Here’s what’s holding

your [.eiko] agency [.eiko] back

By Roland Gurney | Updated on: Mar 31, 2022

We salute anyone with the energy and entrepreneurial spirit to set up and scale an agency. But we also see people fall into the same old pitfalls. So rather than reel out another unnecessary top ten tips of what to do right, we felt it’d be more on-brand to spew some vitriol about what normally goes wrong.

Buckle up, it’s gonna be a brutal ride through the realities of what’s holding your agency back from being even more brilliant. Look, you have loads of great qualities - you’ve turned them into a viable agency, right - but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to improve.

So here’s a checklist of agency challenges you might need to address...

1. You’ve not nailed exactly what you’re all about

Every time someone asks what you do, they get a different answer. You tell some clients you’re all about X, others that you’re all about Y, and a few that you’re now about Z. Over the years your agency has become a Frankenstein of old and new ideas, held together by a few fruitful relationships with half-decent clients.

Everyone’s telling their own version of your story, and your agency has become more mythical than logical. That’s because you haven’t stepped back from all the day-to-day details to sort this stuff out. I mean, who has time to work on themselves when clients are constantly emailing for amends?

The truth is, you need to swallow your own medicine and nail your own brand and marketing strategy. It’s not a slow back-burner project. It won't just evolve naturally. Clients won’t work it out for themselves. Agencies who don’t invest in their big-picture end up with smaller budgets.

2. You have a generic or vague ideal client in mind

You win a beauty brand and you start to think that’s your ideal client. But then you sign a sports brand and you reckon they’re a better fit. That’s until that law firm client lands, and you’re sure you’re set to be the legal experts. This kind of client flip-flopping leaves you always reactive, and never proactive.

So you decide to filter your ideal clients by their mindset. I mean, that makes strategic sense right? Okay, so you can’t actually find them anywhere, or create a list, or actually contact them, but if you tell the world you work with [ambitious, forward-thinking, open-minded] brands, they’ll come flocking surely. Nope. This is a sticking plaster for your lack of focus and commitment.

Of course, your ideal client’s mindset is valuable information. But it’s meaningless when it comes to marketing. And surely you need better marketing to scale, no? So sit down and actually decide on who you’re for, then define exactly what they’re all about - in detail; gory, obsessive, and overly-specific detail.

3. You offer too many services

Let’s be honest, some of your services are just occasional upsells where you bring in a freelancer or contractor, aren't they? Nothing wrong with that at all, but do you think clients are really convinced that you’re an expert in 30 totally distinct disciplines? Nah, they can smell you hedging your bets a mile off.

When people have a serious medical issue, they head to a specialist, not a GP, because they’re seen as the experts. Surgeons also get paid more than general doctors, and work fewer hours. Look, the reality is, the wider your agency’s services, the more each service is devalued. Okay, you don’t have to whittle it down to just one service, but can some be upsells behind the scene rather than a rambling list of anything and everything.

The temptation is to think that clients want to see that you offer everything under the sun, but actually they’d rather get a sense that you’re a master of a few, not a jack of all trades.

4. You’re selling what you do, not why it’s beneficial

Yep, another copywriter banging on about selling the benefits, not the features. Sure, it’s no longer a revolutionary concept but most agencies are great at talking about what they do and how it all works, but few actually explain why anyone should care. And not just in a rational business way, but on a human level too.

It’s like most agencies are under the impression that their clients are robots, scanning agency websites to download statistics and buzzwords into their big spreadsheet to decide who to hire. They’re not. Instead, they’re just people at work looking for the best people to help them achieve, solve or overcome something.

There’s not enough emphasis on what the client gets, the impact of your work together, the way their lives are improved, the way they’ll feel while working with you. Take a look at your agency’s Homepage right now and count how many benefits there are. Not many, or even any, right? Fix this and instantly improve your chances of generating leads.

