Does Size Matter When It Comes to Agency Growth Potential?

Does Size Matter When It Comes to Agency Growth Potential?

Update: 2020-10-14
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Have you ever wondered if the grass is greener for big agencies? Or is it easier to be a small agency that is more nimble? Are you struggling with prioritizing growth strategies? Does size matter when it comes to growth trajectory? It all comes down to perspective. Size only matters in relation to your vision of growing your agency.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • What are the big agencies missing?
  • Hurdles to overcome when growing an agency.
  • 3 ways a small agency can grow faster.

I talked to Steve McCall, a partner in a branded digital strategy agency called Carbon. Formerly, Steve was the general manager of a large agency in Boston. However, as he explains, life happened a few years ago. The death of a loved one gave him clarity on his career goals. So Steve took a risk by partnering with two former colleagues who had already begun Carbon. Steve is here to share the differences between big agencies and small agencies and how Carbon provides the best client experience, best product, and best work-life balance.

What Are the Big Agencies Missing?

"There is a lot to like about big agencies," Steve explains, adding that the benefits of a big agency include:

  • The high level of brands that look to large agencies to deliver their services.
  • The ability to grow your skillsets across different client categories and disciplines.

However, Steve and his partners realized something was missing from their experiences with big agencies. Focus is placed on making sure the client experience is equal to the output, even if it cuts into profitability. "We are not always profit-focused," he says. "It's more about ensuring a great product and developing a relationship with the client. In a larger holding company model, that is challenging to do."

Hurdles to Overcome When Growing An Agency

Growing an agency that offers a work-life balance and is devoted to delivering quality products and client experiences isn't easy. The primary challenge was finding out where their product and level of service needed to be in order to be successful. Other challenges included:

  • Profitability without sacrificing service. "There are a lot of investments you have to make when you start an agency." Even while the agency was determining what products to offer and how to satisfy clients, they also had to learn how to be profitable.
  • Creating forward momentum. Growth takes momentum and it's easy to become complacent or get bogged down in the trenches. Carbon built momentum through providing as many in-house services as possible.

3 Ways a Small Agency Can Grow Faster

Carbon places emphasis well-roundedness and Steve attributes their rapid growth to these 3 tactics:

  1. Cross-train. Steve said the ability to provide multiple services in-house with a small team requires each member of the team to have a base level skill set on as many tools as possible. This eliminates the bottleneck when only one person has the ability to perform a certain task.
  2. Use your client's data. Data will not only manage expectations but also help identify additional services to meet specific needs the client might not even know they have. This provides new revenue opportunities for you but also new business opportunities for them.
  3. Keep exploring what is possible. Just as you analyze your client's data, analyze your own data. Develop a grounded path forward in the firm understanding of where you are now as well as what it will take to get where you want to be.

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Does Size Matter When It Comes to Agency Growth Potential?

Does Size Matter When It Comes to Agency Growth Potential?

Jason Swenk: Marketing Business Strategist, Agency Consultant and Advisor