This session covered:
Rory Spence, Account Manager at The Wow Company, began the conversation with an accountant’s perspective on growth. He explained that he tries to always shift the focus to profitability rather than turnover. He made the excellent point that “turnover is vanity, profit is sanity”, and shifting the focus means growth is more sustainable. Sometimes it’s not about winning the biggest client if it means underdelivering on your other clients and losing control of your pipeline and projects.
Katie Street, Founder of Street Agency, shared how she has been working closely with Street’s Non-Executive Director, Ryan Hall, to set out how Street can achieve its financial goals and align with everyone in the agency. She then explained why it’s so important to her to share Street’s financials and profit target with the whole company, so everyone is working towards a collective profit-focused goal. “You need to have a vision and people need to know how they can help you get there.”
Michelle Goodall, CMO at Guild, a professional community platform, then shared her personal experience of working for PR Agency Lexis. Every quarter they would open their books to the whole agency, from the receptionist to the directors, everyone knew how they were doing, financial objectives, profitable accounts, and accounts that needed work. It was completely open and transparent and as a result, everyone knew the little things they needed to be doing to create a profitable business.
Gordon Fisher, Head of Business Development at Tribal Worldwide London, who is a long-standing client of Street, added that he’s been working with the Street team on the messaging they want to put out and really focusing on the agency’s key strengths. Pinpointing their key strengths within their marketing activity has helped the agency grow by attracting stronger leads and ultimately increasing profit.
“Make it easy for people to buy you!”
Katie then talked about productising services by sharing why it’s so important to make it easy for people to buy from you, especially as an entry product for those not ready to make a big commitment and start straight away on a retainer. This could be marketing and sales strategy or training and events, it’s doesn’t have to be about launching separate products but just productising your current offering.
Michelle then shared that Guild offers an HR community for those with small businesses that can’t afford an HR team but are looking for a community and advice. Guild has productised their technology to offer this service at a smaller cost to members.
Gordon suggested to agencies that in order to win bigger projects you sometimes have to start really small to show the client what you are like to work with and your services. “It strips away all the flashiness, the documents, the pitching.” Whether that is a workshop, training, or a small services package, this could eventually lead to larger budgets and a longstanding relationship.
Although it’s important to bring in new business as part of your agency’s growth strategy, Michelle shared a valuable insight about why retention is equally as important for growth. Marketing professionals often share which agencies are delivering brilliant work for them, as well as those who didn’t deliver, so retaining your current clients and keeping them happy could lead to future new business opportunities. Michelle used the example of SAS businesses where retention is their real focus and suggested we should “SAS-ify your agency” and to “never underestimate the power of networks.”
Rory then shared a brilliant case study of a small design agency who utilised the pandemic and the slowing in business to do more for their current clients. To keep their clients engaged they launched an Innovation Hub where their creatives spent one day a week coming up with amazing ideas for their clients that went beyond their expectations during a challenging time. This led to retention throughout the pandemic and further new business opportunities.
During the session, Gordon encouraged agencies to not only track the wins but to also analyse all the new business opportunities, including the ones you have rejected or lost, so you can start to see patterns and trends. You can then use this to reflect on your current business and implement changes going forward, for example, if you’ve had 50 opportunities come in this year but you only did 8 pitches, you may have chased too many opportunities, and going forward you need to go for higher quality opportunities and win more! It’s very easy to reflect on the positives but it’s so important to keep track of everything so you can improve and grow.
Katie then finished off the conversation by emphasizing the importance of not only having a CRM system but making the most of it by running reports, and really understanding what the data means so you can utilise it in your planning.
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