Board Briefing: Next-level clients
Healthy agencies don't grow by simply increasing the number of the same type of clients. They grow by taking a big step up to 'next level clients' as the agency matures to be able to service them. These clients do bigger projects over a longer-term, and needing more specialist knowledge and skills.
But the agency, and its leadership, need to sense the right timing, and prepare the agency to attract, win, and service these next level clients.
The challenge, support and guidance from the advisory board will be key in doing this.
In this session the board will:
- Discuss the agency's readiness to step up to next-level clients
- Identify improvements to be made to processes, culture, knowledge and skills
- Consider the nature of the possible next-level clients
- Provide input to preparing marketing and sales for the step up
- Identify key milestones, and issues to watch for
People often assume that agency growth looks something like this:
In this imagining, each year the agency wins a few more clients than the year before, and growth is steadily increasing.
But in fact it's much more often something like this:
In this pattern, we see that:
- In some years the agency grows steadily, through winning more of a similar kind of client and project
- In some years the agency coasts, without much growth
- In some years there is a dip — perhaps one or two key clients churn, or there are internal/staffing problems that hit, or the agency is expending time and attention trying to move up a level of client/project but struggling to get a foothold
- But in some years, shown here as every 5 years, but it could be more or less frequent, the agency takes a huge leap in growth
It's these years of a big leap in growth we're focused on here, exploring the potential for that in the coming year or two in the agency. (The coasting and dip years we'll consider in other board sessions at other times)
These huge growth years almost never get driven by simply winning more of the same type of client with the same type and size of project.
Doing more of the same does not produce huge leaps forward. It often leads to stagnation, in fact, as client churn reduces the impact of client wins on the bottom line, and it feels so hard to pull the agency up that curve.
The huge leaps tend to get driven by winning a major new client of a kind you couldn't have dreamed of a couple of years previously, with a project significantly larger than you've handled before. For example, an agency that is used to £25k projects for other SMEs winning their first £100k project from a large corporate. Or an agency used to doing £250k projects for corporates winning their first £1m account from a household name.
These leaps forward are important, because: