Our survival as an agency has been built on sustainable growth. Throughout the last 13 years, since the agency was founded, we have been searching for ways to support our growth at a rate which was both manageable for us and our teams.
When Covid-19 hit, the importance of being a ‘sustainable’ agency became even more apparent. This was particularly true in March 2020, when many of our clients wanted to cut their contracts short for their own business survival, which of course was totally fair with the uncertainty that almost came from nowhere.
We lost more than £800k during the first 3 months of the pandemic and I truly believe that without the initial sustainable growth approach we had taken in 2008, we would not be in the fortunate position we are today. So, if Covid-19 taught us one thing, it’s the importance of sustainable growth.
Here’s what we’ve been doing to support this mantra on a longer-term basis:
There’s A Process For Everything
Processes are so important regardless of how young, small, or experienced your business is. We’ve been working through the processes we had in place vs those we didn’t over the last year, identifying those that we need in place vs those that have become outdated as we’ve progressed using new tools.
We have stripped back all our processes from the very beginning, removing, and replacing steps we feel are necessary to make the overall process much easier and straightforward. By doing so, we’re able to be much more efficient with the time we do have, putting that resource back into our clients and their campaigns as well as our own to progress further.
Where possible, we’ve also tried to plan ahead with what we are implementing within the agency so that we never get to a stage where our processes are completely, if at all, out of date.
From a utilisation perspective, we wanted to understand where our time was best spent by project and account manager. We established a list of what we could consider certain tasks likely to be completed in the A.M. vs the P.M. This allowed us to gain an understanding on where most of our time was being spent and whether too much time was being spent completing A.M. tasks compared to P.M. tasks and vice versa. By separating out these tasks and placing them into different buckets, we were able to better dictate the amount of time spent on our client campaigns.
Expanding The A-Team
Sustainable growth is everywhere we look. To help us with our expansion, we’ve introduced a new hiring process which has enabled us to hire individuals who best fit our values and understand why we do what we do. We’ve implemented this in the form of a ‘culture fit’ document which outlines the expectations of our employees and well what they can expect from us. We want to make sure all our teams feel valued and believe this is the best way to set that middle ground from the start. Ultimately, this has helped us to reduce the amount of time spent recruiting as only those who agree to our culture fit proposition will be interviewed, ironing out any uncertainty beforehand.
We’re not shy when it comes to sharing what we stand for either, which is why our cultures fit document is openly accessible via the careers page on our website. Anyone can download it because making sure our values are heard is what’s important to us.
Training Our Teams
The training we have access to within marketing is huge. So huge that we encourage our teams to take time out of their working weeks to slot in time to read up on the latest tool, trends, news, or course. We also take the time to train the team ourselves, with some of our senior team members training our executives. We also encourage the teams to cross share their knowledge where possible. For example, a handful of the team will be attending Brighton SEO in September. When they come back, they’ll be putting a short SlideShare of things they have learnt together, before sharing it with the rest of the agency. It’s a great way to make sure that nobody misses out, whilst ensuring that they also having the time to reflect on their learnings and implement them throughout their own teams or processes. We learn best from others!
Working With Nick Eubanks
There’s far more to growing a business than doing it alone. At the start of the year I partnered with Nick Eubanks, Digital Strategist and SEO Engineer, to help me take Absolute Digital Media to new heights. Without the help of Nick, it would’ve been difficult to progress from where we were as an agency vs where we are now. Nick has helped us surpass many stages of our growth, allowing us to see the bigger picture along the way as we continued to make extreme but necessary changes to the agency. It’s also been enjoyable to share the experience alongside my wife, Lou, who is also heavily involved in the agency’s growth. It’s been a blast so far!
Building A Culture
The culture of a business is so important and, to successfully build an agency geared for sustainable growth, we knew that we would need to build a strong culture. Over the last 18-months we’ve been working hard to ensure we provided the very best agency culture there is. We knew it wouldn’t happen overnight and we’re continuing to seek new initiatives and perks to introduce to the team as we keep up with the growing demand and trends surrounding business culture.
More importantly, in order to build a strong culture, you cannot go down the one-size-fits-all route. We have employees at all stages of their lives on board from those who have just started their marketing career, to those who have been a part of the industry for 10+ years now.
Some of the initiatives and benefits we have introduced include:
- Welcoming a journalist panel on board to validate our ideation, further train the team and make sure our data sources are accurate.
- Built our own in-house technical SEO tool to streamline the different takes required for each client to speed up the process.
- Invested in further tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic, SEMrush, Agency Analytics, Cognitive SEO, GT Metrix and Screaming Frog to name a few.
- We are working to develop our younger talent as we build the next generation of SEO experts.
- We are also working alongside Kirsty Hulse to support our team’s confidence and growth and Nick Eubanks to help drive us forward.
- Invested in Sanctus to provide the team with further mental health and wellbeing support.
- Introduced new working hours for a better work/life balance.
- Became sponsors of the Women In Tech #WTSNewsletter and are also exclusive sponsors of Brighton SEO 2021.
- Providing the team with speaker opportunities at all major digital marketing events and conferences.
- Regular in-person and online team meet ups.
- Opportunity to take part in our own Twitter Space and webinar series.
- Opportunity to take advantage of our library, whereby we
- Chance to be a part of the WTS mentor and mentee program.
- The team also receive regular care packages and celebratory gifts when they exceed.
- Chance to have their work submitted to win an award.
Streamlining Service Offerings
Our workloads take a battering all the time. Some days they’re manageable, and other days we spend our time working through an overflow of tasks that seemingly keeps on growing. We knew that this was putting a lot of pressure on the team to stay on top of their workloads, with many working out of hours to make sure they were on track the following day. We don’t encourage our team to work outside of our normal Absolute early bird or owl working hours, which is why we made the decision to narrow down our service offering.
The decision wasn’t just based on ensuring the team had enough time to benefit from a better work/life balance but to ensure that the work they did carry out was to the very best standard possible. Instead of promoting ourselves as a full-service digital marketing agency, we’ve reverted to only offering our core services which are SEO, digital PR, PPC and other forms of paid media (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Amazon etc.)
The results? The team are much more comfortable with their workloads – happier in fact – knowing that they don’t have to complete anywhere near as many smaller tasks that stack up easily. Our clients are reaping the benefits too, meaning that we’re able to spend more time finding effective solutions for them.
There’s still so much more to learn about sustainable growth but what we do know is that we are on track to achieving the form of sustainable growth we are striving for. How are your developing sustainable growth within your business?
For more information, get in touch with a member of the Absolute Digital Media team today on 0800 088 6000.