Digital Agency Process: 10 Workflow Tips to Scale Your Agency

digital agency process

When you browse your Facebook and Twitter accounts, you can’t help but check out the latest viral videos – oh, and guiltily go crazy over TikTok too! Promo flyers have been replaced with double clicks; print ads kicked out by digital billboards, and social media channels are the new TV when it comes to advertising. Influencers and even owners dance to a catchy tune trying to grab their potential customers’ attention as they view their ads over and over again.

With the rise of technological advancement and innovative ways to keep businesses in check, digital marketing agencies are also growing. The number of likes and shares now evaluates popularity as online businesses and virtual markets are born daily. Before you know it, demands for digital marketing are spiraling.

So how does your digital agency keep up with the pace? Are you ready to take your digital marketing team to new heights?

We are here to provide the ultimate guide to improving your digital agency workflow and give you tips on how to scale up amidst the competition. Let’s get crackin’!

The Role of a Digital Marketing Agency

Who says they still need a digital marketing agency? All the CEOs need is the Digital Marketing Agency book for Dummies together with Google and they’re good to go!

Nope. Your agency is more relevant now MORE THAN EVER.

A digital agency dedicated to marketing purposes is important because of the BIG FAT chunk it brings to the table: building customer relationships online translates into future sales and purchases. They are also responsible for purchases made across digital platforms because of their strategic thinking and inventive lead generation strategies.

So, do you think businesses can still get away without the help of a digital marketing agency?

Let them try handling marketing campaigns that are now shifting to the virtual world from the previous face-to-face. Give them the opportunity to manage everything from content production to website design, to a smooth-sailing online customer experience, all at the same time! These factors contribute to the increase of sales and whether you will raise loyal customers or become viral the wrong way.

Increasing online presence, getting sales leads, turning them into sales, and expanding the businesses’ reach are only some of the responsibilities having a digital marketing agency entails.

Best Workflow for Digital Marketing Agencies

digital agency process workflow

Keeping your sanity and improving your business’ performance every time you take on a new project equates to relying on a company workflow. It is having a process you can depend on with email marketing, social media and content creation, web design, sales analytics, and even hosting virtual events.

First things first, you need to create a comprehensive onboarding system for clients, clarifying the breadth of the project, and having a documented template that you can use to implement your processes. When everything’s a-okay, next is to assign clear duties to team members, review the project timeline, and regularly ask for feedback. As simple as that, your digital marketing agency can now implement a well-developed process workflow. YAY!

Just between us, what makes YOU a successful digital agency is your ability to execute a unique workflow that focuses on achieving your marketing goals and broadening your business services.

At ScaleTime, we check that your business has the best effective system that guides you in creating a blossoming digital marketing company. We offer project management for your digital agency as a way to create a systematized approach for meeting deadlines, knowing the team members participating in the project, and measuring and optimizing your business’s success.

We start by taking a look at what is happening and we note what tools and services you use, evaluate each team member’s role, the onboarding of each client, and the current project management method you are using in your company. This is the data we will use to create a baseline.

We then create a plan which involves reviewing the present effective procedures and removing the ineffective ones while working our way up!

Sooo, what’s next? We implement a procedure that works well with your system and give a boost to what you already have! We guide you all the way from measuring KPIs to appreciating the numbers on your company’s books.

Our proven process allows you to take a step back, supervise, and peacefully sip champagne at night. Wouldn’t it be fun to oversee your company’s development while sunbathing from your dream paradise? Now that’s life!

10 Tips to Scaling Your Digital Marketing Agency

1. Have a workflow that is proven effective

We know that you dread the daily grind, but you need to do it to enjoy everyday life. So what’s our solution? An efficient workflow is guaranteed to have you living the best days with your family and friends, and even your pets!

One of the cornerstones of successful agencies is refining an existing workflow or a total overhaul and setting down a new one. You may have the best team members, the most understanding clients, or the high-paying projects, but if you do not have a systematic way to handle all the tasks in your business, then everything, including your time and money, goes bye-bye.

