Running a digital marketing agency is a balancing act. There’s a ton to do, and while the work is exciting, sometimes the excitement doesn’t make things go any faster.
Digital marketing is essential for most businesses. People look for recommendations, coupons, directions, and menus online. It would seem that with the amount of work to do and the need for services across many industries, digital marketing agencies would have a tough time failing. Unfortunately, the struggle is real at these agencies. How is that possible? What’s an executive to do?
Sometimes clients just hold up unrealistic expectations. Sometimes the unrealistic expectations come from within, like the belief that new marketers will have all the skills necessary for advanced campaigns.
Whether the issue is that the expectations are unrealistic or that people don’t have the experience necessary for the job, expectations can cause a project outcome to fall flat on its face.
What should you do about this?
It’s tough to carve out enough time before signing a client on to find out what their expectations really are. You might have to ask a few more questions than people would normally expect. But it’s worth it. You don’t have to take the long route. Try vetting clients with a survey, including more information requirements in your brief, or doing more competitor research to set expectations more realistically.
You may not have all your accounting right if your agency is struggling. Put simply, the ratios can be inaccurate when it comes to all kinds of cost analysis. Measure everything you can on the client end, and internally, to decide what your actual profit margin is.
Part of this boils down to making sure everyone is getting paid what they are worth. But part of it means billing correctly. Perhaps hourly fees are not working for your agency. Maybe you need to charge a retainer. A business expert can help your board decide what needs to be done financially. But if your numbers are off for your clients, it’s up to the agency to make sure that people are getting the right quotes when they sign a contract.
Lack of Strategy
Sometimes, it’s more than an agency can do to convince a company to use a comprehensive strategy. People would rather pay for digital marketing in small bits and pieces. What they should do instead is create a plan with an agency and an advisor that allows them to get real results. In digital marketing, doing things in bits and pieces just doesn’t always pan out. You need things to be consistent and planned so that momentum can build.
If your agency works with clients who don’t form a comprehensive strategy, it might be time to publish some case studies that show the value of doing that. It’s not usually a great idea to turn down clients who want to work with you, so you’ll need to convince them to work with you on strategy.
Start by explaining the unique approach that your agency takes to its work. People want to know what they are buying upfront. Are you focused on paid media? Do you build brands with amazing sales funnels on Facebook? Do you use any and every form of advertising there is?
Let your clients know what you are doing at your agency. Then they can decide to buy. If they aren’t totally sure about your strategy, you know you need to sell it better. You automatically have more information than if you never touched the subject at all.
Lack of Competitor Research
Sometimes marketing plans seem great. Until they are deployed, people don’t always realize how they stack up to the competition. The answer to this problem is clearly to research your competitors’ strategies thoroughly.
Even if your execution is brilliant, you still might create a less-than-stellar campaign if someone comes out with a strategy that is better on the research side. Sometimes a brilliant idea works better than a mediocre idea with amazing execution.
That’s no reason to let your guard down when it comes to creating beautiful ads and creating original work. But remember that so much of what digital marketers do is relative. If you’re using last year’s ideas, but the guy down the street puts out something new every quarter, you might need to work on your campaigns more. Start by finding out what’s working and not working at other companies.
This doesn’t apply only to your business. Do some competitor research on your clients as well. If you don’t know enough about their market, you might have a hard time coming up with ideas for a unique campaign.
Lack of Sales Experience
Business owners are not always experienced salespeople. But sales are what keep a business going. It’s important to keep a well-rounded roster of talent at your agency that includes people with sales experience.
Lack of sales experience can cause a lot of issues in a digital marketing campaign. People may not develop funnels all the way, or they may end up paying too much for a lot of leads they don’t know how to turn into deals.
There is simply no substitute for experience. Whether your team has experience with in-person sales or online sales, make sure that you give those people room to work.
There’s a ton to do in digital marketing. An important thing to note is that not all activities generate revenue. Focusing on aspects of the work that generate revenue and approaching them with a structured business plan must be a priority. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that everyone will have the most profitable plan of action by trusting their gut.
Create a strong leadership team that understands how revenue is generated at your specific agency and create a structure for every employee’s day based on the management’s plan. It takes a lot of planning to run an agency, but it’s important. Your plan is only good if you stick to it!