Growth and innovation are definitive aspects of the current marketing scene. Not only is there a high level of competition for gaining consistent traction and expansion, but there is also a distinct hunger for refreshing, innovative marketing ideas that outshine all those around them.
Needless to say, this can feel like a near-impossible undertaking at times, especially if you are a young or small digital marketing agency.
There are also other industry challenges to consider – omnichannel marketing strategies, understanding an ever-changing audience, and managing a limited marketing budget are just a few. But in such a fast-paced environment, finding ways to stimulate sustainable growth and innovation are crucial for survival.
Once you have the right strategies in place, facing up to these challenges won’t seem so daunting. In this guide, we’ll unpack the various ways in which growth and innovation are the keys to unlocking a sustainable business model, and how you can learn to balance them both.
Understanding the Digital Landscape
The term “digital landscape” refers to the large and constantly evolving collection of content, hardware, and software that intersects with the industry of digital advertising.
This can include emails, images, websites, videos, smartphones, computers, infographics, and so on. Within the current digital landscape, there exists a rapid pace of change which has a profound impact on emerging technologies – which can be seen as both challenges and opportunities for digital marketing agencies.
On the one hand, the light-speed level of digital evolution means that agencies like yours have access to some of the most cutting-edge tools and resources for connecting with audiences. This empowers you to explore new frontiers of audience engagement, reach, and growth.
On the other hand, your competitors have access to those same resources, which means the level of competition is always rising. There’s no time to waste. Working on new, adaptive, and innovative strategies is the only way to stay ahead in the digital rat race.
Key Trends Shaping the Digital Landscape
There are a few key trends shaping the digital landscape right now. These trends are influencing the way digital agencies like yours operate, and how consumers engage with your services.
Some of the most notable trends active within the current digital landscape include:
Generative AI – AI’s ability to generate content is a huge factor in the digital marketing industry right now. We no longer have to create images, blog posts, captions, or newsletters on our own – AI can do it for us, at least to some degree.
Machine Learning (ML) – 20% of C-level executives use ML as a core part of their business. This self-evolving form of technology can drastically improve data analytics, talent attraction, and data security management.
Workfluencers – Agencies can enhance their social media presence and traction by taking cues from influencers. This forms part of what employee advocacy is all about. When an employee acts as a spokesperson or ambassador for their employer’s brand, they expand the brand’s reach and drive engagement.
Big data – Big data refers to vast sets of data which can identify trends, patterns, and associations within a certain field or industry. Businesses can use it to better understand their audiences and learn about key trends such as the ones listed above.
The Importance of Growth in a Digital Agency
Growth is crucial for the success of a digital agency. But the concept of growth is not purely profit related. There are many other factors of expansion to consider when making plans to evolve and flourish in the future, such as:
Expanding client base – For your agency to grow, it needs a constantly refreshing wave of new clients. Retaining your current clients is important, but so is attracting new ones consistently over time.
Increasing revenue – The amount of profit your agency generates over basic costs such as salaries and maintenance should not be the same every year. It should increase year on year to indicate a healthy level of financial growth.
Enhancing capabilities – Your skills and capacity for delivering great service should also grow. Make sure you invest in tools and training programs that continuously improve your service offerings to clients.
There are a few strategies you can use to achieve growth, including partnerships and acquisitions. Let’s take a closer look at those two strategies.
Partnerships: Strategic partnerships with specialised agencies can strengthen the reach and capabilities of your own. Link up with other teams who can help you oversee bigger projects or actualise ambitious client goals to boost your reputation and invite more growth.
Acquisitions: A business acquisition is when an agency buys another agency, or part of its stock and assets. This boosts your agency’s capacity for fulfilling larger project briefs, thus facilitating sustainable growth over time.
Strategies for Sustainable Growth
Achieving sustainable growth isn’t something that happens on its own (as great as that would be). It requires a serious, well-thought-out strategy that suits your business goals and budget.
Sustainable growth is about looking ahead and adopting business practices that actively lay down the groundwork for future growth – not just short-term success. You can achieve sustainable growth by following these strategy examples:
Collaboration – Your agency will be stronger, bigger, and more connected with the support of other businesses in the industry. And as a creative agency, you’re in the perfect position to work on projects with other brands for exciting, memorable results.
Market penetration – This refers to the successful recognition and adoption of your brand and its services with the general public. Its aim is to increase sales and improve your market share, thus driving repeat business and sustainable growth.
Diversification – Don’t be afraid to launch new products and services based on previously unexplored markets. It will set you apart from competitors and give you a broader reach to consumers.
