Agency presidents, CEOs, agency discipline leaders and new business professionals are all interested in one thing: finding smart ways for agencies to grow. And because they want to make their bonus, ideally the growth is hockey stick shaped.
Last week, yours truly had an idea that it’d be fantastic to identify the fastest growing agencies and then suggest a few secrets to their success. And then wouldn’t you know it, Adweek introduces their first annual ranking of the Fastest Growing Agencies. Love it!
So check it out. The article features a nice little chart you can play with via Tableau. It’s pretty cool.
Not doubt as you spend some time on the list, you’ll find some inspiration. Yours truly quickly found five agency growth strategies. And here they are, along with agencies on the list that seem to illustrate the strategy.
Specialization is a classic agency growth strategy. Agencies that caught my eye on the list include MMGY, which focuses on the travel and hospitality space. MMGY specializes in a specific category. But there are other ways agencies can specialize. They include an understanding of a specific target or brand marketplace condition.
But those are just two examples. Per the article, there’s another one on the Adweek list – Traffic Builders – that focuses on one thing: provide TV stations in over 95 U.S. markets with digital marketing products and services that these TV stations then sell locally. Their specialization is functional.
Every agency has a story on how and why they were created. But how many of them use that story as the reason to believe their work is going to be better than the competition? Or why the work will work for brands? Check out Advoc8. Their founders are steeped in helping political candidates win. And in the fast-paced, instant reaction media world in which we live, they’ve equated that to helping brands win through events and experiences. Here’s a great quote from the Adweek story:
We know how to help brands take positions because, if you think about it, that’s what a presidential campaign is. Your brand is your candidate,” [a principal] explains. “The fact that we organically had those skills and saw the hole in the market has given us an opportunity for exponential and quick growth.”
Different capabilities / different revenue streams
What agency growth thinking doesn’t include an embrace of technology? Check out Bluewater Media, an agency seeing 225% growth. In part due to a proprietary tech platform they’ve built to “enable influencers to keep more traffic on their sites and monetize through the sale of over 5,000 products from some of the best brands in the world.” (Source: Adweek)
Different operating model
There are a few agencies on the list that are growing through another proven growth strategy: acquisition. So, not sure calling those out is all that inspiring. Seems like they craft a reason for their roll-up and market themselves under one, new banner. Or take one that is best successful and the smaller agencies gobbled up adapt that mantra.
But check out Firewood Partners, a women-minority owned business with seven offices in four countries. They have a service model that leverages a current trend: agency services embedded in client locations. Smart.
Just like an origins story, all agencies have an internal culture and a general way about them. But do they leverage it throughout their agency? Through their people, place, positioning and surely other marketing Ps of a professional service business. Consider OKRP, a mid-sized Chicago agency, offering “big brand creativity; start-up ingenuity.” With principles like being nimble, prolific and quick, they’re cranking out some tasty work on enviable brands. I love what one of their reps says about the agency: “we have soul. It’s the difference between saying, ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ and ‘I’ll know it when I feel it.’” (Source: Adweek).
Finding the right strategy for your agency
No doubt, these are not the only secrets to these agencies’ respective success. I suspect the agencies growing the fastest – the ones with hockey stick growth – combine a few of the proven strategies.
But this list does give agency presidents, CEOs and other growth minded agency professionals a thing or two to ponder. And as you consider your own agency’s situation, targets, competition and agency brand qualities, an idea or two will present itself. And then maybe we’ll be reading about your agency next year!
Thanks for reading.
Other articles of interest:
- Adweek follow-up on their original story (4 CEOs talk pain and strategy)
- How to help CMOs create bigger impact (and grow agency revenue at the same time)