How to grow your marketing agency in tough times - Guide


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This guide will help you seize understand client’s demands on agencies and avenues to:

• Maximise Client Revenues
• Improve Client Retention
• Grow Your Agency
• Create an Agile Working Environment
• Improve Your Internal Processes

Published in: Business

How to grow your marketing agency in tough times - Guide

  1. 1. A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDEHow to grow yourmarketing agency- delight clients and boostprofits in tough timesA MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE If it’s collaborative, it’s in Kahootz 1
  2. 2. ContentsCan you shine in a crowded market? 3What do your clients want from you? 4What do the clients say? 5Communication that keeps clients keen 6Seeing project management through your clients’ eyes 7Offering your clients something extra… 11Get efficient, work smarter, profit more 13Attracting new clients 15What do I do next? 17A last word 20A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 2
  3. 3. Can you shine in acrowded market?No matter which niche your marketing With more agencies out there, clients But it’s not all doom and gloom. With aagency is in, you’ll be up against fresh have more choice than ever. And with a growing market comes opportunity —competitors almost every week. huge choice of full service agencies and if your agency is willing to seize it. those specialising in digital, advertising, This guide is here to help you do thatIt’s not just a feeling, it’s a fact. Take social media or other areas — there’s no by:a look at some of these figures from denying we’re in a buyer’s market.the 2011 DCMS Creative Industries • Maximising client revenuesEconomic Estimates. That means good new clients are harder • Improving client retention to come by, and current ones are harder • Growing your agency• n 2011, there were 106,700 I to retain. • Creating an agile working environment creative enterprises in the UK • Improving your internal processes• etween 2009 and 2011, advertising B enterprises grew in number from 13,930 to 16,010• In 2010, 268,254 people were employed in advertising alone.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 3
  4. 4. What do your clientswant from you?Don’t wait for your clients to tell you If you’ve been in the agency world long Good communication helps you givewhat you’re doing wrong — get in enough, you’ll know there’s a thread clients the service they want andthere first and ask them what you that connects all three of these factors. helps you achieve the results they need.can do better. And that, in turn, encourages them to Communication stay with you — and recommend youWhy? to others. • It’s communication that helps clients Because your clients want you to. understand your approach, what But how do you go about it? is happening with their project andA study of major agencies by Reardon when – thanks to clear reporting and  Smith Whittaker asked clients what transparent working processespushed them into searching for a “Given the challengesnew agency. • It’s communication that helps them clients are facing in light of understand your creative direction the economy, they needThe top three reasons were: and allows them to get involved in agencies that can get up to1) nhappiness with their U shaping it speed quickly, add smart agency’s approach value-added thinking and • And it’s communication that’s at the heart of being proactive, are a trustworthy lot.”2) issatisfaction with creative work D allowing you to create a full picture Mark Sneider,3) Not being proactive enough of their requirements before any MD, Reardon Smith Whittaker competitor does.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 4
  5. 5. What do the clients say?A recent study by an American That’s a wake up call if project • etter project management (60%) Bcompany specialising in collaboration management and client communications • aster project completion (53%) Ffound that 38% of clients have decided aren’t your agency’s strongest assets.not to give business to an agency • isibility of progress results (44%) V But what is it that clients valuebecause it didn’t have good enough from good management and Interestingly, when agencies got theirtools for managing the account’s work communications? If we know the systems and processes right, they notand communications. answers to those questions, they only improved their project lead times can help us focus our efforts in the — but improved client satisfaction. right place.A CMO Council survey So, the message is clear — improverecently found that only The answer comes from the same study. your project management and36% of marketers are Where respondents worked with an communications and you and yourcommitted to staying with agency that had effective systems and clients will achieve more together,their current agency this processes in place, clients said they strengthen your working relationshipyear. What are you doing to valued the following things: and make it last longer.retain the 64% who mightstart looking elsewhere?A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 5
  6. 6. Communication thatkeeps clients keenClients want better project Help! What can I do about it? So how can we givemanagement and communications — clients what they want?and few are committed to staying with Doing nothing isn’t an option. As we alltheir agency, especially if they feel it’s know, it costs you five times more to The first step is to overcome thenot being proactive enough. recruit a new client than it does to keep obstacles that prevent you delivering a current one. the project management they’re asking for — and then to find ways of delivering the proactive relationship they’re looking for. That means seeing project management through your clients’ eyes. Turn the page to get started. “It’s five times cheaper to keep a client than to get a new one” US Office of Consumer AffairsA MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 6
