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Digital and creative agency challenges and growth drivers for 2018 [Part 2 of 2]

By Nadine Burzler 30 May, 2018
Essential
Growing a marketing agency

Interviews with eleven agencies of varied sizes on their profitability and growth drivers for 2018 [Part 2 of 2]

With smaller budgets, and higher demands to meet in 2018, there's practically no room for brands to frivol away their resources, nor for agencies to make mistakes. With client expectations on the line, an uncertain economic climate, new advances in technology, and a fiercely competitive agency landscape, it's becoming more and more Darwinian for agencies every day.

Since many of our members work in agencies and face these and other challenges, we thought it would be useful to review how different agencies seek to divide and conquer in 2018. So, in this article, we share the views of owners and managers at 11 digital and creative agencies, in the UK and abroad, who share their challenges and agency growth drivers for 2018. 

For more detailed advice, see our Agency Growth and Management Toolkit.


Digital Impact

Agency focus

At Digital Impact we drive sustainable growth through creating data-driven digital strategies. We specialise in the finance, automotive, and engineering sectors.

Agency size

We’re a medium-size digital agency with 14 members of staff

Agency location

We are located in the city centre of Glasgow, Scotland.

Current challenges

In 2017 our agency doubled in size. With some proper manpower behind our result driven marketing machine we were able to narrow down our target audience. In 2017 we worked hard to develop our skill sets even further and we intend to continue to matching the needs and wants of our finance, automotive, and engineering clients as we continue to grow ourselves.

Growth drivers

One of our main growth drivers for 2018 is to really boost our brand advocacy. You can scream and shout as much as you want about how great you are, but the reality is that consumers are wanting more and more transparency. They want to know that you are the real deal and the right fit for their business.

A personal recommendation from one good friend to another is the creme-de-la-creme of attracting new business, and it’s the way we’re growing our company in 2018.

To do this, we’re working on setting up a professional referral scheme and nailing down incentives for any client that pass along a new one — making it a win-win for both.

Image of Will Craig - Digital Impact

 

Director bio

Will Craig has two key driving qualities: an inexhaustible energy supply and a motivation to do better than everyone else. Having worked in every corner of the industry, Will leads Digital Impact with truly unique perspective.

 

 


Honeybe Creative

Agency focus

At Honeybe Creative we specialise in digital and social media marketing, underpinned by creative and fresh design. We have clients spanning charity, software and tech, tourism and professional services.

Agency size

Small

Agency location

Exeter and London

Current challenges

One of our main challenges has been the increased competition from freelancers and start-up agencies. Clients are often swayed by a cheaper price, but it’s like anything, you get what you pay for. Results speak for themselves and we’re proud that clients stay with us long-term because we deliver a return on their investment.

Growth drivers

A significant growth driver for us is the fact that a lot of client-side marketers feel let down by agencies. From my conversations with clients, there is a perception that agencies over-promise and focus on selling their services over building a partnership with a client. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I believe that the best agency/client relationships are transparent and based on a partnership approach.

My team achieves this by working on-site with our clients so we can get a better understanding of their brand and marketing challenges.

When we’re not on-site, our clients have access to our internal project management system so they can see exactly what we’re working on and when. This approach has already led to clients referring us to other clients, and this is how I am growing the agency. Working in partnership with clients to deliver great work = delighted clients = referrals. It’s the most sustainable and satisfying way to grow.

Image of Honeybecreative director

 

Director bio

Daniel Honey has over 15 years experience in design and digital marketing. Daniel’s worked on projects from website design and build, to offline and online strategies including projects for clients including BBC Worldwide and Disney.

 

 


BlueGrass

Agency focus

SEO and content marketing

Agency size

20 people

Agency location

London, Zurich, and Tallinn

Current challenges

Scaling quality as we grow, and innovating in a fast-changing landscape

Growth drivers

BlueGlass' growth to-date has largely come from word of mouth referrals and recommendations. Our plan to grow is to continue this way, doing great work to grow with our existing clients and attract new ones. This way we can be selective with both the clients we work with and the talent we recruit into our team, to ensure that we grow in a way that can see us maintain our high-quality work and results.

Image of Kevin Gibbons

 

Director bio

Kevin Gibbons is Co-founder of BlueGlass, a specialist SEO and content marketing agency in London. BlueGlass is an award-winning SEO and content marketing agency - driven by creativity, backed by data.