Don’t let precious resources escape your grasp. Learn to control your nine-to-five with this proven-effective framework for your digital agency. We have the road map to optimizing your digital marketing processes right HERE.

2. Successful onboarding of new team members

digital agency sales process

Once you have a clear system in place, it’s now time to enhance your team.

Each team member must know exactly what is expected of them, to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and retention. If you have trouble with annoyed or confused team members you often catch on long breaks and not on their desks, you might need to integrate your system into the team. Knowing what to do when and who will do it makes the difference.

One of the many ways is to make them carry out all the specified tasks constructively. Designate marketing managers to handle the creative assets and sales, project managers with the scope and ensuring deadlines are met, and relationship managers to deal face to face with clients. This brings us to the next tip –

3. Flawless client onboarding

digital agency client onboarding

Your team may know what to do when implementing a task in the project. But what about the clients? These are your customers, your lifeline, the mechanism that pumps blood in your business. Having a step-by-step guide to delivering projects must also include having an efficient client delivery process.

Grab a coffee with them and let them know the current project status and where your team is at with the timeline. Update them with their portfolio, let them know you’re on the same page, and make them feel they are involved and being taken care of.

This is a chance to help spread the word that your company is not just a fancy website with monthly vouchers. It is an opportunity to turn mouth advertising into potential customers and client recommendations.

4. Streamline the creative process

Too many post-its hanging by your workstation, but you’re still stuck with all the digital marketing dilemmas? Or maybe your team just throws in their ideas, and results are all far off from the final product?

Simplify the way you want a plan to be executed. Straightforward marketing goals and campaigns would allow more team members to understand the creative process, attract motivation and encourage feedback. It also fosters the development of analytical thinking and problem-solving skills within your team. You certainly don’t want to get stuck with uncolored drawings! Always remember that the virtual marketing journey is as important as the output.

5. Know how to set a fair price for services

digital agency price

Unlike products, digital marketing services are challenging to put a price tag on. Charging too high leads to overpricing and fewer clients, while charging too low will cut into your profit or, worse, leaves an impression that the services you offer are not as good as everything else in the market. Yikes!

Managing the budget by knowing how much your services really cost is a good place to start. Although there is no one-way route to finding a fair price, some things to consider are the type of service you offer, whether there are any marketing specialists providing the same service, and if yes, how much they are charging for their work.

This competitor analysis helps you have confidence in your real worth, so you can communicate this to your customers. Or else, they’ll believe you are not credible enough for your asking price!

If everything still seems blurry, we have prepared this article on specific guidelines and other tips for pricing your services HERE.

6. Up-to-date digital marketing data

digital marketing agency sales process

Not everyone can sell, and not everyone can do math. However, these are two essential pillars when it comes to digital marketing!

Before, studying your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses was enough to keep you ahead of the game. Now, the market analysis includes more detailed and comprehensive statistics on their market share, pricing, geographical location, customer reviews, online channel presence, and many other factors. It’s more than just raw data because these are numbers that need to be researched and examined to become the basis of your marketing techniques and strategy.

Once you’ve done your digital marketing campaign, reviewing its success and components is also essential to help gather more insights on your product, your approach, and your target audience.

7. Focus on the target audience

digital marketing agency target audience

Stories, captions, and social media posts should not only make clients happy. As creatives, digital marketing agencies should focus on creating precisely what the target audience needs by defining the real people who are most likely to purchase from your client and earn their trust and loyalty. Without them, your clients will not exist at all! The target audience may be based on several factors like age, location, income, interests, and so on.

After knowing your audience, it’s time to get some leads!

Whether it’s blog post creation or content creation for social media platforms, the final digital product is a huge part of ensuring your audience recognizes your presence. It may be that they don’t need the services now, but if you keep them interested, your services stay at the back of their minds. They may come back to use your products in the future, and some may even make referrals and recommendations when the need arises.