  7. 7. Seeing project managementthrough your clients’ eyesGood communication is the essence Sticking point 1: • egular contact to assure you the Rof effective project management. Clients feel out of the loop project is going wellClients also expect it. When • n opportunity to collaborate in A It’s easy to get wrapped up in a projectcommunication is clear and open, it the creative development and forget that your client doesn’t knowbuilds trust, helps both parties manage as much about it as you do. • ccasional requests for Oexpectations and makes it easier for additional informationyou to coordinate project work with For example, you might allocate youryour colleagues. team 10 days for creative development Even when there’s nothing to and plan to show your client the results communicate, most clients appreciateBut where many agencies go wrong at the end of that time. the reassurance of regular by failing to see their project Keep them in the loop and you can spotmanagement processes through the You may not think there’s anything and address their concernseyes of their clients. to update your client with during that as they occur. period. But what if you were in theAsking the client is always the best firstclient’s position?step, but in our experience these are the “Projects are executedmain communication sticking points you If you take the client’s view in this way, by humans. And humansneed to address if you want to develop you might conclude that you’d like: must interact.” Alistair Cockburn Jim Highsmith, 2004lasting, loyal client relationships.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 7
  8. 8. The only problem is that, even with a Sticking point 2: You’ll probably find that your agencydedicated client manager, giving clients Clients don’t understand team and your clients need to see filesdaily updates can be time consuming at different stages of development, but how you workand expensive — and you won’t be that you still need a common repositorypopular if these add significantly to the One of the biggest challenges modern for them. If that’s the case you needcost of the project. marketing agencies face is one of to ensure you have a shared system working transparently with clients. that has different access or visibilityThe key is to find out from the outset preferences, depending on the often your client expects to be Transparency throughout the projectupdated, and then find the most process has benefits for both your That way, you can keep your workingappropriate way of doing it, whether agency and your clients — clients notes invisible to your client, but makeby phone, email or a shared project appreciate the insight into the way you sure they have full access to all draftsmanagement system. work, and it can improve both project and resources. This will allow them to performance and productivity. revisit different stages of the project for ideas and inspiration, but won’t burden The question you need to ask is them with unnecessary detail.Stong client relationships what information you need to shareare characterised by with clients, and what you need toregular communication, keep private.transparency, clarityand directnessA MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 8
  9. 9. Sticking point 3: The drawback is that the more This also helps you manage fluidCommunications breakdowns points of contact you have, the working teams, where new team more opportunities there are for members on your or the client’s sideand client misunderstandings communications to go awry or break may get introduced half-way throughThe larger and more fluid your project down. People can end up working from the project. All information is up to dateteam and the more members of your different versions of the same files, and can be found in one place.client’s team, the greater the chance updates can land in spam folders, calls But whatever system you do choosefor communications breakdowns. can get missed and not acted on. or develop, make sure your clientsOn the positive side, giving clients direct And once problems start, they can understand how it works or you canaccess to team members can stimulate quickly proliferate. The way to solve quickly find yourself back at square one.greater creativity and ensure the client them is to make sure that your projectcan refine work in close conjunction with and client management systems logthe relevant people. details of all communication, updates, and edits and changes to files — giving you a full audit trail of work.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 9
  10. 10. Sticking point 4: Meeting While many companies use agency and beating client deadlines software to keep tasks on track, this isBeware! Client usually for internal use. If you want torelationship flashpoints Poor communications not only make it avoid problems, keep your client more likely you’ll miss deadlines, they informed and onside — find a way of• Unclear project deliver a worse problem. giving them access to project progress, objectives milestones and setbacks.• Misunderstood briefs When clients don’t know that a project is running into trouble, the missed• Insufficient deadline can catch them unaware — communication and can cause resentment, or even• No audit trail damage to their business. of documents• ack of transparency - L clients kept in the dark• Email overload• Missed deadlines A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 10
