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Published in Time Management

Top Pain Points for Creative Agencies

Pain Points for Creative Agencies

If you’ve ever worked in content production, then you’re one of us. After a long day refining your ideas, gathering data, writing copy, and writing copy, you hand out your hard work to your creative team to get started on your next marketing strategy.

What you get in return are all questions, doubts, and concerns: a little optimization might be needed after they tell you that the copy is far too long and a rough edit must take place; the data you requested doesn’t go too well; the volume of work you handled exceeds what was accorded in budget. Suddenly everything is a mess and your team members have no time to come to your rescue.

Calm down! Thankfully, these issues are surprisingly easy to avoid. All it takes is a bit of understanding of what variables in the creative process can make your team deliver high-quality work. It comes naturally the more closely you are in contact with the creative workflows and the more projects you get under your belt.

What we’re going for in this article, from the agency’s or the client’s point of view, is to highlight the pain points and run through some of the most pertinent questions and common pitfalls to look out for throughout the process.

What are Pain Points though?

Simply put: pain points are problems.

Each pain point refers to a specific issue your client and its target market are facing. Ideally, you want to position your new business as a solution to that problem.

Here’s the thing about pain points: the biggest challenge comes when you realize they have the power to make or break your deals. They play a vital role in the success of your digital marketing agency.

If you know exactly what your customers struggle to do, you’ll know how to pitch your product or solution in a way that solves their problems.

If you know exactly what your customers struggle with, you’ll know how to pitch your product or solution in a way that solves their problems.

Simply acknowledging a customer’s pain shows you value your customer experience and their overall satisfaction. Often, it can lead to an entirely new marketing campaign project.

For instance, say your potential customer is a watermelon lover. But what this ideal customer doesn´t love is sticky fingers and the time it takes to slice through thick skin.

Enter a giant watermelon slicer. Or maybe your new customer now loves a good tailgate but hates lugging around a clunky cooler. The solution would be to bring a single-serve cooler.

See? Pain>solution>sale.

Obviously, for many companies, especially b2bs, the pain point process won’t be that simple.

The problem is that far too few companies take the time to do their customer research. Or worse yet, they assume they already know their customer’s most pressing issue.

We all know what happens when you assume, right?

In the end, a clear understanding of your customer’s pain points can be what positions you ahead of the completion, and win you over new clients, by the end of the day, it helps you seal the deal, visibility being key for that.

How can your agency become more visible?

Before any potential client can engage with you and buy a product or service they need to be aware of your brand. If no one knows about your company, you’ll never be able to build a customer base, which is why improving your agency’s visibility is essential for success. To get your startup in interesting your target audience, take a look at these five steps to make your agency more visible.

1. Upgrade your SEO strategy

Telling people your URL isn’t an effective way to drive traffic to your website. More than two-thirds of online experiences start with a search engine. When your site ranks highly for related keywords, you’ll see a spike in targeted traffic reaching your website. However, this isn’t the only metric that will see a positive jump.

When you choose the right keywords, you can ensure that the traffic you gain consists of users who are actively looking to make a related purchase or engage with a company. This means you’ll find it easier to optimize your conversion rate when you have a first-class SEO strategy in place.

2. Be active on Social Media

With so many platforms to choose from, it can be tricky to know which sites to focus on. However, social media is second to none when it comes to increasing agency awareness. There are plenty of studies out there that confirm which platforms are most popular within specific demographics. Simply find out which social media sites your target audience use most frequently, and you’ll have a good idea of where to focus your resources.

3. Use Varied Content

If your agency wants to be more visible, vary the type of content you’re using. While blog posts and articles are extremely effective tools, videos, images, infographics, and eBooks can help to capture the interest of a wider audience. Furthermore, publishing different types of content allows you to leverage the reach of alternative platforms. When you begin making video content, for example, you can increase brand visibility on major sites like YouTube.

4. Target Local Customers

If your company has bricks and mortar premises, you’ll want to factor local marketing into your strategy. This can be done online, using tools, such as local SEO, or offline, using billboards, posters, flyers, and events. When you combine online and online offline marketing, it allows you to maximize results and increase awareness across a wide demographic.

5. Forge Partnerships

Partnering with another business allows you direct access to its customer base and target audience. By choosing to partner with a company that complements your own, but isn’t in competition, you can gain the interest of their existing clientele and vice versa. With a strategic approach, corporate partnerships can be lucrative for all parties involved.