8. Choose the tools that work best

Digital agencies use all the tools at their fingertips to meet the creative brief and follow creative processes. Software is used for updating web pages and content production, but how do you know what works best for your digital agency?

One tip is to check out what other business owners use in your industry. These digital tools come with specific guidelines on installation and sometimes the extra budget needed for its premium users. So, if you find out it does not work with your system, you could end up wasting a week (or even a month, UGH!) trying to figure out how to use something that’s not really effective in making your work more manageable in the first place!

(Not to fret, some tools offer a free trial and 24/7 support, so you’re not left alone in this cold and brutal virtual jungle of paid software and applications!)

But wait, here’s the fun part! Once you’ve installed the app and get the hang of it, you may now integrate it into your effective workflow. Tasks that may seem complicated can now be done with just a click or two to achieve desired results and meet deadlines more effortlessly.

While you’re at it, you can even adjust the mood lights in your office to boost your team’s creativity or even plot the traffic system on your way to meet clients with a single tap while enjoying your morning coffee.

9. Set expectations of clients and team members

You have to accept that life does not always work according to your plan. This is why part of the workflow sets clients’ and team’s expectations.

Have a kickoff meeting with both parties to emphasize project objectives. Explain the project range and give the project summary towards the end. It balances the anticipation and relieves pressure.

Part of the timeline also sets the time for you to provide feedback to ensure no loose ends after the project has been implemented.

10. Step back as you grow

digital marketing

After all the hard work, it’s time to develop turnover and endorsement plans.

First, take time to assess if the current strategy works and update team members on their accomplishments and performance. Next, tweak your current digital marketing process according to the fast-paced and changing times.

Finally, as your agency grows, the last part of the framework (and probably the most rewarding one at that) is stepping back and giving yourself more time out of the office and more time to focus on achieving a work-life balance.

Exciting, isn’t it? Now’s the time to scale up your digital marketing agency! Set up a Discovery Session with us for FREE. Take control of the growth of your business, and let us help you. Talk to our Scale Strategists and optimize your company by clicking HERE.

How to Scale a Marketing Agency: 7 Tips to Grow Your Business

 

how to scale a marketing agency

A marketing agency nowadays does not only refer to newspaper ads and large billboard posters. In today’s digital climate, a marketing agency is expected to tilt its focus to cyberspace – where all the thumbs up, sharers, supporters, and even haters reside – to make their services gain publicity.

Marketing agencies are now challenged to jump into the unknown age of information technology as they try to balance customer retention and acquisition. But how does a marketing agency take that giant leap? In this troubling time full of risks and closed doors, how does one choose the right time to do so?

worried on how to scale your marketing?

Scaling a marketing agency and making your way into the digital environment is often seen as a make-or-break decision that will either help you tap into potential clients or give you more headaches. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.

At ScaleTime, we are committed to helping you achieve your sales and marketing goals by giving you all the best how-tos and tips. This guide will show you how to grow your business into becoming a successful digital marketing agency. Keep reading to find out more!

The Boom of Digital Marketing Agencies

how to scale a social media marketing agency

Digital marketing agencies are agencies born from gaining customers through virtual channel platforms. Many agencies are shifting to become digital agencies in order to gain positive financial results, striving to gain more clients and new leads by embracing the call of the virtual world. A consistent and sought-after online presence gives you access to leads, pitch your service offerings, and opens the opportunity to scale your digital marketing agency.

There has been an exponential increase in online businesses and virtual markets that need help promoting their products and converting audiences to clients. Is your company the next digital agency to take the plunge?

