How Agencies Can Leverage a Client-Centric Framework to Boost Organic Growth

By Brian Burch, VP of Marketing, StackAdapt

More than any other revenue channel, agencies are now focusing on organic growth from existing clients. It’s an important growth strategy because it leverages and strengthens existing relationships, while avoiding costly, and often unsuccessful, new business reviews.

The recent Organic Growth Trends Report from StackAdapt uncovers insights and analysis on how agencies are approaching organic growth—particularly as competitive reviews continue to be smaller, inconsistent and expensive.

One key finding of the report is that agency leaders project the most significant revenue growth through 2022 will come from current clients. Nearly 30% of agencies surveyed expect revenue from organic growth to increase by more than 10%. Another 45% expect growth of up to 10%. These revenue projections are expected to increase significantly in the coming few months.

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To take advantage of this growth opportunity, agencies should be proactively addressing common pain points and implementing tactics to overcome those challenges. Many agencies report encountering the same barriers to growth. For example, amongst agencies there is talk about taking action, but a lack of follow-through, which means no results. Talk and no action can be attributed to a lack of commitment by leadership to provide the talent and resources required. In the context of last year, the pandemic likely had some influence on this resounding lack of commitment, because respondents noted that their top barriers to successfully implementing growth strategies are “lack of time” and “lack of talent.”

Agencies also reported that they tend to give up easily when pursuing new projects. Paired with a minority of client leads who are held accountable—and incentivized for organic growth effectiveness, these barriers to organic growth stack up quickly.

The good news is, these barriers aren’t insurmountable. Agencies can learn from the agencies that are achieving organic growth and replicate their tactics within their organization. The report found that those who are most effective at organic growth take a more disciplined path. They start at the top with commitment. This means instead of just talk, leadership invests in the resources needed to implement organic growth tactics, like the right programmatic partner and the right talent. Working with a programmatic partner can help reduce the tendency to give up, because the partner is there to support.

This commitment is backed by detailed and actionable plans—focused on addressing the most urgent business needs of each and every client. These agencies also shifted their focus from chasing new clients to being more selective. A client-centric approach that includes providing campaign recommendations is the key to successful growth.

With a client-centric approach, the goal is to create focused organic growth plans that create and convert project opportunities and mine more incremental revenue from every client. Ultimately, this will provide revenue potential. There are three key tactics that agencies seeing results in organic growth are implementing.

Successful organic growth begins with stimulating ideas. Some agencies noted that to spark ideas, they work collaboratively with the client. For example, invite the client to agency-

orchestrated focus groups wherein the goal is to explore and reveal growth opportunities for the client—which the agency can then execute against.

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From there, agencies should present brand reviews that find opportunities. Reviewing client’s competitors is one strategy that agencies can use to proactively identify opportunities to strengthen areas that competitors are attacking or invest in areas where a competitor or competitors are considered to be weak.. Respondents in Brand reviews paired with surveys asking provocative questions about the client’s brand perception are proven to help agencies brainstorm creative recommendations.

Conducting regular audits is the third commonly mentioned tactic for creating a client-focused approach. Conduct marketing and sales team workshops to audit and address performance gaps, and provide a brand audit to reveal revenue opportunities for the client. This may include gaps in programmatic strategy or channels that have not been tested, such as connected TV (CTV) or audio. Regular audits will not only find opportunities, but they will uncover problems that agencies can then proactively solve for their clients. Auditing programmatic campaign performance alongside a programmatic partner can help agencies pinpoint campaign weaknesses and identify recommendations.

By promoting more detailed, specific and accountable planning, and leveraging research, reviews and audits, agencies can build a client-centric framework. Paired with investment in talent and the right programmatic partner, agencies can achieve more consistency in creating and converting project opportunities and reach their organic growth goals.

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