7 steps to growing your agency in 2019

Recently I sat on a panel at a Drum Breakfast event, discussing the growth that independent agencies had achieved in 2018 and looking forward to some factors for success in 2019.

Here at Earnest, 2018 was our biggest and best to date. From new client wins, making it into The Drum Top 100 for the first time, and 9 major award wins (including Agency of the Year – International B2B Marketing Awards and B2B Agency of the Year – Drum Agency Business Awards).

So with that in mind I’ve pulled together what we believe are the key factors to achieving growth in an agency.    

1. Nail down your proposition

As we all know, customers are faced with a sea of noise and make decisions about brands very quickly. The same goes for clients picking agencies.

Your proposition and offering will be the reason a potential new client recognises you, knows what type of job to give you and remembers you against all the other proposals.

Maybe your proposition is the services you offer, your approach or your belief. Ours is simple;

Earnest are here to chase the humdrum out of B2B marketing.

It’s core to our purpose, what we do and how we do it. And we’re known for it.

2. Market the fact you’re a Marketer!

We’re so busy helping businesses with their marketing, that our own often gets overlooked! During 2018 we worked with someone with a client-side background to help us to supercharge our marketing.

We lifted the lid on small businesses with our research program, Think Small, and provided actionable tips and insights in the third instalment of our ‘Vital stats for B2B marketers’ program.

We also made use of the agency networks to help amplify this, promoting content through B2B marketing and making full use of our Drum profile, posting case studies, blog articles and news.

For us it’s really paid off. We’ve had new business enquiries directly off the back of all of this activity.

And because this all falls out of our proposition, it helps us attract the right type of new business. And prove to our existing clients where we can add value.

3. Be picky

Don’t chase after every new business opportunity that comes your way. Keep your proposition at heart and focus on the right type of work.

We have a criteria, and if it’s not right for us we don’t pitch for it. If you don’t stay focused, it won’t end well – or profitably – for either party.

4. Grow your people

It’s pretty simple really. Focus on your people, give them support and room for growth and they will be passionate and motivated to do their best work.

There are a number of things we do at Earnest to achieve this. Such as;   

  • Training across the agency – We encourage everyone here to look out for training opportunities for them and the team 
  • Monthly check ins with line managers – These run a bit more like coaching sessions and in my opinion are essential  
  • Culture Budget – we have a strong belief here that ‘interesting people do interesting things’. So each person has a budget to spend on culture across the year.


[Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash]

And more generally; open internal communications. From monthly all agency ‘show and tells’ to weekly department meetings. We’re all in this together. So let’s talk.

5. Encourage a growth mindset

Everyone here has sight of the numbers, and everyone in the client services team is responsible for the forecasting and reporting on their own jobs. It means our teams are commercially aware and feel real ownership over the numbers.

It means creating an entrepreneurial spirit where people feel empowered to think commercially. Having business conversations and spotting opportunities outside of the brief. Which leads me on to point number 6…

6. Go beyond the brief – and help your clients get there

The job of a client-side marketer is a tough one, and undeniably getting tougher. It’s always on our agenda to be looking outside of the brief and at their business as a whole – finding ways we can help.

Regular meetings are held with all of our teams, to discuss our clients’ industry and trends and brainstorm additional ways we can be helping them.

We also do our best to make innovation less risky. We recommend investing 10% of the overall campaign budget into a completely new approach. Something that client hasn’t done before. 

7. Embrace the community

Last but not least! The marketing community is really supportive and great to be a part of. We try to make the most of it. You should too.


[Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash]