This month’s Learning Focus is on EDI, equality, diversity and inclusion.
We are living through the biggest societal change in decades. Change in terms of attitudes, and behaviours. We have had a focus on sustainability and what that meant for agencies and now we are exploring the topic of EDI which is at the centre of this transformation.
And as agencies I maintain we are the catalyst of change. We are creative, forward looking and innovative. EDI is something that we should be leading on and really bringing into our standard agency practices.
Monthly Learning Activity
I am delighted that this topic will be led by Liz Mayers (LI) from EDI Accreditation. She is hugely experienced, knowledgeable and passionate about this topic having run a consultancy working with businesses to help them overcome this challenge.
Liz will be helping us to focus on three key areas:
- Understanding what the issues are; understanding what is the meaning of equality, diversity and inclusion; what it means for your agency; what it means for you as an individual leader.
- We will be looking at the business case for adopting EDI into your agency. There are strong arguments for this in addition to ‘It is the right thing to do’.
- We’re looking at agency leadership and leadership behaviours, as change like this has to come from the top.
We want to have an impact on your agency business. So this focus is more than simply expanding your knowledge. We want you to take action and that way we create an impact.
Research shows that racially and ethnically diverse organisations outperform industry norms by 35% and gender diversity boosts financial performance by 15%.
Adopting EDI principals and practice will make a significant impact on your agency. This is why we want to help you by creating a policy which is a policy or statement about your EDI attention and intention.
The output for the Learning Focus will be for you to develop an EDI policy for your agency.
Now, that’s something that you can use in proposals, in tenders, to have on your website, to increase your brand employability, and to be seen as a responsible business.
Watch the knowledge videos and
Join us at the Inspiration Circle – 8th June – 9.30am – 10.30am
Join us the Inspiration Clinic – Friday 30th June 9.30 – 10.30
Join us at theBook Club – Tuesday 27th June 4.00pm – 5.00pm
Open to All
Members and non members can join in for the monthly focus so this is open to any agency owner to participate and benefit.
You can purchase a Pass to the learning content and all the associated events and resources for only £40
Sign up now: https://agencylocal.kartra.com/page/Pass-focused-learning
Objective: To Create Agencies for Good
Agencies are drivers of change. They influence peoples thinking and communications they drive agendas.
There is a huge groundswell of agencies being purpose driven, becoming BCorp accredited and generally having fully sustainable agencies. It is taking around 18 months to get BCorp accredited which just shows the demand and the desire to be seen to be purpose led.
Getting this accreditation is commendable, however there are many other agencies that are using their business for good. Contributing in some way to the community, having a view on saving energy, recycling and even becoming carbon neutral. Often these are not spoken about or publicised. Whether it needs to be is a whole other debate.
Here at Agency Local for example, we have been part of B1G1 since conception in 2019. We raise money for local charities, we respect the environment and question our travel, paper and energy usage. We are also committed to being CSR-A accredited this year. There is so much more we can be doing and I know that there are other agency owners that want to do more but don’t know how.
Creating Agencies for Good
This is why this month’s Learning Focus is on this subject. We will be
- equipping agencies with the understanding of what can be done,
- helping them develop a sustainable strategy for their agency and
- assisting them to make this part of how they run their agency moving forward.
We are delighted that this will be led by Richard Collins the creator and founder of CSR-A – (https://csr-accreditation.co.uk/) who help businesses to navigate the sustainable landscape and provide an Accreditation to demonstrate their commitment to developing a sustainable business.
Richard is an Agency founder and owner so understands our world. We also have one BCorp accredited member Martin Knowles and some other purpose driven members ABA Me and You who I know will be joining in to show their support and share their wisdom.
Time to make change
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is today.
Now is the time to look at your agency and work out exactly what you can do to make a difference. This is really for everyone – small agencies, remote agencies, more established agencies with larger teams. Everyone has a role to play and now is the time.
In the recent Benchpress Report 24% of owners of agencies under £1m said that building a business that has a positive impact on the world was their top priority.
We will be discussing the topic in detail at the Inspiration Circle and Inspiration Clinic gatherings. However it will be more than discussion – our aim is that everyone will go a away with an actionable plan to being a more ethical agency.
