12 Essential Steps to Productise Your Agency for Profitable Growth

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Podcast
  • /
  • 12 Essential Steps to Productise Your Agency for Profitable Growth

In an ever-evolving digital landscape, digital marketing agencies confront numerous challenges, including balancing bespoke client demands with the need for efficiency and scalability. Industry veterans Melissa Morris and Rob Da Costa provide valuable insights into moving from bespoke services to productised offerings - a key development for agencies aiming for sustainable growth.

Introduction to Productisation

What is Your WHY?

Productisation in the context of digital marketing agencies refers to standardising services—creating clear, repeatable packages with defined deliverables. This approach contrasts sharply with the bespoke model, which tailors services to each client's unique needs. While bespoke services can cater exceptionally well to individualised client demands, they often result in extensive customisation, guesswork, and significant inefficiencies.

Recognising the Signs

The Bottleneck Syndrome

One of the most prominent indicators that an agency needs to consider productisation is the bottleneck created by the agency owner. This scenario occurs when the owner becomes an obstruction to smooth operations due to micromanagement and over-involvement in day-to-day tasks. Such bottlenecks not only impede agency growth but also lead to overwhelmed staff and deteriorating service quality.

Struggles with Profitability

Agencies experiencing fluctuating profit margins or consistently struggling with profitability should also consider shifting to a productised model. The bespoke model often leads to underpricing, over-servicing, and inefficiency—factors that directly impact the agency’s bottom line.

Operational Inefficiencies

Note that tasks frequently slipping through the cracks can signal the need to transition. This inefficiency often stems from the lack of standardised procedures, leading to confusion and missed deadlines.

The Benefits of Productisation

Scalability

One of the significant advantages of productisation is scalability. Standardised packages and frameworks allow agencies to streamline their processes, enabling them to handle increased client loads without compromising service quality. This approach also aligns with the marketing agency pricing strategies that attract and retain clients while maintaining profitability.

Clarity and Efficiency

Productisation brings clarity to both the clients and the agency team. Clearly defined packages limit the scope for ambiguity, making it easier to deliver consistent results and manage client expectations. Such transparency helps in setting accurate pricing models, further contributing to the agency's profitability.

Improved Profit Margins

Marketing agencies often suffer from profit erosion due to over-servicing and unclear work scopes. Productised services help define boundaries, enabling agencies to push back on excessive client demands firmly. This clarity enhances the digital agency profit margin by ensuring projects are completed within the agreed parameters without superfluous additions.

Avoiding Burnout

Its vital to avoid burnout and overwhelm, and taking on too many bespoke projects can exhaust agency resources. Productisation provides a structured approach that reduces the strain on the team, fostering a healthier work environment.

Steps to Transition

Documenting Deliverables

Start by documenting deliverables for all clients. This exercise helps identify commonalities and lays the groundwork for creating standard packages.

Identifying Ideal Clients

Agencies should focus on the clients they excel at serving and enjoy working with, shaping their offerings to meet these clients' needs. Understanding the target audience and identifying trends in the type of work that generates the best results are crucial steps in this process.

Consistency with Flexibility

While creating consistent packages, retaining some degree of flexibility is essential. Agencies should develop core packages while allowing for slight customisations to meet specific client requirements without deviating significantly from standardised offerings.

Research and Planning

Slow down to speed up - it's crucial to invest in thorough research and planning before launching productised services. This due diligence helps ensure that the transition is smooth and that the new offerings resonate with the target market.

Mindset and Overcoming Blockages

There are a number of mental hurdles associated with letting go of control and the bespoke approach. Embracing a mindset shift towards efficiency and standardisation is critical for successful transition.

Balancing Creativity and Customisation

But how do you maintain creativity in a productised environment?

Whilst custom projects are possible, they should not form the backbone of the agency’s work. Conducting audits to uncover client needs and creating service offerings that align with these requirements can balance creativity with efficiency.

Impact on Profitability

Sales to Delivery Efficiency

Productisation significantly enhances the efficiency from sales to delivery. Clear, standardised packages reduce the time spent on creating bespoke proposals and ensure that all team members understand the scope of work, improving overall productivity.

Capacity Management

Clear deliverables and frameworks help agencies manage their capacity better, ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively. This approach prevents the feast and famine cycle commonly experienced in bespoke service environments, fostering steady growth.

