Helping a digital marketing agency improve productivity and increase profit, whilst converting more enquiries into clients through business development
Jason Lawes established Red Sentence – a website design and development agency with a remote team of four – in 2012. As a working parent with caring responsibilities, he manages a precarious balancing act between his team, clients and family. Not easy!
Jason met Louise at an exhibition, and they kept in touch, he was impressed with Louise’s previous experience of working in four agencies with her sales and marketing focus. Her detailed, hands-on, results-focused style was something that he felt would quickly get results.
Louise carried out a Business Development Review and this highlighted some opportunities that resonated with Jason. These included time management, opportunities for delegation, ideal client analysis, lead generation at exhibitions, along with refining his client journey. Recognising the potential of these changes to support his business, he committed to a series of regular coaching calls with email follow-ups.
With a remote team and many projects on the go, Jason found time management challenging. He worked in a highly reactive way, responding to emails and phone calls as and when they arose. He also had the school run to contend with which added extra pressure and meant a shorter working day.
Louise helped Jason take greater control of his time by encouraging him to respect his time as if he were in a client meeting. This meant setting his phone to silent while working and responding to missed calls at a more convenient time. This instantly gave him greater control. He took a similar approach to his emails, focusing on these in a dedicated time block instead of as a continuously running task.
By using set times to get back to people and respond by email, Jason is more effective at eliminating distractions and achieving a state of hyper-focus. As a result, he is achieving more in the hours he works and improving his productivity.
Delegation and project tracking
As the team work from home, it can be difficult to delegate work effectively and keep track of varying project statuses and deadlines. The team had trialled a variety of project management tools but found the admin involved created extra work.
Louise shared a method of tracking projects that would give Jason a single view of all client work in progress. This made it easy to see what each person was working on, the status of each project, along with how each was progressing in line with the target completion dates.
As well as improving internal project management, this tool is key in supporting their weekly team meeting, and has improved team communication and staff management . It means any issues are highlighted and escalated early on. Having established a solid process, Jason is evaluating the best project management software to support the business in the future with the same level of visibility at a minimum.
Ideal client analysis
With a variety of clients, Red Sentence has historically taken a broad approach to their marketing which has included PPC advertising, exhibitions and various types of networking.
Analysing how each of these activities performs has been vital for Red Sentence’s future marketing strategy so they can focus on activities delivering a return on investment. This is a work-in-progress but has already demonstrated that previous activities were not reaching the agency’s ideal client, and so are not the right place to invest.
This analysis has already saved Jason time and money by establishing what method is working and what is not. He has also been able to reduce the amount of time and money he and his team invest in SEO. These insights have allowed Jason to run more tightly targeted activity, save time, reduce marketing spend and decrease costs. In time alone, this has saved Jason and his team the equivalent of four days per month – the equivalent of getting an extra day each week! What’s more, as well as reducing working hours, the shift in marketing activity is increasing enquiries. Some months, the agency receives double the enquiries compared to previously.
Louise quickly identified the need to have a more formalised client journey from onboarding, project delivery and beyond and has started to work with Jason in several areas to help strengthen this.
Client qualification. Previously, Jason would spend a lot of time creating detailed proposals for prospects, even though some of these would result in no work. With enquiries increasing, it was essential to streamline this process.
Louise helped Jason create a more structured qualification process. She worked with him to compile a framework to quickly identify and qualify prospects. This helps Jason focus his efforts on prospects that are more likely to convert. As a result, he has been able to account for 35% of enquiries being qualified out as non-ideal projects from the outset. These included companies using Red Sentence for benchmarking and those without realistic budgets, along with highlighting when they had not been contacted by the decision maker signing off the project. By only creating proposals for the remaining 65% of ‘ideal’ prospects, Jason and his team can save more time whilst effectively only spending time on enquiries that are likely to progress.
Learning from ‘lost clients’. Not every ‘ideal’ prospect will convert into a client. And in this case, Jason now follows up to understand why these prospects did not proceed. These insights are already impacting the way Jason and his team are creating proposals and promoting their services.
Client conversion. Focusing on fewer, higher-quality prospects and learning from those who didn’t convert has given Jason an edge when creating proposals. Since implementing the new qualification process, Jason has seen conversions of the total number of enquiries increase by nearly 20% per month.
Payment terms. Project cashflow is a challenge for many agencies – Jason was charging a deposit at the outset and following up with a final invoice at project completion. Yet with lengthy projects and 30-day payment terms, this could mean waiting a long time for final payment. Louise encouraged Jason to add staged payments for projects on top of an up-front payment resulting in improved cash flow with projects only being delivered upon payment.
An improvement across the board
In Jason’s own words, Louise has been able to ‘organise the chaos’ that comes with running a busy marketing agency. Having previously worked reactively, Red Sentence is increasingly taking a more planned approach – mapping out projects, delegating work and leading the client qualification process. As a result, they are seeing the benefits of improved productivity and increased profit whilst investing their time with the right prospects who are more likely to convert.
The financial benefit has, in some cases, been immediate. Small changes such as altering payment terms for clients mean improved cash flow while a better understanding of Red Sentence’s ideal client means the agency can be more focused on the way they spend their time and marketing budget. This, coupled with a tighter qualification process is resulting in a more productive and efficient operation across the board – Red Sentence are getting back nearly 20% of their time per month, doubling their enquiries and converting a greater proportion of their prospects. Having worked with Louise for over two years, Jason is looking forward to continued benefits in their work together.
Louise has been brilliant to work with. Her organised and pragmatic approach, coupled with her background working in marketing agencies, means she really ‘gets it’ and adds valuable advice and support. She took the time to understand how and why we were working the way we were and instead of imposing a new approach, adapted her suggestions to suit our needs. It’s been really helpful to get to grips with a qualification process that works, as now we have a better understanding of which prospects are more likely to convert. Her support has made a marked impact on our business – we have almost a day of extra time each week, a far healthier cash flow and double the enquiries we used to receive. Not only that, but she’s friendly and easy to work with. 5 stars!Jason