(originally posted on DesignBigger)
If you’re lazy, here’s the short answer: Because you can’t. Because you shouldn’t. Because you’ll do a pretty bad job at it.
I came from a background of having to do it all. I started my online marketing career with a company who, other than me, had a population of 1. I was responsible for pretty much anything that was related to technology. I had a pretty solid IT background, so building up the technological infrastructure for a small company wasn’t difficult. I’d done it a hundred times before. After my initial six months of cranking away and getting to the point where we could hire actual employees, I was told my focus was shifting; I would be responsible solely for the website and increasing sales through it via SEO and PPC. PPC was just starting to be worth considering at the time. We brought in a lot of traffic (mostly junk traffic), but it was outsourced to India, as was our SEO and web development.
After a couple of years of learning, experimenting, and lots of failing and some succeeding, I was becoming pretty good at SEO and PPC. We went from clearing just over $800k the first year I was there, to $14.7 million the year I left (5 years later), and it was almost entirely online sales. I was pretty confident that I was, well,…awesome.
For various reasons, I decided to see what else was out there for me employment-wise, and landed at a great local search marketing agency that focused on B2B clients. Although it was out of the norm, I was brought in to take on SEO and PPC accounts for clients. While I could easily kill it for clients from the SEO side, I just found little need for paid search marketing with these same clients. In fact, I began to HATE taking care of their AdWords accounts. I felt like it was wasting resources that could have been put to better use on SEO initiatives.
Eventually, I tried to migrate to doing nothing but SEO (with other employees taking on PPC), and it worked out better…or so I thought. I noticed during reporting time that the PPC accounts were starting to get some positive action going. The problem wasn’t the fact that we were doing PPC; the problem was that I was doing the PPC.
With this realization, it let me spend time on figuring out deeper issues on the SEO side that benefited the paid search side as a byproduct. I couldn’t do it all, but what I could do, I did better.
Figure out your strengths, but more importantly, figure out your weaknesses. Those are the areas that will make you money. We (as agencies) tend to downplay and not try to upsell our weaknesses. It’s self-preservation. While that’s fine and admirable, it doesn’t pay the bills.
What could you do for a client if you could take on that business in your weak spot? Would it make them an extra $10k a month? Maybe they could start a new campaign that would eventually incorporate what you are good at. There are tons of ways it could play out, and hopefully for you, pay out.
So what happens when you do sell a client on budget for something you’re not great at? You try it anyhow and screw it up? You hope they forget about it?
Why not try giving it to someone else?
If you aren’t out there actively trying to partner with people you compete with, you are going to get left behind. The other agencies will outgrow and overpower you because they have solutions that you don’t have. They don’t do video marketing? That’s okay, because they’ve got a partner for that. What about a designer that really gets industrial and commercial design? It’s probably not worth it to keep that person on staff, but being able to call them up for a job because you’ve got an existing relationship with them is money in the bank for you.
A lot of people I talk to refuse to consider doing business this way:
- It’s helping our competition! – By NOT doing it, yes, you are. Every service you can’t adequately offer puts you that much further behind the next guy. This is the biggest farce in marketing partnerships. Actively stealing work from you only will serve to hurt them in the long run.
- I swore I’d never outsource work! – This is simply a deflection. You outsource everything in your life. It doesn’t make it automatically worse because someone else does it. While you are responsible for what gets produced for the client, nothing says you have to tolerate poor work from a partner.
- We’re going to lose money by paying someone else to do it! – What are the implications of NOT doing it? Does the client get a poorer return on their marketing investment and end up canceling anyhow? Maybe they cut budget because they are seeing slow results, which end up being more work per hour for you to be able to still make enough impact to keep the account.
In the end, everyone wins. The client gets a solid service offering. The original agency gets to look like a hero, and probably increased budgets over the lifetime of the client (not to mention the dividends from referrals happy clients make). The executing agency gets to save money on having to find new work, and gets revenue from actually executing the plan.
It’s not a hard concept to be successful with when you put the effort into building the relationships. So, get out there and start building.
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