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The 10 most common mistakes of marketing agency owners

Author's avatar By Mark Kelly 14 Oct, 2019
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Avoid these 10 mistakes when developing digital services for your marketing agency

If you're running a marketing agency, you probably know a thing or two about offering marketing services to your clients. But with the pace of digital transformation and new trends emerging all the time, 'to err is human', you may make some strategic and tactical errors when selecting the best mix of your digital marketing services.

If you are considering offering new digital services like Design and build for websites and mobile or PPC, Search, Social or other  Paid, Owned or Earned media, you'll want to check this quick checklist to avoid the mistakes agencies often make when getting into new digital services.

To help highlight these issues, agency consultant Mark Kelly, has created a new free download on Agency Digital Services Mistakes as part of our Agency Toolkit for Expert members. All the 'mistakes' are based on common issues Mark has seen in how agencies position and manage the integration of their digital marketing services. Here's a summary. The full guide has more details on how to avoid these mistakes, plus other tips from agency owners on mistakes they have made.

All the 'mistakes' are based on common issues I have seen in how agencies position and manage the integration of their digital marketing services. This post is a summary, the full guide has more details on how to avoid these mistakes, plus other tips from agency owners on mistakes they have made.

1. Start offering any and all digital services without a plan

It takes time to develop the range of in-house skill sets to deliver quality digital marketing services. There is a danger you will end up as a jack-of-all-trades and be seen as a master-of-none.

2. Taking on everything we a "we can always outsource it" model in mind.

It pays to know that there is a burden to outsourcing any digital marketing services that you take on for clients.  By burden we mean you need to have at least an understanding of what is involved in the external partner’s work. Process and knowledge need to be in place to act as a conduit.

3. Not knowing how to price up the different types of digital marketing services

You want to make sure that all elements of the activity you undertake for a client are captured and that you are not ‘giving away the thinking’ in the rush to secure design or production work. This is a common mistake for newer agencies, and one the big players tend to successfully avoid.


See our guide to agency budgeting and costing approaches spreadsheet for guidance.

4. Offering a menu of services with no clear value proposition

You have to be clear about what sets you apart from the competition. Offering SEO services or Social Media Marketing services won't do this, thousands of agencies offer the same thing. Staying niche will help direct your resources to promoting your value proposition.

menu of services

5. Thinking you can offer social media as an easy win

There's nothing easy about social media strategy creation. Giving an intern some social sharing tools won't generate any ROI for your client and thus could cost you dearly in the long run when the client decides to go elsewhere.

6. Chasing the money

Going for any and all types of digital work, whether it is a good fit for your skills, experience and / or value proposition is a trap that agencies often fall into. It’s tempting to stray from your stated proposition or particular service or industry niche. But by doing so you may well then water down your offer elsewhere.


7. Not having a client services function

You may have thrived as a specialist agency (digital or otherwise) with the ‘do-ers’ working direct with the clients. But as soon as you broaden your offering, and / or start to attract more clients you’ll need to think about bringing in excellent client services/account handling folk.

8. Not having a project management function

Although there are related skill sets, Project Managers are distinct beasts from Account Handlers. When you start to take on either a lot of digital tech/creative production work or complex, multi-stakeholder site builds, you’ll need a dedicated Project Manager.

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9. Believing that being a platform/product specialist will bring you success

We're not saying you shouldn’t be a pure WordPress build agency or a HubSpot partner. It could be a great move for your Agency. But think it through: there are pros and cons to becoming a ‘badged’ services provider. Signing up to a vendor product does not guarantee instant revenue for your agency.

10. Pitching your new services without a plan

If you don't plan properly when offering your new services to clients you run the risk of watering down your brand or promising to deliver things that won't be possible. Either way it puts the long-term relationship with the client in jeopardy and isn't a mistake you can afford to make.

If you want to know more about the 10 mistakes and how to avoid them, as well as get additional tips from digital agency owners, download our free guide to avoiding these common 1o mistakes.

Author's avatar

By Mark Kelly

Mark Kelly is a digital marketing and agency growth consultant working with agencies and their client brands. He can be found at Mark Kelly Consultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

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Agency growthAgency Marketing

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