A social media marketing agency is a pretty great business to run. You’re offering a valuable service to your clients, doing what you love, and building a business that isn’t solely dependent on you in order to operate.
Whether you have 2 employees and 15 clients, or 15 employees and 100 clients, it’s possible to grow your agency even further.
Here’s the 5-Phase plan that will get you to your goals again and again:
- Phase 1: Prime your agency for scale-up mode
- Phase 2: Improve your systems and operations
- Phase 3: Get the right people on your team
- Phase 4: Prioritize your marketing and highlight previous results
- Phase 5: Add outbound to your inbound
Let’s explore what makes a social agency scalable and then we’ll dive into all 5 phases!
Benefits of running a social media marketing agency
Let’s talk about one clear fact: any sort of marketing agency is scalable.
That—and your love for social media marketing—are probably why you started your agency in the first place. Instead of building a business around your personal brand, you decided to build a company that could continue to run without you, while you’re on vacation, or even after you sell it to another entrepreneur.
Aside from the fact that all marketing agencies can be scaled, here are some of the things that make social media marketing agencies simpler to scale in particular:
Not every client wants to approve posts:
While big brands will probably require approval processes, there are plenty of small and medium-sized businesses that are happy to let you operate without their input. Contrast that to building websites for companies, who nearly always have lots of stakeholders commenting on everything from copy to website architecture.
Relatively easy to freelance out
: Finding high-quality copywriters, graphic designers, and community managers who charge rates that can earn a profit on aren’t always easy. However, it’s likely easier than say, finding great software developers at the right price point. Also, social media management can be more easily taught than other services.
Funnels can be replicated
: While you won’t be able to replicate the exact creative for another client (nor would you ever want to), you definitely can replicate the funnels and strategies that you use for clients, meaning you and your team will get faster at setting up social media content for each new client.
Fairly low expenses
: When it comes to social media content, you can use low-cost photo editing tools, video editing tools, and social media management tools to create stunning content campaigns for your clients. What might be relatively simple to create for your team will be incredibly valuable to clients with less technical and creative skills, or who are majorly pressed for time.
Reposting is good for the content and good for you
By now, all marketers are aware that you need to repromote your evergreen content. By focusing on evergreen content creation and by setting up repeatable campaigns, you can keep your clients’ feeds active in the best way.
Phase 1: Prime your agency for scale-up mode
Scaling your business is uncomfortable. The first thing you need to do is to make sure you’re ready for it. If now isn’t the exact right time, you’ll be better off waiting a month or two then rushing ahead.
Make sure to take care of some of the following before moving onto Phase 2.
Realign your social media marketing agency pricing
How much are you charging for social media management? If you’re planning on scaling you might to review your packaging and make sure that you’re charging for the full value that you provide your clients.
Scope creep happens frequently to all service providers. Are you providing community management or other services that you’re not charging existing clients for? If so, you either need to race your prices or repackage your offers and let clients choose to pay for that service or downgrade.
Readjust your entrepreneurial mindset
Growing a business requires that you’re in the right mindset. Learn what you can do to cultivate a better entrepreneurial mindset, including visualization techniques, morning rituals like exercise and gratitude journaling, positive affirmations, etc. Do what works for you.
Just be prepared to get hit with blocks and obstacles along your path to scaling. It helps to have some routines in place for how you deal with these.
Let go of the old way of doing things
There might be some things that are holding you back. These could include:
- Clients who are no longer a fit
- Freelancers or employees who are no longer a fit
- Price points and pricing structures that are outdated
- Technology, systems, and operations that are unoptimized
Say “thank you, next” to whatever is draining your resources or simply not working anymore. You might already have a few ideas in mind. You’ll also discover more things to let go of as you progress through these phases.
Give yourself enough runway to make new changes
Reality check: we’re not saying you should drop everything and start fresh. Not at all. When you want to scale your social media marketing agency, you need to give yourself plenty of runway.
This could manifest in a few ways:
- Have 2 – 6 months worth of payroll and expenses in your business checking account
- Set aside some extra money to invest in new software
- Set aside extra money to invest in bringing on freelancers to handle your current clients so you can work more on marketing and getting new clients
What that runway should be will be different for everyone. Just make sure to have enough runway to get from where you are now to your income goals, so you can devote your time to scaling, instead of managing your business the way it is now.
