The Power of Simplification: Achieving More by Doing Less in Your Agency

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As the new year begins, it's common for individuals and businesses to set resolutions, but how often do we truly stick to them? This blog post aims to explore the power of simplification and how it can help you achieve more by doing less in your business. Let's delve into the strategies for simplification and the significant impact it can have on your agency's success.

The Dangers of Overcomplication

The urge to adopt new tools, explore trendy techniques, and expand offerings often leads to overcomplication. Each shiny new object and trend adopted fractures focus and forces the team to spread too thinly across multiple areas, leading to decision fatigue, data overload, and decreased productivity. Additionally, the costs of unused tools can accumulate without realization.

The Benefits of Simplification

Simplification leads to increased focus, allowing your agency to transform from a jack of all trades to a master of one or two areas. This specialisation makes it easier for your target audience to find you, and for you to truly serve them with a clear understanding of their challenges. The simplicity of a clear niche and messaging helps in standing out in the competitive marketplace and attracts clients who value expertise over price.

Simplifying Internal Processes

Simplified offerings require efficient systems and processes to ensure consistent service delivery. Documenting and streamlining workflows and using the right tools for essential processes not only enhances service delivery but also allows for delegation, ultimately leading to higher client retention.

Simplifying Marketing and Business Development

Amidst numerous marketing tactics and suggestions, the key is to focus on one or two channels that align with your audience's preferences and your strengths. Building consistency and depth in these chosen areas over time is more effective than spreading efforts across multiple activities. Embracing the essence of simplified marketing methods is critical in a world inundated with emerging trends and tools.

Conclusion

The approach of simplification offers significant benefits across various aspects of your business. By prioritising what you do best, focusing on essential processes, and refining marketing and business development strategies, you can achieve more while avoiding the pitfalls of overcomplication. Embracing the power of simplification can lead to greater excellence, profitability, and reduced stress within your business.

The power of simplification lies in doing less, but doing it better. As you embark on your business journey, consider the impact of simplification in achieving your goals. Simplify to amplify your success.

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

Links to the tools I mentioned in this episode: 

 Full Episode Transcription

Rob Da Costa:

It's a new year. And that means that we all set lots of New Year's resolutions, both personally and professionally. And probably by February, we have broken all of them. I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. As you can tell, we don't need to wait till the beginning of the year to make changes in our lives. One of my goals for my year, not a New Year's resolution, but just a general overarching goal, is to simplify my business. Business. And I've chosen this because overcomplication is truly one of the sneakiest yet biggest threats that my business and your agency face.

Rob Da Costa:

So what do I mean by overcomplication? Well, it all starts innocently enough. We see a new tool that catches our eye. We see a new emerging social media platform that people are talking about, the latest trendy technique. We go down a rabbit hole looking at fancy new tools on Appsumo. Maybe we see a competitive agency that's offering a new service and we wonder if we should do that as well. Maybe it just feels tough where you're standing right now. So you see the answer as to broaden out your offering or do something different, rather than doubling down on what you're currently doing. And piece by piece, we adopt more tools, we adopt more tactics, we put more complexity into our agency, we broaden our offerings, and we think that's going to be the solution.

Rob Da Costa:

But here's the reality. With every single shiny new object, every trend that seems irresistible, every new service that we think we should introduce, we fracture our focus a little bit more and we force ourselves or our team to split their time and learn ten different new platforms and to try and become an expert in a new area. And that means that we water down the quality of each service by spreading ourselves too thinly across too many areas, and complexity creeps in. And the next thing you know, we've got decision fatigue from too many choices. It feels really difficult where we're standing right now. So we try something else. We're getting overloaded by data, by all the things that we're paying attention to, and task switching destroys our productivity. And not to mention, of course, the cost of all of these tools.

Rob Da Costa:

If you actually sat down and created a spreadsheet of all of the apps and software that you subscribe to, month by month, year by year, I think you would be surprised. So when you're adding that new tool that costs just 99 pounds a month, it soon adds up. And you'd be surprised at how much money you're spending and how many tools you've subscribed to or purchased that you're not actually using. So today we're going to explore an antidote to that, a strategic simplification. By stepping back, stripping away all but the essentials and focusing really hard on less, but our area of expertise, we can achieve so much more in our agency. So immerse with me in the benefits simplification brings. Then there are some strategies for overcoming your expected resistance to this approach, and you're ready to simplify and grow your agency. So I think for all of us, including me, simplification is a great word for the year.

