“We’re too busy taking care of our clients” is the reason most agencies give for not investing time in their own brands. At the moment, things are different. While we’re all facing significant challenges, the current crisis provides an opportunity to work on the issues and opportunities that sit on the back burner of most firms. Now’s the time to marshal the time and brainpower of your key people to address these seven game-changing priorities.
1. Mend your website. Agency websites are notoriously “works in progress,” and very few receive the time and attention they need to serve as a potent new business tool. Here are 10 ways you can optimize the effectiveness of your website right now.
2. Tighten up your positioning strategy. Now more than ever, marketers need expertise designed to solve business problems; they need heads, not hands. The thorny business challenges that will emerge from this economic downturn will require specialists, not generalists. Use this time to walk through this process to declutter your business strategy.
3. Identify specific ways you can create more value for your clients. As day-to-day production work moves increasingly in house, clients are looking to outside partners like agencies to provide the insights and strategic thinking needed to grow their brands. Take this opportunity to develop competencies and offerings that are inherently more valuable than basic campaign execution. Engage your team in this thought process designed to uncover high-value services.
4. Diversify your revenue streams. Most agencies are built on the financial model of “work a million hours, make a million dollars.” They have virtually no diversification in their revenue model, and lack the ability to generate income unless they’re logging hours on a timesheet. Consider that there are many different ways your firm can create new revenue streams.
5. Lay the groundwork for a better way to get paid. Progressive agencies around the world have decided to stop selling inputs (hours) and instead sell outputs and/or outcomes (actual deliverables and/or marketplace results). These firms are able to not only improve their profit margins but have completely changed the conversation they have with professional buyers of their services. You can do the same by engaging your team in this important paradigm shift.
6. Put your resources behind a more effective approach to business development. The most successful agencies invest their energies marketing their brand so they don’t have to expend so much effort selling it. In place of the arm waving and outbound new business programs that produce such marginal results, well-positioned agencies leverage their intellectual capital to provide useful information to prospective clients through a consistent thought leadership program. Here’s how.
7. Uncover all the ways you’re meaningfully different. Once we get the attention of a prospective client, most of us waste this time and attention talking about “differences” that are not really points of differentiation at all; they are only points of parity dressed up in colorful language. Capitalize on this opportunity to scour every aspect of your business for meaningful ways you’re unlike other agencies.
Take this time the universe has given you and use it to do the things you know you should do but never seem to have the time. You’ll be proving the adage we all know to be true; even storm clouds can have a silver lining.