Anything from a talent gap to ineffective approval processes could be responsible for a marketing agency’s struggles

Marketing agencies are struggling with reduced budgets, client trust issues, and a continuous march to in-house work. Some of the world’s largest brands, such as Netflix, L’Oreal, and Booking.com, are bringing their marketing in-house in a way no one would have envisaged a few years ago.

No matter the size of your team, there are industry-wide problems that can lead to an agency feeling stalled. A 2018 HubSpot Marketing Agency survey revealed the biggest pain point for 60% of agencies is finding new clients, meaning that they were unable to grow in the way they wish they could.

If you feel like your agency’s growth is being stifled, here are a few common reasons why agencies struggle and how you can overcome them.

Talent gap

Just like any agency, a marketing agency is fueled by its talent, but digital marketing is experiencing a skills shortage across the board. A 2017 Capgemini research report revealed the extent of companies’ fears of a widening digital talent gap: 59% claim that soft digital skills are lacking in their employees, and 51% find the same with hard digital skills.

New paths to take while waiting for the job market to improve can include training current employees to keep up with a different or increased demand for a particular skill, or boosting your training program for new hires. If your hiring process has room for hiring through potential – i.e. a person who has the experience and dedication to learn new things outside of their current skill set – then you can increase your talent pool rapidly.

Another element to think about is retention. Look at the pressure points your employees feel that may lead them to hand in their notice. Too many managers believe that money is always the answer to keeping top talent, but there are often other reasons at play. A study conducted for Facebook in conjunction with Harvard Business School revealed that their employees were leaving when “…their job wasn’t enjoyable, their strengths weren’t being used, and they weren’t growing in their careers.”

Ineffective approval processes

Are your content approval processes rock solid? Without dependable, repeatable processes your marketing agency could be struggling to grow to scale. A content approval process enables a company to set a best practice standard that can be rolled out no matter the work or the client. It also allows for easier inter-team collaboration and for happier clients.

If you already have a content approval process for your team and clients, regularly review it so you know what is working and what could be improved. Talk to your team to see if they have any suggestions as well. The market can shift, your team can change, and your clients can realign their focus. All of these elements need to be kept in mind when evaluating the effectiveness of your processes. Something that once worked for your team five years ago may not necessarily the best for your business, or your clients, right now.

Lack of analytics

It’s an industry wide problem that agencies – in marketing, advertising, media, or any industry – need to prove the results of their work to retain and attract new clients. Measuring those results and being able to assign value to them is one area in which many agencies struggle.

Customers are happy to invest in growth: but is that growth ready to be proved through measurable results?  By investing time, effort, and money into analytics thoroughly and effectively, your agency can really improve its offering.

Team dynamics

A cohesive team makes for a happy agency, an a disjointed team could be a reason your agency is being held back. Take a look at the way your team collaborates. Are there any particular parts of the agency that could work together better? Are there any hotspots in which timelines or processes falter?

The simplest solution to this problem, if you suspect issues with team collaboration, is to ask. Gain a perspective of the team from the team itself – it’s amazing what positives and negatives you can find.

By asking the right questions and being open to change, a marketing agency can turn the tables on its stagnation. In discovering the real problems, you can bring about real solutions that drive growth in your agency.

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