7 Tips On How To Transform Your Marketing Agency

Growing your marketing agency can often seem like a tricky business. The day-to-day running of an organisation in such a dynamic, changeable industry can be challenging enough, nevermind thinking about scaling your business.

Storybase was founded in the back room of SEO.dk back in 2015. Having found such success with our sister agency, we know all about how difficult scaling a marketing agency can be. SEO.dk has, over the years, grown into one of the most successful SEO agencies in Denmark. But believe us – we’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way! We’ve learned from our experiences, and having found out the hard way what not to do, we’re in the perfect position to help others grow their own agency. This includes managing the common hurdles and speed bumps that come with that expansion.

Regardless of how it appears on the outside today, there were many times over the past five years where we felt lost and directionless as an agency. So in order to help others facing similar challenges, here are some of the most profound lessons we’ve learned. We took a long, hard look at our business during this time and asked ourselves several questions. Why does our agency exist? What is its driving purpose? And, most importantly, how can we, as an agency, deliver value now and in the future?

Read on as we list some of the things you must keep in mind, if transforming your marketing agency is your goal.

7 Tips On How To Transform Your Marketing Agency:

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1. Make Time To Build Your Agency From The Core

Transforming a marketing agency starts at the core of the business itself. It is important to work at your agency rather than just in your agency. This involves making time to shape your vision, think about what you stand for, and develop core values and beliefs. These will be the guiding principles of everything you do, permeating every facet of your business, so their importance can not be overstated.

At SEO.dk, we lost this perspective for many years. We would get caught up in the tribulations of agency life, and forget about our original vision. Recently though, we spent time focusing again on our core principles – remembering what we originally stood for. And doing this has undoubtedly produced some great results.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What were the primary factors for starting this business?
  2. What are our 3 core values?
  3. Where do we want to be in five years?

2. Specialise, Don’t Generalise

As Malcolm X memorably said, “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything”, and we try to incorporate this advice into everything we do.

When starting out, we thought saying ‘yes’ was the most important part of growing our business. When a client asked us to design their website, we said yes. When they asked us to manage their Facebook ads, we said yes. When they asked us to help them shoot a video – you guessed it! – we said yes.

We said yes at every stage, simply because we could. But this led us to drift away from our core SEO services. We ended up taking on too many projects that we didn’t enjoy or that didn’t fit our vision. At one point, we could no longer see ourselves reflected in the agency, so we decided to take a step back. We started saying no to projects that didn’t fit our core principles, focusing instead on delivering the best SEO services in Denmark. As a result, we are now known as one of the premier SEO agencies in the country – in part because we learned to say ‘no’!

Specializing allows you to concentrate on the work that you love and the projects that you are best at delivering. It enables you to become the leader in your niche rather than competing across the entire sector. Most importantly, it keeps you in touch with the core vision of your agency.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What are we better at than anyone else?
  2. What does our core offering look like? (Be specific!)
  3. How can we condense our offering in order to scale?

3. Set Quality Standards That Build Agency Success

In the early days of our agency, we were incredibly proud of our creativity and tailored solutions. We wanted to create bespoke solutions for each and every client. But we soon realised that this was unsustainable. We found that we were reinventing the wheel over and over again for each new project we took on.

While creativity is a vital part of SEO marketing, and client solutions absolutely need to fit each individual’s specific needs and context, there are always baseline similarities.

We began looking for ways to standardise certain processes, while making room for the right kind of creativity at the same time. By standardising certain elements of a project – which are almost always the same – we gave ourselves the ability and time to be more creative in other areas. As a result, setting quality standards is actually a huge part of developing the uniqueness of your agency in key areas.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Are we being too creative in areas we don’t need to be?
  2. Which tasks can we standardise?
  3. How can we streamline these processes for the benefit of our clients and ourselves?

4. Rethink Client Relationships

If you want to stand out in a crowded field and differentiate yourself from the competition, you must change the way you see client relationships. While receiving a brief and delivering the work may have worked in the past, it isn’t a sustainable model in an increasingly fast-paced, digital world. Client relationships need to be a two-way thing – a partnership, rather than just a delivery relationship.

Rethinking our client relationships has revolutionised our business. We work together with our clients, embedding them into the project team in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. We share our internal project board with clients, work with them on joint project sessions, and involve them in decision-making and brainstorming.

Seeing your clients as partners rather than customers helps build better relationships and deliver better quality projects by default. It also has a considerable impact on transparency, helping your agency stand apart from negative business practices within the marketing ecosystem. A partnership ensures that your resources go towards your clients’ best interests, encouraging a tighter focus on KPIs and creative output. You’ll find that all of this contributes to the overall health of your business, effortlessly increasing your reputability.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Are we getting as much out of our clients as we could/should be?
  2. In which ways could our clients bring more value to our work processes?
  3. How can we invite/incentivise our clients to collaborate more?

5. Out-Teach Your Competitors

Unless you are a global multinational, you will always eventually come up against competitors who can spend more on advertising, marketing, and stakeholder relationships. This is why working smarter, not harder, on lead development and client relations is the way forward. Your high-spending competition might be able to swing for fancy client dinners and bold marketing campaigns, but they won’t be teaching their clients how to do their job better.

Out-teaching your rivals gives even the smallest agencies an edge. Adding an element of education and learning to your work and giving your clients the tools to develop themselves will help you create deep and long-lasting partnerships.

And if the unique wedge wasn’t enough, making teaching a part of your brand will help you build your own content marketing strategies too. Educational content is evergreen, usually very successful, and can have a significant impact on how you develop your brand.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Which of our services do our clients value most?
  2. How can we teach our clients a little more about these services, and give them some autonomy?
  3. Which content channels can we use to educate our audience? Blogs, videos, newsletters, e-courses etc.

6. Create Clarity With The Topic Cluster Strategy

Marketing strategies often come with swathes of data and massive, unwieldy spreadsheets that can be incomprehensible to clients. Instead of feeding your customers with complexity, you can create clarity by adopting a topic cluster strategy for content ideas.

As an SEO agency, we know all too well how difficult a spreadsheet filled with keywords can be to understand. Not to mention how counterproductive they can be when it comes to getting clients to say yes to your content ideas. By focusing on broader topics instead of targeted long-tail keywords, you’ll be making your content easier to organise and understand. Doing so will also allow your target audience to find the answers they are seeking quickly and easily.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. What are the broader topics our client will be interested in covering?
  2. How can we deliver these content ideas in a more easily digestible way?
  3. Are we being as clear as possible with our pitches?

7. Adopt An AI Content Marketing Tool

Leveraging the power of AI can help strengthen the competitive advantage of your agency. Tools like StoryBase let you streamline your content creation workflows, create high quality, ultra-optimised content briefs, and speed up the process of filling a pipeline of successful content.

Storybase was built in the backroom of SEO.dk, and we’ve benefited enormously from the tool used by our sister agency. These resources have had a huge impact on our growth, both by helping create a seamless content creation process and improving our clients relationships and vision.

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Are we spending unnecessary hours brainstorming content?
  2. Could we benefit from a tool that streamlines the content creation process?
  3. How could we put our creativity and time to better use if we didn’t have to think about content briefs?

Transforming your marketing agency can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. We’ve been through the same process over the past five years, making plenty of missteps along the way. Yet, we’ve come out the other side better than ever. Hopefully our experiences can help you build your business into something successful that you love and are wholeheartedly proud of!

Article by:
Kim Hove
Kim Hove