But whether you niched out on social media, graphic design, website building, or software coding, we all run into similar fundamental problems.
These problems tend to look the same but the solutions all look different. Therein lies the problem.
These aren’t the 4 P’s you learned about in your Intro to Marketing class back in the day, and there is no textbook answer to turn to.
However, with a little guidance and knowledge you can avoid the school of hard knocks.
When reading the 4 P’s below, be open and honest with yourself… are you guilty of making these mistakes or letting important concepts fall by the wayside?
Even if your systems and processes are good, you should strive to make them great. We live in a world where consumers expect excellence, so if you don’t shine brighter and do better than all of your competitors then you’ll be left in the dust.
Being aware of the following factors will enable you to make the necessary strides to achieve greatness with your agency and its growth.
If you had a nickel for every hour you spent writing, revising, presenting, and worrying about a proposal you’d have enough money to retire early.
Instead, you’re sitting here working 80-hour work weeks and worrying about making payroll.
The worst part is when you spend all of that time and effort just to lose those deals to a competitor. Now you’ve wasted all of those precious resources with little to nothing to show for it. It happens time and time again unless you lowball on the price.
Why do your proposals keep flopping? What are your competitors doing that you’re not? You have countless people revise them and give feedback, so what is the issue?
One word: Value.
If your proposals aren’t building value every step of the way, they’re guaranteed to be a swing and a miss.
You need to slap the client across the face with how awesome your agency is and stun them with everything you can do for them. You need to remove barriers to entry and common objections before they ever arise. You need to leave no doubt in your prospects’ minds that your agency is the one for them.
Your competitors are giving that prospect a million reasons to purchase from them, so you need to give them a million and one. Instead, you’re sending over a glorified service description with a price tag and calling it a day. Of course you’re not winning the deals you want!
Think of all of those failed proposals that you slaved over. Did they have ROI projections? FAQs? Definitions? If you skip those sections, it doesn’t matter how great your grammar was or even how low your price was, all a client will see is a big line item with little justification.
Build value every step of the way. When the client sees the dollar sign, they won’t hesitate because they’ll know they’re making an investment in their business’s future.
2. Project Management
The digital space is full of so many business opportunities because so few people truly understand how to utilize it to its fullest potential. That’s why they’re hiring you!
However, this means clients don’t quite understand everything you do. So, during the course of the project, they have no issues asking for more, more, more because in their minds it’s just a “quick thing” or “small adjustment.” But to you it could mean an extra two hours of work. Suddenly a few “quick things” later and you’ve put in an additional 10 hours of work with no additional pay.
Let’s say you were a home builder and you got hired to build a house. Your client wanted a basic 2 bedroom home because they were on a tight budget. So construction began and halfway through, they decided they wanted 4 bedrooms, a home movie theater, hot tub, fountain, and helicopter landing pad and they expect you stay within budget and on time.
No client in their right mind would ask for that! People understand that would mean more plumbing, electrical work, concrete, drywall, insulation… the list goes on.
Yet your agency’s clients seem to have no problem asking you to make one more graphic, to rework the design, or to create another landing page. Then you give it to them because you have a hard time saying no or because you don’t want to cause friction in the relationship, or whatever flawed logic you use to rationalize it. This little devil is called scope creep.
Scope creep is anything, and I mean anything, that falls outside of the predefined and agreed upon project scope. If you don’t strictly inform and enforce scope creep policies, it will take over your service bandwidth and your time will get absorbed in unprofitable projects.
Easier said than done, right? Especially when saying no to a client and keeping them happy seems a bit like mixing oil and vinegar.
To avoid disgruntled clients, you must tell them before the project begins that anything extra they want done outside of the original scope will cost them extra time and money. Then as soon as something pops up, you must enforce it. This will teach the client that you take the budget and timeline very seriously. They may get a bit peeved that they have to pay for the services they’re asking you to perform (sounds like a “duh” moment when you hear it like that) but good clients will understand they get what they pay for.
When a project gets delivered on time and on budget they’ll forget about that “just one more revision” they asked for weeks ago.
There are dozens of pricing models, strategies, and techniques. Some agencies see great success with one, while others see the same one fail. So what’s the perfectly competitive price for your services?
High prices can make you seem elite, but if you set your prices too high you’ll scare people off. Low prices can attract more people, but if you set them too low you’ll be jeopardizing your profit margins.
The thing about setting low prices is that you’re automatically attracting a certain caliber of client. The bottom of the barrel client that expect you to jump through hoops at no additional cost. Then when a cheaper option comes along they won’t hesitate to leave your agency in the dust. Unless you’re the lowest price in the industry, you might as well be one of the highest. Nobody goes for the second cheapest option.
Can your agency truly sustain being the cheapest option?
Raising your prices will have its consequences too, and you will inevitably scare some people off. But think of it like this: You could be charging $100 and have 1,000 clients ,or you could be charging $1,000 and have 100 clients. Which strategy means less work for you? Which one will likely result in happier clients? Which one is more sustainable?
Underpricing your services won’t attract more people, and it certainly won’t attract the ones you want to work with. If you keep getting stuck working with bad clients it’s probably because your pricing model is attracting them. Stop doing yourself a disservice by charging too little. If you have a world class agency, you need to charge world class prices. The best clients will understand and accept it. The cheapskate clients will run away, but it was only a matter of time before they did that anyway.
Brand positioning is like a vortex and your agency is the eye of the storm. When you first begin your agency, you’re a small vortex with a little pull, maybe causing some ripples in the market but certainly not making any waves. The bigger and stronger your agency and positioning gets, the more powerful you become.
Incorrectly positioning or failing to have a positioning strategy can be a detrimental mistake and wasted opportunity. Brand positioning is where your agency sits in the mind of the consumer. Regardless of the efforts you make, every single person that encounters your brand will form some kind of emotion or association with it. Having a strategy and defined brand positioning statement will help ensure that those emotions and associations are positive. This is especially important in the early stages of your agency.
Defining and establishing a clear brand position will allow you to do more with less. Positioning will do the heavy lifting and nurturing so when a lead is ready to buy, your agency will already be established in their mind as the trustworthy and superior option. Sounds pretty great right? So why is it that only 50% of employees believe their leadership team uses brand positioning to guide their decisions?
Are you guilty of this? Perhaps one of the reasons your brand positioning isn’t guiding your marketing initiatives is because your positioning statement was thrown together with little research and thought. Your positioning statement, if done correctly, should filter through to every single campaign, promotion, design, and decision. If it aligns with your positioning statement, you know it will reach and appeal to your target audience. If you’re not filtering every decision then you could potentially be putting out materials and making calls that will confuse or turn away your target audience. Not a wise move when every lead counts.
These 4 P’s should have shed some light on the way your agency is running. Moving forward, you’ll be aware of the consequences that could ensue if you don’t give these factors the attention they need.
Remember: there is always room for improvement. So you should constantly be changing and improving. The 4 P’s aren’t something you should look at when you “have time.” The time is now. Your agency’s growth depends on it.