Overall, make sure your target audience is aware of your agency, it’s the first step to acquiring new customers, but it doesn’t stop there. Now that people are aware of your brand, you’ll need to ensure that they associate you with attributes, such as reliability and authenticity. With strategic branding and effective marketing, you can ensure your increased visibility leads to significant financial gains.

Does Project Management help?

Pain points emerge in project management also. Gone are the days when a project team consisted of a close-knit of workers in the same location all closely monitored by supervisors and their project manager. Now, managing a project in the modern world of remote working, outsourced providers, and online collaboration brings its own distinct set of challenges.

This new way of working has introduced a unique set of potential pain points, that can hurt your project, not just in isolation, but repeatedly. The first step to avoiding these potential pain points is identifying them. Only then can they be effectively controlled and managed.

  • Planning and Organisation

The organization of a successful project is often the most challenging part of a project’s delivery. When dealing with remote workers and outsourced providers, planning and keeping track of tasks can be particularly problematic. Planning, delegating tasks, and then keeping track of those tasks, are all processes which are vital to a project running smoothly. Once these processes have been established, the project manager is then able to switch to other important responsibilities.

Getting this organizational aspect of a project manager’s job together is a great basis for good practices to be set in motion. Organizational tools, such as those for effective resource management or capacity planning, help them ensure teams stay on target and stay organized without requiring the constant supervision of a project manager or for someone to have to remember each action item that is delegated to a colleague.

  • Accuracy when estimating

Estimates are a forecast of the length of time needed to complete different project elements and accurate estimates will determine the overall profitability of the project and achieve ROI.

To produce accurate project estimates you need to rely on your data and the quality of that data. Understanding the importance of data in your project and how this will impact future planning is one of those project management pain points that is also a data issue.

Despite the complexities involved, it is still important to do the very best job with your project estimates. Faulty estimates mean missing deadlines, breaking budgets, and leaving your clients less than impressed.

The first step to creating accurate project estimates is to define:

  • What you have to deliver;
  • When you are expected to deliver it by;
  • At what stage the project is considered complete.

Once you have this essential information, you can start creating project estimates.

  • The need for constant follow up

Staying up-to-date with who is doing what and whether each element of the project is on track is an essential part of the project manager’s role. Keeping up with each member of the team, particularly those working offsite and with third-party providers, can eat into your working day.

Although these can seem boring and time-consuming, they are a critical part of the project manager’s experience. They are essential so that any project manager can have an idea of the overall state of the direction of the project is going on.

Project managers must ensure that the follow-up process becomes easy to deal with. This helps keep things on track in the long term. The use of online project management software can be an asset for this, allowing project managers to save both time and efficiency.

  • Assigning Accountability

This can be the hardest aspect of project management for people to deal with it. It requires those who have had a task delegated to them to carry it out to the best of their ability. No one likes to feel responsible for things that can go wrong on a project.

Ultimately, it is the project manager who is accountable for the successful delivery of a project, but determining who is accountable for each task can be a lot more complicated. When several individuals are working on the same task, one employee needs to be made accountable so all parties understand their roles and know what to expect.

Project managers need the skills to be able to allocate accountability to their colleagues without any opportunity for misunderstanding. This allows for a clear chain of command and transparency about who is responsible for ensuring which task is completed.

  • Evaluation

Providing feedback is a key responsibility that is a vital role in project management. Project managers can only fulfill this responsibility when there are established processes that collect data on a colleague’s performance.

But evaluation needs to be supported by evidence and must be analyzed so that team members feel the project manager has their best interests at the forefront of all activity. Online management tools can offer ways to provide feedback to colleagues based on performance and overall task completion which allows a project manager to give thought but, more importantly, fact-based evaluations.

Accurately evaluating an individual’s role, and supporting this evaluation with evidence, is a key responsibility for project managers. Collecting accurate data on a team member’s performance can be difficult, but it plays a vital role in the delivery of fact-based evaluations that team members will value.

  • Providing feedback

Running alongside evaluation is feedback. Providing valuable feedback can be problematic for project managers who dislike confrontation. While it’s easy to offer feedback to colleagues who are doing well, the project manager must also be able to deal with situations where there is improvement required.

