The need for agencies to demonstrate value has been a common theme throughout the content I’ve read so far this year as we try to gauge what’s in store for 2021. It’s an extension of an idea we latched onto last year, which is that, as budgets tighten, marketers are looking for “a sure thing” and proof of results — even more than in previous years.
“The pandemic intensified the urgency of a real value proposition—an authentic delivery of a service that advances the client’s business in meaningful ways,” — John Trahar, Greatest Common Factory founder, strategy lead, in Adweek
In 2021, agencies must demonstrate value and have a compelling value proposition to be competitive in the current environment. Unfortunately, “value” is one of those terms that is so overused that it's taken for granted. How many people talk about delivering value, believe that they provide value, and therefore fail to see that what they offer is actually not that valuable? More than a few!
I want to address what it means for an agency to deliver value. What does “value” look like in practice?
- Create value proactively.
- Are honest about what they can and can't do.
- Make their value explicit, not implicit.
Here are some ways your agency can deliver meaningful value:
1. Identify what you are good at and own it.
Demonstrate your expertise in a vertical or service. Be specific, targeted, and strategic. There is greater value in being exceptional at one thing than in being average at ten things.
2. Avoid hollow statements about providing value.
If you provide value, there should be quantifiable proof. Historical data and metrics will go a long way to provide the information a prospect needs to hire you and is the first step in demonstrating value.
In a recent survey of marketing agency leaders, 67% said the #1 reason clients choose their agency is because they've established themselves as strong strategic partners. A key reason agencies were viewed as strategic partners who deliver value to clients was their ability to show real results. — CallRail’s Special Report: 2021 Digital Marketing Agency Outlook
3. Be quick to market.
Today, speed matters. Marketers are looking for quick solutions that will allow them to keep up with evolving conditions and positively impact their bottom line. Layered decision-making processes and over-staffed teams don’t provide the “value” that clients need or want now. This is why independent agencies have been winning more new business recently.
4. Don’t just tell clients what they want to hear.
Remember that they engaged you for your expertise. It’s okay to push back and have an opinion, as long as you have the backup information or thought process to justify it. You can be responsive to clients’ needs without wasting time and energy on requests that you know will not provide real results.
It’s your job to understand the underlying goal or pain point and have a perspective on the best way to address the situation, instead of just agreeing with your client. You might explain that an alternate path will likely yield better results and reduce time and costs. In that case, clients will almost always appreciate the value of your expertise (even while some may still insist on taking the less effective approach).
It takes time to make someone feel comfortable and confident that they can rely on your guidance to grow and drive their business. If you want to become a true partner and trusted advisor for your clients, you must first become an expert they can rely on.
Benefits of building agency value
It takes time to create value. In today’s project-based environment, you may only be providing value for one part of your client’s business. But taking ownership of that part, no matter how small, and maintaining a focus on building trust and value is a great way to grow your work into a bigger piece of business.
The benefits of deliberately cultivating your agency’s value are compelling:
- Gain clients that value and trust your opinion
- Spend more time addressing the issues or goals and less time justifying personnel costs
- Enjoy more cohesive and harmonious working relationships
- Facilitate longer client engagements
- Make it easier to charge premium rates
What can you do to improve your agency’s agency’s demonstrated value this year?
- The Acceleration of Agency Change and Future Agencies
- How to Survive in a Project-Based Agency Landscape
- How To Use The Small Agency Trend To Your Advantage
- 4 Things Independent Agencies Need to Know About New Biz Now