Rob Da Costa:

So that's what we're talking about today. And let's get started. I'm Rob da Costa and this is The Agency Accelerator Podcast. As someone who has stood in your shoes, having started, grown and sold my own agency, I know just how it feels in the ups and downs of agency life. So this podcast aims to ease your journey just a little by sharing mine and my guests experiences and advice as you navigate your way to growing a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable business. I was having a strategy call with a potential client last week and he was giving me a shopping list of all the different design services that he offers and was just really resistant to the fact that I said to him that it just looked like a shopping list and it's going to be really hard for your potential customer to not only pick what you do, but also to see you as a specialist. And he was really resistant to that change. And that's something that I see quite a lot.

Rob Da Costa:

And I think a lot of us are going to be resistant to not only removing offerings but also cutting down on the tools and the complexity of our agency. But I promise you, the benefits of simplification are really big. So let's just, first of all, walk through what they are. Firstly, increased focus leads to greater excellence, whether that be internally or externally. Because when you pare down the number of projects that you're delivering, the number of services that you offer, the tools that you use, and the tasks that you do to deliver a service, just narrowing that down to a standout few, then you build incredible focus to those remaining essentials. Your agency transforms from being a jack of all trades or a generalised agency to a master of just one or two areas. And as you know, I've said so many times that specialisation always beats generalisation or being seen as a specialist. A niche agency will always beat the generalised agency.

Rob Da Costa:

It's much easier for your ideal target audience to find you and for you to find them. And you can truly serve them because you understand the challenges that they have that your product or service solves. And without this clutter and with this clutter removed, you'll gain clarity on what you do better than anybody else, allowing you to deliver insanely good work to your clients. Next. Simplicity makes core differentiation so much easier to communicate because in a noisy marketplace, standing out requires us to tell a really clear, consistent story of why we are different and how we can truly help our audience. It helps us move away from those cliched statements like we go the extra mile, we really care, we behave with integrity, of course, that everyone says to the message that truly hits home with your target audience. When your target audience reads some of your content, or read your website or your social media posts, you want them to think, blimey, they are reading my mind. And that only happens when you have a really clear niche and a really clear service.

Rob Da Costa:

Indeed, it's impossible to happen when we're toggling between ten scattered agency services because we believe that's the way to win more business. So simplify down to your one or two core crown jewel offerings or your secret sauce that really makes you different and that messaging will really help you cut through. Becoming a specialist also brings greater profitability, as I've already said, because you're seen as the expert and you can charge higher fees, and you're also removing all these extraneous activities that are weighing you down that you feel like you should offer because one person asked you for it six years ago and you still have it on your website, just in case. And of course, getting rid of these services, these lower-value activities, enables you to really focus on honing your skills at delivering your premium services. And of course, as I said, you'll be able to charge higher fees for those as well because you're seen as the specialist. Now, specialisation also helps you stand out from what is a very competitive marketplace, and people will buy you because of your expertise, not because you're cheaper than your competition, which is what a generalist typically will need to do to distinguish themselves from their competition altogether. Simplification of your services leads to greater excellence, greater profitability, more distinction, ease and transparency for your agency. So I really hope you are in agreement with me about simplification of your services and being seen as the expert and just doubling down on what you do well and removing some of these extraneous services that you could offer, that maybe people ask you occasionally but are not really core how that will help you be focused and actually lead to a lot less stress in your agency.

Rob Da Costa:

So I really hope you're convinced of that. If you're not, reach out to me and let's have a chat. Okay, so that's kind of the external view of simplification, but now let's look at the internal view of simplification, and we'll start off by talking about the systems that you use in your agency. If you've simplified your offering and you've narrowed that down, then you can get really good at delivering that service. So we want to create really good systems and processes to ensure that whoever is delivering the service, the client, will get a consistent experience. So first of all, you need to make sure that you are documenting all the processes that you use. Now, people often use the words system and processes interchangeably, but actually, the processes are the step-by-step things that you need to do to deliver a service. And then the system is the tool that you're going to use to deliver that process.

Rob Da Costa:

So, for example, you might have a client onboarding process, and you might use a system like Asana to document and deliver that process. Just understand those two differences. So first of all, you want to outline your current workflows and the specific steps that you take to deliver a particular service. Let's use client onboarding as our example. So document all of that. First of all, so you've got a really clear process, and then look at all the tools and the platforms you've been using to deliver that process. And is there a way of simplifying that? You want to make sure that you have some fundamental things like project management and also time tracking so that you can work out exactly how your time is being used and make sure that you are profitable and hitting your margin, and your net profit targets. So once we've identified those core processes, we've separated the must DOS versus the nice to haves.

