The only five ways to grow your agency.

Most of the agencies we work with at The Client Key are all looking for one thing and one thing only. Maybe you are looking for it yourself, right now?

You might not know it yet (or be willing to face the reality?) but there is only one thing that is going to keep your business moving forward and that is Growth. In simple terms change or die. Or rather, in today’s hyper competitive landscape, grow or die.

So, just how do you grow creative businesses in the most efficient way? How do you really move the needle? And, crucially, how do you do it in the most efficient way and over what time frame?

There are many different ways to answer these questions but in my view there are only 5 main ways to grow creative agencies. So let’s have a look at them and evaluate each in a bit more detail:

1) Organically: Short to medium term

Organic growth. Has there ever been a nicer way of saying we’re lazy and haven’t bothered to do much? “Organic growth” sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Yet, when I hear people talk about organic growth I think lack of a plan, and disinterest in a clear new business strategy. I’m usually right! Yes you may attract new clients and pick up pieces of business but it is not going to deliver you long term sustainable growth.

2) Business Development campaigns: long term thinking

A well planned and strategic new business campaign can transform your business. Agencies who run effective sales and new business strategies, aligned with a clear and unique proposition, are the ones that really thrive. Taking in marketing and product strategies they are able to clearly connect with their client base, have higher pitch wins and as a result grow quickly, outperforming the competition. Now it’s getting interesting!

3) New Products & New Services: innovation

Launching a new product to steal a slice of the market is a brilliant way to grow. If you’ve spotted something that no one else has, congrats! But how fast can you move? How quickly can you get it out there to maintain first mover advantage? (hint, see number 2 for an effective plan!)

4) Major Investment: team & resources

With major investment comes the luxury of resource. The luxury to be able to spend your way to growth, should you so desire. But how best to spend such privileges? Use your riches wisely – do you have a plan and moreover can you implement it? Buyer beware!

5) Acquisitions & Strategic partnerships: fast track growth

Spending your way to growth can be a fast track way to add turnover (and hopefully profit), client base and capacity in a relatively short space of time. If you can find the right company at the right price (and have the required means) then this can be a very effective way to grow your agency. Acquisitions of course come with their own challenges but that’s down to your skill as an entrepreneur to effectively integrate and align the newly joined businesses. Partnerships and alliances can also work well but are rarely the golden ticket they’re often made out to be.

So, in conclusion you can try and shortcut your way to growth. You may have some been told about some new biz “hacks” that promise to deliver the client dollars. Perhaps you believe the ‘win without pitching’ hype which is, largely, something of a fallacy. Or maybe you’re just happy to wait for the phone to ring?

In reality new business has to be at the very core of your agency, the life blood from which it feeds. There needs to be a holistic approach to client engagement that understands how you succeed, add value through your work and grow alongside your clients. If there is not then you have a major problem.

Too many creatives make the mistake of only focussing on their product and creative output. The truly great agencies understand that clients (aka new business) and creative output go hand in hand. These are the ones that really thrive and excel. They focus on prioritising both things equally and don’t just focus on delivering great creative work.

This is the key to long term agency success and sustainable growth of your business.

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