The Right Time to Grow your Digital Marketing Agency

Clock

Now is not everybody’s time. Not everyone who climbs that mountain sees the peak. In order to successfully reach the top, you must know when is the right time to do it. Your business may be ready to go, but you’re not sure if scaling up is the right answer. We’re telling you now: look for the signals! Here are some of the signs you are ready to go:

You’re already gaining profit

scale a social media marketing agency to gain profits

When you are earning more than you are spending, it’s a sign that your business is not on the verge of shutting down anytime soon. Profit margins usually tell you how your company is doing financially. Net profit margins (the total sales minus the expenses, divided by total revenue) are the basis of the business’ total profitability, and having numbers between 10-20% is already a good figure in the digital marketing industry to indicate healthy cash flow.

Bear in mind that the profit margin for your industry cannot be compared to any other field. Other sectors have their own ideal profit margin and other businesses have higher or lower percentage requirements to show they are ranking ahead in the game.

Although it is tempting to expand once you’ve reached your goal the first year you’re in the business, be cautious and go slowly and surely. Steady earnings don’t happen overnight. Most businesses say they are ready for scaling up if these numbers are maintained or increased in two to three years’ time. With successive yields under your belt, you can then make a move and consider your business ready to scale up.

You have too many clients

Having to turn down people and companies seeking your services? Overflowing leads that you have no time to answer? Too many clients may seem ideal in the perfect setting, but it is no fun once you have to juggle around their requests altogether. This is one of the obvious signs that your marketing agency is ready to level up.

Many businesses see expansion as a hindrance to providing excellent services due to the administration’s divided attention. Correct management is the key here, and this will be discussed later in this article. We at ScaleTime help you implement a wider system to take in multiple clients and automate looking after your leads – all while remaining profitable and scaling up smoothly!

Your market is expanding

connecting dots for scale a marketing

As a marketing agency, you already have a target audience and a target market. But when you are slowly experiencing a spillover of enthusiasts from another market group or segment, this shows that the demand for your marketing services has grown. If your marketing agency can no longer provide for additional projects with the given conditions, then this is a sure sign that your client base is expanding and you may need to broaden your target market.

Take into account clients coming from outside your specific niche and try to expand from that. If you’re currently offering services to a certain location, you may want to look at other options when you are considering elevating your marketing agency.

You are comfortable with your team

scale your marketing with teamwork

When your team provides high-quality work for clients seamlessly, you may want to consider training new employees, as this is one of the ways to effectively scale up. Be on the lookout for team members who are not comfortable with this idea, however. There may be some who find teaching to be more of a challenge than their usual role.

Ask for your team’s opinion on your scaling up before making any drastic moves. If everything goes well, you will have put together a remarkable group of people who can work and grow as a team.

7 Tips on How to Scale a Marketing Agency

1. Review existing business model

good business model is required to scale marketing agency

Having a proven process will help you gauge if you’re really ready to scale or not. Leveling up your marketing agency does not mean a total overhaul of what you already have. You likely already have an existing marketing flow in place, so if you think your business model does not help you in managing your business, make some tweaks, see what works, and implement it strongly within your system. This lets everyone know what they are done with, what they are doing, and what are they going to do next.

By creating an effective digital marketing workflow, tasks will roll out more seamlessly than ever before, giving you freedom from daily 9-5 work. Here’s an ultimate guide to help you out. This includes creating and running marketing campaigns at your level, condensing the marketing process for your team, and having a successful business model becomes the basis of each workflow you execute within your digital marketing agency.

Building a great agency plan from scratch is tricky, but with the right items securing your business, you’ll be completely covered! A successful sales strategy allows changes in prospecting and qualifying leads, building rapport, assessing their needs, committing to deliver, and actually carrying out the projects. We help you understand different sales and marketing terms that will assist you in maximizing your revenues and optimizing your team.

For the best marketing flow for your business and other tips and tricks to get you ready to scale, click HERE. Watch as you grow and unfold into a beautiful digital marketing agency butterfly!

