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3 Problems Agencies Face Week to Week… and Competitive Solutions

23rd Jul 2018 / Capital Numbers / Agency

Struggling with the same pressing agency issues on a regular basis? You’re not alone.

No matter their size or specialization, agencies universally experience a few similar consistent problems. The bad news is that unless you fix these problems, things will continue to feel difficult. You’ll be grinding along in an endless struggle of employee and client management.

However, there’s an upside.

If you do get these few issues taken care of, your agency will start to run like a well-oiled machine, and these pressing problems will lead to solutions. By solving these issues, we can turn them into assets ticking along quietly behind the scenes while you handle everything else

But first, we’re going to identify these areas and focus on overcoming them

So, without further ado…

Getting Clients

Getting Clients

We’re addressing this first because it’s #1 in importance.

Perhaps counterintuitively, agencies often have a tough time standing out in a crowded market. The average business isn’t incredibly aware of what makes an agency a good fit, so they require a long education cycle before they’re willing to make a deal with your agency.

Yet this first step is vitally important. After all, without clients you won’t have work, you’ll have no way to fill your pipeline, you won’t make payroll, your employees will leave and you’ll be left without your agency. Conversely, if you master the art of getting clients, the exact opposite will happen. You’ll fill your acquisition pipelines, keep your employees on payroll, and perhaps give out some bonuses or raises while expanding.

So how does it work?

Networking

While this might seem like an oversimplified solution to a complicated problem, it’s not. Networking is a skill just like any other, and the better you get at it, the better your chances of consistently attracting and retaining high-value clients. Think of it as “putting yourself in the flow of money.”

Business is about relationships. Having people know, like, and trust you will determine your success.

Portfolio

David Ogilvy, one of the original “Mad Men” of the advertising industry, noted that the best way for an agency to get new clients is with a good portfolio of work completed for previous clients.

But a portfolio divorced from context isn’t enough. You must also write case studies to go along with each piece. These will help walk your potential clients through the portfolio and give them the opportunity to put themselves in the shoes of your past clients. They may even start to imagine what kinds of results you can get them. Include testimonials from past clients.

Your Web Presence

Your website is the foundation of all your client acquisition. Without it, you might as well not exist… especially in this day and age, in which a significant chunk of business is conducted over the internet.

It goes without saying that if you’re an agency focused on any type of web development, you website should be stunning. In many cases, it’s your clients’ first impression to you and your brand. Make it a good one.

In addition to your contact page, display a phone number prominently. Instead of a machine, have a human answer when called.

Lead Magnet

You may also include a “lead magnet” – a free, short, easily consumable piece of content that might help clients solve a basic, pressing problem. (It can also be a free consultation). Offer it in exchange for an email address and send your client helpful, engaging emails to introduce them to your processes and your brand.

Here are a few more suggestions:

Include:

  • Site optimized for mobile
  • Optimized page loading speed
  • An easy to find contact page
  • Local SEO
  • Copywriting to describe your services and your mission

Do not include:

  • A popup window or anything of the sort
  • Third-party advertising. You’re an agency, not an affiliate site.

How Getting Clients Becomes a Competitive Advantage

It’s true that getting high-end clients can be among the most stressful challenges you face on a regular basis. But efficient networking, a good web presence, and a breathtaking portfolio will turn this concern into one of your biggest assets. Having these three assets will set you apart from many others in your space.

What your pipeline looks like today is a direct result of your efforts in the last 30 days. Once you become skilled at bringing in clients, it’s like flipping a switch. Imagine what life could be like if you could bring in clients on autopilot.

Moving on…

Client Management

Client Management

Once you do have a pipeline full of clients… what then?

It is perhaps a universal maxim that clients don’t want to pay the asking price and they certainly don’t want to pay on time.

They DO want to know exactly where their money is going… and they expect you to deliver results. Now, this shouldn’t be an issue for any competent agency. After all, you’re in the business of delivering results. However, it may be a hassle to manage their expectations in this area.

