Any growing agency will reach the typical roadblock of consistently delivering client results.
This task may have been manageable during the agency’s early stages, even without too many best practices or communication systems.
It’s the same as parenting one child versus parenting five.
Unlocking your agency’s full potential is based on clear organization. And you’re on the right page.
I’ll use my insights as CEO of inBeat, a done-for-you influencer marketing agency, to show you:
A 5-step actionable plan to deliver consistent results
Unique perspectives from my own agency’s journey
Best practices that most agencies apply
Let’s dive in.
Challenges that Arise as Agencies Grow
Let’s start with the most common challenges of growing agencies and how these affect delivering results for your business clients.
*(Much) later edit: I may have delved too much into explaining the challenges below.
My agency’s content writers would have focused more on the actionable step-by-step plan (that’s why I hired them).
But I’m not a content writer. I’m a Law graduate turned SEO specialist turned serial entrepreneur.
All these niches have taught me one thing: understanding your challenges thoroughly is key to finding the best strategy to fix them.
1. Increased Complexity
Managing several projects with separate deadlines and deliverables is part and parcel of a growing agency.
Your agency clients will also have different demands and expectations.
inBeat has faced its share of issues too.
For example, some brands looking for influencer collaborations want stylish content. They may come to us with a list of influencers they want to contact and examples of ad creatives.
Other brands give us more strategic freedom during the first stages of our collaboration but prefer to be more involved in the editing process.
This increased complexity requires solid project management systems, clear roles, and quality control.
2. Communication Challenges
When your team is below five people, your roles and responsibilities are clear without much discussion.
But when your agency grows, you must clearly establish who is in charge of what.
Not communicating well internally can affect your entire external communication and client relationships.
Although each employee has a contract detailing their responsibilities, you must streamline the workflow with clearer practices.
At inBeat, for example, we found that some roles were overlapping.
A few years ago, I was micro-managing more tasks, such as training a skilled content writer to write marketing emails.
I also took plenty of sales calls in my day.
However, it’s important to remember that people in your team have different skills and limited time. So, it’s best to make a plan and maximize your resources.
3. More Coordination Required
Of course, that plan to maximize your resources demands more coordination at first.
You will need to re-negotiate roles, establish boundaries, and clear attributions. Each team member must play their part perfectly from when a client steps foot in your company to when the project is finished.
Side note: That’s particularly difficult if you have a mixed team of full-time employees and freelancers.
At inBeat, we need to activate different teams to get the desired results.
After onboarding a client, the account manager has to contact the marketing strategy team.
They must develop a solid strategy based on clear data.
After a solid influencer brief is written, the influencer outreach team must contact the right creators.
The creators must coordinate to produce the expected deliverables.
Our internal team must edit, publish, run, and test those ads or posts.
And all this must be done while staying in close contact with the client via the project manager. As you can expect, you need a lot of coordination to help all these teams collaborate toward the clients’ goals.
4. Skill Gap when Onboarding New Employees
New employees’ skill gaps can affect how you deliver results.
For example, some of your employees may have all the right abilities for the job but don’t know how to use specific software.
Or they don’t have enough experience in your precise niche.
And the biggest mistake I made is expecting an employee who looks great on paper to be great in a real team from the get-go.
Hint: The solution to this problem is a solid employee onboarding checklist and rigorous training – which I’ll discuss below.
5. Scaling Processes
Gaining more clients as a growing agency means dealing with a diverse range of business needs, niches, and goals.
That means you need different approaches, strategies, and tools.
Story-time: In the case of a small influencer agency, you can personally contact influencers and make sure they deliver on time so your clients are happy.
But when inBeat started growing, we couldn’t get by without paid influencer outreach tools. And eventually, we hired a specialized outreach team.
All these new teams tackling new strategies and using new tools need new vertical processes to streamline their tasks.
And you also need horizontal processes and workflows to ensure the teams coordinate correctly. Otherwise, they won’t be able to deliver results on time.
6. Cultural Alignment
Cultural alignment within your company can make or break delivering results to your clients.
For example, inBeat is a very data-driven team made of hard-working people. We value independence and flexibility in managing your own time, but at the end of the day, you must get your work done.
We also rely on clear metrics and data more than on creativity. Influencers are creative, perceptive, and insightful, but influencer marketing is realistic and strategic.
Our teams are highly aligned on those issues.
Having to dispute those internal values would lead to hiccups on the road to creating compelling campaigns and delivering results.
