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7 things agencies should be doing right now to plan for 2022?

December 10, 2021
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Now is not the time to “just keep swimming”… here are some tips for closing out the year in order to review and improve your performance next year.

 

Pull reports and analyse dashboards to understand your year’s performance

You need data. Without data you can’t spot the trends and without trends you have no strategy. I bet you spend hours banging on to your clients about how important data is, but other than your financial accounts, what do you have?  I’m talking about lead sources, progress conversion, lost reasons, win rates, length of sales cycle – that sort of thing. How can you put yourself in a stronger position next year to capture relevant data and make it actionable?  If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we can now track everything.  So why is your new business strategy stuck in 1985?

Most CRMs or automation/dashboard platforms can produce these and might even integrate with other marketing tools to enable you to see a wider view of traffic, like social channels and web analytics.  These will all help inform how / where you need to focus your attention in the future.  I’ve seen plenty of agencies come to us and say they need more leads, and it turns out, their issue is actually conversion not quantity of leads.

 

What marketing initiatives worked and could be built upon?

Again, rather than making assumptions you should have data to inform your approach.  All marketing needs objectives, and you should be able to attribute an increase of awareness or lead generation to it, or else it’s just a vanity project. Maybe you could do some qualitative research to discover the impact it had?   Don’t be afraid to ask clients/employees/partners/prospects (won and lost) for feedback – we do plenty of these 360 interviews for clients, and the insights we reveal can be gamechangers.

The hardest part of accessing your marketing is when you don’t know why something didn’t work – you don’t know what you don’t know!  The number of times I’ve sat with an agency owner telling me how LinkedIn outreach or events don’t work, knowing that we’ve just generated tens of leads through those channels.   Often it can come down to how you execute.  The devils in the detail.  But don’t throw something out until you’ve truly tested it in different ways, making marginal improvements each time.  And when you do find a winning formula, double down.

 

Where did you struggle? Was it quantity, quality, or conversion?

Sick of coming a close second? You need to change that, and the only way is to find out why. Be hard and honest with yourself. Were those leads any good? Where were they coming from and how well qualified were they?

Maybe you’re attracting the wrong prospects, which could relate to your proposition or how you market yourselves. You should have a well-defined audience persona you can use as a North Star to help guide you.

Or were those leads good, and you just couldn’t get them over the line? Converting is about perfecting presenting, productising, pricing, negotiation and winning hearts and minds. Find time to analyse your pitch process, your pitch teams and the presentations. Pitching remotely has thrown up a bunch of challenges.

Acknowledge burnout if you’ve pitched relentlessly and stop being so greedy… learn when to say no!

 

 

Know why you won and lost? What impact can this have on your positioning, products and marketing?

You should capture the reasons you win and lose pitches – capture macro details so you can analyse on a chart e.g. went in-house, lost to competitor, too expensive.  But also make notes of the details around the specific pitch.  Don’t just accept the findings. What are you going to do next year to improve or learn?

Maybe you discovered a niche audience or a trending challenge that you work well with. You can now use that in your messaging and build your marketing around demonstrating empathy with those people or businesses.  Your findings should enable you to create and edit your products and pricing to make you more accessible. This should be a constant feedback loop of listening and perfecting.  You might also need to sort your website out if it hasn’t been updated for over 3 years.  Is it outdated?  Does it land your current proposition?  Is it easy for your prospects to identify with?  We often sit with agencies who describe their positioning and ideal client, whilst sitting on their homepage and there bears no resemblance.

 

What are the objectives next year? What KPI’s will help you achieve this?

How did you perform against the objectives you set 12 months ago? Without objectives and measurement, it’s impossible to know how you’re progressing and running a business become quite stale. If you’ve you nailed it, then make sure you celebrate the wins! Do staff deserve a bonus? How can you reinvest that money into growth or improvements?  If you underperformed, then how can you improve your process? Do you need external help to identify the issues?

Set yourself targets for the next 12 months but don’t just think about commercials. That target needs to be broken down into smaller, more manageable KPI’s that can be hit within a small timeframe.  Having KPIs is about taking accountability, and if you’re not strict with your time and process, then the chances are you won’t even look at the KPI’s or hit your objectives in the long run.

 

Research upcoming trends.

Do you research.  Identify the trends that will impact not just your agency, but your client’s and prospect’s businesses, as this should inform your new business approach.  Maybe you could be the one to bring those insights to others. What trends are on the horizon?  Every industry has been impacted from the uncertainty in travel and leisure, to the car chip shortage, disruptive tech brands and the rise of Unicorns, healthy eating; digital transformation and eCommerce are in overdrive; and sustainability and diversity are on everybody’s lips.  Put insights at the heart of what you do, and people will listen.  Now is a great time for independent agencies to seize their moment against the networks, with the pandemic and technology levelling the playing field.

 

Build a new business strategy.

These core themes should enable you to adjust how you are going to win in 2022.   Put your findings into a presentation document and share it with your teams; don’t forget to ask for their input.  Then turn that document into a bunch of work streams and actions.  Set owners, deadlines etc.  Use your Monday.coms or your Trello boards.  Be realistic with these – everything will take longer than you think, and the day-to-day running of the agency will inevitably get in the way.  But lean on the whole team, build a new business culture, act with accountability and meet regularly to discuss progress.

 

And if you’re still muddled, then give us a call 😉

 
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