5 Biggest Challenges To Marketing Your Own Agency

Written By Danielle Fauteaux

Challenges was the “nicer” word to use, but really, today I want to talk about the top excuses that are keeping you from marketing your own agency in an effective way and causing you to rely on referrals as your primary income stream. These excuses fall into five primary categories:

1. Client Work Comes First…

…but then nothing else follows. There’s a reason why most marketing agencies fit the bill of being the cobbler whose kids have no shoes. When you’re too busy scraping by delivering for your clients, there’s no energy or time left to do the marketing for your own agency.

Realistically, though, 20% of your time and 7-12% of your revenue should be allocated towards your own agency marketing efforts.

Where are you at right now and what can you do to improve your current figures by 1% every week or every month until you hit baseline?

What can you do to ingrain agency marketing efforts cross-departmentally at your agency?

Which unprofitable clients could you part ways with to reallocate those employee’s time towards marketing your own agency to get better, profitable clients?

You have lots of options, you just need to implement measures intentionally and hold people accountable to those measures.

2. Long-Term Identity Crisis

The second primary reason is a little bit embarrassing, especially for marketing agencies to admit, but it’s a real problem. And that problem is not knowing what your unique value proposition is, therefore not knowing how to market your agency in the first place.

Yep, you’re not alone. We’re all really good at telling others what they do, nailing their brand messaging, making sure their website is customer-centric, not business-centric, and working to hone in on their key services and offerings to base campaigns and promotions off of. And then lights out, call it a day, we’ll just revisit our own agency UVP next month after the big client project wraps up. It’ll be fine.

(You know exactly what I’m talking about.)

Creative agencies often suffer from long-term identity crises because we creative types don’t like boxes. They are stuffy, and limited, and we already have enough of them from Amazon piled up at home. So we refuse to box in our expertise to a specific expertise or industry niche, we refuse to say no to tertiary services and non-ideal clients, and we are often repelled by the thought of creating templates, and repeatable systems to use for client delivery.

3. Fear of What Others Are Thinking

As a creative agency, your own marketing is a reflection of what clients may expect from working with you. Enter the most pesky little voice that instills doubt in the back of our minds, whispering seeds of doubt that creates

  1. Fear of what people will think
  2. Fear that you’re wasting your time and money
  3. Fear of what people will think
  4. Fear that it’s too soon to start writing about the topic you’re passionate about
  5. Fear of what people will think
  6. Fear of what people will think

Can I tell you something? You’re not going to be good at everything. For example, app developers are often not great at graphic design and social media. That’s okay. Another example, when’s the last time you knew a content writer who could build a custom calculator from scratch?

The next time you hear that pesky little, “What if….”, mockery in your head, I challenge you to ignore the doubt, promote something, and hit publish. Why? Because done is better than perfect.

4. The Perpetual Stage of “Almost Done”

Speaking of perfect, that’s another reason agencies never actually market themselves. Many of us are perfectionists and it can be a struggle to call something finished.

Fortunately, in the digital age, most of the marketing content we’ll be creating can be iteratively improved upon. So launch, analyze, tweak, repeat and improve your collateral iteratively so that it actually gets seen by human eyes, not just the dust mites.

5. The “Our Work Is Better Than Theirs” Fallacy

Most creative agencies have at least one direct competitor whose website and marketing materials seem to be awful, and yet, those competitors are somehow bringing on new customers more often than you are and they have more awards than you. How can it be?

Performance does not equal aesthetics. Instead of spending 10 hours redesigning their latest piece of marketing materials, perhaps your competitor was boots on the ground shaking hands and kissing babies at local networking events or promoting their content on social media or, or, or. You might play a better game, but it won’t matter without the name.

Creation is just the first foundational piece. The majority of your time should be spent promoting your content and leveraging avenues for getting your content in front of the eyes of people who matter.

Next Steps

The great news is that these are just challenges and challenges are just the prerequisite to a great transformation story. Your next steps are to overcome each of these challenges one at a time:

  1. Prioritize your agency marketing. Implement intentional, agency-wide measures to market your agency, and then hold people accountable to it.
  2. Nail down your agency identity. Pick your expertise and stick with educating your audience about how to solve those specific problems for that specific industry.
  3. Ignore the, “What if…” doubts in your head. Make a content and promotion plan to implement. You can always pivot later base on what you learn. But you have to start the experiment.
  4. Remember, done is better than perfect. You may have dozens of ideas and unfinished marketing pieces. Make a plan to finish them and give completion a limited time window.
  5. Remember that performance does not equal aesthetics. Is there anything holding you back from your performance potential? What can you change about the process or ownership of that portion of your strategy to increase performance even if aesthetics are different?

Agency transformation does not happen overnight, nothing does, but you have to get started and remain a consistent pace in order to eventually reach your desired outcome.

Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.

Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?

I’d be happy to help.

Danielle Fauteaux, Agency Coach

Danielle Fauteaux

Hi! I’m Danielle. I’m passionate about helping creatives recognize their value and place in this world, passionate about helping leaders regain control over their responsibilities, passionate about encouraging others to live more meaningful lives; and passionate about doing more with less. I guide creative firms through the Momentum Framework to achieve their revenue and profit goals while falling back in love with the mission they originally set out with.