A million-dollar revenue is one of those milestones, a mark that your agency is truly taking off. Getting there, though, can be challenging. There are a lot of things that need to go right in order for you to succeed. Part of that is through consistently delivering solid, on-time work to clients.
Work that shows you understand a client’s long-term goals and needs, as well as respect their working budgets. At the same time, you can’t be afraid of innovation. Agencies need to pursue niches that make sense, embracing new clients and new solutions, all while not forgetting to maintain current client bases. After all, these are the people who will go out of their way to let others know about what kinds of service you provide.
To help get you past some of the hurdles facing young agencies, members from Forbes Agency Council, below, offer their suggestions on how to reach the next tier. Here are some specifics:
1. Show Dedication And Care
If you want a client to believe in your abilities as a marketer, you need to put yourself in their shoes as a business owner. Clients can feel the difference between genuine interest and interest in revenue, and truly understanding their goals is essential to delivering long-term success in a relationship. Our clients look at us as a true partner, and we consider them family.- Bryan Shetsky, Lamark Media
2. Live In ‘Permanent Beta’
The two fundamental philosophies I built my agency on are simple: one, question everything, and two, live in “permanent beta.” I don’t do things simply because “that’s the way it’s always been done” or because “that’s how people in our industry do it.” Reid Hoffman’s concept of permanent beta was adopted internally to remind us that we are always learning and improving. Our culture is never complete. – Steve Cross, iSynergy.
3. Provide Value And It Will Be Returned To You
Nothing will be handed to you. Create indispensable value for your clients. Many agencies focus on brand and ignore the single-most-important reason we exist: to drive revenue. If a new agency can focus on sales, positioning and driving measurable ROI for their clients, they will provide those clients the means and resources to pour back into the agency, by way of new work. That’s how we did it.- Anthony Trimino, TRAFFIK.
4. Make Sure Services And Timelines Are Clearly Set With Clients
Before you start your new agency, be sure your services contract is in order and that you’re ready to stand strong behind it. The more clearly you define the scope of work and anticipated timeframes, the better off you’ll be. If not, you’ll learn quickly that clients have a knack for asking for revisions, tight timeframes and additional elements until you both feel utterly frustrated.- David Smith, Envision Creative.
5. Be Consistent In Your Work
You have to have consistency from the very start. If you are erratic in your deliverables, then your reputation will suffer. Work on being the best, then the growth will follow.- Matthew Santos, Foxtail Marketing.
6. Embrace Innovation
Be persistent and never give up, never stop innovating and changing, and rethink your business model at every opportunity.- Adriana Baranek, Miadria.
7. Define Responsibilities Within The Company Upfront
Clearly define responsibilities with your partners or management team early on. It can be very overwhelming when starting an agency or any new business. You’ll feel like you have to do a million things to get ramped up (and you do). But when you clearly define roles and responsibilities upfront, the ever-growing to-do list will be easy to sort out across your trusted team’s roles and expertise.- John Finnerty, Respondology.
8. Evaluate A Successful Engagement
Know your best clients intimately and stay focused on that audience. Be known as the expert.
Then know how they evaluate a successful engagement. Be sure to get advance insight for all the key players and departments, so you can focus on “wowing” them all and not just one key player or department. Then leverage that thrilled client into the next.- Brandon Lee, Yip Yip Inc.
9. Take Time To Market Yourself
It is very easy to put this important task to the side when you are busy. Treat your company as you would another client. Have a marketing schedule and meet the deadlines, just as you would for your clients.- Amy Tharrington, Maximum Design & Advertising, Inc.
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Rebrand
What really helped us was not being afraid to rebrand your business when necessary. We started out strictly as a public relations firm, serving entertainment clients. That was OK, but not getting us where we wanted, financially. We started to branch out to not only different clientele, but also offering more services targeted to those who needed PR, but didn’t have a budget in place yet.- Aisha Martin, A. Martin Group.
11. Network To Improve Your Support
The main tip I would give new business owners regarding how to get their company over the $1 million revenue mark is networking. Take your time to figure out which areas of your business you are strongest in and for the other areas, go network to find the best people to support you. A lot of good agencies are out there to help you develop your company — such as Vistage and SBDCs — so use them.- Kim Plyler, Sahl Communications, Inc.
12. Don’t Lose Touch With Current Customers When Seeking To Grow
In the years we’ve been in business, I have never lost sight of the importance of keeping current clients, media and employees top priorities. Often times, the urge is to grow the business by taking on the next new client. That’s all well and good, but don’t forget that current clients still want to hear from you.- Laura Baddish, The Baddish Group.