Businesses pivot all the time to better serve their clients and customers, often in collaboration with agency partners who help them communicate shifts in their core offerings to target audiences. If the decision to make a pivot is a wise one and the change is managed well, it may lead to increasing sales for the company and business growth in new markets.
What happens when an agency decides the time has come to expand its menu of services? Here, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council explore how their agencies have created, pivoted or evolved a service offering to better serve a single client who was seeking help with something that wasn’t one of their current practice areas. Read on to learn about how pivoting to better meet customer needs worked out for them in the end.
1. We Have Found Our Stride After Some Learning Curves
We have built our agency by adopting new services as the market shifts and the client need becomes evident. Sometimes, the shift happens with one early-adopter client. Our most recent pivots included building an in-house social team and an in-house analytics team versus outsourcing. There have been learning curves with each, but over time, we have found our stride and are delivering success for the clients. – Scott Gardner, Liquid Agency
2. We Can Build Better Full-Funnel Brand Experiences Now
Several clients have asked us to lead their marketing/enterprise tech stacks since they inform key elements of customer experience/brand. As an advertising agency with a digital marketing arm, a deep enterprise dive was new for us. That said, because we’re hyper-focused on building optimal branding and customer experience, it now allows us to build better brand experiences throughout the entire funnel. – Ward Duft, Duft Watterson
3. We Nearly Pivoted To Our Demise Trying New Services
Creating and pivoting to other services was our agency mindset for the first several years. Trying to deliver new services to our clients was nearly our demise. We were never great at any one service for our clients, plus the regular pivots drove my employees crazy. Once we started saying “no” a few years ago, we began to deliver excellent results to happy clients, and my employees love me for it! – Jim Reynolds, Sofia Marketing
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4. We Collaborate With A Network Of Freelance Creatives
Collaboration and vulnerability are two big keys to success in an agency-client relationship, which can require admitting when something isn’t an agency’s strong suit. Even the biggest agencies in the world have gaps in their marketing services, which is why we have a network of freelance creatives and companies we love to collaborate with. It’s all about doing great work while building trust. – Scott Harkey, OH Partners
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5. We Learned Experiential And Saved On Subcontractors
We were set to launch an experiential campaign for a client when the firm we were subcontracting to got too busy and had to back out. We had no experience with this, from building sampling vehicles to permits to logistics—everything. But we figured saving the subcontractor’s markup would cover our learning, so we went for it. The result was a huge success! And dozens of sampling tours have followed. – Michael Parise, DENT Agency LLC
6. Our New Link-Building Service Has Grown Since The Pandemic
With a core competency in public relations, we now offer link building as a general service because it was once requested by a single client. Since the pandemic, when PR was primarily performed digitally with no opportunities for events or press tours, clients and SEO teams have realized the great potential for link referrals from our media activities. – Melanie Marten, The Coup
7. ‘Spokesperson Training’ Is Now One Of Our Core Offerings
I always say clients are our best teachers and innovators! Our “spokesperson training” service evolved as a hybrid of media training and presentation skills training, based on a couple of clients’ requests for both of the latter services for individuals. It’s now one of our core offerings, as company leaders often have a variety of audiences they need to address with the same message. – Beth Noymer Levine, SmartMouth Communications
8. We Market A Digital Asset Management Tool Built For One Client
We worked alongside a company with an extensive dealer network that struggled at times to maintain brand consistency at the dealership level. In response, we built a digital asset management tool to provide their dealers with access to templated files for marketing materials. Today, this is an offering several other clients have adopted and one we’re able to market in new business efforts. – Sara Steever, Paulsen
9. Our ESG Service Now Accounts For A Fifth Of Our Income
A year ago, we were asked to support a client with specialist services around their sustainability communications. This was not a significant part of our agency, but we delivered by bringing in external support. Twelve months on, we’ve invested in our environmental, social and governance service offering with new hires, cross-selling to clients and agency marketing to attract new clients. It’s now 20% of our agency income and growing. – Lis Anderson, AMBITIOUS
10. We Made A Commercial, Won Business And Built An In-House Team
In 2018, we produced a broadcast commercial for a large multinational client. They were so impressed with our creative, they asked if we would be willing to pitch ideas for their 2019 U.S. digital and print campaign. Of course, we said “yes,” and we won the business. As a video agency, we had to quickly spin up a specialized in-house team to handle the work. We continue to offer those services today. – Matthew Lopes, The DVI Group
11. Our Willingness To Pivot And Help Created A Deeper Connection
Recently, we had a client who had myriad staffing needs they were having difficulty filling. And while that’s not our wheelhouse, we do have a large network of talented people to draw from. We broke from our scope of work and found qualified candidates for all positions. The willingness to pivot and help with a problem created a deeper connection with a client who mattered deeply to our firm. – John Oates, JPO Digital
12. It Paid Off To Offer Whatever Clients Needed During Covid
When Covid first hit, we were concerned about losing some clients who had to cancel events and cut budgets. We decided to pivot and offer whatever they needed, from customer announcements to crisis communications. It paid off—we barely lost one client and even grew during the pandemic. Sometimes, flexibility is everything. – Michelle Mekky, Mekky Media Relations, Inc.
13. We Became A Full-Service Agency To Execute Our Innovative Ideas
As creative strategists, we were constantly ideating around innovative stunts and activations to drive brand awareness, engage audiences and deliver media results. Instead of having someone else execute our ideas, however, we evolved to become a full-service agency with experiential production and content development capabilities. – Brad Zeifman, SHADOW
14. We Integrated PR And SEO Into A Service For Select Clients
Our company has always done PR internally, but we never offered it as a service until it seemed as if it would benefit a client’s SEO campaign. Integrating PR and SEO was ultimately successful, and we began offering the same service to select clients. As an added bonus, this made our clients feel special because they were receiving a service that we still don’t advertise on our website. – Adam Binder, Creative Click Media
15. We Now Have A Successful Social Media Division
We pride ourselves on being a full-service search agency offering Web design, search engine optimization and Google Ads, but one of the weapons missing from our arsenal was social media. When approached by one of our existing clients, we were able to pivot and started offering social media marketing and social ads. This has been so successful that we have a social media division that stands on its own! – Frank Rojas, Qode Media Inc.
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member