Pre-qualifying Clients

Consider including pricing details on the website or intake forms to pre-qualify clients. This strategy ensures that only clients willing to invest at the set price point engage with the agency, reducing time wasted on incompatible leads.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls

One major pitfall in transitioning to productised services is creating packages for non-ideal clients. Agencies should focus on their ideal client profiles and avoid getting sidetracked by "what if" scenarios. The 80/20 rule can guide decision-making, concentrating on efforts that yield the highest returns.

Practical Recommendations for Transition

Auditing Existing Services

Conducting a thorough audit of current client needs and service performance provides the foundation for creating effective productised offerings. This process involves understanding what works, what doesn't, and how best to package services for the target market.

Target Audience Clarity

Agencies must define their target audience and niche for successful operation. This clarity helps in shaping offerings that resonate with the market, ultimately driving profitability.

Transition Timeline

The time required to transition can vary but typically ranges from a few weeks to a few months. This duration depends on several factors, including the clarity of the service offerings, the agency's readiness, and the mindset of the team.

Conclusion

Transitioning from bespoke services to productised offerings is a strategic move that can significantly enhance an agency’s efficiency, scalability, and profitability.We have outlined the key steps for this transition in this blog.  Identify the right time for change, plan meticulously, and maintain a flexible, client-focused approach.

Understanding the nuances of productisation, from recognising the signs and documenting deliverables to maintaining a balance between creativity and standardisation, equips agencies to navigate this shift successfully. By focusing on ideal clients, conducting thorough research, and overcoming mental blockages, agencies can embark on a path toward sustainable growth and improved profit margins.

Questions and Answers

Q: What is productisation in the context of digital marketing agencies?
A:
Productisation refers to standardising services into clear, repeatable packages with defined deliverables, as opposed to tailoring services uniquely for each client.

Q: What are the signs that an agency should transition from bespoke services to productised offerings?
A: Signs include the agency owner becoming a bottleneck, struggles with profitability, and frequent operational inefficiencies where tasks fall through the cracks.

Q: What are the key benefits of productisation for digital marketing agencies?
A: The key benefits include scalability, improved clarity and efficiency, better profit margins, and reducing the risk of team burnout.

Q: How should an agency start the process of transitioning to productised services?
A: Agencies should start by documenting deliverables for all clients, identifying their ideal clients, creating consistent packages with some flexibility, planning meticulously, and addressing any mental blockages.

Q: How can agencies balance creativity with the standardisation inherent in productisation?
While custom projects are possible, they should not be the agency's primary focus. Agencies can conduct audits to align service offerings with client needs, ensuring a balance between creativity and efficiency.

Q: What impact does productisation have on agency profitability?
Productisation enhances profitability by improving sales to delivery efficiency, better capacity management, clearer scope definitions, and pre-qualifying clients through transparent pricing strategies.

Q: What common pitfalls should agencies avoid when transitioning to productised services?
Common pitfalls include creating packages for non-ideal clients and getting caught up in "what if" scenarios rather than focusing on core offerings that serve ideal clients effectively.

If you want to listen to this episode as a podcast, click below:

 Full Episode Transcription

Rob Da Costa:
Hey, everybody, and welcome to this week's Agency Accelerator, the podcast that helps agency owners unlock their full potential and drive sustainable growth. I'm your host, Rob Costa. And today, we are diving into a critical topic that often holds back from scaling, and that is the transition from bespoke services to a more productised offering. Now joining us for this exciting discussion is Melissa Morris, the founder and owner of Agency Authority, an operations consultancy dedicated to transforming the way agencies work. She has over a decade of agency experience and is a champion for change in the agency world, which is Music to My Ears, committed to breaking the all too common cycle of long hours and inadequate compensation. With her help, she empowers agency owners and their teams to do work that they love without sacrificing client satisfaction, financial success, or indeed their own well-being. So in today's opposite episode, we'll explore the challenges and opportunities that come with moving away from fully Costa bespoke services towards more scalable productised solutions. And Melissa will share her expertise on how agencies can make this transition successfully, some of the things they should look out for that ultimately allows them to serve more clients all all while maintaining quality and, most importantly, profitability.

Rob Da Costa:
So whether you're an agency owner looking to scale or simply curious about optimizing your service offerings, you're in for a treat today. So let's dive in. Melissa, welcome to the agency accelerator.