Phase 2: Improve your systems and operations
Now that you’re prepped and ready to scale, the first thing you need to do is set up better systems. Sure, you could wait until you’ve onboarded four new clients to do this, but then you’ll be so busy, you’ll revert back to your old systems and won’t have time to create something new.
These are the systems and operational procedures you should address:
- Lead qualification
- Lead follow up
- Client onboarding
- Weekly account management tasks
- Monthly and/or quarterly account management tasks
- Content creation and collaboration
- Client onboarding
- Client reporting
- Invoicing and payments
- Bookkeeping and accounting
Efficiencies, gaps, and lags in the above processes will continue to drain your time and your team’s time, making it very difficult to scale.
If you work on these now, then you’ll improve operational efficiency and save time on each new client you acquire.
Most business owners complain that they never have time to fix the issues in the operational processes. Remember: that’s why you create runway for yourself in Phase 1. If you’ve done this right, you should be able to hire an ops expert or to devote weeks of your time to this while someone else manages client work.
Upgrading your systems could mean you need some extra software to take a load off some time-costly tasks.
Find out if your agency needs social media management software.
Phase 3: Get the right people on your team
Part of having the right systems is having the right people. Most likely you already have some folks on your team. In order to scale, do you need to bring on new talents? Do you need to make your business less vulnerable by separating out tasks to multiple people, instead of saddling one assistant with everything?
These are some common roles that you may need to review or add to your team:
- Account managers
- Project managers
- Community managers
- Virtual assistants
- Content writers
- Graphic designers
- Video marketers
Employees or freelancers?
Should you hire employees or freelancers?
If you can’t afford to hire full-time employees, then obviously you’ll want to work with freelancers. However, many social media marketing agencies who have employees continue to work with freelancers. Other agencies could afford to hire employees, but choose only to work with freelancers because of the flexibility.
Just make sure to find resources that are responsive and available. For certain roles, you might be able to tolerate a few-day delay in turnaround time. Meanwhile, your project manager might be such a critical role that you need to hire them full time or promise them a set amount of contract-based hours per week or month.
Phase 4: Prioritize your marketing and highlight previous results
You can’t grow your business if you’re only focused on client work.
Every social media marketing agency will have a different approach to how they allocate time for their own marketing, but most likely anywhere from 10% to 30% of your team’s total time will be spent marketing your business.
If you’re ready to scale, you’re going to have to prioritize your marketing in a way you haven’t before.
This might mean that you hire out certain marketing projects to freelancers or agencies or that you take more responsibilities off your plate to free up your time.
However you create those extra marketing resources, make sure to highlight the results of your services on every channel.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Great case studies on your website
- Results-focused testimonial quotes on your social media profiles
- Result data infographics on your social media profiles
If you’re able to sell real results from social media management (increased leads, sign-ups, sales, traffic, newsletter subscribers, etc.) then you’ll immediately stand out in a sea full of service providers who are selling their service just for the sake of it.
Phase 5: Add outbound to your inbound
As a social media agency, you absolutely need to have active social media profiles that showcase how you create content and engage with your audience.
However, there’s no rule that says that you can only get clients showcasing the service that you sell.
All this to say that you shouldn’t rely on your social media accounts, blog, or other inbound content to bring all of your leads.
If you’re really ready to scale, you also need to master the art of outbound, cold email and LinkedIn outreach especially.
For effective cold email campaigns, have your assistant manually build your cold email prospecting list from scratch. This ensures the quality of the list. For even more effective campaigns, include a custom first sentence in your template. Write a custom first sentence for each potential lead to show that you have considered how you can best help them grow their business using social media. Reply.io is a great tool for cold email.
With LinkedIn, you should actively grow your network with target potential clients. You can then check up with them via direct messages. Don’t pitch your services directly or ask them to schedule a call right away. Just start a conversation about their social media needs and results. Also, be sure to keep posting content on LinkedIn so that your network of potential clients sees your content.
When you’re ready to grow your social media marketing agency remember that you need to set yourself up for success. Get the right processes, team, and pricing in place. Then free up your time to improve your branding and marketing. Make sure to highlight the results of your work on every channel where you market your business. Also, bring in outbound marketing methods to make your lead generation more consistent.