5. You only talk about yourself

We do this, We do that, Our expert team of so-and-so. Blah, blah, blah. In reality, we all subconsciously care about what’s in it for us. That doesn’t make us sociopaths, it makes us humans. Agencies are fantastic at empathetic client work, and notoriously poor at using any of that empathy and creativity on themselves. Instead, they’re comms and content sounds like the egocentric ramblings of a coked-up travelling salesman, or the tedious musings of a socially-inept computer programmer.

Those winning work with ease paint a vivid picture of the promised land for their clients, talking directly to them like normal, interesting people. They don’t just talk about their empathy and creativity, they show it through a deeper understanding of how their clients think, feel and act. Then they find clever ways to spark interest and turn it into action. Reading their writing feels like they’re talking to you, like they’re in your head, catching you thinking things before you’d even realised you were thinking them at all. That’s not just the essence of great copywriting, it’s the foundation for a better business.

6. You’re selling vitamins, not painkillers

Honestly, pain sells. Too many agencies are afraid to talk about the fears, frustrations and insecurities that clients battle. They’re worried they’ll come across as negative nay-sayers and doom-mongers. And sure, done badly they will. But tapping into a client’s mental and emotional state is vital to writing messaging that hits them in the heart, not just the head.

Outlining their problems actually builds empathy, rapport and trust with prospects. They think; wow, these guys get me. Your messaging and copy should enter the conversation in their heads in words they actually use. When you get on sales calls, people should say; It felt like you were talking to me specifically, like you’re in my head.

7. You’ve bought into your own brand bullshit

Everything makes sense when it’s been explained in a two-hour team meeting. But prospects don’t read your internal strategy document. They don’t get all the nuance of what that big buzzword means to you. They scan your website and maybe read a few posts or articles. Without someone external who’s willing to challenge you, you risk having messaging that’s largely meaningless to anyone outside your agency. Sure, it sounds cool. That big flashy word is packed with substance to you, but feels like froth without any explanation. Every so often, find someone external who’s a prick - meaning they can burst your bubble and tell you how it really is.

8. Your content marketing is inconsistent at best, invisible at worst

You occasionally do some inbound marketing, but chances are it’s patchy. You bang out the odd blog every so often, but when it fails to flood your inbox with excited new enquiries you bin it off again. Same with LinkedIn. You get some downtime one week and plan to be a personal brand by Friday. Thursday rolls round and you're knee-deep in deadlines again, so it gets pushed back.

The content you have done is too vague and untargeted. The world doesn’t need another article titled Why digital marketing is good for your business. It’s 2022 FFS. Instead, you need laser-focused and fucking interesting content that scratches an itch only your ideal client has. The rest is noise. Content is the best way to build your brand, reach and reputation so you attract in clients who already like what you’re about. Without great content you’re reliant on referrals and recommendations which are harder to scale, and cold outreach which can be intrusive.

9. In fact, your new business is a bit of a rollercoaster

Boring alert; the key is strategy and consistency. You need a big picture view of where to focus your effort, and then the hands on deck to actually make it all happen. There’s too much to new business to squeeze it all into this paragraph, so do some research and follow some new business folk who seem like a good fit. Because right now, your new business is sporadic and scattergun, coming from a place of panic when the pipeline looks a bit empty. So you hustle up some leads, win the work, then get consumed in delivery. Rinse and repeat. You need a strategy that sets out the big plan, a calendar and action plan so there’s accountability, and the right people on your team to do it all. Without all this, you’re leaving winning clients to luck. But optimism isn’t a strategy.

10. You’re trying to do it all yourself

Can you realistically nail numbers 1-9 without some extra help? You might be able to do a mediocre job of them all, but that’s not the point. Sometimes you have to invest in buying your own time back. So hire a new business consultant to give you a strategy. Find that freelancer to write those LinkedIn posts. Blow hundreds of thousands on McKinsey. Whatever you need to unlock the next level. Every so often you’ll hit a point where the smarter play is to invest in someone to handle something for you. Someone specialist who’ll speed up the process. And expert with relevant experience. And yes, this is the blatant sales pitch at the end.

So if you want to see which if these we can solve, drop us a line.

London based, working worldwide. © 2022
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