As the leader of a digital marketing agency, doesn’t it feel like most aspects of your profession never stay the same for very long? This isn’t exclusive to digital marketing, but it sure hits home for us. When unexpected innovations such as AI content generation turn our industry upside down, how can you better prepare for these changes instead of reacting to them?
Disruptive industry innovations is just one aspect of unpredictability, though. There are many other factors that hit much closer to home. For example, you cannot anticipate if a valued member of your team asks for a raise that is more than you budgeted for, another one leaves to pursue another career path, or a client decides to cancel their account with you early. All three scenarios are not something you can easily prepare for, and all three impact your bottom line directly.
We can’t control everything at an agency, but if we make what we can control more predictable, we can better position ourselves to scale higher and more efficiently.
That brings us to today’s topic. In this guide, we’re going to explore how predictability can be a secret weapon for future-proofing business aspects of your digital marketing or advertising agency and how you can establish it in your everyday operations. First, let’s define what future-proofing your business could look like.
What Future-Proofing Looks Like for Agencies
Future-proofing, in the context of a digital marketing agency, refers to the implementation of strategies and measures that ensure your agency remains relevant and competitive in the face of evolving industry trends, technologies, and consumer behaviors. It can also refer to preparing to weather external conditions that could impact your agency outside of your exact sphere of influence.
As an example, ChatGPT changed content marketing forever. Now, AI content generation is a standard practice at many agencies, when just a year ago, large content teams were needed to manage high-volume deliverable portfolios.
Other factors like general economic conditions also need to be considered when putting a plan to future-proof your agency together. For example, the inflation the United States in 2022 and 2023 drastically increased the cost of living for many Americans. In turn, this can affect an agency’s ability to predict costs associated with hiring new talent, procuring office equipment, finding affordable commercial real estate, and other similar needs.
Business Model Specialization: The New Frontier for Future Proofing
As our friend Marcel Petipas, CEO of Parakeeto, has said: the next frontier of specialization is going to be business model specialization. Specifically, this involves a business (in our case, agencies) doubling down on what they are best at and forming strategic partnerships to manage the rest.
Ultimately, doing so saves time, effort, and money for your agency and results in a better end product for your clients.
For example, an agency that primarily provides social media advertising services to its clients can say that they also offer SEO. However, they don’t have to do the SEO work in-house. They can entrust it to their SEO fulfillment partner, manage the account, and oversee the strategic direction while a white label SEO team executes the hands-on performance. The social media agency then marks up the white label service to their clients and generates a stable, predictable profit.
In a nutshell, business model specialization is all about doubling down on what your agency is best at, identifying what you’re not, and structuring your business to form the right partnerships to enable you to do what you do best while the rest is entrusted to equally capable hands.
Other Practical Tips for Future-Proofing Your Agency
Diversify Your Revenue Streams
With the sheer number of services that a digital agency can offer its clients, the range of potential revenue streams is already plentiful in our industry. For example, expanding into more channels can expand your revenue-earning potential by drawing interest from new clients who are looking for these specific solutions.
When you want to expand your in-house suite, this can be done most effectively through two approaches: hiring internally or outsourcing. While hiring internally allows for more direct control, it also involves more financial overhead and time commitments. The right outsource solution, such as a white label partnership, can help stabilize costs and enable quicker strategic deployment, but you will need to vet the right one and place a notable level of trust in their own team.
Invest in Marketing Your Own Business
As part of future-proofing your business, treat your agency like its own premier client. Put strategies in place that consistently position your brand in front of the ideal clients that you want to work with. These types of clients could be based on factors like specific industries or niches, budget sizes, geographic locations, and company sizes.
What does marketing your agency look like, though? Here are 5 quick tips:
Create your own dedicated, repeatable marketing budget that you can invest each month.
Consistently produce quality content that speaks directly to the types of clients that you want to reach and empathizes with their pain points.
Create a library of case studies and success stories that demonstrates your expertise in running campaigns that drive results for your current or past clients.
Be active on social media, both paid and organic.
Offer an incentive to generate leads, such as an eBook or free/discounted audit.
Continuously Feed Your Brain with New Information
The more knowledge you equip yourself with, the less unpredictable the digital landscape appears. Engage frequently with online industry publications that are both broad in scope and narrowly focused on specific channels to feed your brain.
Dedicate an hour or two each week to knowledge expansion, and encourage your team to do the same. The more you learn about what is developing in the industry, the less surprised and better prepared you will be when these new innovations become standard procedure rather than a shiny new marketing toy.
Beyond reading about any new innovations, take the time to test them, too. For platform innovations that you’re interested in, sign up for free trials or take advantage of demos so that you can gain hands-on familiarity. If you decide to roll out these solutions at your agency, you will be able to do so more quickly and effectively.
Structure Your Finances for Long-Term Scalability
If you are concerned about economic unpredictability in the future, make sure that your finances are structured to weather these periods of uncertainty as much as you possibly can. Put measures in place such as:
Set a clear financial forecast and budget to anticipate revenues, costs, and investments.
Standardize pricing for all client-facing services as well as internal hard costs. Tie them to predictable turnaround times so that you always know how much something can cost and at what point you’re making money, breaking even, or losing money.
Reinvest a portion of profits into the business, focusing on technology, training, and infrastructure.
Keep a substantial emergency fund in case of economic shifts.
Regularly review your financial performance with your finance team.
As your agency scales, your financial operations will become more complex. By being proactive and strategic in financial planning, you'll better position your agency for steady, long-term success.
Focus on Providing an Impeccable Client Experience
Clients may not remember every single piece of data that you provide them in a report. However, they will remember that you made them feel heard, understood, and confident that their marketing needs were in capable hands.
Providing an excellent experience for your clients requires three simple ingredients: Communication, performance, and reporting. Let’s break each of these down.
Communication: Reply to clients within the same day, if possible. If not, respond to them the next business day.
Performance: Justify the investment the client is making in your agency’s services. Market their business as if it were your own, and deliver strategic and tactical excellence that drives tangible results.
Reporting: Reporting justifies the performance that you’ve provided for your clients. This provides regular updates on their campaign progress, and opportunities for improvement while also establishing transparency and trust.
You Don’t Need to Future-Proof Your Business Alone
We covered a ton of information above, and it’s perfectly understandable if it feels overwhelming when thinking of ways to future-proof your agency.
Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone.
Many agencies fail in isolation, with leadership feeling like everything needs to be done in-house or not at all. Looking beyond your office walls, joining forces with a trusted partner can enable you to scale predictably, profitably, and with the uncertainty of the future in mind.
It’s nice to have something you can count on in any circumstance. When running your agency, the right white label partner can make a true difference. At Conduit Digital, maybe we’re that partner for you.
At Conduit, we serve as the elite white label digital marketing partner for established agencies in North America that are looking to scale. With 17 different channels under a single partnership backed with an industry-leading communication, performance, and reporting infrastructure, we give your agency the means to say “yes” to any new opportunity and maintain profitability.
To learn more about what it’s like working with Conduit, check out our Are We a Fit? page or schedule a call with us today.