2. Implement an effective project management methodology

scale a marketing agency

The project methodology is the way your team approaches projects in order to meet the endpoint or the project goal. It is used by project managers to effectively use their team and other resources like budget, time, and supplies to produce the expected deliverables. Having a project management method in place means minimizing your risks, discovering new skills, and developing current ones while meeting deadlines and staying within the project time frame.

After carefully planning your project management approach, integrating with project management software could help you to save half the time spent in front of your desk and focus on more important duties and responsibilities. ScaleTime helps you to find the perfect project management methodology for your business and shows you some of the popular project management methodologies today. Find out how to embark on the journey from marketing agency business owner to project manager HERE.

3. Take care of new and existing clients

hand shake

You may have improved your business model and refurbished your project management plans, but if you have difficulty in holding on to your existing clients, you should check the quality of service you are offering your existing clients. A client churn may not be a result of your business and the service you provide, but it’s worth checking for the sake of your business’s reputation and income.

Build a structure that will help you analyze the satisfaction of your current client base, minimize client churn rate, and increase client retention. This will help you touch base with potential clients and help you gain new ones in the process. Easier client onboarding also helps to create excellent first impressions and smooth client experiences throughout the duration of the project, whether from direct or indirect interactions. Positive client experiences differentiate your marketing agency from the rest of the agencies in the market. It helps promote the good name of your brand, and in turn, grants access to more clients.

4. Empower your team

sea view

If you already have a group of outstanding individuals who are working well together and creating outstanding output, you can probably skip this one! This tip is for teams that have one or several rebels, black sheep, and floundering employees that you need to push harder than the others. Ask feedback from these underperforming employees; connect with them and make sure that communication is preserved and honored. You can’t say yes to something during a pep talk half-heartedly or leave them hanging confused, annoyed, and ready to hand in their resignation.

Another thing to consider when scaling up is the vacant positions to be filled by talented individuals who will become new team members. As early as the onboarding process, give new employees the information and the purpose to become motivated, creative, dedicated so that they can be on the right track from the get-go. Troubleshoot the hiring process of new employees for entry-level positions to develop young talents and harness new ideas that can help scale your marketing agency.

5. Boost your digital marketing tools

digital marketing tools

One of the most popular trends today is influencer marketing, where favored and well-liked people in the multimedia platforms like celebrities, organizations, and bloggers endorse products and services to attract new clients. Some business owners offer promos and discounts, while other agencies gift their loyal customers when they invite new clients. These are just some of the ways to boost your online and social media presence.

Digital marketing tools are used and maximized in order to gain attention from potential clients and target audiences. Driving website traffic with the right tools to improve web design is also essential to communicating properly with viewers and visitors. Delayed chatbots, faulty auto-replies, and underdeveloped newsletters are big no-nos in creating a great customer experience.

In the past, trial and error were used to test the effectiveness of current marketing campaigns. Now, there are software and programs like Google Analytics and Facebook ads that can help create and analyze the current techniques you are using. Social media marketing strategies are well within reach – it’s up to you to decide what course of action to take and put into effect in your agency.

Learn how to stretch the coverage of your digital marketing services! ScaleTime offers practical tools and solutions HERE to help you get your kick-ass marketing agency optimized.

6. Take advice from industry experts

meetings

As a business owner, you recognize your limitations and understand that every day is a learning curve. Let the experts do the talking! From creating marketing funnels to remaining profitable during agency growth, these specialists are knowledgeable on all important processes and will let you in on trade secrets for how to scale and adapt.

Build your core processes through industry geniuses and apply outside expertise to running and scaling up your business. Look for masters of the trade who will help you steer clear of vanity metrics and pay attention to actionable metrics which will aid you in weighing marketing strategies that work best for you.

7. Elevate business relationships

hand shake

A quality agency doesn’t just offer services – it also builds strong relationships with everyone involved, whether that be clients, employees, or others. As professionals, choose to create mutually beneficial partnerships that will establish the name of your agency in the world of digital marketing.