Melissa Morris:
Hi. Thanks so much for having me on.

Rob Da Costa:
How was that introduction?

Melissa Morris:
It was great.

Rob Da Costa:
Okay. Good stuff. Well, let's just dive right in. I just wanted to kind of give a bit of context to this whole conversation. So can you start off by defining what we mean by bespoke services in an agency Costa? And also why they can be a double edged sword for agency growth?

Melissa Morris:
Absolutely. So when we're talking about bespoke services, we're meaning we're still really tailoring our packages to our clients. So this can look a few different ways. Sometimes I even see agency owners trying to guess at what they think the business needs, how much they think they can afford, and they find themselves cobbling together these packages. Some of this even just comes from perhaps a bit of scarcity mindset of they asked me to include this, so I'm gonna go ahead and include that too. And I think a lot of that stems from, 1, the nature of what it's like to build and grow an agency. When we first start out, we Costa are experimenting with our packages. We are trying to explore what do our ideal clients want, who is our ideal client, What how how can we best serve them and really move the needle for them? So I think early on, that's very normal and a very important part of the process.

Melissa Morris:
You have to experiment and learn. But there does start to become a moment where that starts to hurt you. And it's really time to start leaning into what you know about your work, what you know about your clients, and creating a more standardized service offering and really moving away from creating a new package every time or making a lot of concessions on the the quote, unquote packages that perhaps we do have when we're on sales calls.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. And it's really interesting. I think you're absolutely right that in the early days, we are kind of experimenting experimenting about what works, but it's also an interesting point that you made that people make assumptions about what their clients need and, that's a very dangerous thing to do, isn't it? I always talk about are you selling vitamin pills or painkillers, where a vitamin pill is something that you know you think would be really helpful to your client, but what the client really needs today because they've got a headache, is a painkiller. And so it's really important in those early days where you're trying to work out your service offering that you spend lots of time talking to your audience and looking for those common themes and the pain points that they have and how that overlaps with your skill set and what you can offer.

Melissa Morris:
Oh, I love that analogy, and I, yeah, I think that's spot on.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. Absolutely. So, what are some of the kind of warning signs that suggest an agency should start thinking about moving away from purely bespoke services? Like, what stage in an agency's kind of evolution should they start thinking about this?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. Just, you know, kind of very practically what do these agencies look like. They're usually getting to multi 6 figures at this point, which means they figure it out. They are really starting to see who their ideal client is, how best they serve and support that client. They have likely started to bring on contractors. Maybe they've even, you know, gone for an employee, and they've got somebody on board, and they have other individuals now supporting them in client delivery. So on paper, demographically, this is a lot of times what they look like. But what are they actually experiencing day to day? So there are a few red flags.

Melissa Morris:
1 is you are the bottleneck as the agency owner. And what I mean by that is you find you're answering lots of questions from the people who are there to help you. You are often, overseeing things. They are coming to you seemingly with questions that you feel like maybe they should know the answer to, or maybe they should be, feeling more empowered to handle. Accountability feels a little wishy washy, a little vague. And the reason you're seeing this is because there is not a clear container for them to work in. Because packages are still very custom or there's lots of, oh, I gave them this extra piece or I went ahead and made this little tweak for them. Your team members and people you've brought on to support you are are feeling a little confused.

Melissa Morris:
And so in their own efforts not to under deliver, not to over deliver, they're coming to you with lots of questions and really wanting your oversight every step of the way. So that's that's 1 way I see it happening. A second way is you're really now starting to struggle with profitability, with revenue. Again, when it's just yourself or maybe you've got a VA or a very, very part time contractor, it's really easy to do the math and see. If I charge this, I get this much and I pay them this much. But now we've got people who are introduced who are doing a lot of the client work. They may be on client meetings, having conversations that we're not present on, and that can feel very confusing and very muddy. And then again, now because we haven't been really clear on the service offering, our team members don't feel as empowered as they want.

Melissa Morris:
They're coming to us, as I mentioned, that these questions never really increasing administrative time. Agency owners and micromanage feels like such a negative word, and I know they don't want to, but they often find themselves in a micromanaging or task managing situation. Again, we're increasing administrative time, And then they find, gosh, I feel like we're running out of budget. We're running out of hours in this project. That's another red flag that we really need to start tightening up packages, because tight packages create efficiencies. They increase productivity. And the third thing, which you can see this all starts to piggyback off of each other, is tasks are slipping through the cracks and sometimes bigger tasks. So we feel the email from the client and they say, hey.

