Limiting your agency’s services might seem like a way to hone expertise, but it can severely impact client retention. While many agencies believe specialization is their strength, and it very well could be, it can also push some clients away.
If you’re leading an agency and find your client list thinning or stagnating, it's time to reassess. A restricted scope can be a major weakness. Today, we’ll be diving into how a limited scope of solutions could be impacting client retention and what you can do about it.
Clients Want Adaptability
Clients’ needs change. Whether this can be chalked up to seasonal variations, industry shifts, or personal preference, any digital strategy can become “here today, gone tomorrow” in an instant.
Let’s use marketing in the cannabis industry as an example. As cannabis becomes more widely legalized in the United States at the medical and recreational levels, more digital platforms are altering their policies. This enables more businesses operating in the cannabis industry to invest their marketing budget in different avenues.
If a new opportunity in the industry reveals itself and all of your cannabis client’s competitors are flocking to it, but you don’t have the means to deliver in-house, what do you do? If you say “No, we do not offer services on that platform,” do you run the risk of losing their business with your agency?
Clients that stay with an agency long-term do so because there is a great deal of trust established. Within that trust, from the client's perspective, comes a confidence that the agency they work with can evolve and adapt to address their needs and introduce innovative ideas that drive performance.
Your Competitors Are Broadening Their Scope
Every agency has another agency they compete with to some degree. Oftentimes, this boils down to two or more agencies that operate in the same geographic area or industry niche where a client pool is limited to an extent. If your agency concentrates primarily on serving regional clients and there’s another agency on the other side of the county doing the same, that would be your direct competitor.
Are your competitors broadening their scope of services while you continue to double down on what you are most comfortable with? There’s nothing wrong with emphasizing your core competencies, but at the end of the day, clients want what they want.
At Conduit Digital, we’ve said this more than once in the past. If your client asks for a specific service that you cannot or will not provide, there’s a good chance that they could start seeking out another agency that can and will do what they ask.
You’ve Lost Opportunities to Upsell Your Clients
Ultimately, a broader scope of solutions gives you the ability to upsell clients on an ongoing basis. As you’re upselling, this naturally lengthens the timeline of the account relationship, and you become the go-to resource for your clients when they want to broaden their marketing and advertising investments.
This not only benefits your clients’ ability to better market themselves, but it also grants your agency the opportunity to maximize your revenue-earning potential per account.
To put it simply, if you are earning a few hundred or a few thousand more dollars per client each month, that starts to add up. That becomes operating capital that you can invest in scaling your agency on an ongoing basis while you’re also boosting your reputation and credibility with both current and potential clients.
How Can You Broaden Your Agency’s Scope?
Unfortunately, no legitimate or sustainable method for hacking your way to a broader scope exists. If it did, you should be wary of what it promises and ultimately delivers.
Rather than broadening your scope quickly, we suggest doing so purposefully, strategically, and deliberately. In other words, doing it in a way that leads to sustainable scalability for your agency.
Here are some potential ways to do so:
Hiring New In-House Talent
The first option that most will consider is hiring new talent in-house. While this method grants you ultimate control, it can take a bit of time and result in additional financial overhead.
You have to first find the right person, which could take multiple rounds of interviews with a long list of candidates. Then, you have to onboard them to your agency’s processes and infrastructure. Lastly, you have to spend additional dollars on benefits, payroll, equipment, and other costs that may be associated with bringing in someone in-house.
We’re not saying that you should never hire an in-house team member again. What we are saying, though, is that if you do want to wait to onboard someone or the financial overhead doesn’t make sense for you right now, those are factors to consider.
Building a Vendor Network
It’s not uncommon for an agency to seek out vendors that can help them quickly and efficiently provide services for their clients in a fee-for-service model.
While vendors have their usefulness in a pinch, they can be limited in their scope, their prices can vary wildly, and their quality can be difficult to gauge. For most, as long as the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed on their work agreements, they will not provide services beyond what they’re explicitly contracted for.
Beyond this, vendor pricing can spike at any moment. If a freelancer that you work with starts building a reputation and generating more business for themselves outside of your agency, their time then becomes more valuable. They may unpredictably increase their rates beyond what you can afford, and you risk losing access to them.
These are just some of the headaches that come with managing multiple vendors in a siloed environment where communication and collaboration becomes more difficult. While they may be helpful to start, growing a vendor network in the 2020s may prove more difficult than beneficial.
Using New Marketing Tools
Have you thought about filling gaps in your scope of services through different software platforms? Sure, there are many out there pitching agencies at any given opportunity. They promise that you can fulfill an entire channel’s worth of services by using their tools.
In most cases, that sounds too good to be true. Platform expenses can add up, and if you do not already have someone in-house with a degree of expertise in the digital channel the software is designed to serve, you may not be maximizing its value or performance potential.
Or course, we’d be leaving a giant elephant in the room unaddressed if we didn’t mention artificial intelligence (AI) tools like ChatGPT and Google Performance Max. While AI can help cut down some of the labor-intensive tasks, these are not all-in-one solutions that remove the need for human expertise. AI needs to be used responsibly through the filter of a skilled marketer.
The Best Solution: White Label Agency Partnership
A white label agency partnership is when one agency provides services or products that another agency can rebrand and sell as their own. Rather than expanding your team in-house, you’re extending it with another team of channel experts that can help you fulfill evolving client needs so that you can retain them for longer.
For example, if your agency specializes in SEO and Google Ads, but you are noticing clients asking more for TikTok advertising, you do not have to spend hours crash-coursing on TikTok advertising. Instead, you can use your partner’s white label TikTok ads to meet your client’s needs, rebrand them as your own service, and make a predictable profit on top of the platform and service fees.
However, not all white label partners are the same, and you should not just go with the first one you find online. With this in mind, there are a few objective questions you should consider when you’re reviewing your options:
Where is the white label partner based? Are they based in an area where there is a wealth of marketing talent available (i.e., major cities).
Does the white label partner offshore or outsource their work? Or, do they do it all in-house?
Does the white label partner have a comprehensive suite of service? The white label partner should be able to meet your needs now and have the infrastructure in place to support future requirements for your campaigns.
How does the white label partner communicate? Are they easy to get along with, and do they provide you with the digital tools you need to reach them effectively?
Do they offer reports, and what do they look like? Ask to see a sample report from a potential partner to see if they provide the data and insights you need to prove performance to your clients.
Does their pricing feel more like an expense or an investment? If you can afford the pricing of your white label partner, it will feel more like a wise investment rather than an ongoing expense. Be sure to ask them for their rate card!
Work with North America’s Elite White Label Partner
At Conduit Digital, we openly admit that we are not the perfect fit or everyone, such as startup agencies that are still building their businesses. Like your agency, we value retention, and we’d rather the partnership be the right one and one that’s built for long-term scalability.
With 18 different channels, fully managed in the U.S. by channel-specific teams of expert analysts, we give your agency the means to say “yes” to better opportunities as well as expand and strengthen your current accounts. If you own or lead an established, performance-minded agency and also value client retention, schedule a call with us today.