  11. 11. Offering your clientssomething extra…We’ve looked at ways of managing Idea 1: Tap into a new If you develop the right projectyour relationships with your clients. pool of resources management and communicationsWorking well together is what stops systems, you can find ways of allowingthem leaving, right? You’ve got some seriously talented your freelancers to work alongside your people on your team, but your client is in-house team, whether they’re sittingYes. And no. starting to complain that that your work at a desk in another town orWhile it’s vital to have relationships that doesn’t have the same power to delight even continent.are based on clear communications and or surprise that it used to. With the right technology you can fullytransparent project management, you Yes. The curse of familiarity is rearing integrate them into the project process,need to be thinking about these as a its ugly head. and your clients will benefit from anbaseline service. even greater pool of talent that you have The simple solution is to bring inThe real benefits are using the new in-house, giving them additional reasons freelance talent to add new fizz into thesystems you develop to offer extra to stay with you. resource mix. The problem is doing itvalue to your clients. That’s what in a way that doesn’t make your clientturns customer satisfaction into think you lack that talent in-house.customer loyalty.These are some of the ways youcan do it.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 11
  12. 12. Idea 2: Work as an By acting as an extension to your You’ve also created the perfect‘extension’ to your client’s client’s marketing department, you can conditions to run ideas for new quickly find your agency being entrusted campaigns past them, and tomarketing department with additional projects — driving up collaborate together onYour new systems have been your profitability. their development.designed to make it easier to work Working in this way is also a great offer Stronger relationships result in strongerwith your clients when they come to for prospective clients. It gives them trust. And because clients are moreyou for a project. access to an expanded marketing likely to back ideas they’ve helped toSo why not do the logical thing and take team as and when they need it, without develop, your enlightened approachthe systems to your clients? having to hire new, full-time staff. to communications and project management can result in a steadyIf you do, it not only means you can Idea 3: Develop new project stream of new campaigns andwork more closely and productively ideas with your clients client requirements.with your own team — but you canwork just as productively with your You’ve developed two-wayclients’ marketing departments as and communications with your clients, andwhen they need you. Importantly, if they’re more closely involved at everyyou are embedded into your client’s step of the project.working practices in this way, it makesit much more difficult for your rivals tosupplant you.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 12
  13. 13. Get efficient, worksmarter, profit moreWhen you improve the way you Idea 1: Joined up working Use the systems and technologycommunicate and work with your you have developed to work moreclients, you also improve the way your No matter how large or small your effectively with your clients to workteam members work with each other. agency, it can be hard to manage more effectively with team members your creative teams. You may have in different locations.Use this to your advantage — make copywriters in one place, designersyour internal working practices more in another and digital experts workingefficient too. away in the place they seem to like best — a dark and rather poky basement.This is crucial at a time when marketing In 2011, the profitabilityagency profits are at a record low and At the other end of the scale, if you’re of UK marketingmany are looking for smarter working a small agency you probably have agencies hit a record low.practices that can deliver better team members who work part-time, at Average profits halvedmargins. home or on a freelance basis. Getting to just 5.43%, down them round the same table can be a from 11.63% in 2010Here are two more ideas to help you major challenge, and not one for thestreamline your processes and enjoy Kingston Smith faint hearted!greater efficienciesA MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 13
  14. 14. Once you do that, you can gain an Idea 2: Reduced Other ideasorganisation-wide view on the progress turnaround and billing timeof all projects, collaborate to develop These are some of the innovationsinternal policies, work together on your You’ve seen how both clients and agencies have adopted to improve theirown marketing and much more. agencies find that transparent, working practices and profit margins. collaborative working makes projectJoined up working gives your agency • hared asset libraries for images, S completion quicker.a clearer direction, and the productivity designs and copybenefits can be quite outstanding. Your clients have access to project • gency-wide ‘swipe files’ — online A milestones and progress, and problems collections of great work for inspiration are identified early on — ensuring you can get things back on track quickly. • anaging freelancers’ availability M and progress This allows you to turn projects round faster, resulting in better margins for • olicies and procedures P you and more satisfied clients. And as — shared libraries of company you grow, you need fewer teams to policies and documents. service more clients — giving you profit-   boosting economies of scale.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 14
  15. 15. Attracting new clientsIt might be cheaper to retain clients Idea 1: Workingthan it is to win them, but the secret to across bordersagency growth is attracting the right The average businesskind of account. We’re in a global market and English loses 50% of its clients is the business lingua franca. over 5 years.As the size and reputation of your Harvard Business Reviewclients increase, the easier it becomes Whether you’re a large agency or ato attract accounts — people like to be small one, you can draw on the bestassociated with your success. talent in your home country or overseas — creating the most giftedBut how do you position yourself to teams from in-house and freelancestart winning that next tier of business? creatives as needed.The quality of your work is the clincher,of course. But in a competitive market,it also matters what added value youcan bring to the client relationship.These are our three top ideas forbringing that bit extra to the table.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 15
