What makes a great B2B agency?
Is it great people? Sure, that’s important.
Is it having a lot of clients? No question.
Is it producing great results? Obviously.
However, none of these things are possible if an agency can’t effectively scale their operations. What does this mean? We all want to conquer the world right away, but you have to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s important to take one step at a time; build a strategy that will allow you to grow into the rock star agency that you want to be.
Even if your B2B agency is already quite large and you have successfully been able to grow, it’s important to extend your scaling strategy to social media management as well. If you are struggling to implement a sound strategy that will allow you to scale clients then it’s time to reassess how you have been doing things.
B2B agencies that create content, in particular, are leaving money on the table. In fact, nearly 87% of all B2B marketers use social as a distribution channel for content. The problem, and this is the crux of it, is that people perceive there to be no way to measure the effectiveness of social media.
A perception that is incorrect, but I will get to that later.
So what makes the engine that powers a B2B agency that can economically scale? It is a case of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Find the Right People
Before doing anything, you have to have the right team. Many agencies might dive head first into scaling their clients, without having the necessary manpower to do so. Even well established B2B agencies, ones with storied histories – when they begin to take on new offerings, such as social media, they need to review their workforce and how tasks are delineated and what type of hierarchy will be put in place.
Additionally, since new tasks will be required for new services, an already established B2B agency will need to bring fresh blood on board in order to take on the social aspects of the service they are offering. It is possible to train current account managers to take on social for example, but at the very least a director position to oversee all social activities will need to be in place.
The truth is, technology moves fast, sometimes faster than hiring practices. B2B agencies may need to sit down with HR and discuss how they can adapt the way they hire in order to meet today’s demands.
Find The Right B2B Agency Tools
If you want to scale your business, while providing the best possible service, you will need to implement a suite of tools to help you get there. No man is an island, and no B2B agency can do everything on its own.
Luckily, there are a plethora of fantastic tools for nearly every aspect of marketing that an agency provides. Here are a few suggestions:
This fantastic tool is best in class when it comes to allocating tasks across teams and has an incredibly user friendly interface – something I think that sets it apart from other similar tools.
Trello allows you to create “boards” in which you create “cards” (basically each card is a different task). You can then assign entire boards, as well as cards to specific users in your account. You can set due dates for each task and keep tabs on who is doing what and how far along they are.
This tool is great for B2B agencies, as well as any sized company – in fact, it is something we use here at Oktopost on a regular basis.
Content is king, but without an editorial calendar it really has no power. Kapost is a platform that allows you to plan and schedule content to be published. Similar to Trello, it also allows you to assign tasks to other members of your team. It also allows you to, among other things, see all the content that is being worked on currently, leave comments, and what stage it is in.
For B2B agencies that are churning out a ton of content for their clients, there really is no better tool. Kapost lets you manage the process from idea to final post approval. It streamlines the entire process and makes sure everyone on the team is doing their part, and in a timely manner.
Marketing automation is no longer an option for B2B agencies – it’s a must. There are several tools on the market for automating the marketing process, nurturing leads in particular. If you want a tool that is easy to use, palatable for any budget, and extremely powerful, Act-On is your best bet.
Getting a lead is all well and good, but it’s what you do with them that counts. With Act-On you can score leads, put them into segmented lists, and send pinpoint accurate emails to the right leads at the right time. The platform gathers powerful data about a lead’s behavior in order to help you push them down the sales funnel.
Act-On, more than any other automation software, provides you with terrific service. Each user gets an account manager and the customer support is best of breed.
It doesn’t matter if your agency is 100 years old, or 100 days old, in order to stay competitive in today’s market an agency needs to cover all aspects of marketing – including social media.
When it comes to B2B agencies, many are behind the curve.
B2B marketers can no longer deny the benefits of social media; if a B2B marketing agency doesn’t include a social media strategy as part of their offering then they risk becoming irrelevant. Due to the fact that B2B marketing agencies need to continuously scale their operations in order to stay afloat, a social media platform that allows them to easily scale clients is needed.
From the very beginning, there have been skeptics in the B2B world about the benefits of social – mainly due to the perceived inability to prove ROI. B2B clients expect a lot from agencies, and they want to know that each and every dollar they spend is going towards increasing the bottom line.
