We don’t need to tell you that there is huge opportunity for growth in the digital marketing industry. Practically every business that exists today needs a strategy to survive in the digital landscape, and very few have the in-house skills to do it alone. There are thousands of potential clients out there, but how do you go about scaling your digital agency to reap the benefits?
To grow your digital marketing agency requires a strong vision based on solid market research. Once you have defined your growth opportunities and performance measures, three things are essential for success: your people, finances and processes.
It’s time to use your talents for your own benefit and focus on your digital marketing strategy. This blog will hopefully give you a few pointers and some impetus to get planning!
At Finance Cornerstone, we work with ambitious digital marketing agencies to help them to scale by mastering their finance function and business processes. We provide outsourced part-time FD services as well as guidance on implementing a strong business operating system.
If your digital agency turns over £1m+ and you need guidance on reaching the next level, let’s talk.
Why is growth important for digital agencies?
The digital marketing industry is in a constant state of flux, and to exist in it practically demands adaptation and growth. If your company plateaus, then it is in danger of being eclipsed by a thousand and one other digital agencies with the bit between their teeth.
Not only are these other agencies vying for your customers, they’re going to snap up all the talent. You need to have strong leadership to attract the best people, and to lead, by definition, is to move forward.
When it comes down to it, the whole reason your business exists is to deliver digital marketing strategies to help clients grow their businesses – so why wouldn’t you pursue your own growth? Ambition attracts ambition, so sooner or later, you need to put your money where your mouth is.
What are the stages of successful digital agency growth
Once your agency is past the start-up phase and has enjoyed some success, there are a number of stages you need to go through in order to scale successfully and sustainably.
Vision and goal setting
Every growth strategy relies on knowing where you’re going, and that starts with a vision. And whatever that vision is, you need a roadmap for getting there. You need to define exactly what success looks like for your agency: whether that’s customer acquisition, revenue growth, client satisfaction and retention or an increased profit margin. Develop a set of objectives and KPIs and make them SMART, i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
In order to grow, you need to be competitive. Devote some time and energy to understanding your competitors and your target audience. Identify gaps in the market and untapped niches. Look at your potential customer’s pain points and find ways in which to serve them.
Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Stand back and take a hard look at your agency’s performance. What is and isn’t working regarding your team’s capacity, output and skills? Is client satisfaction a strength? Have you cultivated a good culture where everyone is aligned with your vision? Can your processes cope with growth?… do you even have defined processes? Are you 100% in control of your finances?
What weaknesses do you need to address, and what strengths do you need to exploit to fulfil your vision?
Define your growth strategy
There are various ways in which to scale your marketing agency. Your vision, goals and research should inform how you are going to grow. That’s not to say this is a linear process. You can’t afford to die on a hill about your initial set of goals – be agile and alert and re-align your vision as necessary.
Market penetration – most agencies tend to base their growth strategy on delivering more of the same, i.e. more of their existing services to more clients of the kind they already have.
Market development – your research may throw up new markets to exploit. Is your service offering transferable to new clients in other industries?
Service innovation – some would say it’s easier to be different than better! Perhaps differentiating your service offering would be a powerful source of growth, as opposed to doing more of the same.
Whatever route you take, you must be clear on your numbers. You will likely need more staff to handle more or different types of business, so you need to weigh up the relative staffing costs versus the increase in revenue. It could be that your pricing strategy also needs attention to hit your targets.
Review and reset
Sustained growth requires constant appraisal and flexibility. When your growth rate starts to slow, then it’s time to refigure, reset and go again.
3 essentials to digital marketing agency growth
#1 Get control of your finances
Things may be ticking over, and you may be turning a profit, but unless you know your numbers inside out, then scaling a business is risky. You need to be in control of your cash flow in order to take advantage of new opportunities and run regular management reports to help guide your decisions. Otherwise, you’re shooting in the dark.
Getting the right financial expertise in-house is costly, so it’s worth investing in external services. Finance Cornerstone provide outsourced FD services to help digital agencies gain control of their numbers and use financial insight to accelerate their growth strategy.
Successful financial management is all about protecting your assets. Our unique PROTECT framework outlines our approach to financial management. To find out how your digital agency measures up, take our free survey, and we’ll be in touch with your results.
#2 Find the right people
Your team, culture and leadership will make or break your vision. As well as filling skills gaps, ensure your new and existing staff are a good fit for your company and will actively help you achieve your goals. With the right team in place and healthy leadership, your company culture will thrive and help accelerate growth.
#3 Nail your processes
Successful digital agencies have solid business operating systems that give them the capacity to grow. Simply put, everyone in your organisation needs to understand your vision, their role in achieving it, the process and procedures for getting things done, and what they are accountable for. If you don’t have that, growth will inevitably create chaos.
If you are struggling to find the time to spend time on, rather than in, your business, then it’s a sign your processes are not working. Finance Cornerstone can help. We are experts on business operating systems and can help you streamline your operations to be ready for growth.
What’s a business operating system, and why do I need one?
A business operating system sets out your goals, processes and procedures to ensure the entire team pulls in the same direction. It’s your manual for why, who, when and how, with a clear line of sight to your vision and goals. Crucially, it also defines what skills you need to get there and who is accountable for what. It’s fundamental to growth as it helps agencies maintain efficiency and productivity with each new client that comes on board.
In theory, the wheels should keep turning without you at the helm, allowing you to delegate tasks and focus on your own digital marketing strategy.
To get an accurate view of your operations, it’s helpful to have an unbiased, external voice in the mix. Finance Cornerstone is highly experienced in helping digital agencies to identify operational improvements and implement robust processes and procedures. Read more about our business operating system services and get in touch to book a free discovery call.
EOS® for digital agency growth
EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, is a complete set of simple and practical tools to help entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. It helps them to establish their vision, instil focus and discipline to achieve that vision and create a healthy leadership culture while they’re doing it.
You can learn more about the Entrepreneurial Operating System by visiting the website and see our blog post for further reading all about EOS and how it works.
Grow your digital agency with Finance Cornerstone
If you’ve set your sights on scaling your digital agency, then Finance Cornerstone can offer professional guidance and services to help you get there. Our aim is to make finance accessible, transparent and a source of driving change and improvement in your business.
We work specifically with ambitious owner-managed businesses in the digital marketing industry to help them understand their numbers and build a business model that is sustainable and future-proof.
In order to take advantage of growth opportunities in the digital sector, you need to have a clear vision based on market research and analysis of your company’s strengths and weaknesses. Create a roadmap towards achieving your goals and make them SMART.
Three things are key to successful and sustainable growth: attracting the right people, complete mastery of your finances and well-defined business processes. The right level of financial expertise may be out of your budget, so it’s worth investing in outsourced financial services to help you fulfil your growth strategy.