You've been at the helm of a digital marketing agency for some time now, and you've seen it grow little by little. You're happy with the progress you've made, but I’m sure you'd like to take it to the next level.

First of all, bravo!

You've done a great job. Now, it's time to take the next step with your agency.

Let me tell you about scalability. I've got a few ideas and suggestions to share with you about scaling your agency.

But first, we need to discuss what we mean by scaling an agency…

What is scalability?

How to scale a marketing agency?

For a marketing agency, scalability means increasing workload and revenue without calling on new human, financial, or technological resources.

The difference between scaling and growing your agency is quite subtle. Growth may be gradual, but it relies on increasing resources. Scalability, on the other hand, is about duplicating workloads and revenues without requiring a substantial increase in resources.

Let's take an example.

Let's imagine that an advertising agency with five clients decides to attract five more. If it has to recruit, then it's in growth mode. Of course, this increases its revenues, but its costs also rise.

Now imagine that the same agency has optimized its processes so that managing five customers is fundamentally no different from managing a hundred. The agency increases its revenues without requiring an increase in resources and, therefore, expenses. The profit margin is greater. That's scalability.

When should you scale your agency?

While scalability allows you to make a lasting impact on your agency without racking up a mass of additional expenditures, it needs to be implemented at strategic moments.

Here are situations in which your marketing agency should consider scaling up:

You've been making steady profits for a long time

If your agency has a prolonged period of large, consistent profits, it may be a sign that your operations are stable and that it's time to explore expansion opportunities.

Scalability can enable you to aim for more significant growth.

You refuse new contracts

Reasons to start scaling an agency.

If you regularly turn down new contracts because your current resources are fully utilized, this is a clear indicator that it might be time to think about scaling up.

With more efficient processes, you may be able to take on more customers without proportionately increasing your operational costs.

You've found the perfect recipe for generating new leads

If you've identified a marketing strategy that reliably generates new leads, and your customer base is steadily growing, this is an ideal opportunity to scale up.

By optimizing your processes, you can capitalize on these marketing efforts and increase your revenues.

You have enough money

If your agency has sufficient financial resources, this provides a solid basis for considering scaling up. Substantial funds make it easier to expand operations without compromising your agency's financial stability.

That's right! Scaling doesn't happen overnight. In the meantime, it's a good idea to have sufficient financial resources so as not to jeopardize your business.

What happens if you don't scale?

Well, you could be limited in your ability to sign new contracts with potential customers. Other competing agencies will take advantage of the opportunity to surpass you in size and market influence.

You risk losing your competitive edge, and your results will continue to stagnate or even decline.

How do you scale an agency?

As I said before, you can't scale an agency in the blink of an eye. There are a few steps to follow.

#1. Assess current capacity:

How agencies scale their operations.

Before considering any organizational or process changes, you need to understand your agency's current capabilities.

Assess the skills of your team members, the number of projects your teams can handle, and your material resources.

During your assessment, don't forget to carry out an analysis of the work in progress and the time allocated to each project. Make sure you identify bottlenecks on projects with existing customers. This will enable you to prioritize your actions later on.

#2. Set a new capacity target:

Once you have a clear view of your current capabilities, set yourself a realistic target for progress.

You could, for example, aim for 40 projects completed per month instead of the current 20. Or perhaps you'd like to do 3 times as much customer onboarding in the next month.

Set the projects you want, as long as they're SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).

#3. Optimize your internal processes

If you've followed the first step correctly, you should have no trouble identifying internal processes that can be improved in your agency.

Optimization solutions may lie in automating certain tasks, or in better training your teams to increase their expertise and efficiency.

Let's say you notice frequent delays in the creative production of your marketing campaigns. Then you should look into optimizing your creative processes to reduce delays.

TIP - If you'd like to know how to optimize your workflows, I refer you to this article "8 tips for developing a creative workflow for an agency".

#4. Implement a marketing strategy

How to grow and scale an agency.

Now that your internal processes have been optimized, you're ready to welcome new customers. All you have to do is go out and find them.

NB: This might be a good time to review your buyer persona and broaden your focus.

For greater effectiveness, you may need to activate different marketing channels, such as

  • Launching new ad campaigns on social networks to target new customers.
  • Creating special offers or free trials to encourage prospects to try out your services.
  • Setting up e-mail nurturing campaigns to maintain relationships with your customers and prospects.
  • etc.

