Running a digital marketing agency can be tough.
Your clients will pull you in different directions, your team will need nurturing, management, and leadership, and you’ll be sure to come across different hurdles and challenges you’ll need to overcome.
Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe for creating a thriving, growing agency. Even the most prosperous industry leaders have no universal formula of success. However, there are some things you can do (and avoid!) in order to survive the ever-changing digital landscape.
If you are looking to survive in the digital marketing world, take these top 10 do’s and don’ts into consideration.
1. DO: Walk the Walk
If you’re selling your marketing services to other companies, you need to demonstrate you know what you’re doing by marketing yourself. By defining your brand’s identity, not only will you attract more qualified leads, but you’ll also invoke trust in your clients.
A brand is essentially a promise to deliver a service that people can trust. People want to know that their partner will deliver results each and every time. When building on your brand strategy, think about including the following in your messaging:
- What is your promise? What does your brand value? What do you stand for?
- Who is your target audience? Think about who your audience is (CMOs? Small businesses? B2B? B2C?). This will help you craft a message that speaks to that specific audience.
Next, you’ll want to show off your digital marketing skills by practicing what you teach. Creating a winning inbound marketing strategy is a surefire way to attract the right clients and increase your ROI. Many agencies fall flat on the branding spectrum because they are so focused on the client’s goals that they end up neglecting their own brand. Building your own brand and marketing yourself will pay major dividends, so be sure to invest the time and energy needed.
2. DO: Surround yourself with an Amazing Team
Building a team of key players is essential to the growth and success of your digital marketing agency.
Having autonomous, independent and creative thinkers that are experts in their individual role will only make your job easier. Look for those that can adapt to a fast-paced environment, because the digital marketing industry, especially, is constantly evolving.
When you’re hiring people, skills are important, but personality is even more important. Look for a fit into your culture. After all, you’ll be working with these individuals for the foreseeable future. Skills can be taught but personalities never change.
3. DO: Invest in the Resources you Need to Succeed
Whether you are starting a digital marketing agency, or have been doing this for years, all businesses need to invest in a host of resources in order to succeed.
These resources can include anything from tools and templates to software and training. Start by making a list of all the places where your agency could use some help, then go out and find the resources you need to fill those gaps. Perhaps you’re closer to what you’re looking for than you think – keep reading to the end to find out. Investing in your company will only prove to help you in the long-run.
Giving your team the tools, time and training in order to succeed doesn’t have to break the bank. There are tons of free digital marketing tools that will support your digital marketing agency.
4. DO: Have the Flexibility to Change and Adapt
Avoiding complacency is one of the top do’s for successful digital marketing. The digital world we live in has few constants as it is always evolving and changing. Successful companies will know how to adapt and keep up with changing trends. In fact, I’ve seen corporations like Borders and Kodak crumble because they couldn’t keep up with today’s rapidly changing digital landscape.
Digital is constantly changing the face of marketing. You may have noticed that the specific strategy you used for a client six months ago is no longer working today. It’s important to shift your thinking, re-work your strategy, and find specific tactics that are up-to-date. This is the only way that you will stay current and competitive in the digital industry.
5. DO: Truly Care About Your Clients
Building a solid customer-agency relationship takes a lot of time and effort but it’s certainly worthwhile. Having a good relationship with your clients is key to your success as a digital agency. Get to know your clients and make a sincere effort to understand their business and their needs.
Poor customer support and lack of communication are just some of the reasons behind losing clients and profits. Building a strong rapport is important for gaining your customer’s trust and loyalty.
While it’s important to truly care about your clients, it’s also important to know when to say no — which leads us to my very next point.
6. DON’T: Let your Client’s Run your Life
You’ve probably worked with a few clients that seem to eat up all of your time and crave a lot of attention. It can seem like no matter how hard you are working to exceed their expectations, sometimes you have a client that feels you are not working hard enough.
Fortunately, setting realistic expectations can help you ensure that your customers do not run your life.
Here are some tips for managing your client’s expectations and avoiding scope creep:
- Set Goals Together: Discuss your client’s goals with them. This is really important for understanding what your client actually wants out of your business deal. Ask them about their challenges, what they want to accomplish and come up with a list of measurable goals together.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Give your clients a clear picture about what they can expect, what the process will be like, and how you will both measure success. This may also include your availability and time frame.
- Document Scope of Work: Make sure the scope of work and all other details are included in a written proposal or contract. Save emails and document all communication so you can easily clear up any confusion that may occur along the way.
- Monitor your Progress: After you have set goals and expectations, it’s important to track the progress of the work you’re doing towards your client’s goals. Use analytics tools to pull data and deliver regular reports to your client.
7. DON’T: Work with Clients that Aren’t a Good Fit
Unfortunately, sometimes you end up working with clients you would have been better off without. Ideally, you’ll see red flags during the interview process, when you have a chance to decline a client before getting involved. But, sometimes it is impossible to know how you and a client will work together until you have been at it for some time.
So, how do you know if you and your client are not a good fit? Eventually, these red flags will be revealed:
- Difficulty communicating ideas and concepts to the client
- Lack of prompt payment for services
- Ongoing need to redo work because it hasn’t met client expectations
- Trouble getting in touch by phone or email
- Unreasonable expectations of your work
- Lack of feedback provided
- General lack of professionalism on the part of the client
Do what you can to get to know the client and get a feel for how they will be to work with before signing them on. While it may be tempting at first to take anything that comes your way, you’ll soon get to a place where you have the luxury to decide what clients are a good fit for you.
8. DON’T: Make Promises You Can’t Deliver On
Making promises you can’t keep is a huge no-no. In fact, it can set you up for disaster. If you want to truly wow your clients, don’t promise them the world up front and then let them watch you fall short.
Underdelivering will only make your clients feel frustrated and seek marketing help elsewhere. Instead, promise the minimum of what you know you can achieve and then deliver much more than they were expecting.
If you say you’ll do something, do it. If you tell your client you will have something to them by a certain date, get it to them early rather than late. This will not only establish trust with your clients but it will also keep them happy.
9. DON’T: Take on More than you Can Handle
When you find a bit of success and start ramping up your efforts, it’s easy to take on more than you can handle. Between emails, client meetings, actual work, and other business tasks, you may find yourself totally overwhelmed with projects.
While having a lot of work is better than not having enough, it’s still a major problem that agency owners face. You risk getting burned out while working very long hours. You may even drop the ball on some key areas of your agency, just because you have too much to keep track of.
It’s important to know when to say no. If you are already overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work, don’t take on any new projects. As potential projects roll in, evaluate each one to determine whether or not the added stress is worth the benefit.
One surefire way to cut your workload down is to find help when you need it. You can take some tasks off of your plate by outsourcing them to others. If you’re not in a place to hire a full time employee, hiring freelancers can be a great option.
10. DON’T: Undervalue Yourself
There are many reasons that people might undervalue themselves, but if you want to find true digital marketing success, it’s important to play up your strengths.
Oftentimes, we shoot down positive compliments or are quick to downplay our own accomplishments. In the business world, it’s incredibly important to play up your strengths and successes in order to move forward.
It’s totally natural to be a bit humble. After all, nobody wants to come off as self-righteous or egotistical. However, with this being said, it’s important that you pay attention to those times when you tend to talk down your own accomplishments.
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