Whether you are a start up or an established agency don’t forget the power of Google My Business. Create your listing, optimise it and work on it. It doesn’t cost anything but it is the best source to attract local businesses.
Practice on it for your own brand so that you can offer it as a service to your local clients, especially small local clients.
And never give in. Work hard and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
The one lesson that was doubly crucial during the pandemic was always to DO THE RIGHT THING. That means doing the right thing by the clients, by the employees and by the partners. It’s applicable at every stage of the agency lifecycle: pitching, project delivery, reporting and partnerships.
For example, when pitching for a new project, always ask if the proposal will create tangible and lasting value for the client. If not – then don’t be afraid to lose the sale, as in return, you will build that client’s trust, your reputation in the marketplace, respect amongst your team and most importantly – you’ll be doing what’s right.
Customer satisfaction is the single most important factor in running a successful digital agency online. Your online (and offline) reputation will outlast the lowest bidders and largest brands simply because consumers are making the rules. The online marketplace is more competitive than ever before. The internet has empowered consumers to such an extent that business practices have had to evolve to accommodate the increasing accessibility of information. Customers know that they have options–keeping them happy will not only drive your sales to new heights, but also create a loyal following that will stand with you through the ups and downs. So many organizations get customer satisfaction wrong, so simply focusing on it will put you ahead of many others. In my experience, bulletproof customer service combined with robust public relations is a great recipe for sustainably growing your brand while maintaining successful relationships with past clients.
Lead with your gut – whether it’s a new client lead, hiring a new team member or collaborating on a project, your instinct and gut will get you further than you think gauging if you’re not 100% in it. I wish someone would have told me to take bigger risks, tread water for longer and push to stretch what my business could do 5 years ago. We’re now in a place where we know what we want to achieve, what we deliver for our clients clearly and what matters to them – but this all comes with lived experience, so don’t be afraid to take a risk, take the jump and try something new. You’ll learn from it, you’ll grow from it… and often, you’ll find success from doing so.
The most important lesson is FOCUS and a clear statistically designed path for your goals divided into projects to get them done. For example, all your goals should have projects otherwise they are just dreams, same goes for projects as well, if your projects don\’t have goals, they are just hobbies. While dreaming and having hobbies is not bad but they don\’t put food on the table.
I think the key thing is to define your offering and decide what sets you apart from your competitors. Right now the waters are murky and the competition is fierce but you must decide on how you’ll beat them; a clear USP is a must. Whether this is amazing customer service, great value for money, high quality work or all three of these sure it’s communicated through your branding / marketing and on your website. Once you’ve established this you should start to build a great reputation and customers will start coming to you!
Always build it with the end in mind & productise the operations as much as possible so anyone can run it. Even if you’re not interested in selling your company, your future self will thank you for building good, solid processes and systems in your company as it will give you more time to focus on sales and/or a well earned holiday without everything breaking. Your ‘aim’ to start with should be to validate lead generation to a service that you can outsource/hand off to someone in the future so you’re not stuck doing it. This will make growing the company a lot easier and put you in the role of ‘CEO’ much quicker 🙂
Be authentic, don’t follow others, create your own path and be original. Utilise the power of colour, create your own tone of voice and ensure that you deliver an outstanding customer experience. But most importantly realise your dreams and work harder and smarter than your competitors.
Hire slowly, fire fast. The times I have rushed recruitment and ignored the red flags in favour of filling a position I have quickly regretted it – and the impact is far reaching. Hire experts to do the job, but be sure they will fit the culture too, ignoring either one in favour of the other has always landed me in trouble.
When interviewing I am always assessing EQ skills for Initiative, Curiosity and Enthusiasm – I know if they display those qualities – and are qualified to do the job – they will be a great hire.
Getting the right people on the bus is far easier – and less painful – than getting the wrong people off it!
For the new agency owners, the last year was the toughest. Economy, market caps, liquidity, and above all trust levels, all hit a rough cold bottom.
Now, things are evolving more towards new global market-places for the most in-demand talents available on-demand.
The idea of local agencies feeding on digitally illiterate local businesses while providing mid-core services is obsolete.
To build a successful agency now and bring real value, be humble, collaborate with global talents (forget about time zones, certain countries, or accents), re-package, and repurpose their expertise in a form of on-demand services, and generate demand for their skills based on your real capacity (Sales experience, Finance, Marketing savviness, etc…)
It’s not a matter of spending thousands on dump Ads, applying fluffy personal branding strategies, or reselling cheap outsourced services.
Your previous taken-for-granted competitive advantages (Language, Location, Personality, Education, Savings, Family Money, etc…) are not the X-factor anymore to flourish or even to secure a thin market share during the new normal.
Geraint Thomas, the Olympic and Tour de France cyclist has a saying – “Some days you are the hammer, some days you are the nail.”
As a digital agency owner, there will be days when you are a tiny nail being bludgeoned on the head by a thousand hammers. But the good news is that these tough times don’t last forever: with the right team to support you, along with persistence and hard work, you’ll soon be having a day when everything goes great – “hammer time”.