Melissa Morris:
Where's that lead magnet that you said you were gonna create for me? And you go, oh my gosh. I totally forgot that I told this client you were gonna make a lead magnet for them. And you're on the phone with a designer, and you're trying to whip up some copy, and now everybody's scrambling. And, again, now we don't have that inefficiency. Right? We're spending more time. And so all of these pieces really start to work together, but you can see I'm the bottleneck. I'm answering lots of questions. I'm really struggling with budget, timeline, and we're forgetting to do things that we told our clients we would do.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. Such good so lots of good points that you made by, there. I was running a workshop this morning that was kind of pertinent to this, and the whole concept of the workshop is, are you the CEO of your underpaid employee? Because too many agency owners are, are you being very polite? I won't be so polite. Too many agency owners are very oh, control freaks. They that's why they started their agency. Right? They wanted control. They didn't have it in when they were working for another company, so they start their own business. And yet the need for control means they can't let go and that perpetuates everything that, that you just said.

Rob Da Costa:
So let's give another definition now. So I think people will nod their heads to everything you just said, but they might be a bit confused by the idea of productising their service because they might think, no. No. Hang on a second. We're a service based business. We don't sell products. So can you just give us a bit of a definition and maybe sort of some examples of what a productised agency service might look like?

Melissa Morris:
Yes. And productised can feel maybe like a, a fancy word or a word that's maybe harder to wrap our heads around, especially when we're a service based industry. We're hearing that word product, but what we're really talking about is standardization. We have clear packages with clear deliverables, and you're not deviating from them. So package a includes these very specific deliverables, and it is this price. Package b has its own very specific deliverables, and it has a price. This is what we're really looking towards, and we can start to incorporate things like frameworks. I know a lot of people are probably heard about frameworks.

Melissa Morris:
They may have some or exploring their own frameworks. This is a great way to start to look towards that. These 2 things often go together. I won't go too much down that path. But the point is is we have very clear deliverables. And some things I want you to think about too when we're talking about clear deliverables is, are they actually clearly think of, almost smart goals. Is it measurable? Can I track it? Do I really know what this means? So I I caution people when we're talking about a package. Don't say strategy is included.

Melissa Morris:
You have now opened the door for your client to email you or call you or, you know, pop pop in anytime they have an idea of this. Oh, run it by Rob. Run it by Melissa. They offer strategy. So we would wanna reframe that and say we have a strategic Costa, and maybe that happens once a month or once a quarter, whatever starts to make sense. But what we've done is we're still offering them strategy, and they still get that opportunity to ask us questions. But we're putting some pretty good boundaries around when they're gonna ask us those questions, when we're gonna answer them, and what that looks like. And so then if they are emailing me, oh, you're gonna help me with strategy? This is great.

Melissa Morris:
I'm gonna add it to the agenda for our next strategy call that we have coming up. So, again, product size service offering, really just think about standardizing your packages. And that can look like to having some add ons. So this is some some way you can start to think about, well, sometimes they need. Right? Let the lead magnet example. Well, sometimes they need a lead magnet, but sometimes they don't. Okay. Well, that's an add on.

Melissa Morris:
But again, that add on should be very standardized. Your lead magnet includes x, y, and z at this price point.

Rob Da Costa:
Okay. Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. I'm just trying to think of some of the questions that people might be thinking.

Melissa Morris:
Yes.

Rob Da Costa:
They might say, hey. But, Melissa, I'm the invaluable outsource marketing department for my clients. They rely on me to do everything. So I'm you know, it would be very scary for me to start saying no and to narrow my focus. And they might say, you know, what makes me different is our different to other agencies are willingness to say yes and help our clients out. So how does that I mean, there's loads of red flags in that I know, but it's some stuff I hear. But how does that play against kind of like putting a product, putting a service more in a productised sort of box?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. And that is a common concern of of agency owners. But I I would caution you to consider by doing that, what are you also doing? You're burning yourself out. You're leading to overwhelm. You're making yourself we can't clone ourselves. Right? Lots of technology. We've got AI, but we're not quite there yet where you can introduce a a brand new you. And so I at that point, it's time to look at your business model.

