In this article you can learn 5 clever ways that business owners/managers in the UK are using freelancers as well as obtainable, efficient processes to sustainably scale-up their marketing agencies, and how you can too.
1. Protecting your business from staff turnover
You probably have a core foundation of people who are permanent within your marketing agency. A set of complementary skills that have enabled you to win new clients and deliver successful projects to secure repeat business, time and time again. So, what happens when one of these core pillars moves on to pasture’s new? Your clients have grown familiar with this person and you are already struggling to keep the plates spinning; so, panic set’s in and you immediately start recruiting. Sound familiar? Well, the problem with this approach is multifaceted;
- Recruiting isn’t cheap
- Recruiting the right person takes time; preparing a job specification, attending numerous telephone interviews, F2F meetings etc.
- You are in panic mode and will most likely settle for 7 out of 10 candidates
- Even if you are lucky and get your 10 out of 10 – you still need to onboard them, train them and give them 3-6 months until they are standing on their own two feet
Savvy agencies are using freelancers to complete tasks that they either, don’t have the in-house skills to perform, or to cover periods of intense workload. Either way, keeping freelancers engaged with regular projects and getting them intrenched in how your business operates fulfils an immediate requirement, but also gives you a cushion to fall back on. Many relationships which begin as freelance, will eventually convert into a more permanent appointment. When the time comes, you’ll have a proven source of quality to rely on and can side step all the panic, expense, and impact to your clients.
2. Double-down / Focus on a niche
When attempting to grow their businesses, marketing agencies in the UK often face one common downfall due to their overall business strategy… trying to be all things to all people. Now, you’ve heard of the expression ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’, right? Well, for a marketing agency looking to scale-up its operations, this is an important concept to consider.
Focusing your time and effort into a specific area or a select few services that you perform particularly well in and focusing on a niche industry that you have good foundation knowledge of; not only offers you a distinct advantage over your competitors, but also the perfect opportunity to improve your results and become experts in your field. Generating positive and consistent results for your clients is crucial to the success of a niche marketing strategy, but once you start to consider the benefits of targeting a single industry with your top services… it quickly becomes a no-brainer.
Doubling down on one industry poses a clear direction for your agency moving forward. It enables you to develop a detailed short, medium and long-term plan to grow your business sustainably, and as a result will help to reduce your overheads and advertising costs. You are also far more likely to receive consistent feedback from clients and customers, thus enabling you to adjust your services accordingly to help increase customer satisfaction. Finally, as your positive reputation and expertise grows within your given market, you can even begin to position your agency as market leaders.
3. Upselling / Cross-selling to existing clients
Don’t leave your clients money on the table! You run the risk of them striking-up new relationships elsewhere and eventually they might even jump ship. Now, diversification is entirely necessary for any business, especially those looking to scale-up, but that’s not to say you should lose focus on your best service or try to be everything to everyone. What we are saying is diversify your product set and be everything to your clients within your chosen sector. This is how you develop all-important ‘sticky’ customers and make their lives (and yours) 10 times easier.
In the client services world, it is far easier to sell to an existing client than to a new one. Embrace this thought — it’s important to your sales strategy that you make upselling a priority. Even just an extra £1,000 of work per month, could result in £120,000 per year in new revenue, which for smaller agencies working with just 10 clients or less, can make a huge difference as you look to grow! Play around with those figures for yourself and you start to see just how powerful this proactive but simple approach can be.
You should consider consultative road map reviews with your clients, this will help to uncover where they are heading in the short, medium and long-term. Creating a consistent review template for each client, will allow you to collect the data and make informed decisions around which product areas offer the route of least resistance, and which clients would be open to simplifying their supplier management. We are all busy and sometimes it’s hard to see the ‘wood for the trees’, so it’s a case of making time to implement non-disruptive activities that will provide the greatest ROI.
4. Investment in training to stay ahead of the curve
Another clever way that marketing agencies are scaling their businesses is through investment in training. Now, traditionally, UK marketing agencies outsource various aspects of their business model to offer their clients a wider range of services, but as the industry continues to evolve, one trend has seen some agencies begin to streamline their operations by adopting a more in-house focus. However, as touched on before, freelancers are still extremely useful for businesses looking to grow as they provide stability when necessary. Therefore, many shrewd agencies have opted to invest in the training of their freelancers as well as their in-house staff. This helps to get some members of staff up-to-speed and keep others on top of their game, where they provide real value to your business.
Investing time and money into your freelance workers will help to develop better working relationships between them and your business. This will not only help to increase their motivation, dedication and value that they offer you in the long-run. But by providing them with additional support and training, your business becomes far better equipped to manage its own growth in a sustainable way. Also, individuals who make the most of their additional learning opportunities and give back to your agency will often become leaders capable of inspiring others on your payroll with their greater experience, unique perspective and fresh ideas.
Furthermore, employees with an up-to-date knowledge of the market in which they operate will not only help to improve the reputation of your business through positive results for clients, but also through a newly-found confidence and greater responsibility that they’ve been entrusted with. Investing in an individual or individuals will often help to boost confidence in your ranks, which is a sure-fire way of increasing productivity and reducing staff turnover.
5. Automation of people processes
People are the single most valuable and most expensive asset to any businesses, so it’s pays to understand how to create employment related efficiencies. Marketing Agencies have one obvious strength in common; they understand how to create Sales and Marketing Funnels which are automated to generate more leads either for their own business or clients. However, all too often, there is a distinct lack of attention to apply the same principles to the management of people, specifically non-permanent staff (freelancers).
Breaking down the most time consuming functions which are associated with managing staff often falls into three key areas:
- Sourcing skills / recruitment – can you find the people that you need, on-demand at low cost?
- Projects – is the management a manual process and is it centralised in one place? e.g. timesheets, PO’s, invoices, contracts, ratings/reviews etc.
- Finance – do you accurately monitor budgets and generate payroll manually?
Luckily, there are software platforms available which can take care of these tasks, and all at extremely competitive price points. If people are the single most valuable and expensive asset to a business, then their time is currency and it should be maximised to deliver the highest productivity levels. The most successful agencies run very tight ships, resource is stretched and focused on revenue generating activities, and while the classification of ‘revenue generating’ may differ from agency to agency, the general rule to work by is ‘if your prospects and customers didn’t gain any value, it’s a cost with no upside’.
When looking to scale-up your agency, bear that in mind when you review the performance of your people and subsequently your business. Consider the following; have you given your troops the tools that they need to be super-productive? And does your employer brand give out the right message to ensure that you attract and retain the best talent? If the answer is no, or not sure, then you can’t expect to establish yourself within a saturated market as your competitors are already doing all of this and more.
If you would like to speak to an expert regarding your agency and how we can help you scale-up your business with freelancers, why not SCHEDULE A CALL with us today for a time that suits you? Here’s a link to our online calendar https://yourbau.as.me/consultation