Marcus and Tim kicked off Season 2 of Agency Talk with the local media industry’s top analyst, Gordon Borrell. He joined the show to discuss a topic that we’re all passionate about, scaling your digital agency, but with a slight caveat: how to do it the right way.
As one of digital marketing’s earliest advocates in a world once dominated by traditional media, Gordon continues to provide thought leadership to a global audience of marketers. When he’s not graciously carving out time in his schedule to speak with us on Agency Talk, he can be found helming Borrell Associates as well as hosting incredible speaking events like Borrell Miami.
Check out our first episode of Agency Talk Season 2 where Gordon goes in-depth with Marcus and Tim on how to scale your own agency properly:
Season 2, Episode 1: Gordon Borrell
The Guide to Properly Scaling a Digital Agency
From Gordon’s conversation with Marcus and Tim, here are some key insights for properly scaling your own agency:
➔ Balance a Fear of Loss with Consistent Quality
Agencies often build their reputation on a suite of core competencies, such as social or web development. However, as digital trends emerge, many are quick to say “yes” to new services they may have little experience in as part of an attempt to remain competitive. This “fear of loss”, can create misdirection and a business detour that can sometimes impede scalability rather than encourage it.
This does not mean agency leaders should ignore new marketing tools like TikTok. Instead, continue to provide an excellent client experience in service areas that your team excels at while taking the time to understand the data behind the trends and mastering these new channels intelligently.
➔ Scaling Isn’t All About Margins
Margins across all digital services are not created equal. Some offer higher profitability potential than others, but that does not mean you should neglect the lower-margin items.
If a marketing product, service, channel, or tactic proves the most effective for your client - pursue it! The best solution will prove more scalable than the best margin as you retain a stronger, more trusting client roster and grow your agency’s reputation in your local market as a true authority.
➔ Find Quality in Your Niche
Agencies that establish themselves as experts within an industry niche are positioned to emerge as true authorities among the markets they most enjoy working in. Not only are you an expert marketer, but you have unique insights to offer to a specific community of business owners.
A niche can also be service-based. You may wish to position your agency as the ultimate social media marketing engine for your clients or double-down on search engine optimization and website development.
As you develop your niche, this may limit the quantity of opportunities as a result of targeting distinct businesses as your ideal clients, but it will increase the quality of accounts. Sometimes when a new client opportunity beyond your core competencies or far outside of your niche presents itself, saying “no” to these outliers may benefit your business’s ability to scale long-term.
➔ Prepare to Change with the Digital Tides
As Gordon says in his talk with Marcus and Tim, the digital age has witnessed a series of major waves that transform the ways users behave online. Facebook replaced Google, was dethroned by Amazon, and now over-the-top TV streaming services are dominating the advertising ecosystem.
OTT advertising allows businesses with both large and limited budgets to reach audiences on the biggest screen in the home with the added advantage of sophisticated targeting capabilities. As more media titans invest in these channels and more audience members spend their time viewing the content, the demand for screen real estate will continue to rise.
➔ Be Your Client’s Growth Partner
As the digital landscape continuously changes, your clients will rely on your expertise to guide them through these evolutions. Position your agency as a true growth partner for the businesses that you work with rather than a transactional vendor.
Some ways that you can act as a true growth partner for your clients include but aren’t limited to:
Proactively communicating new platform changes to clients, such as a major Google Analytics or Facebook update
Answering clients’ emails and phone calls in a timely manner
Suggesting new campaign strategies and channels to clients before they have a chance to ask you about them
Providing comprehensive, yet succinct reports to clients about their campaign performance
Focusing on providing the client with the best suite of services for their specific niche
➔ Collaborate with a Community
As we’ve said before on Agency Talk - Agencies often fail or struggle to scale in isolation. Joining a community of like-minded leaders or combining efforts with a trusted partner can provide you that extra layer of support when you need it most.
The One Big Thing: Reduce Friction and Scale to Your Vision
How did Jeff Bezos develop Amazon into the dominant global eCommerce marketplace? According to Gordon, the answer lies in his emphasis on reducing friction for the customer. For example, if an Amazon customer purchases a product designed for 3-month daily use, they can subscribe to continually replenish their supply or quickly reorder it with a few taps on their phone.
Sure “make it easy” for customers to purchase products sounds simple at the surface. However, there are many cogs working behind the machine’s facade to arrive at the solution. Examining complex consumer behavior data, testing and refining the experience, and ensuring that all systems are working in harmony requires more than just mapping a few clicks on a page.
As the world becomes more data-saturated, a need increases for individuals who can examine these metrics and create a succinct and contextual narrative to explain them. Become that storyteller, that growth partner, and that ethical compass for your clients within your niche and you will supercharge your agency’s ability to scale.