Melissa Morris:
Are you a consultant and you're really gonna be the person doing the client delivery and you maybe just have a couple of support systems and you're going to go all in with just a couple of clients, I think that's how that business model could look, and then it needs to be priced accordingly. But if you want to pull yourself out of client delivery and you really want to be that CEO of the agency, you need to have things in place that allow others to implement your work. And I think this too can be where some of that framework comes into play. Right? So I I think an example here is so we work with agency owners. And maybe this agency owner works on Asana, and this agency owner works in ClickUp. Well, they're 2 different project management tools, but I'm supporting them with their project management tool. And I have a very, specific approach that we're gonna take. There are principles and foundations that we're gonna put in place, whether you're using Asana or ClickUp or monday.com or whatever that looks like.

Melissa Morris:
So that also starts to become that product tie service is your intellectual property. What do I know about how to organize these things? How to structure these things? So I think someone who maybe, is working in, like, HubSpot, they could do something similar where, okay, I'm gonna create 3 pipelines for them, and each pipeline is gonna have 5 stages. This is a pretty clear package. You're gonna get 3 sales funnels or pipelines. Each will have 5. And if you want more than that, then maybe that's that's an add on. Now what I'm tracking in that, what those steps look like, we have lots of flexibility within there, but I put a put a container around that work. So I hope that gets people's brains thinking about how they could take something that feels very custom and still create some structure around what that offer looks like.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. I think we'll dig into that a little bit more, but I think I just wanna really highlight the point you made that we have to decide if we're a consultant or if we're running an agency, and 1 of the huge advantages and reasons why you should look at doing this is because it does by documenting these standardized procedures, these frameworks, you create scalability in your agency because suddenly other people can deliver things and they can do it to a good standard because they're following a framework. Whereas, if it's all kind of intuitive in your head and maybe you've got 1 other star player in your agency that can do what you do as well, well, that definitely isn't scalable and, you know, you'll end up working long hours and being pretty poor, and you'll end up not being the CEO of your agency, but being the underpaid employee. And none of us want that even if we reluctantly have to admit. So let's be sort of practical for a moment. So let's say I am a, a PR agency. I work I've got a clear niche I work in in financial tech. And but I've been doing all sorts of things for my clients.

Rob Da Costa:
And but I I'm I I'm sitting here today, and I'm going, Melissa, I hear what you say. What's the first thing I should start doing to start moving towards a productised service? So let me ask you 2 big questions here, and how do I make sure I don't alienate my existing clients in the process?

Melissa Morris:
That is always the question I get asked and I set some expectation management to start Anytime I work within the agency, I never recommend we start firing people or start forcing their clients into new packages that maybe they're not used to or are far more expensive than their current service offering is. We certainly don't want to bite the hand that feeds us. And these, you know, clients have potentially been anchor clients for us or worked with us for a long time. So with that being said, a great place to start is to write down the deliverables for all of the clients that you do. And then I want you also, though, to think about it. It's unfortunate, but we all do have a couple of clients that we know this is not an ideal client. This we know they don't have the budget to to work with us. We really know they're not a good fit.

Melissa Morris:
We're not gonna worry about them because we're not gonna start creating a package or a product I service offer for people we don't want to serve or we know we can't best serve. So we wanna look at the people that we are getting good results for, the people we really enjoy working with, and let's see what we're giving them. And I will say a lot of times, even just by talking through and writing down and almost seeing it side by side, you start to see some trends. And so you can start to slowly migrate and work towards a consistent package. So for example, you may say, oh, for this client, we post 4 times a week on 2 platforms. And for this other client, we're posting 6 times a week on 2 platforms. Okay. Well, that's almost the same thing.

Melissa Morris:
Right? And you can have a little bit of flow and flex flexibility in a package. It can say we're gonna post 4 to 6 times or just meet in the middle at 5. Would the person who's having 6 be that mad if they got 1 less? And the person has 4, get right 1 more. So I would say don't get too caught up on little details like that. Now if we're doing social media for this client and we're not doing it for anybody else, okay, we need to take we need to take a look at that. Like, maybe that's just something we, moving forward, really shouldn't be offering anymore. But look for some synergies. Look for some overlap.