Most client frustrations stem from agencies’ genuine desire to help. Most agencies have their collective hearts in the right place, meaning that they care about client success and want them to succeed. Therefore, agencies are eager to promise BIG results… which eventually prove difficult to fulfill.

The only practice that works consistently is to manage client expectations right from the beginning. Make sure clients know what key performance indicators are and how they’re measured. Make it clear up front that later changes or additions to objectives later will not serve the agreed-upon expectations. If you won’t be able to get a given measurable result, say so. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around.

Finally, nothing beats consistent face-to-face meetings. It’s very hard for miscommunications to occur when the parties meet regularly (over some chat software or in person), get everything in writing, and agree on goals and outcomes. Do this, and you’ll see a drop in misplaced expectations.

It may seem like a time-sink, but remember, the job of retaining business is foundational. Client dissatisfaction and bad reviews leading to a poor reputation will make your future a lot harder.

How Client Management Becomes a Competitive Advantage

Your client retention and satisfaction can reach “critical mass.” What this means is it’s possible to have such a good reputation that others will hear of it and come to you for their projects. It’s also much easier to get referrals if you’ve done excellent work for existing clients.

All the time you spend on managing expectations and having a face-to-face with clients will actually pay dividends in the future.

Employee Management

Employee Management

Employee management is an odd problem. It seems to come naturally to some, but not so easily for others. What’s the difference between delegating too much, and not enough? To what extent should you stay involved in their day-to-day work by “micromanaging,” and when should you allow for a looser management structure?

Agency work is unique in that you can often run a small team of inhouse employees while outsourcing tasks to remote developers or other freelancers. In other words, your coworkers and employees may be scattered all over the country and the world, working on different projects. How can you keep up effective management when you’re not only in different offices, but often in different time zones?

The answer relies almost entirely on your processes.

Here are some areas to direct your focus:

Balance Meetings with Productivity

While you might have heard the old complaint that nothing gets done in a meeting, efficient meetings are a necessity. Your entire staff needs goals to work towards, and you need to be kept in the loop as far as their objectives and deadlines. So while it isn’t necessary to have a meeting every day, holding one regularly is a necessity. There are several softwares you can use for this — Zoom, Slack and Skype are all popular.

NOTE: In the interests of conserving time and focus, don’t demand your co-workers’ attention until you have something more vital than their extended concentration on a project. If it can be done by email, do it over email.

Assign Tasks Based on Individual Strengths.

Putting individual workers in situations where they excel is crucial to keep projects moving forward efficiently. You should have a good idea of skill sets for individual workers before assembling the team for any given project. Knowing their personality and strengths will make delegation easy, and management much less stressful.

Have Real Deadlines

Without deadlines, people procrastinate and don’t turn in their best work. It’s happened to the best of us, and it’ll happen to you and your workers. Set deadlines to give you a little room before the real final “due date” so you can go over their work, request revisions, get everything squared away before the launch or deployment.

In short, it may be wise to give your workers a stricter timeline while you privately allow some leeway for the launch.

How Employee Management Becomes a Competitive Advantage

Getting you employee management down is a process. It doesn’t happen instantly. But it does pay dividends in the long run. The benefits of satisfied workers who do their best work for you and have the interests of the project at heart cannot be overstated. Not only will you have a more creative, more productive workplace, but you’ll also feel more comfortable delegating. Your processes will be more efficient, and you’ll get more done than others in your industry.

Conclusion

Solutions to client retention and management and employee management are not always easy to find. However, now we’ve identified them, you can take steps toward minimizing or eliminating these issues. Better yet, the solutions to each of these challenges can actually become your biggest asset. Getting clients can happen almost on automatic. Good employee management can turn the workplace into a fun, creative, energetic space you’re happy to come to every day. These can become advantages over your competitors and allow you to excel in a crowded market.

If you have questions about how Capital Numbers can help you get clients and streamline your delivery processes, just contact us directly.

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