3 Things Every Agency Must Invest In To Grow

August 27, 2013 by

Last week, I attended BrightEdge's Share 13 event in San Francisco, and during the event, I realized there is a real problem looming that many leaders sitting behind the front lines are missing— there is a complete lack of  investment in the future. I listened to many  speakers talk about the commoditization of search, and while having lunch with Performics' President, Eric Papczun, I was taken aback by the number of challenges he encounters daily.

Let's face it—digital agencies are on the front lines, battling to achieve a great ROI on their social and digital efforts. They are the warriors. They are the taking the heat. They are learning what works, what doesn't, and what will get them shot down. Respect for the effort is a must.

Unfortunately, most of our digital soldiers are ill equipped to make the most of their undying efforts, and this will cause most brands and their agencies to get less-than-ideal results. What we really need on the front lines is huge investments in ammo (or budget) to do it right.  The future is right here and now, and if we don’t invest in our soldiers, we can’t expect them to have the fire power to strategize and execute correctly.

Okay, enough of the military analogies. Lets get to the point—we must invest and fight for resources in 3 areas:

1)   Innovative strategies—look at the map before sending troops

Investing in innovative strategies is hard because, as Eric put it, “we are too busy executing for the client—we aren’t given room to think for them." For example, today many popular content marketing strategies focus on applying them to social media. So much time is spent creating crafty tweets, Facebook posts, and hopefully great written and visual content, too, but rarely do we spend the time to plan and map out content that is useful and smart. We are just adding to the already very noisy space and hoping volume overcomes a lack of real planning.

2)   Digital tactics with room for experimentation—instead of quickly executing and trying to hammer down ROI

Yes, digital budgets are growing, and averaging around 25-30%–sometimes even up to 50%.  But we need more, because digital is the most efficient and accountable form of marketing, with the greatest potential for enormous market share gains, since the rewards far outweigh the risks.

And bigger budgets will lead to great, breakthrough work that is truly creative, innovative, and smart. No one will argue that paid search and digital advertising budgets are under-funded. As Eric put it, “we continue to have to do more of the same, with less." That just won’t cut it for clients that want to grow profits and stay competitive. It's time to get the executives that care about growth involved. 

3) Our people—the proper bootcamp before front lines

Finally, it's absolutely critical to invest in people. Agencies provide smart thinking. Your clients aren't paying for technology, or basic execution. They're paying for your strategies, creativity, experience, and smarts.  And you are only as good as that last account manager's suggestion to use Mobile Responsive Design for next micro-site campaign. We must educate the people on the front lines. We must invest in them. Because that's how you can truly grow.

When investing in people becomes a line item up for discussion, that’s the time to walk out—there is nothing more important.

Want a copy of our new "Digital Talent Gap & Education Study", slated for release this Fall? Connect with me on LinkedIn, and I'll add you to our preview list. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post—please reach out if you'd like to chat!

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