Scaling Your Agencies for Growth
Launching your digital agency is a major accomplishment. But once you fill your client roster and execute one successful month after another, you need a next-level plan.
So how can you grow your agency and make the most of your momentum?
Let’s look at how to scale your services for growth so you can take your agency to the next level.
What Does It Mean to Scale Your Agency?
Most social media agency owners aspire to grow their operations—but that’s not the same as scaling.
Before you take steps to expand your agency, we need to define the terms and be clear about the differences:
- Growth involves increasing revenue and resources simultaneously. For example, hiring another social media marketer would allow your agency to take on more clients. You’d generate more revenue, but you’d also have higher expenses.
- Scaling enables your agency to drive significant revenue without spending resources at the same rate. For example, adopting a new software platform could allow your agency to increase output exponentially. You’d increase productivity and generate more revenue without added expenses.
When Should You Scale Your Agency’s Services?
To build your agency successfully, you have to know when to take the next step.
Here are some signs that it’s the right time to scale your agency:
- You’re making a profit. If your agency has made a steady profit for more than a year, you’re already on the right track. You have a solid base to build from, and you can leverage what’s working to increase your profit exponentially.
- Your team is at full capacity. If your agency is already working as hard as possible, you can’t take on more clients without causing burnout. Scaling your operations can help you drive more revenue while decreasing resource output.
- You have more leads than you can handle. Hiring new employees might seem like a logical solution—until you recalculate your profit margins. Instead of expending more resources, you can scale your agency to serve more clients and increase your revenue.
How to Scale Your Services for Growth
Are you ready to grow your agency’s operations exponentially?
Here are 10 ways to scale your services:
1. Define and Target Your Ideal Client
Without a target customer in mind, your agency could waste tons of time managing clients with disparate needs. As a result, you may have to spend extra resources on additional processes, applications, and research.
When you know your ideal client, you can market effectively, onboard rapidly, and meet needs successfully.
To create a target client profile, research their industry, location, service needs, pain points, and budget range. Don’t forget to include social monitoring as a tool for your research. By using a social media monitoring tool like Agorapulse’s, you can listen in on online conversations about your space, your business, your existing clients, your competition, and your industry.
Then use your knowledge to create more compelling marketing copy and more effective processes.
2. Perfect Your Lead Generation Strategy
Don’t leave client acquisition to chance or depend on an unreliable process like word-of-mouth marketing.
The faster you can perfect your agency’s lead generation strategy, the sooner you can rely on it to keep your client pipeline full.
To develop a consistent lead generation process, use repeatable, highly targeted tactics like:
- Pay-per-click (PPC) ads, such as Google ads
- Search engine optimization (SEO) to drive organic website traffic
- Content marketing to educate prospective clients
- Email marketing to nurture warm leads
- Social media posts and ads, such as LinkedIn or Facebook ads
3. Offer Retainers or Recurring Services
One-time campaigns can be incredibly lucrative. But if your team is constantly chasing one-off projects, you could be leaving a lot of money on the table and big gaps in your schedule.
To supplement your big projects, offer retainers or recurring services that bring in continual revenue. For example, you might offer social media management on a rolling basis.
If you set up client contracts to auto-renew each month, you can focus on delivering great work rather than repeated sales pitches.
4. Identify Your Unicorns
Review your agency’s internal analytics and identify outliers. Do you offer a service that has a particularly large profit margin? Are certain customer segments significantly better revenue drivers than others?
Then draft a plan to leverage this service or segment.
What would your agency—and your profit—look like if you focused on your most profitable client groups or highest-value service?
Calculate a few scenarios with varying levels of focus to find the right balance between specialization and diversity.
5. Analyze Your Client Flow
Does it seem like clients are always waiting on your team to move things forward? Take a look at your client flow to identify issues and improve efficiency:
- Where do you acquire clients? Separate them into groups based on their initial point of entry.
- How does your onboarding process look? Does each group have a different process, or do you use the same workflow for all?
- How many touchpoints do your clients receive on average? Can you establish a standard workflow for each group?
Then use your insights to develop consistent acquisition, onboarding, and renewal processes for different types of clients.
6. Develop Repeatable Processes
Managing clients doesn’t have to be as resource-intensive as you might think. To cut down on wasted time and effort, create processes for onboarding, daily tasks, reporting, and deliverables.
Then document the steps and technology and share the knowledge with your team. To streamline the process further, use an app like Process Street, which lets you design reusable checklists and tackle workflows as a team.
7. Use Specialized and Integrated Tools
To keep costs low, it’s tempting to use free tools, even if they’re not designed for the purpose. To scale your agency, it’s essential to use specialized tools that integrate with each other easily. Some may require an additional investment, but they can help you save time and improve productivity. Standard platforms for digital agencies include:
- Social media management tools
- Social media analytics tools
- Reputation management tools
- Social media monitoring tools
- Hashtag research tools
- Content management tools
- Image and video management tools
- Team and client collaboration tools
8. Prioritize Quality Assurance
As your client roster and your team grow, it can be difficult to maintain the same level of oversight. Yet if you produce high-quality work the first time, you’ll spend less time editing it later.
Clients who recognize your high-quality work may also be more likely to renew their contracts or refer your agency.
That means it’s essential to prioritize quality assurance, even if you no longer have time to review every deliverable yourself.
To keep quality levels high as you scale, keep these rules of thumb in mind:
- Train your team to meet your agency’s standards of quality.
- Set up an approval process with internal teams and clients.
- Incorporate a sense of quality into your company culture.
9. Build Complementary Partnerships
To fill your client pipeline, develop a partnership with another agency that has a similarly strong lead generation strategy. Seek out an agency with services that complement yours.
For example, you might partner with a PPC or website design agency to complement your social media agency.
When clients request services that your partner agency offers, you can refer them, and vice versa. With this setup, you can create a strong referral system and satisfy more clients without having to provide additional services.
10. Weigh the Benefits of Outsourcing
Who says your team has to handle everything in house? Outsourcing select processes and tasks can improve productivity and performance. After all, it frees your team up to tackle high-level projects and revenue-generating strategies.
To take the pressure off your team, consider outsourcing things like:
- Internal processes like accounting
- Sales processes and client acquisition
You can also outsource additional services, effectively enhancing your agency’s offerings while keeping resource output minimal. Consider hiring contractors or other agencies to white label client processes like:
- Social media scheduling
- Content production
- Community management
- Customer service
Once you’ve decided how to scale your services for growth, you can start building better processes, improving productivity, and increasing output. With a solid strategy, you can increase profit margins and truly scale your agency. Also check our How Project Management Creates Agency Growth article as further reading.