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Coming up At Agency Hackers
Does your team post about your agency on LinkedIn?
It’s common knowledge that personal profiles get a lot more attraction than brand pages on LinkedIn. But sometimes it’s not enough for just you to show up for your business – sometimes you need a helping hand.
So how can you ‘gently’ encourage your team to also post on LinkedIn, without forcing them out of their comfort zone?
We’ll be talking about this in our monthly LinkedIn mastermind.
- How can employee profiles increase your brand’s visibility on LinkedIn?
- Where’s the line with social media? What can you ask staff to post and not post?
- Have you had any experiences with this? How do you get your team to show up for you on LinkedIn?
Come along to discuss all of this and more – and hear from others who have tackled this problem. If you’re clued up on this already, please lend your expertise!
Astra Newton was keen to offer something to the charity sector that her agency’s competitors couldn’t – by productising their PPC offering.
“We had low staff utilisation and wanted to shift to a more agile approach, so we decided to productise and process some of our services – and we realised the charity sector would be the best fit,” explains Astra, head of advertising at Web Presence.
“It added value for our clients, it was easy to market, relatively quick to sell, and had predictable deliveries. We were also really proud of the work we’d previously done with a charity, and we knew it would make fulfilling work for the team.”
Over nine months, Astra and her team created a dedicated set of packages for charities that answer typical sector pain points – such as lack of transparency and expensive campaigns without results.
They’ve since won over £1m in free funding for charities with this approach, aiming to hit £2m by the end of April this year.
They’ve also drummed up a further 115 leads via this route, improving the agency’s culture and efficiency, and boosting team morale along the way.
Come along to hear more from Astra on how productisation brought renewed growth to Web Presence and what it means for the agency moving forward.
An exit plan is nothing unusual for an agency leader.
But sometimes, stepping away from the business sooner than planned can be a good thing. This is what Mark Alford discovered just last year.
“It’s very simple. My marriage ended, and I had very few choices in terms of where I could go and what I could do,” explains the director of Managed Language.
“I was working on the business, but I wasn’t involved on a daily basis – there were six months where I just ran away and hid.”
The agency’s exit strategy had already been activated prior to this, with two team members, Richard and Mariana, being promoted to joint MDs. But Mark’s need to be further away from the business ramped things up significantly.
“The original plan was a three-to-five-year plan, with the two MDs taking full control within that time. The truth is, they’ve had full control effectively since March 2022.”
So, what did spending six months out of the business do for the agency?
- There was a lot of positive change.
- They’ve delivered huge results.
- Mark now has more freedom as an agency owner.
“The moral of the story is to get out of the way of your own business,” says Mark.
Come along and hear more about Mark’s story and why stepping back and away from his agency was the best thing to happen for his business to thrive.
Are you concerned about client churn?
They say a good average attrition rate is around 25%, but it could be higher if you work on a project-based model.
The problem is, with so many creative agencies to choose from, clients can hop and shop around whenever they like.
And when they’re as keen to cut costs as they are right now, trying to keep attrition rates low feels especially hard.
So, how can you keep client turnover at a minimum?
We’ll be having an open discussion about this in our monthly client services mastermind.
- Why are attrition rates increasing? Could you be partly responsible?
- Is there a healthy level of attrition? What should you be aiming for?
- What are you using to track attrition rates? Are you on target?
- What can you negotiate into contracts to make sure clients don’t leave you prematurely?
Come along to vent your frustrations in a room that understands – and maybe even pick up some answers as to how you can solve this problem.
Where do you stand on over-servicing?
For some agencies, it’s something they actively try to avoid. Why should you give something away for free?
However, for others, over-servicing is a strategic choice to drive biz dev and retention. It could also be incredibly tricky not to over-service depending on the nature of the project.
So, what say you?
- Is there a difference between adding value and over-servicing?
- Should we even be calling it over-servicing, if it’s an active choice to further new biz and client relationships?
- Does active or strategic over-servicing actually make much difference?
Come along and share your thoughts and experiences on this one.
“With neurodiversity, there’s a lot about the what, there’s a lot about the why, but there’s nobody telling you how.”
Neurodiversity has existed for a long time, but the conversation around how it impacts your working day is fairly new to the table.
As these diagnoses become more common, it’s crucial to know where the line is when it comes to the responsibility of managing the impacts – as well as how you can support your neurodivergent team members.
So, in this month’s HR & people mastermind, we’ll be talking about the realities of agency life from a neurodivergent perspective.
We’ll be joined by three panellists who each bring a wealth of knowledge and first-hand experience to this discussion: Sarah Brewster from Fresh Seed, and Tom Lanaway and Rachel Perry from Connective3.
In this session, we’ll be asking things like:
- What’s it like working in an agency as a neurodivergent person?
