An agency’s scalability is the capability of its systems, processes, and networks to handle the growing amounts of work concerning its potential to enlarge to accommodate such growth.
The upsurge in the number of people utilizing the internet worldwide has led to an increased demand for digital marketing agencies and digital marketers.
Timely scaling of the business is ideal, especially considering that some small businesses fail due to quick scaling. Some signs trigger scaling of the agency and usher in growth that needs consideration. These signs serve as indicators of the agency’s readiness or not. They also are excellent indicators of the time required to learn how to grow the agency and drive it to the next level.
Signs to drive scalability
- Skyrocketing Leads. When the number of incoming business leads spikes, then it is time to scale the business. If the increased lead generation is organic, less spending on marketing and lead tactics, the business venture is ripe for ascension.
- Increased inquiries from other markets. A digital marketing agency should scale the operations when many customer queries come from individuals outside its target market. It is a sign that business expansion and casting of a wider net is necessary to rope in more potential clients.
- Effortless delegating. Problems in managing team members and freelancers are likely to put an agency into several challenges with rushed scaling. Any digital marketing agency able to effortlessly delegate tasks, projects, and activities can proceed and scale.
- Business profitability. A sustained marketing agency’s profitability and growth mean comfort in business expansion. The established success offers a foundation for building on the agency extension and working on a larger scale.
- Hold or turn clients away. A bulging need for agency’s services that sees new clients turned away or placed on a waiting list means a need exists to scale the business. Increased demand for a marketing agency’s services depicts a good business position for expansion.
- Existence of a great team. Any marketing agency with a well assembled and experienced team has an excellent chance of succeeding when scaling. A composition of freelancers, marketers, and excellently outsourced services will seamlessly help the agency scale its operations.
- Money availability. Business scaling requires a lot of money due to being expensive. Ready funds will enhance the onboarding of new employees and take care of the increasing bills.
3 Pillars for Scaling a Marketing Agency
Upon confirming the need for scaling as the right move, a digital agency should figure out how to go about scaling to enjoy long-term success. Three growth pillars define scaling, namely services or products, processes, and the team.
Marketing agencies achieve growth by building products needed by people, conducting research, getting feedback, and constantly having the product or service user in mind. The future of marketing relies on value creation as much as possible. People associate with a brand’s products if they provide exceptional services and create enormous value. Startups need time before thinking of growth and instead focus on building a great product. There are three critical aspects of services in scaling.
- Identify the agency’s most profitable services to offer – Not all services are profitable sometimes. Agencies often want to please their clients with any type of service. However, if they do not count the hours invested by their teams in each type of project, they will not know which services they should continue to offer because they are profitable, and which are not because they represent a profitability drain.
- Simplify Client Onboarding – If you do not have a well-oiled process of how this onboarding should be, scalability will begin to become hampered and the quality of the agency’s service will be compromised.
- Know What to Outsource – In scaling, outsourcing is vital since, at some point, the agency team members will not manage to keep up with everything. There will emerge a need to outsource some tasks, more operational and with less demand for seniority. Outsourcing is integral to attaining efficiency and saving money while concentrating on business growth.
Experimenting comes with the setting of clear goals. Everything you do has to tie back to the brand’s vision. Having a great product and an outstanding team to execute the set strategy is insufficient. Business owners should, as well, think of the process. Much time and resources go towards focusing on the experiments and analytics to get it right. Hacking of the scaling process focuses on idea generation, idea prioritization, testing, and results analysis to validate assumptions. Create a top process center to manage the metrics at every stage and assign team members clear and realistic task deadlines. The processes must fit within the company’s vision to deliver on lead generation, branding, and product growth. Some of the aspects of the process to look at are as below:
- Automate your processes – Traditional way of doing things is long gone where an individual takes charge through physical follow-up of work execution. The advancement in technology and the development of software make it possible to automate company processes. The automation of workflows and processes effortlessly accommodates new projects emanating from the expanding client base.
- Be capable of estimating resources and deadlines – Scaling requires ample resources and strict adherence to timelines. Proper resource management is key to making correct estimates of how much new talent to hire from the agency and the real times of how long the projects will take.
- Base your decisions on analytics – Analysis must be part of the process. Having real-time data on how each project is going will give much more scope to make coherent and assertive decisions to the management of the agency based on delivering better quality work and guaranteeing the profit margin for the agency.
As in any company that offers professional services, the most important asset is talent. That’s why building the right team is key to business growth. Scaling comes when people work together, and there is cross-departmental coordination of tasks.
- Create an Entry-Level Positions System. Scaling needs filling some entry-level positions with the right people. An agency should plan to vet applicants for these positions when scaling. Focus on the applicants’ abilities to learn fast and retain as much information as possible. Due to the rapidly changing digital marketing world, it is prudent to onboard only those eager to learn and adapt to the changing environment with ease. Training such people is effortless, leading to the creation of talented and qualified employees for your future.
- Bring on Topic Experts. Agencies are not experts in all topics. There is a need to involve topical experts to handle some of the emerging issues. The experts can help agencies better their business aspects that need elevation. It must be very strategic to incorporate these experts because they are expensive, but many times it is worth having these heads within the team to guarantee the quality of the service. The result of the experts’ involvement is the attainment of the continued agency growth.
- Work with a Recruiter. You can outsource the recruiting services to a recruiter to find you the best people for specific positions to grant you team value. This is important if you are considering an escalation of serious dimensions. This will avoid taking too much time from area leaders in recruiting to continue to focus on their work and not neglect their teams.
Key Challenges to Scalable Growth
- Lack of visibility. Some agencies lack standardized project management processes to give consistent data. Data that leads to drawing any real business insights. Using different metrics and tracking methods by various managers limits ascertaining resource performance effectiveness. Differences in managers’ operations create great rifts in clarity and accuracy of the resource data. A small business with few managers can eliminate the variations. But with scaling, more resources get involved, and lack of visibility will curtail the agency’s growth potential.
- Lack of Data. Most agencies use many systems and tools that don’t link to each other. The system is so independent, having account management, sales, client relationships, marketing services, billing, and project management systems. This spreading of the operations across systems leads to data fragmentation. Making sense of the data and drawing any conclusive meaning requires a transfer to another set-up. This data fragmentation is a challenge in decision-making to scalable growth. To scale, you cannot underscore the relevance of a streamlined strategy.
- Issues for Estimations. Getting resource estimations wrong from the onset will pause a significant challenge to agency scalability. Business expansion requires a clear indication of figures at every implementation stage to ensure proper utilization. Failure to get estimations right places agencies at risk of failing to meet their scaling goals. The missed estimates become a challenge in the long-run.
- Communications Issues. There is an astounding amount of communication that takes place in delivering and billing a single project. The absence of a centralized communication process and unified platform limits the communication flow. The curtailing of information flow becomes a challenge when scaling since tasks and projects will fail to meet set goals, deadlines, and timelines. Communication challenges will affect clients, resources, freelancers, and third-party vendors. Giving visibility to the communication of each project will be key to giving visibility to the managers of the work carried out.
Characteristics of a Marketing Agency scaled
Assess your current standing before restructuring for scalable growth. You are likely to find some primed agency parts for scaling and others relatively non-systemic and reactive. If your operations lie more towards the “scalable” side, it will be easier to attain scalable growth. There is a need to separate agency operations by functional roles, assessing their technological adoption, maturity, and clarity of purpose. Employ formal management structures, purpose-driven technology, and set a clear focus. The scalability of different digital marketing agency operations is accessible with these characteristics:
- Agency focus. The agency focuses its efforts on the ideal customer, which involves selling to clients that meet the agency’s preferred profile. The business will not scale if the agency adopts a reactive approach of selling to anyone regardless of the client fit.
- Project management. A reactive unscalable approach that uses unspecialized tools like Excel and ad-hoc solutions is a no-go zone for agencies. Instead, using specific, purpose-driven tools should be the norm. An ideal tool for consideration would be an integral project management software. The software not only solves the organization and communication for projects but also allows managing resources and measuring profitability.
- Client acquisition. Unscalable business uses responsive unpredictable revenue streams like word of mouth. Scalable agency adopts the utilization of predictable revenue streams such as PPC campaigns, inbound sales, and referral systems.
- Services. Unscalable businesses create solutions from the beginning to address individual consumer needs with no regard to client profiles. Scalable agencies focus their efforts on the full-time generation of solutions standardized across the same client profiles. The provided solutions guarantee timely full-service delivery to clients, leading to high customer retention and loyalty.
- Sales. It is daunting for an agency to scale when its salespeople are independent to follow their processes. Scalable businesses have their salespeople follow a standard qualifying, nurturing, and closing leads procedure. The adopted standardized operations include mastering the art of starting cold outreach through emailing and LinkedIn outreach.
- Agency management. Unscalable agencies operate with no defined templates for processes. The businesses ran on individual tools that are managing different agency functions. There is limited adoption of technology, and formal managerial roles are lacking. Scalable agencies work integrated management for every distinct agency function. The adoption of traditional administrative roles is the norm, while there is extensive use of technology.
How COR can help to scale a Marketing Agency
Using COR will help a marketing agency to scale by providing the needed analytics that guides business expansion. Through the software, agencies can automate tasks and projects outlining who handles what.
The software also outlines the project timelines, making it ideal in indicating the scaling period. COR is ideal in resource allocation and excellent team management through delegation of duties to eliminate overworking. COR is a project management solution with Artificial Intelligence that helps advertising and marketing agencies to manage the business with operational excellence.
COR can help marketing agencies scale by standardizing and streamlining their operations to save on a lot of time wastage. COR is a great ally for agencies that want to be successful in the rates of deadlines and hiring teams according to the number of clients and types of projects.