Last week, we had a little chat about an impending recession and what you can do now to ensure you survive it. If you haven’t read that article yet, I encourage you to do so and then come back to this one.

The gist is that there are four things you can do now to help your marketing and comms programs have legs, no matter what the economy is doing. And, if you’re an agency owner or work inside an agency, there is one more thing to consider: expansion of services.

A recent Digiday report shows that agencies expect far less spend from clients this year than in years past, including 2020. The report also shows that 50% of pros said their agencies have increased or will increase the number of services they offered last year.

This is one of the ways to survive through a bumpy economy.

Learn How to Diversify Your Income

Since my business took a massive hit during the Great Recession, I’ve been vigilant about ensuring that never happens again. It was traumatic—both for my employees and for me. I’m not sure some of them will ever forgive me for laying them off when we lost all of our clients.

One of the things I tout over and over again is diversifying your income. This means having more than one source of revenue so that when the bottom falls out of one side, you have something to fall back on.

This includes your services, of course, and things such as speaking (that you’re paid for—not free!), online courses, paid webinars, workshops, strategic sessions, projects, and more.

Some of this is demanded by the consistently fragmented media landscape. It’s no longer enough to do earned media alone and expect to keep clients happy. There just isn’t enough out there to be able to reach business outcomes. Clients expect us to do more and expect PR to drive sales. It’s a wild time to be working in this industry!

PR hasn’t been a one-trick pony since social media took over the world, but many clients and agencies alike, still use earned media as the backbone for a successful program. At a time when media continues to be consolidated, and people look to social media for their news (right or wrong), the work we do has to evolve much more quickly than it has.

Media, of course, exists everywhere—from print and online publications to television, social media, brand-owned channels—and now artificial intelligence. 

So When Budgets Are Under Scrutiny, You’ll Be Safe

Agencies typically tout the benefits of a slow brand build that builds trust and authority—and rightfully so. It’s that kind of brand awareness that sticks. And it is extremely hard for executives to be patient enough to let an agency do that kind of work. 

The world is too fast-paced, and an executive wants to know exactly what kind of return on investment they’re getting from every penny they spend. They’re getting immense pressure from investors, their board, Wall Street, and other stakeholders who want a unicorn return on their money. Because of that, executives care less about building relationships with brand ambassadors and more about one-time shoppers. 

Again, not exactly the right way to do things, but it is the way of the world right now.

Then you throw in economic uncertainty, which means our budgets are under immense scrutiny, and it’s suddenly the best time to increase our revenue sources. 

Earlier, I mentioned some of the ways you can do that. We’ve built all sorts of revenue sources, such as a couple of books, online courses, one-on-one coaching, and a certification. All of that did not happen overnight. It’s taken 10 years to get here, but we started after the crisis hit, which was far too late. You can start now.

All of those things do take time, but one of the things you can start now is to add more services and expand your offerings to clients. 

Do It By Implementing the PESO Model™

A couple of weeks ago, Chip Griffin and I discussed on the Agency Leadership podcast how to expand the services of your media relations agency. But this isn’t just for agencies that focus solely on earned media. This is for any solopreneur or agency that focuses solely on one media type—a content agency, a social media agency, an SEM agency, or an SEO agency.

You know how you’re going to do it? You’re going to implement the PESO Model™

With a PESO Model foundation, you will be able to expand your services, evolve with the changing times, survive economic downturns, and demonstrate the types of results that are important to executives.

I can already hear your despair. How will I do that? It’s expensive! I don’t have budget to hire more employees. I can’t do all that work myself. My team is already over capacity. We don’t have the skillset internally to add to our services.

Never fear, my friends. Never fear.

And Get Yourself Certified

First and foremost, and I realize this is going to come across as self-serving, but get yourself and your staff enrolled in the PESO Model Certification™. It will teach all of you how to use the framework to build a program that helps you add services to your agency and measure the results of the things your clients care about.

You’ll do homework, which you can do for a client. So you’ll learn AND get work done AND get results all at the same time.

As you go through that process, think about what you can do right now to expand services.

For instance, if you are an earned media agency or solopreneur and you’re pitching your little heart out, start to pitch some contributed content. Yes, if you place it, you’ll have to write it, but that starts to get you into the owned media space with your clients, not to mention, extra budget to do that work. 

In every instance that an agency owner client of ours has taken this approach, their clients have given them project budgets to write the contributed content. They’re usually pretty excited at the outcome and are happy to pay their agency to produce the content.

And then, when they see how well the content is written and received, they want the agency or solopreneur to do more.

Agency Evolution Opportunities About

Then, once you’re certified in the PESO Model, you’ll start to see opportunities for evolving your agency everywhere you look. 

Yes, you will have to add team members or contractors. No, it’s not as expensive as you have imagined it. Yes, you can do it. No, it won’t be easy.

Yes, you will be happy you did it—especially as you ride smoothly through every economic condition.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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