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Agency Marketing Business

How to Scale a Marketing Agency Business

BY White Label IQ
3-minute read about staffing across economic cycles and ever-changing clients.

While on top of Everest, I looked across the valley towards the great peak Makalu. 
I was standing on top of the world… but I was still looking beyond to other interesting challenges.

—Sir Edmund Hillary

Hills and valleys are not just a landscape. But a metaphor for life. So, of course, Hills and Valleys is also an inspirational song. And it’s even how some might describe Wavy Lay’s Potato Chips.

Or, the marketing agency business—up we go, down we go.

Economic cycles, everchanging client rosters, client demands and consumer demands (plus the staffing needs that go with all of that) all contribute to the hills and valleys that require unflagging optimism from agency owners.

When we’re down below, we can see the top of the mountain, we’ve been there, we can get back. Or when on top, there’s the valley below, we can cross that and get to the next big thing.

But to do that, the marketing agency has to scale. Scale the staff. Scale the skill sets and overall bandwidth to accommodate the ups and downs.

Smartphone With Face Icons And Infographic

We have to ask ourselves, do we want to be hired for our ideas and strategy or what we produce? Are we going to gain clients because we have game-changing creative or because we know what to do and when to do it?

Simply put, the core competency that the agency wants to be known for is what will drive decisions on how to scale. And quite often that competency for a marketing agency is strategy.

Consider the agency specializing in the manufacturing space where high-ticket items are sold through an independent sales channel, not by the OEM. Think agriculture or heavy equipment or recreational craft. The customer audiences are unique in this space and expect knowledgeable, personalized interaction as they proceed along their purchasing journey.

Enter the dealer, the key liaison.

Understanding all of the strategies involved in supporting that critical relationship—the dynamics between dealers and manufacturers—is going to be more important to landing those OEM clients than knowing how to execute commoditized offerings or production tasks. The strategic agency is going to get that client and also open itself to other related industries. The agency that’s mostly known for killer copywriting is not.

Now that’s a simplification, but strategy wins nearly all of the time—doing what agencies do best.

Scale Marketing
Core-Flex Staffing

When the agency identifies its strategic strengths, the place where it always wants to be no matter how things change, that’s the hub, the core. All the work and production that evolves from that are spokes on the wheel—flexible to add and subtract as needed.

If indeed that awesome creative talent or SEO talent or PPC talent is an invaluable constant across the agency business, then yes, it makes financial sense to spend the money on that full-time staffing—the core.

However, in addition to those specific examples of core-staffing personnel, sometimes the need for talent is more aspirational. It’s more of a larger conceptual ideal versus something a single person can provide. For example: “We want to take our clients through digital transformation that makes their websites more engaging… fostering personalized, long-term customer experiences online.”

If making that part of the hub, then that is not a one-person staff addition or a handful of plug-ins. It’s a large upfront investment in designers and frontend developers, WordPress specialists and sysadmins, animators and 3D renderers, subject matter experts and the list goes on.

An agency’s focus on the more encompassing ideal—the strategy—is what is going to sell a client on transformative website development, including capabilities like custom product configurators, dealer locators, customized shopping cart experiences and integrations with Salesforce. However, the website itself, which has now become much more complex, is what can be produced with spokes on the wheel.

Outsourcing is what provides those spokes, which in turn allows the agency to lean on its core strength without gambling on what future staffing needs might be. A partnership—a temporary Core-Flex Staffing solution that brings all of the web-dev expertise, no matter what it is, with a transparent pass-along cost.

It makes the hills easier to climb and the valleys less deep.

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