Agencies: How To Reinvent The (Revenue) Wheel

I’m getting tired of this whole discussion around the demise of revenue for agencies; the cruise ship versus the speed boat metaphor. What do they even mean? I can understand that a speed boat is able to ‘pivot’ quicker than a cruise ship but thats because they need to. If someone on the speed boat needs to turn around and go in a different direction, they will. Not everyone in a cruise ship needs to pivot. Send the key people off in a life raft or up in a helicopter for a better view. Don't ruin everyone else’s holiday…find other means.

That’s how I would re-invent the wheel. To help combat this ‘loss of revenue’ everyone is talking about and not doing anything about is to ‘Find other means.’ Agencies can no longer shout the word Millennial as an excuse to poor conversion rates or the next demo pillar of their strategy. One of the most prominent pieces of advice I have ever been given was:

''The only way to guarantee success is to operate in a market without competitors''

How do you generate this so called golden egg of a market? You create a product or service that doesn't exist (or at least be first to market with said product). For example, In-house services did not exist in NZ when I ran a content agency. We productised and launched with great success. For a while, competitors couldn't catch us as we sold a product, within our own industry, that no-one else offered. In all honesty, we already had this product…and so did every other agency. The product was sitting in our office. All we did was move their desk to the clients office and give the service a name. It cost us less (broadband, power, general overheads) and we charged it as a premium service. Genius!

I digress. Being able to move from ‘free to fee’ is essential in this kind of strategy. Think about what you currently give for free to your clients that you could possibly charge for in the future. I don't mean the three miles you drove to their office for a meeting about billable hours or the 20 minute phone call to your client about the price of the catering truck at your next activation. Think more about the output of at least two of your actions, productise that output, provide some statistics about it’s performance (Monetary or otherwise) and start selling this third product you have just miraculously created. 

For example, combine Design and Social to create ‘Social Leadership Streams’ or put together a sustainability strategy and SEO to create ‘Digital Magazine Publishing’. Anything is possible as long as you set the right goal. In this case, you want to productise something you already give for free and position it as an industry first. You already charge for the design, you currently charge for the social media management why not also charge for the ‘Social Leadership Images’ that you create and distribute as an overall strategy concept. This is just one, off the cuff, product from a single head. Think of the possibilities you and your team could achieve for yourself. 

We need to be drinking our own Champagne. Act upon the advice you give to your own clients. Fundamentally, agencies help their clients sell more products. We should be helping ourself sell more.

Contrary to the title of this blog, you don't need to re-invent the wheel. You just need to stick two wheels together and sell it as a bike.