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News & Views

What are the growth challenges faced by agency leaders?

by Alex Waite
Insights
|
31st October 2019
What are the growth challenges faced by agency leaders?, post image

We were joined by agency leaders in Bristol for our workshop titled 10 Secrets that successful agencies don’t want you to know. It was an interactive session led by our Partner Andy Brown, as we explored what most successful agencies consistently do in order to drive growth and make their business more valuable.

Bristol is a hub of ambitious agencies who are certainly leading the way when looking at implementing and delivering growth activities. It was an open discussion with insightful experiences being shared giving our guests tangible information to consider.

Here is a summary of a few key takeaways:

Having a vision

People want leadership and want a sense of belonging with where they work, and it’s the leaders’ job to set the vision. All successful agencies have a vision, and a clear idea of what they want to do. It’s not just a pointless management tool, or something fluffy for employees – it’s a key decision-making tool that everyone can relate to in the agency.

The real challenge identified was maintaining the focus on the vision and balancing the important but not urgent things against things are just urgent (e.g. client work, big pitches) and still grow. If these things are distracting you from your vision it could be a structural issue, or it’s not the right vision. Either way it needs to be your north star.

Business performance

Being open about this with your staff is one of the best things you can do. However, for this to be effective you need to have interpretable management information or include a comprehension of it as part of your training programme for staff.

In tandem with the understanding is encouraging commerciality from day one. For your agency to be truly successful, your staff need to know how the agency makes money. This can be a challenge when dealing with different roles from Account Directors to non-fee earning departments, but as leaders you need to give it context. This will help to resolve issues like over servicing clients, charging models, productivity and cashflow.

Understanding your client

Without stating the obvious successful agencies really understand their clients. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the running of the agency talking about product, proposition, roadmaps etc. without thinking about the client. The client needs to be front and centre of everything you do.

Open dialogue is so important, and the best agencies talk to clients all the time as well as using tools like client surveys. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask them difficult questions about your relationship to understand what they really value – and importantly what you are doing that they really attribute value to.

Inspiring and maintaining client relationships is an on-going challenge even for the most successful agencies, but by doing this you put yourself in a better position to grow your relationships.

How do you prioritise and do all this work in the business?

The real challenge faced by business leaders is delivering on all the points discussed. What should you be focussing on, how do you prioritise, how do you avoid the distraction of other areas of the business?

Other topics on talent & culture, planning and sales and new business will be discussed in the second blog of this series.

If any of these themes has struck a chord with you, just get in touch. We’re always happy to share our thinking on how to get these things done and help where we can.

We will be running more workshops on similar themes in the future, so RSVP here to register your interest.

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