7 Things Holding Back Social Media Agencies From Growth
If you run a social media agency, you’re likely eager to grow. A bigger portfolio of clients means more stability, more income, and greater influence in the industry—not to mention more potential for experimentation. But the majority of agencies don’t get very far. They either collapse, or remain relegated to a limiting plateau, with only a handful of clients and a limited sphere of influence.
Factors Holding Agencies Back
These are some of the most common factors and circumstances preventing social media agencies from achieving their true potential:
Visibility is important for any brand in almost any industry, but it’s especially important for social media marketing and advertising agencies. Companies that don’t understand how to market themselves, and those that don’t have the time to market themselves need to feel secure in their choice for a social media partner. They need to see that this social media agency practices what it preaches, and can achieve the results it promises for its clients. If you only have a few hundred likes, and you’re only active on one or two platforms, nobody will take you seriously. You need to serve your own agency first, and then start looking for clients.
Many social media agencies also struggle with scalability. They’re perfectly suited to serve a dozen clients, and can easily keep up with demand, but they simply don’t have the capacity to take on more work. There are a few possible solutions to this, but the best options tend to improve flexibility, rather than raw capacity; for example, partnering with another agency or establishing a network of contractors can help you expand your offerings and client base as it becomes comfortable for you.
3. A Solid Sales Process
Even if your agency is reputable, visible, and perfectly capable of taking on new clients, you’ll still struggle if your leads all die in the sales process. A successful sales strategy requires attention to multiple interrelated components, including an effective lead generation strategy, a strong follow-up strategy, and a digital marketing proposal system designed to appeal to your leads’ desires while simultaneously addressing their potential objections. It’s a tricky balance to strike, and you’ll need the right tools to make it work.
4. Budget and Risk Tolerance
To expand, you’ll need to make investments somewhere. It might mean spending more money on marketing and advertising, hiring new people, or even investing in a major brand overhaul. Regardless, it’s going to cost you money, and many agencies simply don’t have the budget for it. Similarly, it’s possible to take out a loan or stretch the company’s finances to achieve this, but agency owners simply aren’t interested in taking the risk. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the future of the agency, but it is going to prevent the agency from growing.
Brand differentiation is a powerful prerequisite for agency growth. Standing out from your competition will make it easier to achieve visibility (and be seen as a thought leader), and can also help you win deals when a client is debating between you and one of your tight competitors. The question is, how are you going to differentiate yourself? What makes your agency unique? Many agencies aren’t able to answer this, but you can work to find an edge, like better pricing, niche services, or specialization in a specific field.
6. Long-Term Optimization
Some social media agencies are so bogged down in day-to-day issues, they don’t bother thinking about long-term optimization. It’s all they can do to serve their existing clients and manage current cash flow; accordingly, they don’t spend any time on long-term strategy or plan for the distant future. Without that future focus, there’s little hope for future growth.
7. Client Portfolio Issues
Agencies can also get trapped in client-related issues. They bend over backward for demanding clients, and keep low-value clients out of a sense of loyalty, or fear of firing a client. However, if your goal is long-term growth, you have to be prepared to optimize your client base for the most valuable clients; sometimes, that means letting clients go and being more selective with the clients you take on.
Deciding Whether You Want to Grow
Growing a social media agency isn’t a simple matter, and it’s important to recognize that your agency doesn’t have to make millions of dollars to consider itself successful. Some agency owners are perfectly happy with a small selection of loyal clients and a reliable profitability model. But if you’re feeling ambitious, and driven to serve clients at bigger and broader scales, you’ll need to pay attention to these limiting factors, and strategize to find a way around them.