Projects may be fast-paced in the virtual environment, but relationships do not stop once the project has ended. Encourage feedback and check in on clients from time to time, as this will help them remember you when the need arises, either their own or referrals to other clients.

Successfully scaling your agency not only focuses on creating more money. Making clients happy, striving to help clients’ businesses grow, enabling new employees, and creating an awesome business model is exactly what it’s about. Ready to scale your digital marketing agency? Click here for a FREE Discovery Session.

How to Organize Client Folders & Files: 6 Simple Tips to Try

Frustrated team, inefficient processes, overwhelmed brain . . . you know how it feels when your business tends to fade fast.

Help! I’m going crazy with all the digital paperwork!

This is an issue I often see when my clients and prospects are overwhelmed with the “piles” of digital documents around them.

What could be the culprit? 

Poorly organized, or even worse, unorganized client folders.

So, how to focus on the business and tend to the customers and clients when you have to hunt down hundreds of documents to get things done?

With folder structure.

Did you know that the typical American employee/employer spends two hours a week just trying to find papers?

Woah, that’s about a hundred hours a year!

Just take a deep breath and imagine you’re losing more than a hundred hours of productivity every year.

That’s profitability running straight out the door.

Losing money because your paperwork is not organized? It sucks.

But you can put a halt to all that disorder-craziness with a proper folder structure in place.

A Common Lost Brain Example

You’re in the middle of the day, and you’re trying to find a piece of paper, an article, or a client asset. So, you click at one client folder, then another, and then another. But you can’t find what you need. 

You ring your co-worker and ask them if they know where the item is located? They say they’ll check and revert.

You wait and wait and wait.

Only to hear that they couldn’t find it either.

This is a classic scenario of LOST BRAIN.

You end up wasting your time — asking everyone around you to figure out what you need because you don’t know where it is.

But the good news is, you can STOP that.

And, INSTEAD, you can just go into your organized folder structure and get what you want. Quickly!

Because you know precisely where it lives and where it should be at all times.

This thing/item/document that you might be looking for is the BRAIN of your business.

It could be:

  • Clients’ assets
  • Proposals
  • Scopes
  • Change orders
  • Content
  • Deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Meeting notes
  • Meeting agendas
  • Frameworks, and
  • Anything that you’re producing for the client

So, where does it live?

It could live in a file, a folder, in your drawer, or a cabinet that has piles of paperwork already.

Take your BRAIN out of the DIGITAL MESS.

And make sure everything in your business has its organization.

Why?

Because you don’t want to end up hunting people down for everything you need.

Imagine this: If an employee leaves and you hire someone else, how do you expect the new employee to ramp up? Can they seamlessly pick up from where the previous employee left off?

Not unless there is a folder structure. It’s the only thing that can help them easily replace the brain of the previous employee.

And what would be the results in that case? 

Quick delivery, fewer hassles.

Understanding where your brain lives will not only help you train people faster, it will help you make more money by delivering to clients more quickly.

Overall, your profitability will increase, and you’ll better navigate and grow your business.

DIGITIZE and ORGANIZE Your Brain

Once you know where your brain lives, it’s time to digitize and organize.

This is where a folder structure or a folder taxonomy comes and changes everything — for the better, of course.

Excellent delegation isn’t a myth.

You can make that happen. But how?

By having all your papers, documents, and files in specified places and organizing them into folder structures. So that the next time someone needs a document, they don’t have to make a hundred clicks to get to it.

A well-organized folder structure will save time and $$ for your business. And it will help you manage your business better. 

Give Your Business a Fulfilling Run. Ready, Set, Go!

Not knowing where your brain lives is a huge drain on your business productivity, sales, and profitability.

Understand where your brain lives, organize client folders, and save time and money.

While you are trying to find your brain, check this case study to learn how one of my clients doubled her sales, tripled her team in size, and decreased her expenses in less than one year. Oh, and guess what? You can do it too. Just ask ScaleTime how.

