The subversive approach to growing your digital agency

Why Not Adopt Strategies Your Competitors Don’t Expect?

You have to grow your digital agency. You’ve learnt the hard way that without this focus you’ll slip back. You’ll fail to hold you own against others determined to take your piece of the action.

Yet the standard ways — more schmoozing, more proposals, more chasing don’t excite. They’re inefficient. They’re what everyone else is doing.
So what if you could find a way to grow that set your agency apart from the crowd?

That’s what a subversive approach is all about. Doing the unexpected. Rigging the rules so you win. So let’s get started.

1) Don’t be afraid to adopt different approaches.

Do you see more clients as the route to growing your marketing agency? That’s what most people do. But growing the agency isn’t all about client numbers.

You can increase the value delivered by each service. Sometimes this will involve “real” effort. But as a subversive operator you work to increase the “perceived value”.

If the client believes you’ve done better then that’s real. Sometimes it’s about making sure more client people know your agency exists? Do you know how few that is at present?

2) Growing the digital agency but avoiding overload

The “me-too” approach concentrates on more proposals. This is expensive even with a reasonable win rate. But every extra client generates “client management” overhead. So growing without dramatically increasing the numbers of clients is much more manageable.

So is it bigger clients? A bigger client will have bigger budgets. And your potential revenue is a fraction of that. But bigger clients can mean more time dealing with procurement.

A subversive approach is to look for clients who will buy more services from your digital agency. Seeking partners might help. Find new proprietary services to sell. And make sure your services are difficult to compare against potential competitors.

3) Avoiding the greasy slope so your digital agency doesn’t slip back

Losing clients is bad. You lose all that effort in pitching and setting up the account. But the revenue loss isn’t an abstract concept. Most agencies are manpower intensive. So client loss creates real risks to the ongoing staffing budget.

So clear client expectations should be set. This should start before winning the business. The technical hurdles mustn’t derail all the expectations.

But expectations don’t stay fixed. New stakeholders can appear and push their expectations. So your contacts can get caught between the original agreement; and kow-towing to the new boss. So the subversive operator needs to stop those expectations mutating as if by magic.

4) Sharing the responsibility instead of dumping on Sales

The traditional approach is to think that Sales activity generates all revenue. And if claiming credit for it was proof, then many salespeople would have you believe it’s true.

But the truth is more complex. Many people contribute. Operations, your experts, creative people can play a significant part. They created the track record that means clients pick your agency! So leveraging the normal work to create “demonstrable track record” is smart.

Enabling experts to contribute their insights to the reporting you do is key. It’s the audit trail that exists after the phone chats have long since faded from memories. And reports survive after participants have departed.

5) Increasing the numbers of services your client purchases

Try growing the number of services you sell to each client? The cost of the first sale is usually the highest. Often by a long way. Following sales are cheaper and easier. So the selling overhead per sale reduces as you sell more services .

The easiest wins come from selling more services to contacts you already work with. After all, they already know like and trust you. But you still have to create the opportunities.

You already know the regular meetings are an opportunity. The real challenge is to shift gear. Stop talking about what has happened. You want to talk about “what we do next”.

6) Using advanced techniques to increase overall client value

Digital agencies often get trapped by the marketing contacts and the current contract. So if your contact looks after EMEA marketing for product group B you concentrate on that. And discard any help for other regions or product groups.

Think about the invasion of Europe in 1944. The Allies started with 6 beaches and formed a bridgehead. The Battle of Normandy was all about breaking out. Shouldn’t your agency approach marketing for a big corporate looking to “breakout” in the same way?

So the subversive approach whilst doing the marketing for a particular “silo” is to find ways to break out. We want you to escape the confines of the current contract. To sell new services to new contacts. Developing new business in the real sense “inside” existing clients.

7) Realising the key is how you tell the stories to support these tactics.

Reporting is the key to these subversive approaches. But not providing some standard “audit trail” of what got done last month. Tell a rich story instead. Complete it with trends, experiments, opportunities and setbacks. Use it to build relationships. Make it playable on demand. For ever.

Now this doesn’t fit with the silent movie approach of most online marketing dashboards. Nor on a verbatim sound track from the monthly meeting. But these aren’t limitations of todays rich media web are they?

A subversive operation will use tools that are effective for the methods you have in mind.

Sticking with old tactics doesn’t make sense for a digital agency

So there are numbers of subversive strategies you can deploy to grow your digital agency. Once you add them to your existing practices you skew the rules in your favour. You can coach clients so they:

  • Find it hard to treat your agency like a “discardable” commodity.
  • Welcome new services and opportunities that can benefit both of you.
  • Will see the value delivered and benefits they’ve gained.
  • Allow you to become a long term embedded partner.

This puts your agency on an even better foundation. To discover more head book an opportunity to have a chat. I’d love to hear your perspective..

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