Starting a business is exhilarating. It's also terrifying. You're venturing into the unknown and trusting yourself to grow your agency and make it successful.
But what if you grow stagnant? What if you fail? This article will give you tips on how to grow your business and avoid failure by using various steps that are undertaken to grow an agency.
Before we even start you need to define why you're not growing at your estimated rate. Is it because the business has turned stagnant? Or are there problems that need to be fixed?
If stagnation is a problem, consider how long it's been going on for and what caused it in the first place. Figure out your agency's strengths and weaknesses by asking yourself some hard questions. If there are problems, determine if they're fixable and prioritize them based on importance. In case you are not able to pinpoint your weaknesses, here are a few ways on how your business might be stagnating.
Your USP is out of balance
Your USP may not fit with your organization: If you're having trouble expanding, there's a chance you've gotten too specific with your USP. A broader focus implies a larger pool of clients outside your office.
Sometimes, you may not have been specific enough. If you’re a publishing agency that specializes in publishing autobiographies, accepting offers to publish sci-fi fiction novels might not be in your business’s best interest.
It may be extra income in the short term, but it might lead to unmet expectations and canceled contracts in the long run. Working outside your area of expertise is never a good idea.
Charging low fees
Being too busy is an issue many businesses would love to have, but it might also be an indication of a larger problem: you aren't charging enough. More work with less money = slow development.
Tailor your pricing to the client's unique requirements by tracking their expenses on customer acquisition and their added loyalty value. Figure out the savings you will be able to offer them and charge accordingly.
Crunch the numbers and make promises based on top-of-funnel measures such as visits, leads, and so on. Your client's ability to close leads you create is connected to your bottom-funnel results, so don't match your pricing until you know they can convert what you're selling.
You are controlling too much of your business
If you are measuring productivity with the number of hours you are personaaly investing in working on client projects, you do not benefit your agency as much as you might think.
You must work ON your business not IN it, to scale effectively. Most entrepreneurs despise losing any measure of control over their agency.
You cannot accomplish everything on your own and must learn to rely on others to complete certain activities (and may not necessarily do it the same way as you). This might be a difficult pill to swallow but it is essential for your long term prospects.
Lack of talent
To cut costs, many agencies end up hiring less qualified people which ends up slowing growth and hampering productivity.
For example, A programmer willing to accept minimum wage may save you money up front, but long-term it could mean a net loss for your agency.
The ability to create procedures and repeatable workflows is essential for an organization's efficiency, but only if employees can follow them. You'll never achieve independence from your company if you have to supervise it all the time.
Obsession with generating revenue
Agencies in the pursuit of ever-increasing revenues many times end up ignoring profit which is the more accurate measuring parameter of the two.
You will be surprised to know that even though 90% of agencies track revenue, only 74% track profit. If you find yourself in the category of not tracking both, it may be the reason for your lack of growth.
Not able to maintain a steady flow of cash
According to previous studies, 62% of invoices take an average of 60 days to be paid in full. Some clients can wait years before paying up, if at all. It is definitely in your best interests to ensure that clients pay on time.
Some steps include:
- Using cloud-based services to make payments less complicated and easy to track
- Switching to a retainer-based system so that your customer may set up automatic payments
- Offering a small discount for bills paid within a week of generation
- Mentioning late payment fees in the contract itself
Lack of Upselling/Cross-selling
A frequent misconception among business owners is that in order to develop, you must constantly bring new consumers on board. Statistics on the other hand show that you may grow your agency without spending the majority of your time chasing prospects by concentrating on customer lifetime value and optimizing it.
Research shows that just a 5% increase in customer retention has been shown to boost business profits by as much as 95%.
Using techniques like cross-selling and upselling, you can convince your current clients to spend more on your services.
For example if you have an existing gold tier member, it would be much easier to convert them to a platinum tier member than to look for a brand new customer.
How to Proceed after Pin-pointing the Problem?
Once we have identified the problem it is time to start taking steps towards reducing or totally ending them.
The first step in this direction would be to hire a marketing agency that has knowledge of how agencies grow and can help you outsource your growth-related activities such as:
- Creating an SEO strategy for generating more organic traffic
- Developing content marketing strategies for attracting more targeted traffic
- Designing a content marketing strategy to grow your email list and attract subscribers.
The next step would be to grow your agency would be with the help of technical strategies that allow for processing more clients without compromising on quality. Some ways in which you can achieve this are:
- Using an automated marketing system like Hubspot, Marketo or Salesforce so that all processes become streamlined and easier to handle. This will also reduce human errors.
- Using an automated invoicing system like Freshbooks or Wave to automate sales and billing processes. This will save you time, money and reduce human errors as well.
- Automating your business development activities by creating scripts that can be used by employees for lead generation purposes making it much simpler than before. You can use tools like Salesmate too for this purpose.
- Automating lead follow-up activities using tools like Autopilot, etc. The system will handle all your email marketing and automation needs while you can focus on acquiring more clients rather than spending time in managing the process every day.
In addition to that, here are a couple of sales strategies to make sure that clients are hooked on to what you're offering, and you get to secure that deal.
Keep your first email to the point
You must genuinely engage your prospect in the first communication. They'll have hundreds of sales emails to go through, so yours needs to stick out from the crowd.
Keeping things simple and demonstrating that you've done your homework is a good place to start. This includes email verification as one of the important phases in your research and prospecting process. You don't have to offer your solution right away.
The key first step in gaining the trust of a lead is to establish trust with them. Keep copies of emails that have worked in the past and use them again. The gmail templates tool from Right Inbox is an excellent solution for this.
The first email, in most cases, is preferable being brief, bullet-pointed, and as clear as possible. It should be obvious why your solution is relevant to the prospect. In the initial email, you should schedule a meeting with the prospect. This is followed by a quick rundown of what you'd want to talk about in person.
The optimum time to send cold emails is between 5-6 am (37% open rate; 8% response rate) and 7-9 pm (48% open rate; 8% response rate)
Create buyer personas
It’s essential to develop clear buyer personas for your brand. With these in mind, you can target your product to the type of person that will be interested in it.
Having precise data about your customers is a must here, so make sure you have the best resources available to you.
For example, let’s say you are developing a sales strategy for a tourist agency. If the agency also has an adventure sports program, you can target your agency to people who find the thrill in adventure.
The final step would be to grow by spreading our wings into new territories or markets that are more profitable. You can do this by:
- Creating a separate team that will be responsible for generating leads in these new markets and grow the agency as well as it's revenue. This is also known as creating an offshore market development centre (OMDC) which you must read up on if interested!
- Selling your services to customers outside your country or city which can be done by using a service like Transifex that will manage all the localization activities for you.
Alternatively, if your agency is small and has been around for not more than a year or two then grow it organically over time with proper planning and execution. You may also consider choosing to grow in conjunction with another local business growing at the same time which will save you from the cost of hiring new employees.
Growing your agency is always going to be a herculean task if you don't know what is wrong with the current state itself. You need to sit down, scratch your head and figure out which of these strategies will help grow your agency and implement them thoroughly. Wish you the best of luck!
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