Running a creative and digital agency is fantastic but can be tricky, running a profitable, sustainable and growing agency is particularly challenging.
In my last blog I spoke about three areas that are key to meeting these challenges head on and are critical if you’re looking to accelerate growth.
I want to expand a little on each one in turn and add some detail that will help to point the way forward.
The three areas in question are;
• Strategic planning
• Finance and operations
• Marketing clarity
Let’s start with some research;
• businesses using a strategic plan are 12% more profitable *1
• of 26,000 start up failures, 67% had no written plan *2
• over 70% of companies with a plan don’t execute it *3
– You need a plan and you need to carry it out!
So, how do you go about strategic planning? There are a hundred different definitions but simply put, a strategic plan is the answer you and your team arrive at when you’ve asked yourself the following three questions;
• where are we now?
• where do we want to get to?
• how are we going to get there?
It’s important firstly to consider all aspects of your current situation; your competitors, your market, your business, your marketing and your opportunities.
When you’re considering where you want to go, you’re effectively developing a vision for your business – where do you want to be in three years time?
When you have that goal clearly defined, you can then put in place the action plan that will define the strategy to get you where you want to go.
There is a process and a series of models to help develop the detail but once completed, the plan will act as the glue that will hold your team together on the journey towards the vision of where you want your agency to be.
Finance and operations
So often an agency’s Achilles heel, because it’s the boring stuff that no one likes doing. But it is vital that you have a tight grip on your finances and the facts to drive your agency forward.
Let me ask you a few questions;
• Do you forecast at every level to help develop the insight to inform your decision making and to be able to plan in advance for growth / staff requirements / investment and cash flow challenges?
• Do you monitor performance against forecast, quickly addressing any variations and putting plans in place accordingly?
• Do you manage credit, debt and costs?
• Do you have the right structure in place with the right people in the right positions to support growth?
• Do you have a robust project management process in place and do you share reporting measures?
I would suggest that you need to be able to answer yes to all these questions and quite a few more to be in the best place you can.
Jack Welch (CEO, GE) once said that “if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete”.
More than any one thing, your brand positioning is key, if you nail this then the rest of your marketing will flow from this point.
The agency landscape is extremely crowded and from a clients’ point of view it’s very difficult to see one agency’s strengths from another.
With a strong clear brand positioning, a communications campaign will build engagement with your respective audiences. Different content and channels might suit different audience groups and profiling will help to fine tune your activity.
I was reminded recently how important brand touchpoints are. When leaving an office, where I had just had a meeting, all the staff turned round and said good bye to me on the way out – a great personal touch.
You can’t underestimate the impact of that attention to detail and after all, we are all brand ambassadors so it is key that we understand our own brand, it’s values and aspirations.
For an informal discussion about how Propelled can help with any of these challenges why not give us a call?
*1 – M3planning, *2 – Terri Zwierzynski, *3 – Balanced Score Card Collective.