t always easy. Clients can be fickle and if they aren’t seeing consistent results for their investment in you, they’ll move elsewhere.

The key to this is to become the absolute best at demonstrating your results. Being a proactive over-sharer of campaign insights will do no harm at all. Bombard your clients with juicy data on how your campaigns are performing. Show them that you know exactly how many leads and sales have resulted from those PPC ads.

In short, make it so your clients feel so informed and so confident in the work you’re doing for them, they never want to leave you.

2. Winning new clients

OK, I know I just said it’s easier to retain clients than win new ones. And it is. But bringing in more high-value clients is an exercise worth investing your time in.

The trick here is to take an account-based marketing (ABM) approach, targeting specific businesses with personalised campaigns designed to hook them in.

In a nutshell, here’s how to get started:

  1. Identify your current high-value accounts
  2. Build profiles of these accounts – listing out things like their specific needs and challenges, the places they tend to look for information, the industry figures they trust, etc.
  3. Research the market to find other ‘lookalike’ businesses
  4. Devise customised marketing campaigns with messages designed to resonate with your target accounts
  5. Analyse the results of your campaigns and refine for success

To help with your research in step three, your interactions and conversations with clients and prospects can give you lots of hidden insights into their needs and challenges.

For example, it can help you understand what specific services they’re looking for, which sources they tend to come through, the content they find most compelling, and more.

You can use this insight to devise highly targeted campaigns with messaging that’s much more likely to engage and convert.

3. Staying ahead of the competition

Let’s face it; there are lots of agencies out there, competing in the same space as you are. A big challenge when it comes to growing your agency is staying ahead of the competition. You need to be totally tuned in to the market and know exactly how your clients’ buying behaviour might be evolving.

But with so many agencies out there claiming to be the best at what they do, how do you get yours to stand out?

There are several things you can start right now to help with this.

  1. Get good at creating stand-out content. If you aren’t already dedicating time and effort to building a high-performing content strategy for your agency, you should start now. Writing informative content, based on original research and unique ideas, will set you apart from your peers.
  2. Carve out your niche. With an account based marketing approach, you need to position your agency as the only team that can meet the needs of that particular target client. Make sure your messaging puts this front and centre. In other words, go to town in demonstrating how the service you provide goes over and above the rest.
  3. Know your customer. Nowadays, there are technologies that make market research a reliable, insightful and straightforward process. The guesswork marketers traditionally had to rely on is a thing of the past. It means that you can have your finger on the pulse of customer behaviour – knowing exactly how their preferences are changing, perhaps even before they start to change.

4. Improving processes and communication

Agencies can be chaotic places. Creatives, strategists, and analysts come together to do great things for clients. But processes – such as performance reporting for clients – often aren’t as efficient as they could be.

And as an agency grows, this challenge can become a major impediment to the success of the business.

Take the reporting example I’ve just mentioned, for instance. If you’re still manually generating campaign reports for clients, or collecting data from a myriad of siloed software tools, you’ll be wasting a lot of time – time that becomes ever more valuable as your agency grows.

You may also be holding your agency back from building super-slick processes that put you head and shoulders above the competition.

Here are some ways you can quickly and easily improve your internal processes and communications:

  1. Document your most important processes. It sounds laborious, but take the time to thoroughly document the processes that really matter. As your agency grows, these documents will become the go-to resource that helps your team work in a consistent and efficient manner.
  2. Integrate your martech tools. If you’re running lots of different tools – such as analytics platforms, CRM systems and PPC tools – you’ll be wasting a lot of time jumping between each to gather the data you need. This is particularly inefficient when it comes to performance reports. Connecting your martech stack so that data can flow seamlessly between each platform will put the data you need right at your fingertips, whenever you need it.
  3. Automate reporting. As your agency grows, you need to make sure your clients continue to receive consistent communications about the performance of their campaigns. I can’t stress enough how crucial this is. But creating monthly marketing performance reports can be a hugely time-consuming task, often involving multiple members of your team. It needn’t be like this. As a priority, you should aim to implement technology that helps you automate your marketing reports. It’s even possible to have dashboards sent to clients at regular intervals, without any of your team having to do anything.

5. Developing new service offerings

One sure-fire way to grow your agency and attract greater revenue streams is to diversify your service offering.

You’ll need to try and gauge the client demand for new services and figure out how best you can implement them at your agency. Use the data you have – for example, from new business enquiries and conversations with existing clients – to help you understand what clients are looking for.

When deciding what services to add to your roster, the key is to make sure they complement the ones you already have on offer.

For example, if you specialise in SEO, you could consider adding paid search marketing to your service offering – helping clients become even more visible in SERPs.

Or maybe you specialise in content marketing services. In that case, you could add social media marketing to your service offering – giving clients more of a full-service offering of content creation and content promotion.

Becoming a referral partner for an outsourced service is another option for adding new revenue streams. Mediahawk, for example, offers a complete referral and reseller programme, with rewards and discounts making it even easier for your agency to reap the benefits.

If you’re one of the 84% of agency marketers focused on revenue growth this year, these challenges may be all too familiar.

But if you make the most of the technology that’s now available to you, they can all be overcome with ease – leaving you to sit back and watch your business grow.

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About the author - Natalia Selby

Marketing Executive at Mediahawk, with 20 years experience in analytics and content management.

Mediahawk state of marketing analytics report.
Discover how marketers use martech to drive business growth

We surveyed over 60 marketers to understand their martech adoption and how they use technology to bring strategic business growth.

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