Melissa Morris:
Also, what I want you to do is think about the work that you would want to be doing. Right? As we are growing as an agency, we are starting starting off with rates that are lower, packages that are more comprehensive. Like we talked about, we're experimenting. And now that we're starting to dial that in, we're working with probably larger clients, clients that do have larger budgets for our work, what would we want to offer them? And then you can always come back to that good, better, best type of package. What's a good 1? What's a better 1? And what's a best 1? And then as you start to formulate these new packages, start by going to the clients who closely align with some of those. And then next contract resign, come to them with that. Say, hey. This is we've just kind of reorganized some packages.

Melissa Morris:
This is what it's gonna look like. Now if you find you've gotten a situation where once you start pricing things out and you really start looking at the liberals, you think, oh, this is gonna be, you know, like, a $400 a month increase for this client. That that could feel like a lot, especially if they've been used to paying the same price with you for a while. You're the agency owner. You've got a couple of options. You could go to them and say, it's $400 more a month. This is what it looks like. We could also stair step them.

Melissa Morris:
What if we told them for the first, you know, 4, 5, 6 months, it's only gonna be $200 a month more? And then for the second half of that contract, we're gonna get them. That gives them time to recalibrate. It knows that you guys are working together, to to try and sort that out. But let this feel like a transition and not a flip of the switch.

Rob Da Costa:
Good advice. A couple of questions about this. I think some people will be thinking that putting themselves and their offering in a box, if you like, will sort of inhibit their creativity, and a lot of their clients come to them for custom for sort of Costa services. So how can we balance that desire for, you know, all that belief about creativity and customization versus productisation?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. Again, I think it comes back to making sure we're not gonna be a consultant and we're gonna be an agency. And then I think there is an opportunity when it's the right fit, when the budget allows. Can we do a custom project for somebody? Yeah. I mean, it's our agency. Ultimately, we can do, right, whatever we want, but we don't want that to be the backbone of the work that we're doing. Some other things you can consider, especially if you are maybe still navigating what that product high service may look like or what you want it to look like. You could even consider doing some maybe, like, what people would call an intensive or VIP day.

Melissa Morris:
This this idea of almost, like, getting paid for the proposal. Do an audit. Do an uncovering of what they actually need, and then you can start to, create service offerings and stuff that that align with that. Something else to look out for too is and I I think really touches on this too. If I feel like I need to have very different approaches, I really still need a lot of flexibility. I probably also need to dial in my target audience more. If everybody's still feeling like they need very different or very flexible, that's probably maybe the first place I need to look is maybe I'm I'm serving too many different types of clients.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. That's a really good point, and I think it's worth, emphasizing that to make any of this really work, I mean, to make any agency really work, you need to have super clarity on your niche or your niche. You need to be really clear about who you serve, so who is your ideal target customer in that space. And then you can start to do this stuff. Because if you if you're trying to be everything to everybody, this is gonna fail and your whole agency is gonna fail. Let me just ask you 1 question that is a superbly important byproduct of doing this that we haven't really talked about yet, And that is that this will, have a big impact on your profitability as an agency. So can you just talk us through why that is the case and, you know, why that's another kind of reason that we should be cheering on productisation?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. So I think there's a few things really, even from sales all the way through delivery. So 1, we wanna make it easy for people to buy from us. And when we're getting on a sales conversation and it feels a bit like, what do you want? What do you what do you want us to do for you? Oh, we could do this or we could do that. We could do that. It makes it hard for me as the the consumer and potential client to know this is what I need. This is who I wanna work with. Because they're likely coming to you because this is something that they're not equipped to to handle internally for for whatever reason.

Melissa Morris:
So they need somebody to tell them, this is what you need, and this is what it looks like. So right out the gate, you should see more sales conversions because of that clarity. People understand what they're buying. They're they're ready to buy it. Now we're looking at actual client delivery. As we talked about a little bit earlier, when team members are coming to you with questions, there's lots of conversations in Slack and email. We're having lots of team meetings. What's going on with the client today? What's going on with the client today? Your admin time is just racking up.

Melissa Morris:
And when you have a productised service, you've got that standardization. Everybody knows what they're supposed to go and do and what it looks like. If I say they have the social media package, I know that includes 5 posts a week on 2 platforms, and we're gonna throw in 2 reels. I know what that looks like. I don't need to come back and ask questions. I know they get 2 rounds of revisions or 3 rounds of revisions. I know when to ask the agency owner or tell them that I'm having having a problem. So those efficiencies really help with your profitability and your bottom line.