7. Client Prioritization
Not knowing how to prioritize clients and tasks within a client’s project is a problem for growing teams.
When your agency is small, you can tackle projects without a system, and the work still gets done.
When you have an ever-growing database of clients, handling the big projects first can be tempting to establish your reputation.
It certainly was a temptation for inBeat, too.
Luckily, we fell back on our love for data and metrics to prioritize tasks within teams.
Each team leader will make plans based on their resources and expected deliverables.
Prioritizing wisely entails considering:
All your deadlines
Your teams’ workloads
All your deliverables
8. Quality Control Across All Deliverables
Another bottleneck for growing agencies is implementing quality control across all deliverables.
This part takes time and resources, so you may be tempted to skip it.
But not performing it correctly allows for mistakes, which may:
Delay your project.
Affect client communication and trust.
Affect other deadlines you’re not meeting because your teams are still caught up in older projects.
For example, something as simple as an influencer not ending their video ad with the right CTA can have important consequences.
Re-editing the ad involves different teams and actors. This translates into a delay which affects the other ads’ performance within the influencer campaign.
Influencer ad campaigns are well orchestrated, meaning the ads depend on each other precisely as orchestra members. That’s why it’s best to include quality control processes and ensure they fit each project’s timeline.
The 5-step plan to deliver consistent results
After that long intro, let’s dive into the clear 5-step plan I promised.
1. Establish Clear Goals
The key to delivering results for your clients consistently is establishing realistic goals. So, ensure you’re not:
Taking on more than you can handle
Promising more than it’s realistically possible
For example, one of our clients was the beauty & care brand Native.
They wanted UGC ads to promote their brand on Instagram, highlighting their stylish products and their core value, diversity.
With that in mind, we could realistically promise increased brand awareness as a main campaign goal.
Side note: We set SMART objectives to achieve this goal for each content creator.
We would have suggested influencer posts if they followed a different goal, such as increased sales. When influencers post directly in their feeds, they can engage more with their audience in the comments and direct messages, thus promoting the products more actively.
Native agreed on the awareness goal, and we delivered as expected:
Source: Native campaign files
Create a detailed scope of work or service agreement.
Communicate deadlines, milestones, and deliverables clearly.
How we do it:
inBeat is highly data-driven, and we set goals after an in-depth talk with our clients. We analyze their:
Current market position
Strategies they would like to use
In case we disagree:
We present the data behind our conclusion.
We re-evaluate based on their input and try to find a realistic middle ground.
For example, one of our clients, Linktree, wanted to connect with its audience and build a culturally in-tune persona.
To achieve that goal, organic content was not enough. We also had to employ paid content.
Pro tip: Always explain a specific budget behind reaching your clients’ goals, specifically if it’s high. Remember, you may need to add case studies and other market data to prove your argument.
2. Streamline Processes and Systems
If you remember from my lengthy section above, the lack of inside processes and systems affects:
Communication between teams
Communication with the client
All this translates into lost time and resources. Everyone should know their roles, tasks, and deadlines.
For example, we always build a strategy with clear expected deliverables based on thorough initial research.
We don’t rely on creativity but rather on metrics.
And we never conduct influencer discovery until we have a clear creative brief.
One of our clients, travel app Hopper, wanter to scale its existing TikTok ads campaign to drive installs and in-app purchases. However, TikTok ad fatigue is a big problem for most brands using this platform.
Without strategy and data, we could have continued the TikTok ads campaign by simply hiring more influencers showcasing more of their travel adventures.
But our data suggested that Hopper’s target audience:
Responded very well to the trend of finding different hacks in different niches.
Had a short attention span.
Our industry research also showed that hooks increase watch time considerably.
That’s why we decided to run a UGC TikTok campaign for Hopper, asking our creators to use three travel hack hooks in their content.
Source: Hopper campaign files
This strategy increased app installs as expected and decreased Hopper’s CPAs (cost per acquisition).
But if our workflow weren’t based on data first, we wouldn’t have been able to reach those goals.
Of course, we also used specific software to:
Establish a hierarchy and roles.
Monitor influencer communication.
Track their deliverables before and after editing.
Communicate between different teams and team members.
Communicate with the client.
Good examples include Slack, Asana, QuickMail, Hive, and KissFlow.
Implement standardized workflows.
Use project management tools.
Get a solid email tool for cold emails as well as personalized outreach.
How we do it:
We have created a clear campaign workflow that works as a generic map for most campaigns.