They want proof.
Oktopost is the only social media platform designed for B2B marketers. The platform offers a unique marketing agency plan that is tailored to the special needs of B2B marketing agencies.
Some of the benefits include:
Single Login – Not having to log in and out every time to access client accounts
Prove ROI – Show clients that social media is actually bringing in leads
Unlimited White Labeled Reports – Produce metrics at any time for any client
Regardless of size, every agency needs a budget-planning tool if they plan on scaling their business. As such, a slew of budget planning tools have hit the market, but Allocadia stands out as one of the best for B2B agencies.
Allocadia’s ease of use makes it stand out from the crowd. This cloud-based software allows you to consolidate multiple budget campaigns and turn them into an easy to understand dashboard.
Find the Right Workflow
In order to provide the best service to your client in the most efficient way possible, you will need to have a solid workflow that can be applied across the board. Without it, important details will doubtlessly fall through the cracks and you will have some pretty unhappy clients. If you don’t have a standard workflow in place you will find it extremely to continuously scale your operations.
Here is a good rubric to follow:
1. Initial Client Meeting
Before ever agreeing to take on a new client, you have to make sure they are the right client – and you are the right B2B agency. Sit down, discuss their goals, and what they plan for the future. Make sure they let you know what they expect of you.
Make sure detailed notes are taken, in order to discuss later on.
2. Internal Agency Discussion
After the initial discussion, it’s time to sit down with the team and go over what was discussed. You will need to analyze the needs and wants of the potential client and if what you offer can meet their needs. There is nothing wrong with turning down a client, especially if it’s for their own good.
Don’t be greedy, taking on a client for whom you can offer zero benefit will harm you in the end.
You need to make a Go/No-Go decision at this point. If you feel that you can provide value to the potential client, then it’s time to go to the next step.
3. Follow Up Meeting
Since your initial discussion was very high level, it’s important to bring in your new client for another meeting to get into the nitty gritty. Often times a new client wants your services to help promote a specific campaign, they want to create “buzz.”
Give them some feedback and what your ideas are, come to an understanding of what it is that you will be doing, and what you won’t. It’s extremely important that the contours of your relationship are established from the outset.
4. Resource Allocation
Before diving in, you need to draft a dream team – the right group of people and assets that will help this specific client. Does the client want social? Make sure you have an account manager part of the team that is familiar with social. If they want PR as well, be sure that you have someone involved who has done outreach in the past and knows the ins and outs.
5. Set Deadlines
No company (or B2B agency) should micromanage, but if you want to be able to scale your operations and continuously bring on more clients, you will need to set solid deadlines for your account managers to meet. This involves sitting down and figuring out exactly which tasks each manager is responsible for and how they will carry it out.
If there are tasks that are done regularly, not for a specific campaign, make sure the KPIs for those tasks are set and create an outline when the KPIs should be met.
6. Regular Updates
When someone pays a lot of money for a service, they want to know where their money is going. It’s important to keep the client in the loop. Clients want solid metrics that show how they are benefiting from your services. They want KPIs, they want to see a benefit to the bottom line, and with B2B clients they want to see leads.
Showing vanity metrics like re-tweets won’t impress most clients, you will need to give them hard evidence of the benefits you are providing them.
Reach Economies of Scale
In microeconomics, economies of scale refer to the cost advantages gained from size, output, or scale of operation. Generally the “cost per unit” will be lessened as a direct result of an increasing scale. This has to do with fixed costs being spread out over more assets.
There are both fixed and variable costs involved in running a B2B marketing agency. Reaching economies of scale within an agency follows very similarly to microeconomics. If you bring on more clients, you are generating more revenue, but your fixed costs will remain the same. Therefore, your overall revenue will increase to the point where obtaining the additional resource to scale (ie, variable costs) becomes cost effective.
Reaching economies of scale will require a lot of work, streamlining your agency, making sure your team is working smart, and keeping a keen eye on your budget.
The world has changed, and B2B marketing agencies need to change with it. Social media, in particular, is a service that all B2B marketing agencies will need to provide in order to stay relevant. In order to provide these additional services, as well as continue to scale your operations, a solid plan of action is required.
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