Melissa Morris:
And then that even moves on to things like capacity management.

Rob Da Costa:
And, of course, 1 of the reasons why so many agencies lose lose their profits is because of over servicing and because they haven't got clarity on their scope of work. And productisation enables you to really nail in your scope of work because you become laser clear from day 1 exactly what's included and therefore what isn't included. And it probably becomes easier for more junior members of staff to kind of push back a little bit on clients where they're often scared to do that because now they've got really good clarity about what's included. So when the client says that dreaded, can you just, and in their mind, it's a 20 minute piece of work, but in reality, it's a 2 hour piece of work. And, of course, those, can you just add up quickly? Well, we've now got a better way of, managing that. Right? So, let me just ask you 1 other thing. I'd it'd be interesting to see if we agree on this. But where this sounds like a silly question really, but where do you promote these packages? Would you suggest to people that they clearly articulate these packages on their website? Would you suggest they put pricing on the website? What's your thoughts on where and when we promote the packages?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. I think there is some mixed, reviews or mixed feedback out there about how best to go about that. I think depending on your type of business, there could be an opportunity to experiment with that. I am a fan of including pricing even if it's a bit of a starting at or something in your intake questionnaire or form that helps give them a bit of a an anchor rate. So if working with you Costa a minimum of $5,000 a month, I need to know that. And so if you don't want to put $5,000 a month, you could even have on your intake form, like, what's your annual revenue? And if that annual revenue starts at, like, half a $1,000,000, I go, oh, this go this maybe is not for me, and then people at that point can self select out. So from that standpoint, I am a a big fan of having some way people can understand your pricing. And then in terms of actually getting down into the, like, super deliverables, I usually keep those a little more high level on the website, mostly because you don't want to bog them down before they've had a sales conversation with them.

Melissa Morris:
If I'm looking at it thinking, oh, I don't need a lead magnet. I I don't need that. Well, I I may not know. I'm I might actually need that. So we wanna really speak more to the overarching goals, what we're gonna accomplish, and then let those details come farther down, the sales pipeline.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. It's it's good. I kind of almost agree with you in all that you just said. I think it's super important that we qualify people out very quickly if they don't have the budget, And there's a time and a place to ascertain that in that kind of setup call process. But I'm personally not a big fan of people promoting their prices on their website because I think it it commoditizes them a little bit. Excuse me. And it kind of makes the customer look at the wrong thing. What I really want the customer to do is relate that I understand their pain, and I have a solution to solve their pain.

Rob Da Costa:
And like you said, we need to have a chat about that, first of all. But on the other hand, I don't wanna spend time talking to somebody who's got £500 to spend when I'm charging 500 £5,000 a month. So totally get that as well. So just to sort of wrap the my my last, oh, my last question before we wrap this up is, are there can you think of any common pitfalls that agency owners should be aware of when making this transition, and any advice on avoiding any of those pitfalls?

Melissa Morris:
Yes. So there's a couple of pitfalls. 1, I spoke on just a little bit, and that was don't start creating packages for people who are not your ideal client. Right? If we already know they're not a good fit, let's not try and accommodate them. Let's let's look ahead. The same can go with the opposite. If you have a large anchor client and they are an anomaly, let's not try and create those package or cram them into a little box. Those are the type of things you just let happen naturally, until you've got a better revenue stream and you feel more stable and secure with what you've got there.

Melissa Morris:
The other thing is is don't get caught up in every what if. So I see this happen a lot is we say, okay. We're going to include, you know, a website in this package. Well, sometimes people have it or sometimes they don't or some what if they need this? Don't what if yourself. So I always say, if this would work 75, 80% of the time, then you're good. We don't need to think about every random 1 off. Let that be your guide. With this work 75 or 80% of the time, Yeah.

Melissa Morris:
Okay. Then then roll with that. Because you are starting you're starting that transition, and there will, during this transition period, maybe be little shifts and changes. And when you think about it, if, you know, I have this package and and included as a sales flyer, Will 75 or 80% people are gonna need that sales flyer? The 20% that don't, it's included. Take it or leave it. Right? Like, cool. I'll make you another 1, or if you don't want it, that's okay. But don't get yourself stuck where, well, I'm gonna reduce the price by this much because they didn't need that sales flyer or I'll let them switch it out, and I'm gonna give this you've gotten yourself right back in to to bespoke offers.

