Inbound Marketing Agency at the Crossroads

Inbound Marketing Agency at the Crossroads

By John McTigueFeb 28 /2011

You're a senior executive at an inbound marketing agency or "interactive agency". You've been at this long enough to have a nice business going with several new clients each month from your own inbound marketing or referrals from happy clients. This isn't your first rodeo.

Finally you have built a real agency, complete with competent employees, a brick and mortar location and a fairly well known brand. There are things that keep you awake at night, however.

inbound marketing agency at the crossroads

How To Grow Both Revenues and Profits?

Let's face it. Today's marketing bears little resemblance to yesterday's. We aren't delivering a lot of brochures and fliers. Billboards are disappearing. TV and Radio are either far too expensive for your clients or they just don't deliver the goods. Now we're building online brands through the new kids on the block, content marketing, social media marketing, location based services and mobile marketing combined with a couple of "old kids", website design and SEO. What we're doing now is labor intensive and depends on skills that didn't exist 3-5 years ago. Bottom line, if you want to add more retainer-based clients, you have to hire more new-media-savvy people. These folks aren't cheap, not the ones who know marketing as well as technology. How do you build scalable teams to meet the demand? How do you price your services in a way that is profitable yet doesn't price you out of the market? Very tricky.

How to Spend More of Your Time on Strategic Stuff?

When you started out, you (personally) were doing sales and marketing, providing high-level strategy, managing projects, providing customer service and managing the operations of the company as a whole. What are you doing now? Same thing, right? Like most of us, you focus on client-centric stuff during the day and worry about your own company after hours. How's that working out for you? When you actually have time to do some strategic thinking, you realize just how valuable that is - perhaps resulting in new ways of doing business, new products and more efficient operations. The solution goes back to the first nightmare - finding and hiring people who can do what you do and not break the bank. Delegate your client work to someone you can trust and go run the company. Nice in principle. Tough to execute.

How to Become the Market Leader

Your company has reached a solid level of proficiency in executing client projects and campaigns (in no small part due to the 24-7 attention you give to these things). But how are you generating new business? Let's see, you advise clients to spend $6,000 to $10,000 per month on inbound marketing per month. How much do you spend? If you can't show them the way with your own commitment and results, how can you stay in business? If this means spending more of your own human capital on marketing, how do you square that with the demands of your growing client base?

There is No Silver Bullet

All business owners and executives know this. The trials and tribulations of inbound marketing agencies are the same as any other B2B service company. You have to develop a working business plan and commit to it. I'm not talking about a mission statement. You need a detailed operations plan that specifies profits and losses, manpower and contingencies. You have to set aside time every day, during core business hours, to develop your strategy with your key people. You have to commit serious resources to sales and marketing. You have to be very proactive about monitoring the pulse of the company and making adjustments. You really should ask your clients what they want and don't over-deliver. You have to look at your competitors, understand what they do and do it better.

Now when you're done with all of that, go have some fun with your kids or dog. It's o.k. you can always use Skype! They will understand.

PS, if you work for one these executives, go give them a hug.

Got some advice you care to share?

Photo credit: koocbor

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn and Twitter.