These strategies can help keep your agency focused on the core tenets of sustainable agency growth, such as customer retention, brand visibility, and investing in talent.
The Role of Innovation in a Digital Agency
Innovation is a quintessential element of any successful business or agency, especially in the digital marketing sphere. It helps agencies stay competitive, meet client needs, and adapt to changes in the digital landscape.
With the right strategies for innovation and original, fresh approaches to momentum, even the smallest agencies can generate the traction they need to break through the industry ceiling.
Fostering a Culture of Innovation
True innovation starts on the inside and ripples outward, creating a domino effect of creativity and rewarding risks. Knowing how to foster a culture of innovation within a digital agency is the first step towards implementing it into your business strategies. You can achieve this by:
Create an innovation sandbox – Before you can foster innovation in your audience, you need to define what that looks like to employees. Tell them what kind of ideas your agency defines as innovative – it will be much easier for employees to deliver.
Provide constructive feedback – When employees do communicate their ideas, tell them your thoughts. Constructive criticism, praise, and feedback of every kind is valuable.
Reward smart risk-takers – Everyone likes to be appreciated for good work, and rewarding innovation is what will inspire others to adopt a similar mindset.
As a creative, driven digital marketing agency, it is deeply important that your policies and company culture encourage creativity, invest in research and development, and embrace failure as a part of the natural innovation process.
Balancing Growth and Innovation
Finding a balance of growth and innovation can be challenging. Both are essential for your agency’s success, but too much of one or the other can cause an imbalance of strategy.
For instance, too much growth without innovation can cause problems for the scalability and capacity of your agency. Before you can grow to scale, you need access to the right tools, resources, and systems that can facilitate your ideal level of growth.
In other words, focusing too much on one can hinder the other. But there are ways to maintain a balance between these two qualities, such as stabilising profitability, streamlining internal operations, and performing continuous analyses on productivity and goal-reaching.
Case Studies of Successful Balance
As challenging as striking the balance between innovation and growth can be, many agencies have done it before, and yours can too with the right strategy.
Over the years, a few digital marketing agencies have stood out among the crowd with their ability to successfully balance growth and innovation, such as the following case studies.
1. Porter Novelli
Founded in 1972 in New York City, Porter Novelli is one of the oldest and most respected digital marketing and consultancy agencies in American history. They’ve done campaigns for Disney, 7UP, McDonald’s, and Timberland, among many others.
However, this agency’s claim to fame is a little ad campaign for the ASL Association called the Ice Bucket Challenge. Through this campaign, Porter Novelli is credited with one of the most successful modern examples of purpose-driven marketing and using internet virality to spark mass visibility – very quickly – across the globe.
The Ice Bucket Challenge raised more than $220 million and dominated social media platforms for several weeks in 2014.
2. Cuker Agency
This Californian digital marketing agency is proof that you don’t have to be a globally recognised agency to make advertisement history. Cuker Agency has worked with an impressive list of brands, including Nike, QuikSilver, Dunlop, Vans, and Sony.
But undoubtedly one of the highest-grossing and innovative marketing campaigns in post-internet history is the one Cuker Agency designed for Red Bull in 2012 – the Stratos Jump.
The Stratos Jump was a live-streamed video of high altitude skydiver Felix Baumgartner free falling from a 39 kilometre high helium balloon, which was effectively space. Cuker used Red Bull’s iconic slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” to illustrate a truly immersive and memorable sensation of flying and taking risks for the sake of innovation.
Through this campaign, the agency broke YouTube’s record (at the time) for the most live-streamed video on the platform, and it remained that way for many years after. This campaign is a great example of helping users connect with a brand in new ways.
The Bottom Line
Growth and innovation are two sides of the same coin – you can’t have one without the other. Innovation is the spark, creativity, and drive behind the expansion that growth facilitates.
Learning how to foster a healthy balance of both growth and innovation is the key to creating (and maintaining) a sustainable, profitable digital marketing agency. By assessing your agency, you can develop a clearer understanding of how to better balance these two crucial elements.
Implement Strategies For Growth And Innovation Today
Although the notions of balanced growth and innovation may seem daunting at first, there are plenty of simple strategies and tactics you can use to incorporate them into your agency.
By fostering a culture of internal innovation, embracing new technologies, collaborating with other brands, and maintaining a mindset of constant evolution, any digital marketing agency can achieve a sustainable relationship with creativity, innovation, and growth. Don’t wait. The digital marketing world moves fast, and you need to, too.