- Why do so many neurodivergent people naturally gravitate towards agencies?
- What can employers put in place to make it easier for neurodivergent team members?
Come along to find out the things you can do to champion neurodiversity in your business – and hear from agency folk who have already benefited from doing so.
There are several hoops to jump through when considering an M&A process – and making sure your agency is ready for the process is half the job.
“There are hundreds of things to focus on if you want to make sure your agency is ready for an exit process,” says Simon Latarche, partner at Milestone Advisory.
While this may sound like a mountain to climb, Milestone Advisory has developed a tool to make this easier for agencies to ensure they are on the right track.
A key component of this process is an audit using the Discovery tool, where an advisor from Milestone Advisory spends time with your key people reviewing the business, thereafter generating an ‘exit ready’ score out of 10.
This helps figure out what to focus on – a bit like a B Corp application.
“The tool has 10 pillars, and in each, there are about 50 to 100 things that you need to focus on,” says Simon. “Everything from your P&L, balance sheet and cashflow through to proposition, management, talent, sales and marketing through to commercial and operational excellence and corporate governance.”
Making sure your agency’s ‘house’ is in order for a sale not only gets the agency into tip-top condition, but could also dramatically improves your multiple.
Come along to this month’s M&A Surgery and find out exactly how you can make your business as ready for sale as possible – and be sure to bring your questions!
Cash flow forecasting is vital for growth. You need to know how much money is in the bank so you know when – and how much – you can invest in your business.
But it’s hard to do all that in a spreadsheet. And it’s especially hard to think of creative growth solutions without having a clear picture of the financials.
“Sometimes people say, ‘We’re fine, we have a good collection process – cashflow isn’t our problem’,” says founder Colin Hewitt.
“But in uncertain times, it’s about knowing how much you can afford to risk, how much you want to save, and being able to quickly see around the corner when unexpected events occur.”
“You could be sitting on cash that you could be investing in the business, or not holding enough for the future drawings you’re planning to make.”
Colin will be joining our monthly CFO surgery to give a whistle stop tour of how you can use Float‘s forecasting tool to help map out growth plans and prioritise what investments you should be making next.
Come along to find out how your agency could benefit from forecasting this way and get your questions answered by the expert.
Winning new biz can feel like a slog sometimes.
But Simon Douglass has been able to streamline his usual new biz process using AI, and he’ll be sharing his journey so far in this month’s marketing and new biz mastermind.
“Whenever I do a call with a new lead or client, I’m always tapping away making notes. Now, I can post everything into ChatGPT to summarise what I’ve got,” says the founder of Curated Digital.
“I give it the parameters, and it summarises it into categories – it almost writes the brief for me. Often my struggle is when I do a sales call, I’ve got all these notes and ideas in my head. ChatGPT helps me organise my thoughts.”
Simon started using ChatGPT in December, and in those three months since finding the right use for it within the business, they’ve won more new biz than ever before.
“We’re establishing ourselves as a consultancy, and usually, our presentations can be quite wordy; we talk around the subject a lot. What I’ve tried to do is make our approach a little bit ‘less is more’. AI has been really helpful for that,” says Simon.
By using ChatGPT to organise his thoughts and streamline the process, he’s been able to write statements of work, ICPs and SEO audit templates in far less time.
It’s even been useful when it comes to outreach too.
“It can give you the bones of something, but it’s got no personality at all. However, often when I write, it can be quite clunky, so it helps make me a bit sharper.”
Come along and hear more from Simon about how he’s using AI to win new biz, and how you could use it more effectively too.
AI is everywhere these days – and it looks as though it’s here to stay. But how can agencies really harness its power?
“Every single job will include AI in the future,” muses Chris Branch, founder and marketing director at Seedily.
“Many people think it’s going to take work away from you, but actually, through using AI we’ve now turned over £1m between just the two of us in our small agency. We now have 10 times the output we once had.”
Chris’ agency had alpha access to Midjourney, meaning that over the last 12 months, they’ve become AI experts – and their AI niche is in generative image making.
“We’ve pivoted almost entirely to using our social media content as AI-generative ad concepts, which has got us loads of brands’ attention,” he says. “We even change our prospects into Pixar characters as we’re talking to them – there are tonnes of specific and creative uses for AI.”
Since harnessing the potential of AI, Seedily is now seeing 100x ROI, forecasting 1000x by the end of 2023. So, how can AI help achieve these kinds of results?
- It’s a timesaver.
- It’s a reference tool.
- It can be used for anything – you name it, AI can do it.
If you’re wondering how you can harness the power of AI for your agency, come along and hear more from Chris on what it can do for you and your team – and why it’s not something to be feared.
No agency leader plans to be in their business forever – but trying to find the right person to take your place is no walk in the park.
