Creative marketing companies come in all shapes and sizes. To an
inexperienced purchaser in the North East, it must sometimes appear
that every agency seems to offer every service.
Web development companies now undertake branding work; creative,
graphic design companies are happy to build websites. Storytelling
is now in vogue for 'full service' and PR agencies; and being
'digital' is now a minimum requirement. Confusing for the
This lack of focus concerns me. In the past, positioning
yourself as a full service agency was not done lightly. You had to
have the resources in place to provide advertising, design, film,
media buying and PR. Today, for many agencies it is just amother
bullet point on a list of services on their website. Now it's also
invariably SEO, PPC, content marketing and social media - they're
all listed regardless of whether or not the agency can really
deliver the desired client results when implementing these
Many agencies are the real deal and have invested in the right
people to deliver highly professional and effective work. Many of
these attract work far beyond their geographical location and will
continue to thrive; but what about the others?
Here are a few thoughts that agency owners might want to
consider to help them create a robust business capable of adding
real value to the clients they work with. They are not in any
particular order, more a list of fixes that owners might want to
Firstly, develop a core competency that differentiates you from
your generalist competitors. This could be a skillset or a
specialist knowledge of a specific market sector. Whatever it is,
be the best you can be and demonstrate your insights. In time,
these core competencies can be expanded upon.
Secondly, do not underestimate the importance of professional
account handling. Managing a client's expectations and keeping them
updated should be a minimum. Being overly optimistic with deadlines
and then missing them is bad business. Clients don't care if you
have worked through the night. Again, and again I hear stories of
unanswered emails, unreturned phone calls and general radio
silence. It creates needless friction between agency and client,
and will damage your reputation. Create a set of standards for your
agency, communicate them to everyone including your clients and
then learn to police them.
Thirdly, you need to think about sales. Your account handlers
may be excellent 'farmers', but you still need someone who can
'hunt' out new opportunities. In many cases this falls to one of
the directors or founders of the business. Are they the best person
to do this? Do they need some training or coaching? (My
unashamed plug!) Whoever it is, give someone the
responsibility, support and set some targets.
Finally, think much bigger and think strategically. Put yourself
in the shoes of your client; try to fully understand what they need
to achieve to increase their profits. Is everyone working on that
account fully aware of what the client is trying to do? Test this
out by asking your team how a particular client makes money.
If you believe you are good at what you do then embrace being
measured and align yourself with the commercial success of the
clients you work with.
- SEE more details about Peter Kerr by visiting