Digital Agency Success? I’d Like a Slice of That Pie!

By Duncan Hendy in Development

Playing catch up can be a dangerous business. So how can you give yourself the competitive edge? And what does success mean, anyway?

Let’s face it—we wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t want to make a success of it. After all, flogging yourself to death trying to explain for the umpteenth time why digital transformation is essential for potential clients is exhausting. But take a look around. There are some real high flyers in this industry. How come they are doing so well? It’s not fair, right? Well, of course it’s fair. It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about what you are not. If you want to achieve big, you have to think big.

This month, we published a whitepaper entitled “The Secret to Digital Agency Success”. It was based on some very thorough research we commissioned Millward Brown to undertake for us. The research interviewed 300 top digital executives across three continents where they were placed under the microscope to reveal what makes them tick. Although it’s true that they all put their pants on one leg at a time, their difference to those lesser-achieving agencies is that they are uber successful. And I mean, big time. And it’s not just about the attitude of the agency and the people that work there themselves. It even extends to the way their clients perceive them. The old adage that success breeds success might be true, but I prefer to think that luck is not a given—you have to make it yourself.

In this article, I will focus on just three aspects that are crucial to this winning formula. For the others, well…I can strongly advise you to download our whitepaper. These three areas are staff, clients, and technology.

Bring Me My Staff of Burning Gold

Ok, paraphrasing William Blake aside, the people in your organization are a key factor to your success. They should share the passion in what you do. That means transparency. When everyone is aware of the values your company has, you have an engaged staff. And an engaged staff means your agency is an attractive and thriving place to work in. When you empower your staff through showing them their worth, this leads to loyalty, attention to detail, and mutual respect. This helps you attract a better quality of staffing talent. These high-flyers consider their job as something more than just a way of paying their bills. They are career driven self-educators, and these are people that know the latest tools and technologies. What’s more, they know how to use them. They are also likely to be active in the development community, they want to be seen as the leading lights of their industry. And the reputation you earn from the state-of-the-art nature your agency evokes is an invaluable asset. In fact, having your staff do your branding for you, in a way, means word-of-mouth can drastically extend your reach. And keeping a steady pipeline of clients means you can look at the long term. And long term is exactly the kind of vision you should be striving for.

You Can Get the Clients

Clarity is essential here. Clients need to have clear expectations for the project from the start. Each one is different and should be treated as such. When making technology recommendations, be sure they know what it means to them in terms that have value. If they are looking at launching a digital marketing strategy, exploring the technology landscape together to get a better understanding of what it means to them is essential in terms of both realistic outcomes and changes in their approach to how they do things. The high-performing agencies from our research know that their client understanding what they need is a crucial part of making sure a successful project is delivered. Meeting clients is a two-way thing. You should make it clear that you both have to agree that each party, yourself and the potential client, is the correct fit. Clear expectations on both sides will help you achieve this. Digital transformation is a buzz phrase, true, but it can also be an unforgiving can of worms when it isn’t delivered with honesty and acceptance. Having stakeholder roles defined in your prospective customer, as well as knowing what the stakeholders are signing off on, are the foundations of effective acceptance criteria. You are helping them achieve their goals, and you must both feel confident they will.

Technology: It’s All about the Application

When it comes to the technology stack that the “uber successfuls” recommend to their new and potential clients, they are pretty much in agreeance.

Web and mobile analytics, content management systems, social media marketing, and email marketing solutions come out on top. As most of these solutions are becoming more and more affordable, the entry barriers that previously prevented the smaller clients from even considering them are simply not there anymore. Plus, the possibility of having an all-in-one platform over a cobbled-together best of breed is something that clients find attractive. It means their digital transformation can be more easily implemented, which is something the digital agencies are benefitting from, too. When ease of deployment and profitability give agencies bigger margins and the capacity to take on more projects, they can have a program of consistent expansion hardwired into their business plan. But as I said earlier, the client needs to be aware that although digital transformation does not come cheap, the cost of ignoring or postponing it will certainly have a higher cost—and might be one they will struggle to afford in the future. But, having the client’s confidence and being sure the client’s staff will be trained on how to use the new technology will show the benefits the changes will bring.

Being aware that you can take your agency onto a path to success by learning the techniques of others is an important step. But it is one you should not take lightly. To find out more about the ways high-performing digital agencies stay ahead of their competition, be sure to download our whitepaper. You’ll get a more complete picture on what you should be doing today.

Maybe you have had experience with some of the points raised in this article, and I would love to hear them. Or maybe you have some secrets of your own that you live by. Add your comments below.

By Duncan Hendy in Development
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