We tested different software tools until we found the best ones for our teams.
3. Invest in Training and Development
Training solves several main problems affecting consistent result delivery:
The skill gap between old and new employees
Internal cultural alignment
Some new employees may prefer to do first and ask questions later.
Others may deem deadlines as optional.
And even top influencer agencies have their specific challenges. At inBeat, influencer outreach has particular challenges compared to B2B or B2C outreach.
Influencers have strong, creative personalities and feel very strongly about their values, so each negotiation must be approached with extra care.
Even the smallest error can affect the entire workflow.
Assign a direct supervisor and mentor to your new employees.
Ensure they understand all their responsibilities and know how to use specific tools in your agency.
Take rein in your communication throughout the onboarding process and trial period.
Monitor your team’s approaches to ensure they fit your company culture.
Track your team’s results to help them increase their performance.
How we do it:
Four meetings per week after onboarding for extra training and specific help with their challenges
Clear training videos with examples and case studies
Constant communication within the team via platforms like Slack, video, or in-person, if possible
Hands-on mentorship from the team leader
4. Effective Communication with Clients
You can’t deliver results consistently if you don’t communicate effectively with your clients.
Clients have different expectations, timelines, challenges, and backgrounds. That’s why you need a dedicated person who will be the main point of contact between your agency and the client.
I know; small agencies can afford the CEO to be that point of contact.
But it’s not realistic in larger agencies.
Pro tip: You may need to hire multiple account managers to ensure each has a manageable workload.
That said, the account manager should:
Strive to understand each client’s goals as if they were their own.
Keep in contact with the strategy team.
Present different campaign strategies.
Address clients’ concerns.
That means you need very savvy and flexible account managers oriented toward problem-solving. They must have expertise in your agency’s and client’s niche and great interpersonal abilities.
Have a dedicated account manager that establishes regular check-ins.
Keep the lines of communication open, providing timely updates.
In some cases, the account manager may present different options and alternatives.
Always ask for feedback.
How we do it:
Our account managers schedule weekly meetings.
We present monthly reports.
We are always available for our clients.
We offer different ad creatives.
We offer to involve our clients every step of the way, from influencer discovery to ad editing if they so choose.
We keep in touch even after the project has ended.
5. Implement Quality Control Measures
Quality control measures ensure:
Timely delivery of high-quality assets and, therefore, client satisfaction
Your agency’s reputation, especially if you get positive feedback and referrals
Besides, quality control measures help standardize your agency’s process so:
All your team members follow best practices.
You can streamline your future projects, which allows you to get even more clients.
There’s less room for errors and subpar work that would strain your client relationships.
You mitigate risks like delays or wasted resources.
Even better, quality control measures keep your team accountable. And when people (or agencies) are accountable, they can improve themselves.
That continuous learning from your shortfalls leads to growth within your agency.
Side note: You can use several tools, from Google Analytics for performance metrics to Tableau for business intelligence management and customer quality assurance software like Klaus.
As always, test what works best for your agency.
Conduct regular Quality Assurance (QA) checks, reviewing your deliverables against predefined quality standards and specifications.
Establish performance metrics and benchmarks.
Continuously improve processes based on feedback and data analysis.
Consider a peer review process if your agency doesn’t have a vertical hierarchy. In this case, your team members review each other’s work before submitting it to your clients.
How we do it:
For our influencers:
We set a specific number of deliverables per influencer per campaign, monitoring if those deliverables are met. We conduct quarterly and annual QA reviews, as well as project-based checks.
We compose a creative brief based on each campaign’s strategy. We then follow each creative asset to ensure it corresponds to that brief.
We follow each influencer’s activity to ensure they are timely and perform well.
For our internal teams:
We implement a review process for each task.
Each team leader tracks their team members’ performances. We record errors to identify patterns.
If there are any hiccups, we try to find their causes and learn from them.
We ask for direct feedback from our clients to ensure our work meets their standards during our weekly check-ins.
We conduct annual internal audits to review our workflows and project management practices.
We use data analytics tools to analyze performance metrics, such as error rates, rework rates, or client satisfaction scores.
This guide on consistently delivering results for your clients will hopefully help you scale up your agency.
Remember that you need rigorous planning and structuring to meet your clients’ needs.
Your team members must work together in unison, like orchestra players. For that, they need clear rules, workflows, tools, and training.
Once you implement those solid processes and software tools, remember to keep testing them.
Optimizing your team’s work is a continuous task as you onboard more and more clients.