Key takeaways will be
- Understand about the UN sustainable goals and increase your knowledge as to how you can use your agency for wider good
- Audit where you are now on your Business for Good Journey
- Understand the relationship between profit and purpose
- Build a Sustainability strategy for your agency
- Create an action plan to use your agency to make a real contribution
This is so valuable in the development of any agency I really wish that this was not only for Agency Local members. If you are a non member and want to join in let me know.
Here is to us – marketing and creative agencies – creating a better future by developing Agencies for Good.
Know your numbers – turning goals into reality
Your agency will live or die based on the financial performance. Harsh but true.
It is SOoooo important that you know your financials, the difference between profit and cash, how to forecast and what key numbers to track.
This is the Action Based Learning focus for March.
For our members all the knowledge videos are now live in the portal.
- What is cash flow and why is it vital
- Why you need to focus on cash
- Improving your cash flow
- Easy ways to monitor your cash
- Understanding Profit V Cash
- Difference between profitability and cash flow
- Biggest misconception about growth and cash
- What is Financial planning – turning business goals into numbers
- What’s a financial plan
- Benefits for financial planning – for you and your team
- Key components and principles of a financial plan
- Financial KPIs for thriving agency
- 5 most crucial financial metrics to track in your agency
- What are the industry standards and how to achieve them
- Model P&L – high-level profit and loss account example for an agency
- Agency performance dashboard example
- Financial Plan template – an introduction
- Instruction video on how to complete the financial plan template.
This month’s focus covers the importance of agency financial management, responsible financial practices, planning, and crucial metrics to track for success (including cash flow, profitability, and productivity).
Participants will learn how to monitor and improve cash flow, create financial plans, and utilise financial KPIs to grow their agency.
This month’s knowledge focus is with our Finance Partner Agnieszka Wojciechowska who is brilliant when it comes to Agency Finances.
It will teach you how to turn those goals into a reality.
Creating Customer Centric Agencies
February is the month of love. So what better time to show some love to your customers. Just as February is the month of love, with Valentine’s Day as its centrepiece, companies can make every day a celebration of their customers by putting them at the heart of their business.
A customer-centric approach is all about showing your customers that you care, just like how you would show your loved ones how much you care on Valentine’s Day. By making your customers feel valued and appreciated, you can build strong, long-lasting relationships with them and drive positive business outcomes.
In this article, we’ll explore what it means to be customer-centric and how companies can adopt this approach to create a culture of customer love.
Being customer centric means that a business places the needs and wants of its customers at the centre of all its decisions and actions. The focus is on creating a positive customer experience and providing value to the customer.
The benefits of being a customer centric business are immense and include:
- Increased customer loyalty: Customers are more likely to return to a business that has demonstrated a genuine interest in their needs and satisfaction.
- Improved customer satisfaction: A customer-focused business is better equipped to address customer complaints and resolve problems quickly and efficiently.
- Better reputation: Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful tool and a customer-centric business is more likely to receive positive reviews and recommendations from satisfied customers.
- Increased sales: A customer-centric business is more likely to understand the needs of its customers and be able to offer products and services that meet those needs.
- Competitive advantage: By putting the customer first, a business is able to differentiate itself from its competitors and establish a competitive advantage.
- Enhanced employee morale: When a business places a high value on customer satisfaction, employees are more motivated to provide the best possible customer experience.
This approach can help agencies to not only meet customer expectations, but also exceed them and establish long-lasting customer relationships.
To be truly customer-centric, companies need to take a holistic approach, considering all touchpoints in the customer journey and ensuring that each one is optimised for a positive customer experience. This includes everything from product design and marketing, to customer service and after-sales support.
Understand your customers
One key aspect of being customer-centric is having a deep understanding of the customer. This requires gathering and analysing data on customer behaviour, preferences, and feedback, and using that information to inform business decisions. Companies can also engage directly with customers through surveys, focus groups, and other methods to gain insights into their needs and desires.
Another important aspect is having a flexible, responsive approach to customer needs. Companies need to be able to adapt quickly to changing customer preferences and needs, and be willing to make changes to their products, services, or processes as needed.