Rob Da Costa:
Yeah. Absolutely. Good advice there. And I think the old 80 20 rule is is a great rule to apply to everything we do in a business. And in this case, like, you say, if it fits for 80% of the clients, then you're good to go. Just lastly, before we jump in the last question, if I'm a very bespoke services client that, agency today, I'm listening to this podcast, nodding my head, thinking I need to do this, what would be the typical length of time you think it would take? I know this is probably how long is a piece of string, but from, like, being a very bespoke services agency to becoming more of a productised agency, what would be that length of time I should think this is gonna take?

Melissa Morris:
Yeah. That is a great question. And obviously, there could be a lot of variables in that. But I do feel like I could give a range with the number of clients we've worked with and what I've seen. I have seen some do it in a matter of a few weeks. And, again, we're not flipping the switch for our clients. Right? We're getting that clarity internally about what that looks like. I have seen it happen in as soon as just a few weeks, but I have seen it take up to a few months.

Melissa Morris:
So I would say, you know, on the long ends, you know, 4 or 5 months, but potentially as soon as 6 or 8 weeks. And that would depend on your clarity around your target audience, what your service offerings look like, and really your own mindset and fear. How much resistance are are you putting on yourself?

Rob Da Costa:
Well, there's a whole other there's a whole other conversation we haven't even touched upon because I absolutely believe that 50% of the success of doing this is gonna be mindset and overcoming some of those blocking blockages. And the to sort of wrap that up, my thoughts on that is that really do your research. Get your ducks in a row before you go to launch this because I'm sure you've done it. I certainly have done this many times where I've had an idea. I haven't really thoroughly thought it through or researched it well enough. I've gone health a leather to launch it and then it's not successful, and then I've kind of screwed myself a bit. I did done that a lot in the past and had to learn the hard way that that wasn't a good way to do it. So do your research, work out what a plan of action is, put that in place first of all so everything's ready to go and then and then launch.

Rob Da Costa:
Let me just ask this, you, the final question that I ask all of my guests on the podcast, which is if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business a piece of advice, what would it be?

Melissa Morris:
You know, I was thinking about this because I knew you're gonna ask me. And for me, I would have hired sooner. I really dragged my feet to bring in support for my business even at an assistant level, social media support. I really dragged my feet on that. And I think it did hurt me to start. I I think it did impact my growth. And I think this speaks a little bit to what you mentioned earlier about us all feeling a little bit like a control freak. And and what I came to realize, that's, like, the beauty of this work when we have standard packages, when we have SOPs, when we have a lot of clarity, and we have templates, and we have things we can lean on.

Melissa Morris:
I know they're doing it how I want them them to do it. Right? I know there's a lot of consistency. And then, you know, too, I think some of it was my own mindset also about feeling like, oh, I should know how to be the copywriter in my business and the designer in my business and the SEO specialist in my business. And could I watch hours and hours of YouTube videos and figure all that out Rob, but is that really what I should be should have spent my time on? No.

Rob Da Costa:
No. Absolutely not. It's some it's funny, isn't it, that we often think we have to be able to do everything before we can delegate it, and that is kind of crazy, really. A a really smart leader of a business knows their weaknesses and knows the areas that they're strong in and they love doing and gets rid of the other things as quickly as they can. But I think a lot of people will be nodding their head at that higher sooner. I I definitely fall in that camp as well. So, Melissa, thank you so much for your time today. If people wanted to find out more about you, where's the best places for them to go? And we'll include these details in the show notes.

Melissa Morris:
Yes. You can definitely find me on LinkedIn. And then also, I actually have a quiz, that we've rolled out, and it will help you uncover where maybe some of these bottlenecks are, some of your blind spots are in terms of scaling your agencies. So if you just go over to your agency authority.com/quiz, you can take that, and then you'll get some results that'll get you moving in the right direction.

Rob Da Costa:
Fantastic. I'm just scribbling away quickly there. We'll make sure we include your, all those details in the show notes and go take the quiz because, those things are always really enlightening, and I I might go and do that myself. But, anyway, Melissa, thank you so much for joining us today. Really insightful episode. I'm sure the listeners will have got, lots of food for thought in from this, and that's always the goal of the podcast. So I appreciate your time.

Melissa Morris:
Yes. Thank you so much for having me on.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}