The Agency Growth Blog - For Owners Who Want Growth

16 Ways Outside Coaching Helps You Grow Your Digital Agency

Posted by Mike Lieberman on Nov 22, 2019 7:30:10 AM

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You Can’t Do It Alone and You Shouldn’t Have To Do It Alone Anyway

coaching for digital inbound agenciesThere are a handful of solid agency coaches around. Most of them have the chops, experience and perspective to help you grow your agency. You might have considered working with one, then decided you’re not ready or they might not be able to help. You might have not clicked with them personally. These are all good reasons to continue on your own.

But in my experience, working with coaches and being a coach and having someone on your team to help guide you on your journey, can shave years off your path towards the agency that you aspire to own.

In fact, having someone by your side to help you skip potholes, move around detours and find the shortcuts might be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make while you manage your agency.

The Institute of Coaching cites that over 70% of individuals who receive coaching benefited from improved work performance, relationships and more effective communication skills.

They also reported that a huge 86% of company CEOs feel that they recouped the investment they made into coaching plus more on top.

Studies show that coaching is effective at reducing procrastination and facilitating goal attainment and there is a growing body of empirical research that supports the findings that business coaching really does facilitate goal achievement.

Here are 16 ways coaching add value to your agency almost instantly:

1. Pick up a tip on handling difficult clients – We all deal with difficult clients. I’ve always believed that they’re not being difficult on purpose but because they’re scared, uninformed, anxious or uncertain of expected results. Regardless, knowing how to help clients feel safe and secure is the secret to keeping clients happy and turning clients into advocates. I’ve found that sometimes it’s how you say something, not what you say. A coach, who has had decades of experiences can in seconds provide insights on how to speak to clients that move them from foe to friend.  That can be the difference between getting fired and having a client for many, many years.

2. Make a program adjustment that produces improved results – What we do is extremely complicated. Every client is different. Every client program is different. Every industry has its unique challenges. It’s part of my Snowflake Theory that makes what we do so complex. However, if you have a coach who has over 10,000 hours of experience working with hundreds of clients in many different aspects, then they might be able to quickly look at your client’s program and give you a few recommendations on how to improve those results. That might be the difference between helping a client grow, or simply limp along.

3. Feel more accountable if handling challenging situations – Running an agency in 2020 is very challenging. Growing one in an environment of hyper-competition, new technologies, new tactics, and a more complex buyer journey makes it even more challenging. It’s difficult when you’re “in it” on your own. Having someone outside, who you respect, to hold you accountable to making hard changes is a necessity in today’s agency ecosystem.

coaching to help agencies4. Learn how to work with your team more efficiently – When you’re a small company, you can get by on heroics. To grow, you need to move from heroics to systems and processes. This transition is challenging. Any guidance and shortcuts you can find from a coach on how to move your business from heroics to processes is going to be helpful in almost every area of your business.

5. Adjust your hiring process to improve the quality of your team – Smaller agencies can’t afford to make a hiring mistake. Larger agencies want to avoid making a hiring mistake. It’s well documented that hiring mistakes cost 10x the actual cost of the team member in question. Working with a coach who has hired many more people, built larger teams and run larger agencies can help agency owners to NOT hire the wrong new team members and keep your agency moving forward by hiring the right new team members.

6. Learn about a new technology – Today marketing, sales and customer service execution is forever intertwined with software now and will continue to be into the future. Agency owners have various backgrounds. Some are excellent at website design, some PR, some graphic design, others SEO. Most are not experts with ALL the new tools available to agencies and their clients. Having someone else who has used and tested software is critical going into 2020 and beyond.

7. Feel confident that new ideas have been tested and work – When you run a smaller agency, it's difficult to test and try new ideas. The risks are bigger. Resources are tighter. The distractions are more significant. By working with a coach who has had the ability to test and try new ideas and then shares the results of those tests makes adding new systems, processes, practices, and technology much less risky and much more viable. You’ll need these new ideas to grow.

