There’s a moment in every business’ life… you know the moment I’m talking about: the one where you realize you’re coasting and things are going… okay. Now you’re wondering what you need to do to get just a bit more of an edge.
All digital marketing agencies will go through the same thing: teams are always busy, so sure, things are going smoothly, but the business itself is kinda stalling.
You’d probably like to scale your digital agency and grow the business (who wouldn’t?!), but you’re short on ideas on how to do it. Maybe you’re wondering if you’re missing some way to generate more profit with the infrastructure you already have.
It’s gotta be possible, right?
Yes. Yes, it is.
It’s all in your head. In a good way.
Scaling up your agency isn’t always about getting more business, it’s about growing the business you already have.
It might sound counter-intuitive to say that retention, and not acquisition, is the key to agency growth, but let me explain.
In a typical service business, clients come and go: some stay for a few projects, others drop by for one project and then move on as quickly as they arrived.
Think about the energy it takes for you to get a new client: researching the client, putting a sales pitch together, meeting the client, convincing them that you’re the right agency for the job, creating wicked campaigns or sites for them… And then, after all that, you have to do it all over again.
But if you could instead go through the client acquisition process just once, and then KEEP that client for months or even years… that’s the dream, right? In terms of the bottom line, you get to bill for multiple campaigns, and multiple projects without having to spend the time acquiring a new client for each.
Retention is key because it allows you to generate recurring revenue from existing clients (almost as if on cruise control), so that energy that you used to spend just keeping up the same type of profit can instead be used to upsell your services to your clients (and okay, maybe sometimes acquire more clients too).
Get it? Retaining your existing clients makes sure that your “bottom line” isn’t anywhere near the “bottom”… ever.
So how do you go about ensuring that your clients stick around for a long time? Well, it’s all about the little things:
These regular discussions with your clients have one thing in common: they are all communications that DON’T involve you trying to upsell them something.
Sure, they know that ultimately you want their business (read: money); but these communications show them that more than that, you want a real relationship with them. You want to know them, and for them to know you. You want to grow together with them.
And THAT, is what’s going to set you apart from your competition.
Yeah, I know, your clients hire you, you perform a service, they pay you, end of story.
Except, not really.
Like I mentioned above, you need to stop thinking of your client projects as simple transactions where you input their needs, output your project, thank-you-goodbye.
To build real relationship with your clients, you need to think like a team.
You have the knowledge and capabilities to create brilliant campaigns and incredibly results, so the value you bring to the team is pretty self-evident. But your clients – they know their own business better than you ever will. Both of you need each other to create the most optimal results.
You can’t just input their needs and think you’ll be done with it. You have to work together, communicate regularly, pitch ideas, elaborate storyboards, and think way waaay outside the box sometimes. Whether this is a new client, or an existing one, conversations should include a lot of questions on your part:
These are questions that will help you develop the best strategies possible, and they’re questions that only your client can answer. They’re also questions that you should be asking every time you’re working on a new project, not just once. Anything you can think of that can give you a better feeling for who your client is and what their brand is trying to do… those are the questions you need to be asking.
It might sound more time consuming than you might like, but if your goal is really to scale up your business, and retain your clients long-term, it’s a time-investment that’s well worth it. Because clients evolve, and the more you know about your client and his/her business, the more efficient you will be at creating perfect campaigns that suit their brand perfectly.
And the more efficient you are in creating your campaigns, the better that is for your revenue stream.
Think about it this way:
When you’re more efficient, you waste less time.
When you waste less time, you can create more value and work on bigger projects than you used to be able to do in the same number of hours.
And less time + more value = more revenue.
I’m not a math person, but that’s an equation I can get behind.
We’ve already established that you want to build long-term relationships with each of your clients, and you want to do this, in part, by getting to know them and working with them as a team on a consistent basis.
But on the flipside, how are they going to know that you’re really “in it for the long haul” and worth their time (and let’s face it, money)? Apart from your good humour and general friendliness (which I have no doubt that you’re bringing to them in spades), your client is going to want to see hard numbers.
Prove what you’re doing. Why you’re doing it. And why it’s worth it to them to let you keep doing it.
You’re damn good at what you do. Show them.
That’s how you get them to open their wallet.
And now this is where you’re going to need some hard numbers.
I know reporting is the bane of your existence (and trust me, you’re not alone… every agency has a deep-seated disdain for it).
But by reporting your work to your clients, they’ll get to see where every penny of their investment in you goes. And, more importantly, allllll the pennies they’re getting in return.
This is why digital reporting is an integral part of the process of scaling your agency: because when your clients can recognize your monetary worth for their business, they won’t have any doubts about bringing you more projects.
Because as we discussed in the first point, scaling isn’t just a matter of more and more clients… it’s also a matter of upselling your existing clients to bring you more and more business!
Remembering your worth, and proving it with awesome, consistent and clear reports, is your way of keeping the fire alive between you and your client, month after month!
Speaking of those reports that you need to be making on a regular basis… I know us marketers tend to have a bit of a love-hate relationship with numbers sometimes, don’t we?
Data is the foundation on which we build our entire campaigns, but oh.my.god. can it be boring to go through.
That’s why you need some magical way of compiling all the data you need in one single dashboard, without having to actually do anything.
What you need is an automated reporting system: one that integrates with the digital tools you already use, gathers data at the touch of a button, doesn’t require you to know any coding language, and with which you can create different types of dashboards depending on your or your client’s needs.
Whether you’re optimizing a website and need an SEO dashboard, are running multiple display ad campaigns and need to see how they’re doing, or want to get an overview of the entire digital presence of your client’s brand – you need a system that can give you all of that.
You also need a system that can send out those reports automatically, to whomever you want.
Oh, and you want those reports to be beautiful, concise, and easy-to-understand for your clients.
You’d also like it if their creation magically took up the least amount of energy from you as possible; you have better things to do, like thinking up kick-ass campaign ideas for your clients.
Well, consider DashThis your new magic wand.
We’ve gone through the main mindsets you have to put yourself in to grow your business from the inside out: focus on retaining your existing clients for the long term, work as a team with them to foster real working relationships, and consistently prove to them that your work matters to them.
There’s nothing more to say other than it’s your turn to make it happen.
Share these principles with your colleagues:
And maybe, give DashThis a try.
So you can focus your time on the first two of these ideas. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of the third one!
Ready to automate your reporting?
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