In this opinion piece, Schedugram CEO Hugh Stephens (pictured) tackles the complexity of agency business models.
Agency models are high touch, human resource heavy and require the constant balancing and correcting of clients to account managers.
With too many clients, staff will struggle under the workload (a big part of high agency attrition rates) or on the opposite side of the spectrum, the sudden loss of a client or two can hit profits to and force you to become more lean.
Perhaps the single best thing to happen to the agency model within the decade is the rise of technology.
From communication to collaboration, planning and management, tech has given us the ability to streamline and improve the efficiency of some of the most time consuming and costly aspects of agency life.
It’s a double edged sword though – for all of the efficiency, you can also be too ‘data driven’, and you only need to look at the dumpster fire of a lot of programmatic advertising (where fingers can be pointed at all sides from fraud to clients to creative) to see some of the downside.
However, whether you’re in marketing, advertising, digital, PR or anywhere under the media agency umbrella, if you’re not using a cocktail of tech in your day to day you’re selling yourself short.
Here are a few ways you can leverage tech to make your day to day more efficient, make better use of staff hours and most importantly boost retainer ROI to improve your bottom line.
Minimise time spent on rote tasks. Monotonous admin tasks not only consumer a lot of staff hours, it’s also boring work that dumps on staff morale over time. Instead of allocating hours to things like posting content and sending emails, invest in scheduling software that allows you to plan and execute in advance.
Make collaboration a priority. Many hands make light work, but many hands can also mean more approvals, more time tied up getting tasks done and more emails and content versions.
By using collaboration-driven tools, tasks that require multiple eyes can be completed with minimal headaches. Google Drive and associated apps like Docs and Sheets are an obvious tool, however if you’re more of a Microsoft Office person, Dropbox Business’ integration with Word, Excel and more has clever features like version control so people can collaborate on documents without as many messy documents.
Get smarter about reporting. Reporting is one of the most inefficient processes in agency land. The time taken to generate, crunch and format data takes up a huge chunk of agency resources, yet rarely delivers enough ROI for either party compared to the hours spent. That’s not to say reports aren’t important to measure the effectiveness of agency work. To preserve those hours, tools like Megalytics or Databox will automatically pull data from platforms like Google Analytics, social media channels, CRM programs and more to auto-generate detailed reports more quickly (and likely more accurately) than account managers can.
Streamline your client management. Communication with clients can get messy with the sheer amount of communication apps on the market. Whether you’re using Slack, Google Hangouts or something as simple as phone calls, try to minimise the use of redundant tech and aim for one central communication channel to cut down on noise and focus attention spans to one reliable platform. In addition to this, instead of keeping notes in platforms that will rarely be accessed after the initial call or meeting, use a CRM to centralise agency intel, or leverage an AI-driven platform like Hugo or Notion to keep track, make sense of, and share notes.
For agencies, the right use of tech can be hugely beneficial for boosting revenue, getting more bang for buck from retainers and adding extra value for clients by streamlining expensive processes that stall growth.