Telling someone they are doing well and encouraging them to “ keep up the excellent work” is far simpler than the fact and finesse needed to reassure someone that while they may need improvement, not all are at loss and that they can be supported to do better.

Colleagues must feel they have time to improve their work and then be able to come back to their project manager with improved performance results.

Providing honest feedback can be difficult for project managers who dislike confrontation, but it is an essential part of the project manager’s role. Telling someone they need to improve their performance is not an easy thing to do, and to be effective, it must be done in the right way.

  • Visibility

Having visibility of project resources, individual tasks, and the project as a whole will make a project manager’s job much easier. Having an individual location where information is stored is a fantastic way to keep track of the progress of tasks and inform the participants of changes at the same time.

Making sure information is available to all those involved in a project is vital. Sometimes it may not always be readily available and this can cause communication mix-ups. When everyone is privy to the same information, it generates healthy transparency within teams and leads to continued improvements.

To sum up, while 7 pain points are difficult to deal with, the old maxim holds, practice makes perfect. Projects managers should strive to use their skills and experiences to make sure these pain points become a routine part of their daily processes, preventing larger issues with both projects and colleagues.

5 ways to solve this problem every agency faces

With more budgets shifting from traditional to digital marketing, there’s a lot of opportunity out there at the moment for digital marketers, but there are a lot of challenges too. Despite becoming a central focus of the strategy in so many organizations, agencies continue to face several significant pain points.

Here’s a rundown of some of those obstacles, along with some of the best ways of solving them.

1. Winning new businesses – do what you best

Ironically, despite all the money being pumped into digital campaigns, more than half of all digital agencies say their biggest challenge is winning over new clients. One of the reasons for this is competition. Today, everybody wants to be a digital marketer and with more firms looking to international markets for growth opportunities, digital agencies must be able to stand out to make an impact with potential clients.

As with any business sector, convincing new clients to come on board takes patience, focus, and planning. So you need to look at every stage of how you do that and be highly objective about it. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes and go through your pitch and sales process from start to finish. If you’re truly objective, you’ll quickly pinpoint anything generic, cliched, or simply unappealing for prospects.

You should also see what you’re doing right. Build on positives and eliminate or improve the rest. What doesn’t feel comfortable for you probably isn’t working for clients, Here, a second opinion from an industry peer could be insightful.

In a competitive marketplace, the key is not to do what everyone else is doing but to focus on your niche strengths. Showcase what you can do that other can’t.

59% of CFOs say that business intelligence should be a priority. Invest in data and analytics to identify your target audience market and carry out in-depth research into potential customers. Find out what they want to build the answers to their problems into your pitch. It´s only when you understand their pain points that you can create the solutions they’ll want to buy. Differentiate yourself based on your strengths and their pain points.

Visibility is important too, but with so many competitors using the same digital marketing keywords, that can be a challenge. Again, focus on your niche, on what makes you different. Your market strategy should be all about how you define your offering. Use content to demonstrate you are the expert in your specialism and get your message out to the wider community on professional platforms such as LinkedIn.

If a client thanks you for the completion of a successful project, don’t wait for referrals, ask for them. While you’re at it, get testimonials for your website, or if it showcases a particular expertise or service, make it into a case study. By doing so, you’ll proactively build your reputation and get more business coming your way.

2. Clients, can’t live with them, can’t live without them

Clients can be a constant source of stress for agencies for a host of reasons, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to understand all the moving parts of a digital campaign when they’re focused on their own business.

Three of the most common issues experienced by marketers are:

Unresponsiveness: As many as 55% of agencies cite unresponsiveness as a pain point. There is a good reason for this. While that client might be a large part of your overall efforts and take up as much as 50% of your agency’s time, it’s a much smaller part of the overall picture when it comes to its own operations, taking up much less of their time.

Set clear expectations from the outset. Let them know that without timely follow-ups deadlines will be impacted. Never end a meeting without scheduling a follow-up and put a contingency plan in place if clients still fail to respond. It can help to get acquainted with your client’s schedules too. Like you, they’ll be busier at certain times throughout the month.

Scope creep – Around 40% of agencies go over budget due to scope creep. And if this isn’t addressed early on, it can lead an agency down the slippery slope to unprofitability. To avoid it, make it clear in the initial contract what’s included and what‘s included and what isn’t before you start work.

