ways to grow an agency

5 Easy Ways to Grow Your Agency

Many profitable agencies are founded by former freelancers or consultants. Sooner or later, many play with the thought of starting an agency of their own, building a team, and scaling the business to serve hundreds of clients.

It makes sense, after all, freelancers and consultants have years’ experience working with clients, they know the ins and outs of their niche, and naturally want to offer their knowledge to as many people as possible. However, transitioning out of that freelancer mindset to building an actual business can be difficult—the benefits are well worth it, though.

For one, you get to take a vacation once in a while, without worrying about your business. You also get to leave the boring tasks to somebody else and do more of the things you actually enjoy. It even makes it possible to sell your business should you decide to cash out and retire in the future.

So, let’s look at a few easy ways to grow an agency.

1. Build a strong team

If you’re used to freelancing, building a team can be hard. I know, I used to do things myself, because it was faster that way. In the long run, however, that isn’t a good option, and you need to learn how to delegate.

The easiest way to start is by hiring contractors for specific, limited tasks. These outsourcers are typically paid on a per-project basis, which is great, because it gives you a predictable profit margin and helps minimize risk.

After outsourcing the grunt work, you’re left with admin tasks like assigning jobs, tracking employee’s work and doing sales calls with leads. This is where hiring a project manager can help.

Now, a manager is going to be your right-hand person, so it must be somebody you can trust. And of course, you are going to have to pay more to get somebody with good communication skills.

2. Productize your services

Productizing a service means decreasing unique client-specific work and increasing the number of standardized tasks. This makes it easier to train your staff and deliver predictable results at a set price.

The biggest part of creating streamlined productized services is narrowing the scope. Decide exactly what your clients are getting, and perhaps more importantly, what they aren’t getting.

Your service can’t be all things to all people, so niching down is definitely a great option for making your service more standardized.

In terms of pricing, you don’t need a complex pricing grid, but it does help to have multiple service levels for clients with different budgets. Our article on pricing might be helpful here.

3. Create systems and procedures

Having proper documentation for your services means virtually any competent person can follow a process and get the job done. This in and of itself makes hiring much easier.

Now, until you start hiring people, don’t worry too much about creating detailed procedures. The services you offer are likely to change as you learn more about your clients and reach the so called product-market fit.

So, how to actually go about creating your procedures?

  • Create a new shared Google document that your team can access

  • List the different services you offer and outline the exact steps for delivering each service

Your first SOP doesn’t have to be perfect, because it will always be a work in progress. Any time you get a question about a certain step in the process, or if any issues pop up, update the document to avoid the same problem in the future.

By creating this documentation, you’re doing the work once and reaping the benefits for years to come. Once you outgrow the Google document, think about getting a searchable knowledge base.

4. Partner up with another agency

No, I don’t mean an agency in the same niche, but one that could offer complimentary services. If you’re building an SEO agency, there’s a good chance your clients might request content marketing services. While you don’t offer them yourself, you can offer them via a partner with the help of our reseller module. You can also partner up with a social media marketing agency—I’m sure any business is looking to expand their social profiles.

Related: how to start a social media marketing agency

The general idea is that you need to stop seeing any agency as a competitor. While some are full-service digital marketing agencies, most have niched down and focus on attracting ideal new clients they’ve defined after a careful analysis. And the benefit of partnering up with other agencies is that you don’t need to hire new in-house experts and expand in a service area you’re inexperienced in. Hiring the right people is hard enough, you don’t want to let them go because the new service offering fails, do you?

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With that said, let me give you a concrete example from our case study with Johnathan Solorzano from SMG, a dev shop focusing on WooCommerce & Shopify. He still gets leads that request different services. While he can’t help, his partners are happy about these referrals he sends their way.

5. Build case studies

Potential customers aren’t interested in promises, they want to see results. At SPP, we’ve gone to great lengths to build our case studies by interviewing successful customers via video calls, editing them, and cutting the material together into an interesting video. We’ve also repurposed those videos into shorter clips for social media.

Agency founders don’t have to go that far, though. It’s more than enough to record a short video testimonial, and prove your expertise with numbers. For instance, a content agency owner should mention the growth a client’s business has received thanks to them taking over their content strategy.

Conclusion

Agency growth is easily achievable if you focus on the five ways described in this blog post. Build relationships with like-minded agencies, hire talented people, create a solid system to sell your services, productize your services, and create convincing case studies.

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