There are so many things to consider:
- Are they confident enough to lead a team and delegate?
- Will they fit in with your agency’s culture?
- Can they be strategic enough to work on the business, not just IN it?
In this session, we’ll be joined by Jackie Blaker, managing director at Maxx Design; Simon Bollon, founder and director at Boutique; and Liz Walker, commercial director at Distinctly.
“So much relies on cultural fit,” says Liz. “There can be 10 people who can think strategically, but it’s finding the person who can think strategically and really believes in your values.”
“If they don’t believe in your values, it’s probably not going to work.”
Come along to discover what you should be looking for in your future leaders – and hear new perspectives from our panellists who have been there and done it.
New business feels especially hard right now.
There are only so many referrals and recommendations an agency can rely on – and trying to find a balance between servicing existing clients and sourcing new leads feels impossible.
But what if you could combine the two? That’s what Immediate Future does.
MD Katy Howell and her team repurpose client content on LinkedIn to build a reputation as a trusted source on all things social. Whether it’s past projects, case studies, or simply industry statistics – it all works towards making the agency more credible and recognisable.
But does it actually pay off?
“Let’s put it this way – we closed the company over the Christmas break. Our social was still running but we didn’t send out any emails or anything until the second week of January. Now, in just over a month, we have six new proposals to put together.”
In this session, Katy delves into her thorough – yet automated – approach to new business, and shares why repurposing client content is a surefire way to grow your agency’s reputation.
People are always striving to make themselves indispensable – but Louise Palmer, a director at Wildfire, has done the exact opposite, after being told she’d need a liver transplant.
“I was officially put on the transplant list in December 2020. It was just a case of being told that I could get a call at any time, on any day, and I’d then need to be at the hospital within three to hours,” she says.
“You sit there and realise you could easily get the call tomorrow… and the business wasn’t prepared for that unexpected absence.”
Louise set out to make herself indispensable, so that when the call did eventually come through, it wouldn’t leave the agency in entire disarray.
After three false calls, Louise successfully had her transplant in September 2022 – and on her return in January 2023, she found a huge difference in her team.
“They’ve really stepped up and have become much more self-sufficient. They suddenly realised they had this responsibility and the autonomy to do things the way they wanted, or the way they had to do it to suit themselves,” she explains.
“They’ve always had that opportunity, but while I was around I was their safety net, their go-to for advice and direction. They’re pleased to have me back, but they don’t need my approval.”
Come along and hear how making herself indispensable empowered Louise’s team, and how it’s invigorated them for the future of the business.
Claire Jules-Saffu has recently re-entered the agency space after spending over a decade client side.
“The one thing about being agency side is you don’t necessarily know some of the blockers client side, and some of the reasons things aren’t getting through the door,” says Claire, head of paid media at Curated Digital.
“Things like where the budget comes from, for example – your contact might not be the person who owns it.”
Claire spent the last nine years at the online grocer in the world, Tesco, so she knows a thing or two about how big clients tick.
“At somewhere like Tesco, a lot of the time you have to create a business case to get something done. You can’t just turn around and ask someone to put this tag on the website,” she says.
“You’re also fighting against a lot of other departments that also want things done to save X amount of pounds. That’s really going to justify whether the work I want gets done.”
We’ll be discussing slow clients in this month’s client services mastermind.
- Do you find it frustrating when you can’t get a straight answer?
- Why are clients so slow to make decisions and give feedback?
- How can you figure out what a client is really thinking?
- If you’re dealing with a client like this, how can you approach some of the barriers?
We’ll be talking to Claire about all of this and more, and trying to make sense of all your client conundrums.
Many of our members are stepping up and taking the reins right now – but it’s a tricky cross to bear.
You hear things like: “They are handing me the baton, but I don’t know what to do with it.”
Others say: “There has been a realisation over the last few months that this is on me now. The founders are around less, and it’s on my shoulders to deliver.”
While stepping up to the plate is a great opportunity, there are all kinds of challenges – and while you’re good at your job, you might still be trying to find your way.
- You might be stepping up to eventually take over completely from an agency founder who does things in a certain way, and it’s a lot of pressure to fill those shoes.
- You might be managing people who before were your peers, or perhaps used to be senior to you, which is a very big shift in dynamic – and you’re not sure how to assert yourself.
- Perhaps you’re looking to switch things up or change things that others don’t agree are broken – and that can sometimes lead to tricky conversations.
With this in mind, we want to give you a dedicated space to chat things through with others in the same boat: this is your new leaders’ hangout.
This session isn’t structured like most of our events – instead, it’s an open forum, where you can share your challenges, give advice, and generally lean on each other for support.
(It also won’t be uploaded to the members’ area, so you can speak as freely as you like with like-minded peers.)