According to a report by AdAge, ad agencies generated a generous $48.3 billion in revenue in 2016, up 4.4% from the previous year. While those revenue growth numbers look good, they represent the slowest growth since 2013, according to the report. This means that start-up agencies may face increased competition, which can impact growth.
So is it possible for your young agency to cross the milestone of one million dollars in turnover? And, if so, what works best for your business? Should you diversify your offerings, or connect with a strong mentor or invest in marketing and outreach programs better serve your business?
To help get you on the right track, 12 members of the Forbes Agency Council share their tips for first-time agency owners that can help your business take this step and beyond. Here’s what they recommend:
1. Focus on results
Agencies need to shift their focus from producing for their clients to delivering results. This will differentiate your business as one that always has the customer’s goal in mind and whose team always delivers against those goals. -Paul Roberts, Kubient
2. Invest in marketing and sales
Most agency owners end up spending too much time on operations, but it won’t grow the business. If you want your business to grow, you need to aggressively invest your time every day in marketing and sales – activities that will actually bring you more customers. Rule #1 is: keep the lead pipeline full. Everything else depends on the management of the company. -Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH
3. Associate with people who complement your skills
My best advice is to partner with people who have skills that complement your own. If you’re a big strategic thinker, be sure to surround yourself with doers who can actually get the job done. Are you a workaholic? You need to find those who can think outside the box and see beyond the current to-do list. It’s practically impossible to go over $1 million if you’re alone on an island. – Danielle Wiley, Sway Group LLC
4. Connect with high-level management
Be sure to connect with C-level executives early on. Do not compromise and deal only with junior managers. Put in the extra effort: it will be worth it! – Eyal Danon, Ignite Advisory Group
5. Hiring Matters
Do your best to hire great people. The people you surround yourself with will determine whether your business succeeds or fails. – George Arison, Maj
6. Focus on organic growth
Organic growth is the key to your agency’s success. We have always been very selective with the clients we accept, ensuring not only that we have the time and the relationships to make them successful, but ensuring that there is a common goal and understanding of the how you will help them grow their business. It’s not about quantity of customers, it’s about quality of service and longevity. – Meredith Xavier, The Line Group
7. Find a mentor
First, focus on doing exceptional work and finding people you can train to do exceptional work. If you do a great job, your business will grow. Next, find a mentor that you aspire to be, both from a values perspective and a job perspective. Don’t underestimate the value that having a mission-based business will bring to your growth. Finally, tell the truth. Do not chat. To be on time. -Taylor Bennett, MESH, LLC
8. Let your ego take a step back
Decentralize decision-making and accept that good ideas come from many places and people. Therefore, keep in mind that there is no room for ego in leadership. -Charles Gabriel, Apester Inc.
9. Differentiate your offers
As a small agency, you need to differentiate your offerings to stand out from the competition. Specializing in “videos” is not enough. Take advantage of relevant new platforms, such as LinkedIn Video or Facebook Live. Facebook and LinkedIn tend to promote these formats on their users’ mini-feeds, leading to better results for your customers and ultimately bigger accounts for you. -Arjun Mohan, Archie.AI
10. Don’t Be Afraid
Dream, inspire, strategize, fail, learn, win, give and innovate, then repeat. Don’t be afraid of ideas that make you nervous. Learn the business of the company and understand finance and bottom line. – Julie Veloz, IPG Mediabrands
11. Identify all available opportunities
You must be able to identify even the smallest opportunities. If you act quickly and come up with smart solutions, you can scale them and apply them to larger customers. -Marc Aptakin, MAD Studios Co.
12. Be clear about the value you offer
Define your value proposition so clearly that potential customers know your value before you even call them. -Mario Carrasco, ThinkNow Research