Dissatisfaction: Much of the time, this is down to a client’s lack of know-how in the digital arena. But client dissatisfaction can be difficult to navigate, and can lead to deteriorating client relations, even if you’ve been delivering solid work and results. But there are very simple things you can do to show the clients that you’re committed to helping them succeed.

Losing the wrong client can be the single most costly thing for an agency to experience. If the future of the business hinges on one big spending client, then that client needs to be prioritized. There’s no point in giving all your clients the same level of support if one is delivering more profit to the business than the rest put together. So make sure big-spending clients are prioritized with a dedicated account manager to provide extra support when they need it. Some clients may have multiple touchpoints throughout the agency, so there needs to be a single point of contact that makes it easy to get the solution they need straightaway.

Arrange regular catch-ups. A senior member of the management team should get on a call at least once a month to make sure the client’s needs are being met and to find out what else the agency can be done to improve value further.

Some clients may need to be gently educated, especially as many businesses are now running their basic campaigns in-house, using the likes of google ads and Facebook. Let them know what you’re doing is more complex and the results will be equally far-reaching. Make sure they understand that when it comes to digital marketing, there’s no such thing as overnight success. It takes time to deliver results in an increasingly competitive market. Invest in a good reporting platform that demonstrates the difference your efforts are making. Focus on demonstrating the value of what you do. At the same time, it’s better to underpromise and over-deliver than vice versa.

3. Be a trendsetter

When you’re busy running a digital marketing agency, it can be difficult to find the time to stay on top of trends and innovations. Digital marketing is constantly evolving and you must keep up to remain relevant. As the expert in your niche, it’s your role to identify trends before they happen, so you can offer new winning strategies to clients first. In doing so, you’ll grow your business and your reputation, while outpacing the competition.

Newer technologies can even help you find solutions to your pain points. Today, digital agencies need to be more data-driven than ever and technologies such s AI can help drive the return on investment (ROI) technologies can help marketers work with predictive segments, tracking customer behavior in real-time and creating highly personalized messages to target customers through the likes of Facebook, Google Adwords, and other formats. That’s something you can even use to target new customers for your own business.

It’s not easy keeping up to date with everything, so don’t try to do it all. Focus on what specialize in, but be the absolute expert in that. Don’t be content to keep pace with trends: predict them and aim to set new ones others will follow.

4. The skills gap – create your talent pool

As you’d expect in such a rapidly evolving sector, there’s a big skills gap in digital marketing. Most agencies are struggling when it comes to finding staff with the most up-to-date skills. If you can’t source or afford the best staff out there, hire those with the most potential and create an in-house program to develop the right talent for your needs.

According to Gallup, only 34% are still engaged in their jobs. That’s not good for business. Engaged employees will add more value, proactively creating solutions to business challenges and helping the business become more profitable. The best way to keep staff fresh, inspired, and enthusiastic about the business is to make sure they have the development to keep growing their skills and contribute even more to the firm down the line. Feedback mechanisms can help too. Find out what your employees want and act on that to improve engagement, retention, and productivity.

5. Get to grips with due diligence

The rules regarding data and privacy seem to be constantly changing especially if you’re operating across several different jurisdictions. It’s a headache for many digital agencies but something you have to stay on top of to avoid falling foul of regulations or being hit with financial penalties.

That’s where diligence comes in: the establishment of rules and processes helps your agency remain compliant with the ultimate goal of safeguarding business interests. It might sound profitable in terms of time, effort, and resources, but it’s about avoiding serious losses that could occur as the result of minor errors in operational procedures.

Diligence isn’t just something you look at during start-up, a restructure, or expansion into new markets. It’s something that needs to be part of everyday business practices. Fortunately, there are tools out there that can help. Most agencies are now opting for due diligence with secure cloud-based digital archives to store and track important business documents. This can help your team have the right documents and files at their fingertips, so decision-making is faster and your business can become more agile as a result.

Once you’ve developed the corporate governance practices you need, it’s simply a matter of making sure your employees and partners are happy with them and are kept fully up to date when changes happen. After that, due diligence should merge seamlessly into your day-to-day work processes.

Conclusion

As with so many things in business, pain points can become opportunities. By recognizing, analyzing, and understanding the challenges your digital marketing company faces, you begin the groundwork that not only resolves those issues but creates new avenues for growth.

With the right mechanism in place to solve your pain points and begin to create new ideas that can help you find your niche and attract new businesses, take your digital marketing agency to the next stage of its potential.

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