In September, I made my annual trek to Cleveland (Cleveland rocks…truly!) to speak at Content Marketing World.
They launched an agency track this year and, well, they can’t very well be working with agency leaders and us not be involved.
So we sponsored the track and I had the opportunity to present to the agency leaders who were there.
The title of my speech was, “You Don’t Need ALL the Content. Five Steps to Grow Your Agency Without Creating More Content.”
To be perfectly honest, I’m kind of surprised they approved my title.
But they did—and yay! I got to talk about why we don’t need more content, especially when growing an agency.
Seriously, Queen of Content?
I know. I know.
That sounds weird coming from me. I am, after all, the queen of content.
I LOVE CONTENT!
But if there is anything I’ve learned in the past 13 years of blogging, it’s that more content does not mean more return-on-investment.
There are certain kinds of content that have better ROI, and there are certain ways to use it that generate better results.
But to figure out how that might work in your business—or for your clients—we first have to take a step back and look at the other things that are getting in our way.
A Lesson Learned Over a Decade
Let me tell you the story of how I first discovered this.
When we started working with agency owners a few years ago, I came to realize we all had the same complaints, the same challenges, the same “no, you can’t pick my brain for free” stories, and the same things that kept us awake at night.
At first, it was a little scary to talk about our challenges together.
After all, some of these people would be considered competitors. Competitors to me, competitors to one another.
But I had a breakthrough.
I realized there is more than enough work to go around, and we are better together.
Today, some of my very best friends in the world own agencies.
We have worked through big challenges together—and we have seemingly solved some of the world’s problems.
After I changed my thinking around that, I encouraged our agency owner clients to do the same.
And guess what?
We have all grown our agencies together, and we have given back to the industry in ways we couldn’t do alone.
There have been friendships made, partnerships created, and business secured.
There are some mindset shifts we’ve made to do that.
I’ve addressed the first one here—and will address the second and third next Thursday and fourth and fifth the following Thursday.
That will give you time to absorb it all, think about it, and create your action plan (versus trying to read a 4,000 word blog post that you then have to mull).
Here we go!
Forget About Brand Cachet
Did you know that firms with brand cachet grow less than one percent a year?
In fact, in recent years, most have posted a loss, despite everyone knowing who they are and what they do.
Can you imagine if you grew only one percent a year?
I’d shut it all down and go find myself a job working for the man.
Sure, there are years where there is zero growth, but overall, most agencies have 10-20 percent growth, year-over-year.
Unless they are firms with brand cachet.
You know the ones—the global firms with big, fancy offices around the globe, lots of employees, and serious credibility.
Of course, we always hear that no one is ever fired for hiring a big firm, but they aren’t who is propelling the economy forward.
You are doing that—every agency owner who does great work for clients, and doing it without brand cachet, is what propels Main Street forward.
If you have what an organization needs, they don’t care if you have brand cachet.
But we are human beings so we self-sabotage and believe we can’t get larger clients if we don’t have brand cachet.
And we don’t have time to build brand cachet because we spend all of our time working in the business, instead of on it.
You’re probably thinking, “Sure it’s easy for you to say. Spin Sucks has brand cachet.”
But we haven’t always had brand cachet. We didn’t even exist—outside of a blog—10 years ago.
As a business, we’ve been generating revenue less than four years.
It doesn’t matter how well known (or not) you are.
All clients care about is whether or not you can solve their problems.
Figure Out Your Best Business Driver
So what is one to do?
No brand cachet and no real business development process, either.
Things are great when the referrals are plentiful, but the pipleline stinks when they’re not.
Here is the first thing to do:
Figure out your best business driver.
Is it media relations, strategy development, consulting, crisis management, content or email marketing, social media, or something else?
For us, strategy development, data analysis, and metrics reign supreme.
We build everything we do around those three things. If a prospect is not interested in having all three of those things and just want media relations, for instance, we refer them to someone else.
Our best business driver builds into longer-term work, higher budgets secured, and multiple year engagements.
Figure out your best business driver. It has to be just one thing (for now…you can build on it later).
Then craft a plan and work it to death.
One of the things we teach agency owners how to do in Agency Jumpstart is to craft that plan, focus, and work it.
It’s the hardest thing to do because, by nature, we are people pleasers.
If a prospect asks us if we can do something we absolutely can do, we want to say yes—process be damned.
Stop doing that!
Figure out your best business driver, craft a plan, work it, focus…and stop saying yes when you know you need to say no.
Want to Learn More?
I’ll be back next week with tips two and three (and we’ll eventually get to not needing more content).
In the meantime, if you want to learn more, the Close More Clients Masterclass will give you the fodder you need for this tip and the forthcoming ones.
As you think about this for your agency’s growth, let me know what questions you have or if you need help brainstorming.
The comments are yours.
Or, if you prefer something private, join the agency owner channel in the Spin Sucks community and you can DM me there.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash