Does Your Agency Fail to Scale? Try This Money-Making Business Development Fix

startup-scalingIf my 20+ years in business development and account service at a small creative and marketing services agency have any value,  it’s learning you can make many mistakes and then by the grace of God still enjoy success. These experiences taught me a lot and our agency did some key things really well like producing intelligent, compelling creative B2B content that made money for our clients and I suspect helped more than a few of them get promotions.  And for years our process wouldn’t scale. We were like skilled coachbuilders hammering out custom cars for each and every client. It was almost heresy to suggest a solution that was packaged or off-the-shelf yet the reality was there were situations when this would have worked just fine. So call it tunnel vision or foolish pride but it worked up to a point.

Codify Your Process

Then one day after a prospective new client meeting, something clicked and I realized that our prospects simply weren’t getting “it”, that “it” being how our agency arrived at our spot-on creative and marketing solutions.   Then it hit me; we were making this incredibly important and challenging work look so natural that it appeared easy, like the pro golfer who ‘just hits the little ball in the little hole”.  So I was determined to fix that and the approach I took was codifying the initial engagement process that we had been doing informally, into a formal one that we would offer as a fee-paid service; a discovery, assessment and scope-of-work process or Discovery & Design as I now call it. We had essentially been doing this for years either as a free, abbreviated version for prospects or lumping the more comprehensive one into the creative development cost, an oversight that was screwing us financially as well as undermining the integrity of our process.  By making this critical initial stage one of our paid services, the benefit was almost immediate. Out of the next five prospects who I offered it, four signed on. That’s an 80% close rate! Plus when we quit giving it away, a lot of prospects self-qualified as more Top-Of-Funnel (TOF) who weren’t quite ready to engage which saved precious staff time and dollars.

Lay A Solid Foundation for the Relation and Solution

In this limited engagement, the client and agency were working together and arriving at conclusions together that either supported the assumed issues, or put us on track to the real ones, which created validity and laid a good foundation for a working relationship.  Jointly analyzing the client’s perceived issues also made them easier to understand and so too creation of more accurate and detailed working documents like creative briefs to better guide production activities in the agency and in turn achieve greater efficiency which brings us back to the point of this blog; we could begin to see more clearly recurring opportunities to apply scalable solutions in the form of packaged (along with some select customization) website development especially those using a dynamic CMS platform, microsites for promotions, content strategy and development programs, and so forth. While it seems incredibly obvious, it took one too many unsuccessful prospect meetings to click on that light bulb over my head.  So what is helping your agency to scale its services?

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