I’ve been exploring the concept of writing down ten new ideas a day. I’ve become a fan of Hal Elrod and The Miracle Morning, which I highly recommend everyone read (Get two free chapter free here). I then started to listen to Hal’s podcast, at which point I learned about Claudia Azula Altucher and her book “Become An Idea Machine: Because Ideas Are The Currency Of The 21st Century” which provides lots of different prompts on which you are encouraged to write ten new ideas on. As a result, I’ve now started to see a lot of remarketing from her husband, James Altucher, who naturally recommends the approach of writing down ten new ideas a day, and I’ve also started reading his book Reinvent Yourself.
Funny how quickly you can fall down the rabbit hole, nevertheless I highly recommend all 3 of the above books. (We are not affiliated (yet, who knows what the future holds). I just like providing useful resources to others.)
Now, I’ve proposed my own prompt, what are ten ways agencies can be of better value to their customers? I’ve lived and breathed the agency world for about a decade now 2007-2017, and WOW has a lot happened in a short amount of time.
1. Only sell what you can deliver upon excellently.
Okay, so I’ve been working for quite a while, and there is a theme I hear all the time. “I’ve been burned.” Ouch. Is that really the legacy our industry wants to leave? SEO firms in particular seem to be a dime a dozen. You know SEO? Prove it. Prove it first to yourself before you start signing up customers. If you can win rankings for high profile keywords inside of the marketing industry where everyone says they know how to do SEO then I believe you. If you can’t gain rankings in your industry, then don’t sign up clients. That Company wins all sorts of “white label” keywords! That’s our space. What’s your space?
I’m not limiting this to SEO. If you can’t deliver upon it well, then don’t sell it. Let’s agree just to sell what we’re good at.
A company that only sells what they can deliver upon excellently is valuable!
2. Always over-deliver!
If you’re looking just to get by and keep client’s satisfied, then you’re not going far enough. How can you over-deliver? I don’t mean invest tons of hours into something you’re not being compensated for, but how do you continuously look at what you’re doing and find ways to do it more efficiently so you can do more for your customers? Find the small little tweaks that move the needle as much as possible.
A company that always goes above and beyond is valuable!
3. Build excellent training programs for your employees.
Your marketing/design/development/advertising/pr/branding services are only as good as the employees that are delivering those services to your customers. Are you relying on your employees to go out and learn on their own how to deliver your services? That will lead to inconsistency in execution. Perhaps this is okay in the start-up stage as you test lots of things quickly, but as you progress from a start-up to a professionally managed organization building out official training programs to ensure you provide a consistent, valuable experience for customers is crucial.
Well trained employees are very valuable to your customers!
4. Educate your customers!
I know we all want to be the smartest guy/gal in the room. However, I always recommend educating your customers. The more they understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, etc. the more they will be able to participate in the process, and that’s valuable! A customer that is engaged in the process will lead to better success than you as an agency operating in a silo.
So while you might fear training yourself out of a job, don’t worry. The value and client retention will outpace any client’s who decide they’re smart enough to do it on their own (those kinds of client’s eventually come back anyway.)
Your customer’s having a greater understanding is valuable!
5. Find ways to meet as many of your customer’s needs as possible.
More Reading to Improve Your Agency:
By this, I don’t mean that you have to do all of the work. I think it is a million times better for an organization to FOCUS on what you’re excellent on, and not be mediocre a lot of different things. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring other resources to the table that can deliver aspects you can’t! It’s always better to have a friendly agency working with your customers and fulfilling their needs vs. an agency that will try to take the business away from you.
So whether you build the capability in-house or simply recommend a high-quality provider, look to meet as many of your customer’s needs as possible. (Plug: Lots of agencies recommend us in as a strategic partner for work they’re not looking to do for their customer (such as SEO, Google AdWords, Social Media, etc.) We then get to work with them hand in hand to deliver a high-quality experience.)
Having all of their marketing efforts integrate together to be cohesive is valuable!
Don’t keep doing monotonous tasks. If you can automate parts of your job, then do it! It means that you’ll be able to provide more value to your customers by focus your time on deliverables that actually matter! If you’re spending hours running reports, figure out how you can cut that time down. How can you automate that? (automation does not mean settling for less or lower quality reports in this case. It means getting what you and the customer need with less time spent.)
Time well spent is valuable!
7. Do your homework!
Know as much as you can about the customer, their products, their messaging, the experience they provide, their target market, their competitors, their key differentiators, pricing models, etc. Yes, of course, you can ask the customer these questions (and if they don’t know the answers be careful as sometimes those types of client’s aren’t ready to truly begin marketing themselves till those items have been figured out!)
However, if you can augment their knowledge by walking into every meeting with your homework done, that’s valuable!
8. Don’t overload your staff with too many customers!
Even a highly trained, highly qualified staff can be made ineffective by having to manage the expectations and needs of too many customers. You have to balance growing wages, competitive pricing, and profitability.
Find your perfect mix. Once you’ve found your ideal combination, try to stick to it. It’s hard in earlier stages as adding another employee is a considerable cost as a percentage of your business, but as time goes on, it gets easier.
Quality time and attention for all of your customers is valuable!
9. Become an idea machine!
I’ve already recommended the books above. However, if you and your employees can always become idea machines for your customers, then that’s valuable!
10. Get your customers to pay what you’re worth & pay your people what they’re worth!
As part of #8, you have to weigh wages, competitive pricing, and profitability together. What I have to say is if you’re underselling yourself and your talented staff, then you’re not helping anyone. You will find it difficult to retain quality talent, you’ll find it challenging to be profitable, and your customers will find it challenging to work we a continually revolving door of employees.
So, get paid what you’re worth & pay your people what they’re worth. In the end, your customers will find your consistent, experienced staff valuable!
By: Mike Knorr, VP of Marketing & Sales