When a marketing agency can adapt to a new way of doing things, it can adopt new business. Adapting and adopting… a.k.a. the power to pivot.
Pivoting itself is not a new concept, but the “How-to?” of the scenario may not be old-hat for some agency owners.
Here are three ways to think of it…
First, an agency may want to develop a new vertical to complement an established book of business it already has in the area of branding… or strategy… or media (for example).
The new vertical could be anything, really, but a lot of clients need websites. That’s usually tops on their to-do lists. So, for argument’s sake, the agency decides to get into web development. That’s not an unusual leap.
There might even be some capabilities on board already. Maybe there’s an agency unicorn or two who are good at interfacing with clients on digital work. They can either job out the tasks to freelancers or maybe do a little front-end development themselves… fix a broken plugin… navigate Cascading Style Sheets… etc.
But the agency owner has to decide whether to go all in on staffing for this new endeavor or to wade in, beyond those random freelancers. The wading-in part could include partnering up with an outsource. Let them lead the development, for starters. Or the pre-existing unicorns could continue to lead the effort while the white label partner focuses solely on the commoditized production work of development.
Then, once the agency has tackled the learning curve AND there’s enough regular work coming in, segue into more of that full-time hiring model. That way, missteps are avoided upfront, and there’s not a lot of willy-nilly hiring and firing that can just kill the internal culture. That is, build a reputation first, then hire into it as the next step.
As for costs, well, when done right, outsourcing costs less than staffing up anyway. It’s a transparent, pass-along wholesale cost. A variable fill-gap expense versus a fixed full-time expense. One hundred percent productivity. Very AGI friendly.
Second, the agency may decide to leave that former book of business behind altogether. Maybe it’s tired of focusing on media or brand development and really wants to go the whole hog on web dev.
The same thing applies.
Partnering with an outsource lets the agency test the water first and see if it’s profitable before jumping all the way in. Turn risky financial decisions into informed, calculated decisions.
Work could be erratic at first. That means, it might not just be a slow start-up as often thought, but it could take off like bonkers right away and how does the owner handle that unexpected surprise?
An outsource enables the agency to flex as needed. A good partner might have 70 or so different types of technical experts and programmers on hand… enough to handle any sort of project, any sort of unexpected spike. Avoiding bottlenecks during the heydays. Avoiding layoffs during the downturns.
Taken off the shelf and put back on as needed.
Third, the agency already does web dev. In fact, it already does about seven other things well. But the owner truly wants to focus the agency, especially on a couple of those verticals and not all of them. And do that newly refined focus REALLY well. For example, putting a bigger concentration on niche-industry intelligence versus commoditized production. Things like design and 3D illustration and programmatic media and coding can get delegated to an outsource.
While the agency leadership focuses on what it does best… strategy.
Flexibility makes agencies stronger.
If a client presents a big bag of cash, for something beyond the agency’s typical wheelhouse or staffing firepower, the ability to pivot means that money isn’t left on the table.
Fred Hassan agrees.
He leads three global pharma and chairs two others. He’s turned small companies into giant corporations. He was recently showcased in Chief Executive’s CEO Briefing newsletter discussing this very topic, and that is paraphrased here.
Be a differentiator, he says… strategic flexibility.
Agility and resilience are now more important than ever.
And as you take steps to respond to change, keep a cool head…
it’s good for you, and it’s good for your team1.
There are many ways to pivot. But one trusted outsource partner could keep it all cool, calm, and calculated, and help the agency accomplish any of them.
- D. Bigman, Fred Hassan On Leading Through ‘Mind-Bending Torque Change’”, Chief Executive, CEO Briefing, https://news.chiefexecutive.net/acton/rif/39684/s-0a73-2211/-/l-0249:3a361/l-0249/showPreparedMessage?sid=TV2:NA4ZhQP0h, Nov 14, 2022.