You’ve established a successful digital marketing agency, you’ve been growing at a steady pace and building your client base – but you’ve hit a wall. Why?
What is it that causes some digital marketing agencies to plateau, while other agencies continue to thrive? In our experience, in most agencies there is talent, ambition and drive.
But, some reach the point where they don’t have the capacity to expand their services, or to take on new clients – they may even be struggling to serve their current clients. Understandably, this is the cause of much stress and frustration. Sound familiar?
If your digital marketing agency has stopped growing, then it may be down to ineffective financial management or the lack of a clear business operating system. These issues can be addressed with the guidance of a specialist outsourced or part-time FD.
Finance Cornerstone offers digital agencies the support of an impartial Outsourced Financial Director, to steer them back towards business growth.
We have extensive experience in financial management specifically within the digital industry. We get your issues, we know the obstacles and we can help you to overcome them.
If you are ready to grow your digital marketing agency, then contact us for an initial chat.
Is it hard to grow a digital marketing agency?
The digital landscape is competitive, so to become a successful agency is no mean feat. It requires serious talent, graft and a solid value proposition.
Those agencies that don’t take their own advice and fail to market themselves properly will soon fall by the wayside.
So if the reason you’ve stopped growing is because potential customers have dried up, then it’s time to assess your unique selling proposition and jump-start your own digital marketing strategy!
Poor marketing is not the only factor that can stop an agency growing. If you find that it’s your capacity that is stopping you from taking on new business, then it’s time to look at your finances and processes.
That’s where Finance Cornerstone excels, in helping digital marketing agencies to take an objective look at their numbers, culture and processes and to develop surefire growth strategies.
What are the signs that my digital agency has plateaued?
Many agencies thrive in the early months and years, with a steady stream of new clients, growing revenue and eventually, a decent profit margin.
They take on more staff, go after more clients and keep going until they find that their capacity for growth comes to a halt.
It’s a dangerous tipping point to be at.
Often, it’s only a matter of time before the business actually starts moving backwards. They may lose an important client or see their monthly retainers fall.
So what are the early signs that your agency’s growth has stagnated? Besides the obvious slowdown in revenue growth and client acquisition, there are other tell-tall signs.
For one, your work life is probably pretty chaotic. You might start to experience the first hint of client dissatisfaction.
Your agency’s output may have become inconsistent, with standards not quite up to scratch. Your employees are stretched, stressed and you may even start to lose them.
You have the underlying feeling that you’re just not moving forwards anymore.
5 Reasons why digital marketing agencies stop growing
In our experience, there’s a number of different factors concerning accounting and processes that lead to a successful digital agency reaching a growth plateau.
Here are a few common barriers which prevent digital marketing agencies from scaling as fast as they’d like.
If any of the following rings true for you, then Finance Cornerstone can provide valuable support.
Contact us to find out if we are the right fit for your agency and let’s steer it back towards growth together.
#1 Your pricing strategy isn’t right
Many digital marketing agencies find themselves stretched to the limit capacity-wise but still struggle to make a profit.
We find a lot of the time that such agencies are simply not charging, or selling, enough.
That, or they are taking on too many low-value clients that drain their time but only earn them enough to cover their costs.
Sure, revenue is important and it can be tempting to grab every client that comes along.
But it’s important to think about the value of each new client, consider the cost of customer acquisition and set your prices accordingly.
#2 Inefficient processes and systems
If you find you spend most of your day fire-fighting, jumping from one urgent task to the next and appeasing clients, it may be time to look at your business operating system.
If you’re asking yourself what that is, then you definitely need one.
Simply put, your business operating system should set out exactly how your agency does things and who is accountable for what.
There should be a clear definition of roles and formalised, written processes and procedures. Without them, project management becomes a free-for-all, with your team all pulling in different directions.
If that’s your reality, then it’s time to streamline processes, make sure everyone in your business has the right tools to do their job and knows what’s expected of them.
With everyone pulling in the right direction, you will achieve increased client satisfaction, efficiency and productivity, as well as making a positive impact on your company culture.
#3 No way of measuring performance
How on earth do you even know you’re successful if you haven’t defined what that is? A solid set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is essential to maintain focus on your objectives and keep your team on track.
We always advise documenting your top level goals and then setting smaller, achievable objectives that follow the SMART principle, i.e., specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
#4 Lack of financial reporting
You can’t scale a marketing agency without being in full control of your numbers. It’s almost impossible to make successful business decisions if you don’t have a clear view of your cash-flow, revenue, expenses and, crucially, profit.
If you’re not making money and you don’t know why, then your accounting clearly needs a shake up.
It’s essential to establish good financial reporting habits on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and, of course, annual basis.
This will arm you with the insight and analysis you need to make smart decisions and plan for consistent growth.
#5 No leadership
Many digital agency MDs find it difficult to evolve from their status as small business owners sat round the kitchen table, to strategic leaders of a growing team.
As an agency director you need to make sure your employees are on the journey with you.
It’s all well and good having a long term vision for your agency in your head, but if it’s not understood by everyone then it’s hardly going to gain traction.
It’s essential to develop a strategic leadership strategy to engage with your employees, ensure they understand your long term vision and steer them towards achieving common goals.
Are you ready to upscale your digital agency? Finance Cornerstone can help you reach your potential
If you’re ready for your digital agency to take on more clients, more talent and, ultimately, make more money, then a third-party FD could help you unlock the next level of opportunity.
Finance Cornerstone exists to help digital marketing agencies fulfil their potential. Our outsourced and part-time FD services helps agencies that currently turnover £1m+ to continue on their upwards trajectory.
A third-party can be invaluable when it comes to upscaling a digital marketing agency. We help MDs to take an objective look at the operations of their agency and provide unbiased advice on what isn’t working.
Fear not, it’s not our style to chastise you for what isn’t working! Our aim is to inspire you, your executive team and your employees to achieve your ambitions for growth.
Our unique approach is based on our Agency PROTECT framework, the cornerstone of successful digital marketing agencies. To find out your PROTECT score, send us your answers to 14 key questions and we’ll compile a personalised report.
If you’d prefer to chat, please get in touch to find out if we would be a good fit for your growing digital marketing agency.
If your digital agency has hit a wall in terms of scaling up, then first make sure you have a clearly defined value proposition and fully exploit your marketing channels to attract potential clients.
If that isn’t the issue and you have simply reached capacity and don’t know what your next move is, then it’s time to take a look at your finances and business operating system.
This is where a third-party can be invaluable, to help you take an objective look at your business and develop clear strategies for growth.
If your digital agency growth does not align with your goals and vision, check out our blog, which is all about identifying growth opportunities for your digital agency.