Published: Sep 05, 2022 | Updated at: Sep 05, 2022
There are, give or take, around 33.2 million small businesses in the U.S. Your average marketing agency is one of those businesses. The odds are good that most of your customers are as well.
That leaves marketing agencies with most, if not all, of the same problems that other small businesses face. For example, you may struggle to recruit top talent, lack consistent revenue, and worry about employee health and Covid compliance. Plus, there is the perennial problem of productivity.
Are you looking for ways of improving productivity at your marketing agency? If so, keep reading for seven of the best productivity strategies.
1. Clear Communication
Few things derail productivity like bad communication. That applies in multiple scenarios across a marketing agency.
Right at the top is agency-client communication. If you don't get a clear picture of what the client wants, your team will waste time taking projects or content in the wrong direction.
There are also ample opportunities for poor communication inside the agency. Team leads or supervisors may not understand the client brief and, in turn, communicate the wrong information to their team members.
The owner or management team may not do a good job of communicating goals or expectations to the rest of the agency. For example, let's say that the owner wants to move away from truly small businesses and work with medium-sized or large businesses.
If they don't specify the speed at which they want that change to happen, the person in charge of lead generation may still pull in small businesses for months.
What if you employ remote team members? They can end up out of the loop unless you provide a real-time communication channel for them.
You must make a concerted effort to achieve clarity in all communication with clients and employees.
If your agency grows beyond the level of a few people who all work together on every project, delegation must become part of your life. Otherwise, the owner becomes the bottleneck on productivity for everyone else.
It sounds simple enough to say on the surface, but a lot of entrepreneurs find delegation a struggle. Many business owners start out as a one-person operation, so they default to wanting to handle everything.
You may even find yourself doing it in subtle ways. For example, you may tell your assistant to order office supplies but insist on final approval.
There are some times when delegation is all about putting the best person on the job. The bookkeeper you hired is the best person for bookkeeping, not you.
In other cases, delegation is all about freeing up someone's time to focus on something more important.
Yes, getting the daily work done matters.
However, as the agency owner, that's not your primary role. Your primary roles are things like closing deals with new clients, brainstorming new ways of creating revenue, and setting the direction of the business.
Every minute you spend on the daily work slows your productivity on that big-picture work.
3. Develop Specializations
Every marketing agency offers more than one service. Yet, far too many agencies try to offer every imaginable service. That's a great way to reduce productivity.
Unless your staff is huge, you end up asking your people to work on things with which they have limited or no experience. While professionals will routinely rise to the occasion, that learning curve slows things down. If your people spend half their time trying to master new things just to do their jobs, they are not working as productively as they could.
Instead, you should look for ways that you can specialize. Some agencies focus on a couple of specific industries that share similar marketing needs.
Other agencies look at specializing in specific areas of marketing. For example, one agency might choose digital marketing as its primary focus while another might focus its efforts on something like brand management.
That kind of focus lets you hire people with some experience in the right areas, so they can hit the ground running a little better. It also means that your staff can apply lessons learned on previous projects to future work. That capacity to apply lessons forward results in improved productivity.
No matter the size of your marketing agency, there is mundane and repetitive work that everyone hates doing. Data entry, for example, is miserable and usually a productivity drag. Adopting automation for that work lets your staff direct their mental energy to higher-level and, frankly, more profitable tasks.
Even work directly related to marketing can often prove tedious. For example, many businesses use email campaigns to drive sales and find leads. Yet, manually inputting each email and all of the recipients on a specific schedule is both tedious and unnecessary.
It's a task that you can easily automate. Instead of interrupting their day once a week, an employee can use an email management system.
They input all of the emails, set the schedule, and assign a list of recipients. It might take them a little while one afternoon, but that's the last time it interrupts their day. After that, they can turn their attention to things like monitoring open rates, click-through rates, and ranking leads.
5. Ditch Bad Clients
Every service-oriented business gets a few of these along the way. It's the terrible client who soaks up time and energy without ever actually giving you more money or directing new business your way.
These kinds of clients are a productivity drag for the entire business. They routinely pull the owner away from more profitable business activities by raising a stink until it escalates. The agency owner wastes time reassuring the client that they're important and the work will get done or redone.
These clients also demand constant reworking of campaigns. Those demands force at least some team members to abandon new work while they rework the old campaign. As a rule, that kind of reworking not only reduces productivity, but it's also bad for morale.
All of that slows down the acquisition of new clients and meeting the goals of current clients. You should ditch these bad clients because they will not become any less of a problem down the road.
When you get rid of them, you should see a near immediate uptick in productivity from everyone. As an added bonus, you may also see morale improve when everyone finds out that the problem client is gone.
That same can-do attitude many entrepreneurs adopt early on in their careers that later prevents good delegation can also prevent strategic outsourcing. Yet, considered outsourcing can prove an excellent method of improving productivity.
There are some specialized tasks that it almost always makes sense to outsource. Some examples include:
- Legal representation
- Human resources
Yes, business owners often muddle their way through some of these tasks at least semi-successfully. It's still a drain on their time and mental energy.
If they delegate the work to someone else without the right qualifications, the results are likely to end up about the same. The work gets done, but not efficiently and not like a professional handled it.
Outsourcing lets you and your staff focus on your areas of expertise, which creates a productivity boost on its own.
You can even outsource some work that you might normally keep in-house. For example, a marketing agency might keep some freelance writers or graphic artists on call. These freelancers can help shore things up if your in-house team gets busy.
7. Leverage Tech
One of the most straightforward options for improving productivity is by leveraging tech. There are countless options that can help improve productivity.
There are email list management services that help you automate email campaigns. There are time management and productivity apps that can help both teams and individuals boost their performance.
There are a number of high-profile communication apps that make real-time communication practical, even for remote workers. Of course, getting a dozen apps that all handle different aspects of productivity improvement becomes a productivity drag in itself, as you must manage all of those apps.
A different solution is something like an all-in-one CRM system. These systems typically fold in a lot of functions that you can find individually in other apps.
For example, they often include communication features, project management elements, marketing automation, and even analytics features. You also get the benefits of centralized customer information, so everyone can see what you've done for each customer.
Improving Productivity in Your Marketing Agency
There are several avenues you can take that will help boost productivity in your marketing agency. Good communication and thoughtful delegation will do a lot for you. Letting your agency develop one or two areas of specialization helps as well.
Ditch those bad clients. Outsource where it makes sense, such as IT or freelancers. Automation and tech can also do a lot to boost productivity by eliminating bottlenecks and tedious work that people hate.
Halsell specializes in productivity-improving software. For more information or to get started, contact Halsell today.