#5. Optimize your financial management and plan your investments for the long term:

If you don't want to see your agency collapse after a few months, you need to optimize your financial management. The first thing to do is to identify unnecessary costs and put in place the necessary actions to eliminate or reduce them.

Next, plan your budget carefully every time you undertake a change to your internal processes.

If you want to integrate a new technology into your workflow, make sure you have the funds to accommodate it. But above all, remember to assess the ongoing costs of the new technology and its potential benefits.

NB: money isn't the only benefit to consider. If a product saves you time or enables you to deliver high-quality content to your customers, then that makes sense too.

If you meticulously follow these 5 steps, you'll evolve strategically. Your internal operations will be optimized, while your financial management will ensure your agency's longevity.

And this applies to marketing agencies in general. But if you have a SMMA or business development agency, the principles remain the same.

7 tips for scaling your agency

When you scale your agency, there are certain hacks that will help you achieve even greater results.

#1. Use automation tools

Using automation to scale an agency.

I quickly mentioned this idea above. Automation tools streamline repetitive tasks. They free up valuable time for your teams to concentrate on more strategic tasks.

Imagine you need to create a banner ad campaign for an e-commerce client. He wants a visual to present each of the 100 new products in his new clothing collection.

If you use a creative automation tool like Abyssale, your designers will go 10 times faster.

They'll create an ads banner template. Then, from a simple form, they can automatically generate the 100 banner ads your customer needs.

Creative automation softare to scale an agency.

#2. Setting up partnerships

By establishing partnerships, you'll extend your reach. This type of collaboration can be with other agencies, complementary businesses or even influencers.

In addition to boosting your credibility, these alliances enable you to reach your partner's audience.

Imagine that, as a marketing agency, you team up with a business development company. You create a synergy that benefits both parties and broadens the range of services offered to customers.

#3. Service diversification

Industry trends are constantly evolving. So you need to constantly adapt to demand to offer the right products and remain competitive. Diversifying your services will enable you to adapt to market demands.

But be careful! If you want to remain scalable, develop services that enable you to generate more revenue for the same or fewer resources.

Or, the new service must enable you to generate as much revenue as before with even fewer resources (human, time or technological).

#4. Recruiting talent with big softskills

I know. Recruiting is about growing your agency, not scaling. I said so myself above.

However, if you have to recruit talent, don't neglect soft skills at the expense of hard skills. It's easier to bring skills to someone who is motivated and acts collectively, than to instill team spirit and motivation in someone who has great skills.

Trends change regularly, customer demands evolve and so do the skills needed to meet them. So, if you want your agency to remain flexible and adapt to trends, reconsider the savoir-être and savoir-vivre of your candidates. There will always be time to fill in any technical gaps with training.

#5. Geographical expansion

Another reason to scale an agency.

By expanding your geographical presence, you'll conquer new markets. You expand your potential clientele by replicating elsewhere what you already know how to do in your marketing catchment area.

In the digital world, this might mean reviewing your local SEO or the geographic targeting of your ad campaigns. If you're thinking big and want to cross borders, you might want to consider a translation solution.

#6. Gathering customer feedback and opinions

Your customers can provide valuable information to help you identify your agency's strengths and areas for improvement. Ask them for their opinion whenever possible. Firstly, because it strengthens your relationship with them by showing that their opinion counts.

Secondly, you can capitalize on their opinions. If they're positive, you can use them in your marketing campaigns to add social proof. If they're negative, they'll be a source of insight into what you need to improve.

After launching an advertising campaign, you could, for example, ask customers for their views on their journey as a prospect. This can provide you with key insights to refine your future strategies.

#7. Analyze and optimize your performance

Always be sure to monitor your agency's performance on a regular basis. To do this, identify relevant key performance indicators (KPIs).

Then, each time you introduce or modify a process as part of a scalability approach, measure the evolution of these KPIs. This will enable you to determine the relevance of your new actions.

You're probably already doing this with your customers, by measuring the ROI of the campaigns you launch for them. So why not do the same for your agency, to assess the relevance of your internal processes?

On your marks, get set, scale!

You're now ready to take your place at the starting line of scalability. Now it's up to you to make sure you don't make any false starts.

If you follow all these recommendations for scaling your marketing agency, it shouldn't happen.

A final word of advice: don't start too quickly. It can be a long race. You'll need all your resources until the end.

Good luck.