8. Skip a mistake by hearing how someone else made the same mistake – We all make mistakes. Human beings are flawed. But just because one agency makes a mistake doesn’t mean you, as a fellow agency owner, doesn’t have to make the same mistakes. You can make different mistakes, . By working with a coach, you get the benefit of hearing about mistakes made, ensuring you don’t make the same mistakes. 

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9. Know how other agency owners are dealing with similar challenges is empowering – Agency consultants who work with a number of coaching clients can share a cross-section of experiences that empower smaller agency owners to make decisions based on facts and information, not opinions and perspectives.

10. Eliminate the feeling that you’re “alone” in your business – Many business owners and entrepreneurs have reported they feel “alone” in their businesses, especially if they don’t have partners. Not every business owner feels comfortable talking to their spouses, family, partners, or friends. But having a confidant who understands everything they’re going through and having a sounding board which understands your shorthand, provides a base on which you can grow your agency faster, better and with more confidence.

11. Schedule at least one meeting, session or block of time to work “on” the business – One of the comments I hear the most from other agency owners is how hard it is to find time to work “on” the business, instead of “in” the business. This is similar to how it’s hard to find time to work out at a gym. The best way around this is to hire a trainer who will hold you more accountable,  and where you’ll schedule the time and show up to get the full benefits. The same holds true with your company. Adding a coach who holds you accountable and schedules a time to work with you means you’ll show up and do the work. Working on the business is the most important work you’ll do, ever.

coaches for digital agency owners12. Gain real-time access to someone with more experience than you – Business happens at the speed of life. Sometimes you need to be able to pick up the phone, shoot out an email or jump on a chat. When you have a coach in your corner, that access becomes a legitimate option and one that becomes indispensable when you need to know whether to go left or right.

13. Pick up phrases and stories that improve your relationship with your clients – Sometimes you can move clients in the right direction by simply sharing a story. Often clients are their own worst enemy. Again, this is not by design but simply because they lack the experiences you do. In most cases, I’ve found agency owners passionate about helping their clients. If you can simply and efficiently share your experiences, you can help them make the right decision. Agency coaches can provide those stories for you to use to keep your clients moving in the right direction.

14. Apply policies and practices that produced proven results at other agencies – You can stop guessing about what it takes to grow your agency. Practices and processes running successfully in bigger agencies are excellent roadmaps. They might not work exactly the same, but they do give you basic principles to use at your agency. Coaches who have experience running larger agencies are in a very good position to share these practices, processes, methodologies and systems with you.

15. Get access to materials, playbooks, documents, and tools that you can use in your agency – The best coaches are happy to share important information with you directly. If you’re looking for a coach, ask them if they’re willing to share their actual documents, tools, playbooks, and materials with you as part of your work together. They should be very willing to share.

16. Collaborate with other agency owners for a broad perspective on growing an agency – It’s one thing to work with a coach, it's another to work with a coach and a team of fellow agency owners. Again, what works for one, might not work for another, so the more agencies owners you can connect with, trust and collaborate with, the faster your agency will grow. Work with a coach who is willing to bring their other agency clients into your world. This adds a ton of value and will accelerate your ability to grow.

It can be difficult to decide when to work with a coach, if you should be working with a coach and which coach to work with. Hopefully, this list of pluses provides you with all the ammunition to make that decision to work with a coach.

It’s also possible that some of the information here will help you pick the right coach and the right coaching program for you, your team and your agency. Once you do, lean into it. Be an active participant and take full advantage of your new coach. If you can do that, you’ll have everything you need to accelerate your growth. I’ve seen it time and time again. You have the skills; you just need the additional experiences and guidance were necessary.

New call-to-actionStart Today Tip – Make the final decision to use a coach. We all need extra help. I use a coach to help our agency improve and it’s made all the difference. You probably already have a coach or advisor to help with finances, exercise, diet and maybe you even have one to help you raise your children. Why not have one to help you with your biggest baby - your agency? You could start by asking around. Do you know anyone who uses a coach? Who do they use? How has the experience been? What have you gained from it? How has your agency grown? If you get enough referrals for the same person, consider having your own conversation with that coach. It might be a fit, it might not be, but at least you’re taking positive forward action toward helping you hit your growth goals.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Topics: Agency Coaching

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