To paraphrase our good friend Marcus Murphy, marketing agencies are the backbone of the backbone of our economy. Why? Each day, agency-managed campaigns are driving customer action for businesses across all industries and are relied on to help them succeed.
Since we launched Conduit, we have spoken to hundreds of agency owners that share with us their business success and roadblocks. Some of these agencies are in the startup phase, others moving into the growth phase, and many have been crushing campaigns for years. Taking this intel into account, we have developed a list of 10 traits that can be found in any successful marketing agency.
If you are looking to grow your own digital marketing agency or refine your operations, check out this list of successful traits that you can integrate into your own workflow:
1: Communication is the Central Driving Force
All marketing campaigns are communication. From internal project management to the audience-facing message, you are harnessing digital channels to inspire action and consideration in others.
To ensure that all of your campaigns are hitting target benchmarks, prioritizing communication must remain at the top of mind for everyone on your team. Some ways that you can better leverage communication at your agency include:
Use an advanced project management platform as a central hub for all campaign-level discussion
Integrate a sophisticated messaging solution into your digital infrastructure (We’re big Slack fans here!)
Develop a transparent standard for turnaround times when responding to client messages. For us, we have a 1 business day maximum turnaround time when responding to any messages.
Check-in with your team members on a regular basis to track campaign progress, identify any roadblocks, and develop solutions
Transparent and timely communication should act as a central artery through the heart of your agency. Without it, you run the risk of unhappy clients and inefficient processes.
2: Airtight Processes
Having an airtight project management process will ensure that your agency can hit your goals on time and remain as profitable as possible. Each process should be tailored to the specific product or service that you offer.
Developing processes is especially important when adding any new digital capabilities to your marketing agency. This way, everyone involved with these campaigns knows how they should be run, can remain in lockstep with one another, and can see a road map from start to finish.
It is also recommended that you have semi-regular process evaluation meetings. After spending time in a process structure, you or your team members might identify new ways to further refine them. This will only boost efficiency when it comes time to crush more campaigns!
At Conduit, we use the project management system Teamwork to outline our processes. This allows us to create structures that are as high-level or granular as necessary to ensure that we hit our benchmarks.
3: Your Agency Treats Itself as its Own Client
Your marketing agency should market itself just as much as you do for your clients! Without investing in your own internal efforts, you can miss out on attracting high-quality leads that are looking for your services.
Many agencies tend to neglect their own marketing in favor of allocating as much time as possible to client work. While that is important, doing the same for your own self is just as critical to your success.
This rings true particularly for agencies that focus on their local market or specific industries. In these contexts, your ideal client pool is smaller than one that serves an eclectic roster on a regional, national, or global scale.
Treat your own business as your most important client. If you are running innovative campaigns for your clients, do the same for yourself. This will help maintain a steady pipeline of qualified leads that will lead to tangible results.
4: You Have a Land-and-Expand Mindset
At Conduit, we are all about land-and-expand. Once you land your client, work to expand the scope of their marketing capabilities. Ensure that all the client's digital marketing bases are covered and that you are positioning your client for the most success possible across all channels.
The best way to accomplish this is through providing a holistic suite of services. Push campaigns through multiple channels simultaneously, such as SEO, paid social, and programmatic display in addition to video and paid search to target users in the exact moments they are engaging with these platforms.
5: Everyone Has a Clear Role
Many marketing agencies throughout the world are one-person or small-team operations. In these situations, a single individual may have to “wear many hats” to make sure that client needs are met.
As you grow your business, identify both your own and your team members’ greatest strengths and develop processes that allow them to maximize their potential. Give your team members clear-cut roles so that they can focus their attention on providing world-class service quality.
6: Investing in Client Relationships Beyond the Contract
Positive client relationships result in a more fruitful endeavor for all parties. Simply put: People are more willing to work with other people that they like.
Building a strong relationship with your client extends beyond a contract or business transaction. When the opportunity arises, ask them how their business is doing, how their families are, what they like to do outside of work, and so on. Getting to know these people on a personal level will create a more comfortable environment for everyone and transform a business arrangement into a true marketing partnership.
7: The Agency Understands the Client’s Brand
The best campaigns result from agencies syncing with their client’s brand. Do everything you can to understand their unique messages, value propositions, and identity.
Here are three easy tips to master your client’s brand and understand it as intimately as they do:
Conduct an in-depth interview with your client about their brand before launching your campaign
Review their current marketing materials and look for consistent imagery and messaging
Read as much of their sales literature as you are able to (brochures, existing ads, etc.)
Once you have gathered this intel, you can create better deliverables with a shorter learning curve.
8: You Know How to Identify a “Good” Client
For any agency, a strong client base plays a critical role in growing your business. However, not every potential client that fills out a contact form will prove the “right fit.”
Here are four traits to look for in a “good” client that can best align with your own agency:
Personality Compatibility - You and your client get along on a personal level outside of business discussions. They are pleasant to talk to and are mutually respectful.
Willingness to Collaborate - The client has their business goals identified and is willing to collaborate with you on developing the best possible strategy to achieve them.
Expectations Meet Reality - You and the client share a clear set of realistic expectations for campaign performance vs. other factors like budget and billable hours.
Communication - You and the client are able to maintain consistent communication and keep one another informed on the most pertinent facts related to campaign performance.
9: You Know Your Numbers
Marketing agencies, like any business, need to know their numbers to drive profit and scale. Are your margins high enough to sustain growth? Are you under or overcharging on deliverables? Regularly auditing your agency’s financial health and resolving outstanding issues can ensure that you remain profitable and can expand your client base.
10: You’re Built to Scale
“Scaling my business” is a goal that many marketing agency owners share but often face challenges in execution. When you’re in the weeds of daily client work, it’s understandable that you might miss the forest for the trees.
As you plan to grow your business, you should take an inventory of roadblocks you might encounter and outline some solutions to overcome them. For example, what happens if you sign on far more clients than your current team can realistically handle? Will you hire a new team member to meet these needs or look for an external solution?
Partnership Positions Your Agency for Scale
You’ve done the hard work: Built a successful marketing agency that is ready to dominate the digital landscape on your clients’ behalf. If you’re looking for some help to take your capabilities to the next level, that’s where we come in.
At Conduit, we strive to partner with agencies across North America to help them better serve their clients. We accomplish this by acting as an extension of their in-house teams and can expand their service capabilities, manage their account overflow, and provide one-of-a-kind data-driven insights through our Live Reporting platform.
Our in-house team of digital experts can help you round out your service capabilities, offload your overflow client work, and serve as a driving component in your digital marketing engine. If you are interested in forming an agency partnership to land and expand clients at an unprecedented scale, view our Partnership & Pricing page for more information.