 

 


DotLabel UX and Digital Agency

Agency focus

DotLabel designs and builds user-centric digital solutions including websites, progressive web apps, native apps, intranets, portals and web applications. We take a user experience-led approach and believe the best results are achieved when informed by research and insight.

DotLabel delivers a range of UX-focused digital experiences including websites, apps, intranets and portals.  Dedicated to a UX design approach, the team at DotLabel know that when you combine a company’s objectives with an understanding of the users’ goals, attitudes and frustrations, you can create digital experiences that get better results and drive really conversion, whether that be increased enquiries and sales, improved engagement or reduced calls to customer support.

Agency size

We have a team of 12 and work for a range of brands including Hendricks Gin, The Balvenie, Monkey Shoulder, Airbus, Anthony Nolan, Utilita and ATPI.

Agency location

We are based in Hampshire, England.

Current challenges

A current challenge for DotLabel is managing our growth. As we win more client projects we have found that we need to implement more formal approaches to managing our internal processes. It has been essential to ensure we remain agile and still deliver quality solutions but doing so in a more structured and streamlined way.

We have just launched the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) methodology to our internal practices. This is helping us to ensure a more strategic vision at the top and a more streamlined approach to our day-to-day operations.

Another challenge related to our growth success has been recruitment. We have high standards when it comes to producing quality work and it is particularly hard to find experienced web developers available for permanent employment, many of whom prefer contract work.

Agency drivers

What are your agency growth drivers for 2018 and please give at least one practical example of how you intend to achieve your growth goals.

Our main driver for growth is to refocus our agency revenue sources to move from a predominantly project-based and new business-driven approach to an 80% retained client work basis. We are doing this by developing a dedicated client retention strategy, reviewing our continuous improvement programme and have recently appointed a new dedicated Client Partner to manage these important relationships.

Growing our team is a huge priority for the agency to broaden and strengthen our skill set. We are moving offices in Q3 2018 to a state of the art working environment and are keen to offer long-term career opportunities with the aim of an 80% five-year staff retention record.

We already offer flexible working as well as many other benefits, but are also reviewing our staff rewards to see how we can attract new talent.

Image of Matt Oxley

 

Director bio

Matt Oxley is co-founder and Director of the award-winning User Experience (UX) and digital agency DotLabel. Matt comes from a creative design background with a passion for user-centred digital experiences.  In his career, Matt has held the role of Creative Director at agencies Intercea and NetSitePro providing expert advice to household brand names such as GlaxoSmithKline, Kelloggs and McVities.

 


Blend

Agency focus

Blend is an inbound and content marketing agency specialising in B2B technology marketing

Agency size

We are 20 people strong

Agency location

We are based in the UK, just outside London

Current challenges

GDPR. While GDPR is undoubtedly a good thing, it has caused massive confusion in our space. The level of misinformation and misunderstanding, both online and from ‘GDPR experts’ is incredible. This has lead to poor decision making in some cases. As a result of GDPR, there is confusion about which forms of marketing and which channels are still viable, effective and safe.

Growth Drivers

The continued shift to digital, content marketing, and marketing automation. There is increasing appetite to turn digital into a reliable, measurable, and scalable channel for business growth. We’ve optimised our business, our structure, our processes, and our teams to serve this need.

Sales and marketing alignment. The blurring lines between sales and marketing and the need to provide seamless customer experiences call for an integrated approach to sales and marketing technology and processes.

As a marketing technology-adept agency, we are well placed to bring structure, process and efficiency to sales through proper CRM implementation and integration, sales enablement services, and high-quality lead generation.

International growth. Native UK English content production, high standards of design and development, and our reputation for results has made us more and more attractive to companies overseas looking to compete either in Europe specifically or globally in English-speaking business environments.

Image of Phil Vallender

 

Director bio

Phil Vallender is the co-founder of Blend Marketing, the inbound and content marketing agency specialised in helping B2B technology companies grow. Responsible for all aspects of client marketing, from strategy and planning through to tactical selection and execution, I support our clients acting as their marketing advisor and stakeholder. I help clients fill the gaps in their marketing expertise and to align our marketing output with their business objectives.

Read PART 1 here.

 

By Nadine Burzler

Nadine is the Senior Marketing Executive at Smart Insights and is responsible for Business Memberships. Nadine is a multimedia content marketing specialist with extensive experience in startup and higher education marketing. Connect with her via LinkedIn

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