If you’re reading this, I assume you’re already aware of the fact that the organic search algorithms through which your customers reach your business are changing how agencies and brands operate. In practice, this means you have to change with the times, too.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the best way to grow your agency, based on my extensive experience as a digital marketer, SEO strategist, and content creator.
Prioritise Growth Over Profitability
In theory, agency owners should be driven by profits alone. After all, they’re responsible for paying the bills, and making a tidy sum should be their primary concern. In practice, this is rarely the case, especially in today’s world, where the lines between marketing and sales are blurred.
When you grow your agency, you put it on a financial footpath that leads to a much more profitable future. With fewer clients to pay, you can afford to increase your prices and provide a better service. In effect, this improves your bottom line, and provides you with a solid foundation from which to continue growing.
Understand The Business Model
Your chosen business model will form the backbone of your agency’s structure, and dictate essential details such as how you market and sell your services, and how you operate on a day-to-day basis. Without a clear understanding of how a particular business model functions, you can’t hope to succeed within it. Most importantly, the model itself should be suited to your agency’s stage of development.
Before you begin your agency journey, it’s essential you map out how you intend to operate. Starting a traditional agency is one thing. Running a fully fledged marketing business is quite another, and it takes careful consideration to ensure you don’t disrupt the established order, inadvertently putting you in breach of various business regulations.
Know Your Market
In theory, you don’t need to have marketing knowledge to be a successful marketer. You just need to be aware of what marketing is, and what it entails. In practice, even minimal knowledge of marketing can provide you with huge advantages, from creating effective ads to optimising your conversion rates, and identifying trending topics, platforms and channels through which your target audience engages with content.
If you’re just starting out, it’s a safe assumption that you don’t know much about marketing. That’s completely normal. What’s important is that you get to learn, as you go along. In practice, this means you should treat every marketing task as a learning experience. Every interaction you have with a customer is an opportunity to grow.
How Do You Plan To Grow Your Agency?
Even before you begin the process of establishing your agency, you need to have a clear idea of how you’re going to grow it. To do this, it’s important to set some basic parameters, and develop a solid growth framework. In practice, this means you have to set a benchmark for yourself, and determine how you intend to reach it. To cite an example, let’s assume you want to establish a digital marketing agency. Based on your experience and perceived strength in the industry, you decide you want to grow your agency to become a top tier performer.
To do this, you first need to set some benchmark metrics by which you can measure your success. For example, you might decide that you will aim to generate $500,000 in annual revenue, and will set yourself a goal of securing a contract worth twice that amount, within your first year of operation.
Of course, these are just examples, and you need to set your own benchmarks based on what’s important to you.
Growth Through Organic Search
As I mentioned earlier, organic search is changing the game for agencies. When users search for products and services online, they expect to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. In practice, this means they have little patience for poor quality or irrelevant results, and they’ll move on to the next search result, regardless of whether it’s a paid advert or a sponsored story.
It’s a common misconception that quality and relevance scores don’t matter in organic search. In actual fact, they matter more than ever, and it’s your responsibility as the marketer to ensure the content you publish, and the services you offer, are of a high quality, and are as relevant as possible to the search term used by the user.
In practice, this means you have to understand how to measure the performance of your organic search listings, how to track the success of your content strategy, and how to optimise and update your content, on a regular basis, to ensure it continues to rank highly in search.
Growth Through Paid Search
When users decide they’d like to purchase a product or service online, they’ll leave their digital home, and navigate to a shop, or click on a paid advert, to make that purchase. In practice, this means paid search is growing at a much faster rate than organic search, and it’s important you understand its implications for your agency.
Paid search is all about generating clicks. Whether you pay £10 or £500 per click, you’ll always be charged for generating that click, which is why it’s so important you get this right, the first time, and that you implement a streamlined, and highly effective paid search strategy, from the outset.
If you decide to grow your agency through paid search, you’ll need to create a balance between frequently updated content, and keeping a steady flow of high-quality content published. On the one hand, you don’t want to overexpose yourself, and your agency, to potentially lose that top spot in the SERPs. On the other, you need to ensure you don’t become stale, and that your content remains fresh, and intriguing, to make the most of your investment.
If you’re just getting started, it’s a safe assumption you don’t have the know-how to properly implement and optimise a paid search campaign. That’s completely normal. What’s important is that you get to learn, as you go along. In practice, this means you should treat every paid search task as a learning experience, and look to improve your process, as you go along, based on what you learn, and your own experience.
Growth Through Brand Awareness And Affiliate Marketing
In addition to growing your agency through organic and paid search, you can also expand your reach, and grow your business, through brand awareness and affiliate marketing.
The former is when employees, customers and other people aware of your brand promote your products or services, without you explicitly telling them to. In practice, this often happens unintentionally, through word-of-mouth, or informal communications.
Say you’re a fashion brand. You establish a YouTube channel, and begin posting fashion videos, using affiliate marketing. While you’re posting, someone discovers your channel, and tells a friend, who then shares the news about your channel, with their friends, who, in turn, may see value in your content, and decide to subscribe. Without anyone having actively sought you out, and discovered your content, you’d have likely never made that sale.
The benefit of brand awareness is that it creates a passive income stream, where the more people that are aware of your brand, the more profit you make. In practice, this often happens naturally, as consumers learn about your brand, through various means, such as advertising, word-of-mouth, or informal communications, and decide to include your brand, or affiliate products, on their radar, which in turn, draws more interest, and grows your business, over time.
Affiliate marketing is, essentially, a way of establishing a relationship with a customer, or potential customer, with the promise of earning a commission, when they make a purchase, or subscribe to your newsletter, using your affiliate link.
Like with paid search, if you decide to go down this route, you’ll need to create a balance between frequently updated content, and keeping a steady flow of high-quality content published. On the one hand, you don’t want to overexpose yourself, and your agency, to potentially lose that top spot in the SERPs. On the other, you need to ensure you don’t become stale, and that your content remains fresh, and intriguing, to make the most of your investment.
If you don’t have the know-how to properly implement and optimise an affiliate marketing strategy, you’ll need to get to learn, as you go along. In practice, this means you should treat every affiliate marketing task as a learning experience, and look to improve your process, as you go along, based on what you learn, and your own experience.