4 Services Your Agency Should Never Offer Katie Culp Small marketing agencies are in a difficult situation. With an ever-increasing array of agency options, clients are always debating the value of a smaller agency over large-scale ones with hundreds of employees, specialized companies that dig deep into a particular market niche, or simply keeping the budget in-house. If you’re a growing agency in 2017, the most logical move is to focus on what you do best and choose your expansions carefully. In an industry prone to drastic changes every few months, it’s hard to keep on top of every aspect of digital marketing. But what areas are worth maintaining? Look, it’s easy to advise on what you should be offering. But knowing what to avoid is trickier. If you want to maximize your efficiency, read on. Presenting Growth Hacking As Anything Other Than What You Already Do A mindset once renowned for its ability to merge hard-nosed coding with marketing skills (see the now-infamous Airbnb example), growth hacking has fallen very much into the territory of outdated buzzwords. Roughly speaking, it refers to the practice of using data-driven technology to solve marketing problems. And it’s a catchy title: the loose concept of “hacking” makes it sound exclusive and edgy, while “growth” is simply what every marketer wants to achieve for their clients. But what is it, really? Specifically? It’s basically marketing augmented by technology. As has been noted by countless critics, most growth-hacking principles harken back to classic marketing theory. It’s a slightly upgraded form of market research with a higher fee attached. If your clients are asking whether you have a growth hacker on staff, you can confidently tell them you don’t need one—and explain how your web designer, developer and marketing team can achieve all the same results through experience and industry wisdom. Costly Market-Research Efforts Conducting your own market research is a costly, time-intensive game. In a world where specialization reaps rewards, it’s more cost-effective if you partner up with an existing, established market-research firm. Some small agencies are worried about how it’ll look if they ask for help from elsewhere. But client-side agencies have begun working more and more with external agencies, and the results mean time and money saved for both sides. Pair that with the value of building partnerships and it’s a win-win. Again, the key takeaway here is specialization: do what you’re best at and do it better than anyone else. Leave the externalities to companies who do it better—and then take advantage when you need to. Exclusive Social Media Management Social media management takes time, and many agencies brand themselves as being better at it than a client could be. Rather than holding the keys to the proverbial car and refusing to let them drive, you can differentiate yourself by at least being open to letting clients share control over their own social media channels. This may sound counter-intuitive at first. Why would you willingly dilute your value by teaching the client how to do your job? In fact, many believe that openness helps agencies more than it hurts, and clients are more likely to trust (and retain) agencies that cooperate in a transparent way. Ultimately, you want to make the client happy, and the first step toward that goal is helping them understand what works. You aren’t relying 100% on social media marketing, and it’s easier to showcase your value if the client speaks the same language. Social media is one of the easiest marketing skills to teach, and you’ll be reinforcing your value by showing off how well you understand it. Besides, the client may have no interest in teaching their staff to use social media the same way. But they’ll more than likely appreciate the offer. Videos That Are Anything Less Than Spectacular Between Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, the standards for web videos have skyrocketed. If you’re not extremely talented at creating beautiful, swift videos with drone angles, original music and a proven ROI, reconsider whether you want to be in the game at all. Even top brands that want to capitalize in the video world can wind up with egg on their faces. And when they do, it’s all the more embarrassing because of the effort that goes into producing a video. (We’re looking at you, Pepsi protesters.) There are simply so many videos that aren’t worth watching. This means that the stakes have never been higher. Even the quality of simple whiteboard videos and animations has reached a point that high production quality is simply a necessity. If you’re not confident that you can pull off an amazing video, stay away from the field. The bottom line is the same among all these trends: There are things you can do better than anyone else out there. Your clients are trusting you to make decisions wisely. While growth is necessary for building a reputable brand, it shouldn’t come at the cost of making decisions that will haunt you in the future.