8 Key Lessons for Agency Owners from Two Decades of Experience

Insights From a Seasoned Agency Expert: Transcending Success

Being successful equates to continuous growth, and it is through our interactions that we garner new perspectives. As an experienced agency owner, my professional bucket brims over with insights gained from fruitful interactions with my peers. Learning doesn’t cease; it’s an endeavor that’s enriched by diverse connections, bearing similarity to a therapy session, that’s equally liberating and informative.

The agency business is quite demanding, irrespective of the specialization, be it digital, PR, or advertising. We have vested interests in people – our team members, our clients – and all the causes and missions inspiring us to thrive in our chosen vocations.

What I present before you today is my learnings from almost two decades working in agencies, primarily gained from errors I committed. Hopefully, these will arm you with vital insights, equipping you to navigate and avoid my shortcomings.

Understanding Your Goals is Crucial

Unsparing in its bluntness, my first point is absolutely fundamental. Unless you coax your clients to reveal their objectives and aid in defining what their idea of success in partnership is, you’re effectively risking time, resources, and investments. The dread of clients’ churn or attrition is very real. It’s significant to comprehend what the clients want, and creating a robust strategic plan to guide them is the way ahead. Presupposing their Return On Investment (ROI) gauges sans diligent information gathering would spell disaster for any potential collaboration.

Clarity in Communication is Vital

I frequently underscore to prospects as well as clients the significance of bold and explicit communication. It needs to be a two-way street. Accurate articulation of your agency’s communication patterns early in the collaboration is imperative. Whether it’s through emails, text, slack, phone calls, or project management system messages, sharing your communication parameters is central to building trust. After all, misunderstandings in communication plague agency-client relationships quite often.

Keeping Track of Scope is Essential

No discussion about agency operations is complete without a reference to the scope. As an agency, your intent should always be to provide value to clients within the purview of the agreed scope. The collective understanding of the scope within the agency is crucial, and tracking utilization, efficiency, and profitability is equally crucial. It’s imperative to keep the contract’s scope in mind, keeping a vigilant check on both in-scope and out-of-scope services.

Regularly Express Your Expectations

Agency-client dynamics rely heavily on clear expectations. However, it’s essential to express the agency’s expectation with equal emphasis. If the client doesn’t follow through on necessary tasks in a timely manner, was it because they were not aware of the consequences of delay resulting from the lack of clarity regarding expectations?

Express Your Commitment Despite Challenges

There might be clients who are tough to handle or those who belong to less glamorous industries. Regardless, the commitment to the relationship must shine through in all circumstances. Proactive communication, creative solutions, problem-solving acumen are the tools in your arsenal that can demonstrate your investment in the relationship.

Maintain Patient Accountability

The agency side often lacks full control over several aspects such as decisions about client branding, sales teams, ultimate marketing approvals, product roadmaps, or financial performance. This can make accepting accountability intimidating. Balancing your patience while navigating to gain a deeper understanding of your clients is thus essential.

Ensure a Clear Escalation Path

The avenue to provide feedback ranging from minor strategic adjustments to more serious issues should be comfortable and accessible for the client. A readily available avenue for such feedback is crucial in fostering a candid agency-client relationship.

Let’s Not Forget to Celebrate the Wins

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect, celebrating the client’s wins strengthens the bond between agency and client. Celebrating together is an expression of your genuine care for your clients and their success. It is crucial to nurture a culture of celebrating wins together because, in these chaotic times, such moments are more important than ever.

To sum up, anticipate and address potential issues by initiating honest, clear, and challenging discussions early on in the relationship. Notwithstanding the several challenges involved in nurturing the client relationship, it is worthwhile to invest in these practices to bolster retention, efficiency, and performance in your agency operations.

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