  16. 16. Use technology to work effectively It’s an approach that also reassures with clients in any country, regardless potential clients that you’re used toBetter communications of location of time zone. With the working internationally — and thatand project management right systems and approach to you’ve found a way of making theallow you to build your communications, there’s nothing to stop agency/client relationship as smoothservice around your you targeting a client with a head office and productive as possible.client, in a way that in the US, a marketing team in Germanymakes them feel valued and a sales department in London. Idea 2: Targeting new clientsand using methods that As you’ve read through thisget significant results. guide, you’ve probably beenIf you can’t sell that, struck by one major advantageyou’re in the wrong with online MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 16
  17. 17. What do I do next?If you want your agency to grow, retain Action 1: Put your Important!clients and deliver better margins, clients in the loop — Staff and client support isthe key lies in addressing two related and keep them there essential if you want to makefactors — client communications and sure your adoption of onlinetransparent project management. Clients love to feel included at all stages collaboration is successful. of a project. Even when there’s little toYou’ve seen some of the ways you can Avoid collaboration software that communicate, a simple email, call orimprove both, but how do you effect forces you to completely change request for additional information canchange across the whole agency? the way you do things. Instead, keep your relationship strong and allay opt for an agile solution thatEvery agency is different, but there are any worries before they grow or fester. adapts to the way you work —five steps you can take to get results. look for software that allows you So find ways to make regular contact to create template workspacesWe’ve put together this simple checklist with clients, give them as much visibility for common collaborativeto guide you through them. as you can of the project’s progress and situations, and which lets you ensure they’re updated whenever work match the tools you need to any is done— even if it’s a note to tell them chosen context. a creative session went well and they Or to put it more simply: choose can expect visuals in a few days. software that simplifies your workflow, not a solution that gets in the way of it!A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 17
  18. 18. Action 2: Offer a clear Action 3: Review Get members of your team involved inapproach to project working your processes this review. It will help you uncover many different working processes that needProjects have a habit of spiralling off Agencies quickly get in the habit changing — and others that can servein different creative directions, which of doing things in certain ways. as models of good great fun for any agency but can be The processes that grow out of theseworrying for clients. habits tend to suit the agency better Action 4: Look than the client, though it’s not always to new marketsBe sure to agree a project scope easy to spot this.with clients at the outset and, if When you have refined your processespossible, give them access to any Conduct a review of all your major and communications, look towardsproject management tools you use. processes, both internal and external, other markets. Do your new workingStick to deliverable dates, and if and review them by asking two practices make it easier to workpossible beat them. When clients know main questions. with overseas clients, or to act aswhat to expect from you (and when) an extension to their marketing 1) an we make this process deliver Cit takes much of the stress out of the departments? something extra for our clients?process and keeps them on side. Also, are you now in a position toIt also makes your working relationship 2) an we make this process more C manage additional creative talent,more enjoyable — which is a major efficient without diluting the quality of drawing on a wider pool of freelancers?reason to come back to your agency service we’re offering? Or could you improve your marginstime after time. by decentralising some core skills — without jeopardising client service?A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 18
  19. 19. Action 5: Research systems However, before you invest in systems,that support your efforts be sure to compile an agency-wide checklist of the processes you needEvery time you change processes, look help with. If you match systems to thoseto see whether there are systems that wider needs, you will avoid investing incan support your efforts. Ask yourself many different systems with overlappingwhether there are technical solutions functions.that will help you share files, collaborateon projects, set milestones and Finally, if you expect your clients tomeasure progress, work more closely use any system, be sure to trial it firstwith clients and freelancers, systematise — it’ll help you avoid potentiallybetter communications or more. expensive mistakes.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 19
  20. 20. a last wordAccording to the CMO Council, only a Find out more…quarter of major client marketers havedeveloped formal guidelines for client/ The advice in this guide is based on theagency relationship management. real-world challenges faced by modern marketing agencies.That means you can not only beat yourcompetition to drawing up better service It is brought to you by Kahootz, the UKlevels for you clients — you can beat online collaboration software expertsthem to providing it. who have been offering collaboration solutions to organisations since 2002.Good luck! Find out more about our work. Visit today.A MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE 20
  21. 21. 1 Weston Court, Newbury Road, Weston, Berkshire RG20 8JE t. +44 (0)1488 648 478 e. @Kahootz For more information about Kahootz and to sign up for a FREE trial please visit: kahootz.comA MARKETING AGENCY GUIDE If it’s collaborative, it’s in Kahootz 21