Rob Da Costa:

Now we can start to shape the systems to deliver those simplified processes. And remember that the big advantage of documenting this and having robust processes and systems is that anybody can deliver them. You as the owner, can start to let go and be confident that your client will have a consistent experience, no matter who's working on it. So simplifying this and identifying the core things to focus on is super important and means that we're going to do our job really, really well. And ultimately that leads to higher client retention. It leads us to attract the right clients and all these other benefits that go with this. So that's the simplification of your services and the processes that you use to deliver those services. Now let's talk about simplification around your marketing and your business development.

Rob Da Costa:

Because we are bombarded by so many people telling us what we should be doing. We should be on LinkedIn, we should be on this new platform, we should be doing this, we should be doing live events and so on it can be really easy to be seduced by these shiny new objects. And what we've been trying doesn't work. So we're going to try something else. And that leads us to do a lot of things, doing them not very consistently, and then moving from one thing to the next when it doesn't quite work. But as I've said many times, the best business development strategies deliver in the medium to long term. So if you want to have success with them, you need to start them today. And in terms of the simplification message, I think you should pick one or two things and do them really well and really consistently, rather than lots and lots of things.

Rob Da Costa:

And the way to work this out is how your target audience engages with your content. Where are the channels they're hanging out? And then overlap that with the things that you enjoy doing. Do you like writing? Do you like speaking? Are you good at video? Do you like doing a podcast? Whatever it is, find that overlap, and those are the things to focus on, and then just do them really well. Try and get 1% better every single time. You're never going to be able to do this if you're doing so many different tasks or so many different activities. So just pick the few that will work for you. If you take me, I have three primary marketing channels. First of all, my podcast. We're on the episode, I think, 202, 203 in this one.

Rob Da Costa:

So we've been doing it for three years now, and it's taken a while to build up some traction, but now I often get feedback on the podcast and I get people saying they found me through the podcast, so I know it works. But that's taken nearly four years of hard work to get to that point. I also have an email list, which I'm trying to grow every single day, and I'm emailing my list at least once a week. And you should be doing that as well because I can start to build a one-to-one relationship with you. So that's two of the tasks. And then the third thing I do is every two weeks I run my agency accelerator live workshop, tackling one of 13 or so challenging topics that I know are going on for you. As my agency audience, I dig into providing you with genuine value. Now, in each of those three tactics, I'm taking this value-first approach where I'm trying to serve you rather than just selling to you because I know if all I did was sell, then you would just leave fairly quickly.

Rob Da Costa:

So those are the three things that I'm doing. And yes, I promote my podcast on social media, but even there, when it comes to social media, the only channel I'm really using is LinkedIn and posting on Twitter or ix as well. But I see LinkedIn as my core channel because I know that's where most of you guys hang out. So I am doing those three things and I'm trying to do them as well as I can and trying to get 1% better. There are a million different things I could be doing, but I'm definitely adopting this simplified approach to my marketing and business development as well. And I absolutely think you should be as well. We've got this double-edged sword where we're bombarded with so much information and there are lots of really fun new tools, especially with AI coming out. And that's great on the one hand, but on the other hand, it becomes a huge time sucker and it detracts us away from some of the core things.

Rob Da Costa:

All these new marketing trends are coming about. But still, email marketing, which has been around for 30 years, is still one of the best strategies that you can implement. So take a simplified approach to your marketing, take a simplified approach to your service offering and your service delivery. Take a simplified approach to the services you provide to your market, and take a simplified approach to really narrowing down the core market that you serve. So you're seen as that expert and not the generalist. So those are the key areas that I'm focused on this year. I think it's a timely reminder for us at the beginning of the year that we should do less and do it better, rather than being tempted to do more and spreading ourselves too thin. So I hope that's given you a bit of food for thought, and I hope it's inspired you to simplify as well.

Rob Da Costa:

And of course, if you've got any questions about today, do drop me an email at robert@dacostacoaching.co.uk. I love hearing from you guys. And if you've got any questions about this episode, or indeed any of the other episodes or topics that are challenges for your agency, then do check out the AI tool that I've linked in the show notes. And this is where you can ask a question about any of the contents of my podcasts and it will give you its best answer. So that is another way of engaging with me. So do go try that out. Please also consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, because that will really help the podcast reach more people just like you.

Rob Da Costa:

And one of the key reasons why I do this podcast is to impact a wider audience. But other than that, I hope you have a great rest of your week, and I'll see you next Thursday for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

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