When IMPACT was in its infancy, we spent a lot of time learning about our clients’ businesses so we could come up with “the perfect” content marketing plan that turned prospects into valuable customers.
This is nothing new.
It’s the business model that most marketing agencies adopt: Learn as much as you can about each of your clients and create content you hope will generate the best results.
There was just one problem: No matter how much effort we put into our deliverables, and although we had a handful of clients that were happy with our work, it seemed we always had clients who said the content we produced just didn’t ring true. Sometimes it didn’t fit their brand’s personality. More often, though, it just sounded like an outsider had written it, so it came up short on authenticity.
We were starting to see that no matter how talented our staff might be, it would always be difficult to create content for our clients that sounded authentic to their brand and moved their sales needle in a meaningful way. While it wasn’t clear to us at the time, we now know that outsourced content will never capture the soul of a brand or resonate with customers the way insourced content can.
As such, we have since switched to a different agency model, where instead of creating the content for our clients, we employ a team of coaches and trainers who teach clients how to create content themselves.
After coaching our clients in this way for the past few years, we’ve been able to help our clients create more effective, authentic content to grow their businesses. In turn, it’s been easier to grow our own.
Since we’ve adopted this new marketing agency model, our clients are generally happier and more driven to succeed, our employees are more fulfilled, and our business is more profitable.
In this article, we’re going to share with you why you should consider this business model too, by demonstrating:
Why this unique marketing agency model can benefit your agency.
How to implement this new model for a more scalable future.
IMPACT CEO Bob Ruffolo saw the potential in this new model after working with They Ask, You Answer author Marcus Sheridan, who was already training and coaching his clients to do the heavy lifting.
There was an interesting dynamic here: Instead of bending over backward to create content that he hoped clients would accept, Marcus’s clients were working extremely hard to create content that Marcus approved of.
And it was working. His clients were succeeding in unimaginable ways, growing their traffic, leads, and sales faster than anything we had seen before.
Bob knew Marcus was onto something big.
After Marcus and Bob merged businesses, IMPACT adopted the same model. As a result, we saw our profit margins increase by about 10%.
This was largely because:
Clients were responsible for their own results and, therefore, became more invested in their own growth (versus depending on the agency). This resulted in happier, more successful clients and better retention.
Employees experienced more job satisfaction by helping clients succeed in the long term versus running short lead campaigns that generated temporary results. They also experienced less burnout, resulting in decreased employee turnover.
Few agencies embrace this model. This means it’s a major differentiating factor and can be helpful when we sell our services.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how powerful teaching clients to take charge of their own success can be — for the client and the agency.
This is why we believe the traditional model is broken and also why we’re so passionate about changing the way marketing agencies approach their business.
We believe coaching can help your agency focus on a major differentiating factor and enjoy the same success as we’ve seen by making this change that few agencies are doing.
How to build a world-class digital marketing agency with a coaching-centric business model
To switch your marketing agency model from doing to coaching, there are a few steps you need to take:
Focus on getting buy-in from client leadership
If you’re going to coach your clients to create content themselves, you have to start with getting buy-in from leadership — this will be especially tricky with existing clients.
If your client’s leadership doesn’t understand the importance of content marketing and becoming the No. 1 voice in their industry to grow their business in the digital age, your relationship will be doomed from the start.
But if you begin with a They Ask, You Answer workshop where you get all the decision makers on the same page — agreeing that today’s buyer has changed and your business needs to understand this and meet your customer where they are — you’ll have a much more successful journey leading your clients toward success.
Develop client-facing coaches and trainers instead of content creators
Though you want to have content creators on staff for your own marketing efforts, or even hire them as trainers who can teach your clients from a place of experience, you should focus on building your staff’s coaching skills, such as communication and leadership.
We’ve found it’s effective to have trainers who can work with your clients’ staff, who will be implementing the work, with the coaches leading the pack and working with leadership.
At IMPACT, our coaches work with the C-level executives on the overall marketing plan, and the trainers teach content managers and videographers to create content based on the They Ask, You Answer content marketing framework.
Your clients’ content managers will be doing the work and seeking your approval as they come to you for advice to be sure the content they’re creating is on track and strategic enough to grow the business. Your coaches will work with executives to be sure you’re hitting metrics and implementing the overall marketing plan effectively, helping your clients hit their metrics and goals from all angles.
Work with your clients’ marketing and sales teams
You can train your clients’ marketing team to create content, or you can work with both their marketing and sales teams in tandem to help them achieve greater results.
When your clients form a revenue team, by having key players from their sales and marketing teams meet regularly to create content around the shared goal of getting better leads and increasing sales, your clients’ marketing initiatives are far more successful.
This is because sales has the insight that marketing needs to better understand which pieces of content will turn prospects into customers.
Coaching your clients to tap into this knowledge makes your services extremely valuable.
Fast track your marketing agency success with coaching
When IMPACT first embraced a coaching and training agency model, we didn’t realize how much it would transform what we do — and how it would improve our clients’ results.