In addition, companies need to invest in the right technology and resources to support a customer-centric approach. This includes customer relationship management (CRM) systems, data analytics tools, and a strong customer service team.
Be more Profitable
Overall, being customer-centric is a strategic approach that can help companies to build stronger, more profitable relationships with their customers. By putting the customer at the centre of all business decisions, companies can create a culture that values customer satisfaction and drives positive business outcomes.
So don’t just have February as the month of love – use February as the month to start loving your customers all year round.
We have some exciting news to share with the whole agency community. From January 2023 we will be rolling out version 3 of agency local.
It is our aim to provide the best all round business support infrastructure for small and growing agencies on your business journey. Yes, ‘all round business support’, not just sales, but every aspect of running a business from positioning and marketing, understanding your agency finance, and developing process.
In fact everything that will add real value to your business and will mean you are running a great agency.
Why version 3 ?
Agency Local was founded in 2019 and the first iteration was in a pre pandemic world, where we had face to face events and offered workshops.
Version 2 was a reaction to the pandemic and it laid the foundations for what agency local will become. During this time our aim was to support and help agencies to survive and thrive through the pandemic. This was done by running business educational online events and starting support groups, and offering 121 coaching.
Now we are in a post-pandemic age and what we provide to agencies needs to adapt and change once again for us to be able to provide a premium Business Support infrastructure for marketing agencies.
Welcome to Agency Local 3.0.
Our vision remains the same
To accompany agency owners on their agency business journey by providing a community to support and transform their agency business. Expanding business knowledge to create an agency with solid foundations, practical implementation support and build value into the business for the future.
To create the clarity of direction for the journey and to be there for the short term bumps in the road.
Oh where to start!
Learning and Education
In September we paused the ‘Ask The Expert ‘webinars and piloted ‘Active Based Learning’ (ABL). ABL is a much more practical focused experience with actions and accountability. The feedback has been amazing.
“This was the first time I have come away from a session genuinely inspired to make changes in the way I undertake my work. It was also great to speak to some focused, interesting people, all who had different ideas and experiences.” Owen Hughes MD EWO
We develop a practical focus for the month designed to improve your skills and to make an improvement to your agency. Knowledge is provided by short form videos for learning, followed up by a members event to discuss, experiment and apply to your agency. Accountability buddies are established and at the end of the month we come together to review the impact, celebrate successes and to counter any challenges.
So far our Practical Focuses have been on Time Management (how to get 4 hours back a week), Managing the emotion and commotion of Change (becoming a change agent) and Negotiation skills (winning better deals).
This is available for ALL members of Agency Local.
We know how important it is to be surrounded by people that ‘get’ your business and your challenges.
We have been running ‘90 Day Planning’ groups for over a year and half now and these are brilliant for making significant changes and improvements in your business – on an ongoing basis. We are now expanding these by offering two new groups in January.
Agency Business Club
This is for those young agencies with 2-9 employees or teams that are serious about surviving and thriving. You will learn, you will be challenged, you will support others, and above all you will be held accountable. You will also have the opportunity to work with a ‘Guide’ on a 1to1 basis. This will be a half day on line group with a max of 8 people.
This for those agencies with 10 – 25 employees where the business challenges are somewhat different. Establishing teams, leadership teams, becoming more efficient, reducing your time in the agency. Same learning, challenge and accountability. This is a full day offsite group meeting.
Agency Business Guides
In order to be able to provide the premium business support we are expanding the number of Guides in Agency Local. They will all have extensive experience of running and most cases selling an agency. This provides a deeper pool of expertise as each Guide will have their own areas of specialism to support any agency problem or situation.
Agency Local Partners
A vital part of our community will be our partners. Partners are other businesses that provide services, training or products specific to agencies.
All Agency Local members will have access to these partners from within the community channels and will enjoy a discount off their products and services.
There will be a bigger announcement about these partners in the coming weeks.
New year, many changes, one new agency business support community.
As we head into what will no doubt be another turbulent year the need for support, learning and guidance becomes even more critical.
The changes announced here are designed to give you, the agency owner, founder or senior leader the access to all you need to help you to be more successful, to build a solid business and to create value in your best asset – your agency.
We look forward to welcoming you and working with you over the coming months and years.
You are on a business journey, we will be there for you at every stage of that journey. If you are interested in finding out more please reach out to Chris Bantock or any of the Guides or via the Contact Page we would be happy to help you.
Sales or new business continues to be the number one challenge for marketing agencies of whatever size.
Why is this?
- There is a huge amount of competition for marketing services
- Most agencies are firmly in the ‘sea of sameness’ with their positioning
- Agency owners on the whole are not trained sales people
- Trained sales people do not always deliver the goods
- Sales is hard – really hard!
The vast majority of agencies rely on word of mouth or referrals for their lead generation. This can be a very effective strategy especially when you are a small agency or a freelancer however when you grow you need a steady stream of leads and prospects.
It is at this stage you need to develop multiple streams of lead generating activity.
The majority of agencies’ sales activity is a direct approach – following either inbound or outbound strategies to attract and find new customers. These approaches are very sensible and done correctly will deliver leads and enquiries. These strategies can be very time intensive and potentially costly.
There is another way.
Through collaboration and partnerships. Working together with other businesses allows you to leverage their activity (and them yours) for mutual benefit.
Effective partnering can bring you a steady stream of new opportunities, leads and sales. As these come from a ‘trusted’ source in the prospects mind you are already way ahead of the game, especially when compared to traditional sales methods.
If you are an SEO and social media agency then look to partner with non competitive but aligned businesses. For example web designers, web developers, brand designers. Services that your clients would be looking for. This way you can pass opportunities between you.
Difference between a collaboration and a partnership
These words are often used together however they mean very different things. In a collaboration, each operates independently and has complete control over the individual resources they bring to the table. In a partnership, however, there is more of a co-mingling of resources and a separate structure is developed to oversee or manage the engagement.
We are mainly talking about collaboration here – loose agreements to refer opportunities to each other. Often collaborations that work well together can then become more formal partnerships.
How do you establish a collaboration strategy?
Last year I worked in collaboration with 20 other experts to create a book – How to be a 6 Star Business. This was a great example of partnership – people working together to produce something that was bigger than the sum of the parts.
My chapter was entitled …. Wait for it ….. ‘How to be a 6 Star Collaborator’!
In this chapter I outlined the following basics of effective collaboration and these are the cornerstone of establishing a collaboration and partner strategy.
- Develop a Partner Mindset
It all starts with mindset. You have to be open to giving and receiving opportunities to each other. Have a mindset that is always on the look out for opportunities for others.
2. Ask the right Questions
Get curious – really understand what the other party wants and needs. This way you pass opportunities that are worthwhile.
3. Find your Community
Communities are really important. This is where you find your fellow collaborators. Choose communities where the people you want to work hang out. In agency world there are a number of Agency communities such as Agency Local where you can find your future collaborators.
4. Be clear on who you serve (and who you don’t)
When establishing collaborations then make sure that everyone understands who your target audience is (and as important, who they are not). This way you will get opportunities that match the audience you want to serve.
5. Be Vulnerable Be Open
It serves no one if you paint the rosy picture you want them to see. Be vulnerable be open – you will find that you build much stronger relationships this way.
6. Build Trust
Being open and vulnerable will contribute to building trust. Trust is based on competence and character you have to build both.
7. Agree on a common purpose
Discuss and agree where you both play, the areas you can collaborate. Strong collaborations develop when both parties have similar goals and purpose this way they both parties are motivated to work together.
Do you need a formal agreement?
I am often asked if you need formal agreements in place. My view is that collaborations work well when they are loose, informal relationships. However they can become more formal over time – however this is then heading into the partnership territory.
Relationship, relationship, relationship
For collaborations to work and continue to work it comes down to relationships. Be prepared to put some effort into building and most importantly maintaining relationships. Keep in regular contact (again this is where communities come into play). Have regular discussions – explore new opportunities etc.
As ever in life and business, success is not dependent on one thing. It is the same with your agency sales. Do not rely on one source for leads. Develop multiple streams to deliver a constant flow of leads.
I would strongly urge you to add a collaboration strategy to your sales mix as this will reap you untold rewards and could possibly be your most effective way to generate new business.
If you would like to discuss this or other business topics then please get in touch.