Running a digital agency is full of interesting problems to solve, personnel issues to resolve, and a host of business-related matters that test your mettle. Then there’s actually finding new clients and managing their requirements too. In this article, we cover how best to run a digital agency, the difficulties in doing so, and what you can do to help yourself.
Jack of All Trades or Master of None?
Running a digital agency can mean different things to different companies. The business may offer search engine optimisation (SEO) services to clients. It could provide web design or pay-per-click ad management services. Alternatively, social media account management could be part of its skillset. Equally, the digital agency could offer everything under a single umbrella which creates a particular set of problems for managers.
The more pieces to the puzzle, the harder it is. If you have a small group of staff members, many will need to be multi-skilled to handle the workflow. Larger operations can afford to employ specialists who dedicatedly stick to their lane. It’s a juggling act for many digital agencies where effective management is essential, or everything descends into chaos.
Digital Doesn’t Mean Things Don’t Get Analogue
In the push to make everything digital, we’re losing something as human beings. Witness the majority of people at a supermarket who walk around with Bluetooth earphones on as if they have a “Do Not Disturb” sign while they complete their food shopping. People are becoming disconnected from each other as human beings.
Similarly, in a digital agency, communication is paramount, not only across digital means through email or instant messaging, but also in person too. Especially with Millennials, there’s sometimes a lack of experience with in-person communication because they’ve grown up with smartphones. With digital firms that are often high-tech and staffed with many people under 35, it’s perhaps necessary to emphasise the need for meetings and clear vocal communication to ensure there’s clarity on projects, tasks and obligations.
Project Management Layers in Systems of Control
It’s important to use project management to add control to client projects, individual tasks and who’s responsible for their completion.
While traditional To Do lists are useful to have a list of linear tasks with no dependencies (waiting for someone else to complete their task before proceeding with your own), and can also have some degree of task delegation, they’re no match for project management tools like Trello or Asana.
What’s needed is to break down each project into its component parts by having tasks to complete, planning a timeline for each one, and noting down who will be responsible for their completion. Either the team manager or a dedicated project manager should create and manage through this viewpoint to gain a 1,000-meter overhead perspective on the status of each project.
To indicate how important this is, some larger digital agencies employ a manager who oversees a trio of project managers, who in turn manage all the outstanding projects that the company is handling.
Don’t Forget to Train Managers for Their Roles
The assumption is that if someone comes into a management position, they must know what they’re doing, right? Well not always. We have all suffered under bad managers who failed to see their own failings.
The reality is that management training is often necessary. It might not be because the manager is poor with interpersonal communications; they just might not deal with multiple, concurrent responsibilities (or the stress of them) as well as they might. Experience will help, but they also require techniques for how to manage projects and handle a myriad of different responsibilities while keeping an even tempo.
Learning better interpersonal skills and improved management techniques is all part of what The BCF Group provide through their management training courses. They’ve seen it all before, can spot the weaknesses in a person’s approach to a problem and help them to develop new ways to problem solve to achieve a successful outcome.
Often, through training it provides a framework for new managers to follow. With that, they have increased confidence to steer their team from their front foot, without being overcome by doubt or anxiety.
Match Goals with Rewards
Having business goals provides something for teams to pull towards. Breaking those goals down to what’s relevant for each manager and giving them the ability to do so for individual members of their team aligns the whole agency towards what matters most.
Tie in bonuses or other rewards to motivate staff members. The benefits don’t always need to be monetary either. Sometimes, it can be an extra week off work or another bonus that adds value beyond just money alone.
Operating a digital agency that deals with outside clients every day and juggles a variety of responsibilities is not without its difficulties. This is why it’s so critical to manage it well, otherwise the likelihood is that eventually it’ll all fall apart.
I'm SEO specialist and certified Adwords consultant. I have been working in Search Engine Marketing for over three year. In addition working in SEO, I love writing about the subject and contributing to forum discussion in forums about various aspects of Search Engine Optimisation from link building to content development. Read more about me here