What is Folder Structure?

You’re working on an important deadline, when ding!, there comes a message from your colleague:

Hey, do you have that meeting note from last month’s meeting with that fussbudget client? He is asking for something that seems out of scope, and the boss wants us to dig in and check if his request is legit.”

Uh oh. That’s a message you wouldn’t want to see.

But you did. 

And, darn, there’s no escape.

Now, you’ll have to scroll through hundreds of folders and documents to find a simple record that you should’ve kept handy.

In fact, until now, it was handy. Or was it?

Well, this is why you need a folder structure.

Think of it as that binder you store all your physical documents in. It kills disorderliness and keeps everything organized on your systems.

It’s your solution to document clutter.

How To Build A Client Folder Taxonomy?

  1. Create a template — Have a standard folder structure template in place. When you know how to create a folder structure quickly, you’ll spend less time making it when you scale.
  2. Define the hierarchy — Don’t dump everything in folders. Focus on a logical progression and categorize the folders either by project, client, or department.
  3. Label them right — Hey, don’t rush when saving files in folders. Name everything descriptively (like client’s name or project name) to save time and frustration as you search later on.
  4. Create shortcuts –—While an efficient folder structure is your savior in most scenarios, you need shortcuts for the most commonly used folders and subfolders. But, don’t flood your system with shortcuts either. Go easy on them.
  5. Version and Iteration control — Create processes for storing and keeping track of versions and iterations of deliverables.

Why is Folder Structure Important?

Well, a good folder structure is crucial in various scenarios:

  • When you want to find an item without wasting your time
  • When you want to make your systems easier to manage and sustainable
  • When you want to reduce the digital mess
  • When you want to avoid the risk of people using the wrong document
  • When you want to have a structured approach to manage all the deliverables and documents and enable sensible search

So, there you have it, the ultimate guide on saving time with folder structures.

Master the Skill of Folder Structure

When it comes to managing client folders, you need a folder structure that makes document search easier and folder organization better.

Level up your folder structure skills by:

  • Creating a folder structure
  • Using templates
  • Maintaining a folder hierarchy
  • Labeling files, folders, and everything in between
  • Creating shortcuts
  • Implementing version/iteration control

Before you get busy with creating that perfect folder structure, download this free client onboarding guide and toolkit to optimize your client onboarding process.

If you have any tips to make the most of the folder structure, leave a comment below. And if you are facing any struggles or challenges with your folder structure, let us know.

How to Find the Cracks in Your Client Process

CLIENT (internal dialogue): OMG they think I’m crazy. I just want it how I want it. Aaaaand it WILL most likely happen again! Oooops. 

YOU (internal dialogue): You are insane. I’m going nuts. I might kill you — but I won’t … because I need to pay overhead.

Take a mind reading microscope to the typical scenario of dealing with a tough client, and it looks something like the above exchange. 

If you’ve been in business for quite some time now, chances are you’ve met at least one such wacky client. 

They can be are demanding.

They can be are usually unclear with their requirements.

Or, they can be terrible for no reason.

You know the drill, right?

But when a client gives you a hard time, and there’s no silver lining whatsoever, what can you do to protect your sanity while getting the job done? 

You’ll want to identify the cracks in your client process. 

How? 

By improving your client onboarding process and tightening up the scope of your projects. 

Identify Cracks in the Client Process

Here are five ways you can find the cracks in your client process and improve your client onboarding and scope creation.

1. You’re behind schedule because of the client.

You have a lovely client. It’s a pleasure to deal with them. The only problem is the project delays. In fact, there are a lot of them. Why? Well, because of the client.

Sound unusual?

Trust me, it happens so much we call it “client dragging a$$ syndrome.”

Many of my customers ask, “Juliana, what can I do if I fall behind schedule thanks to client-induced delays?”

I suggest two solutions in this scenario:

  • Add a buffer to each project’s deadline
  • Charge a margin fee for any project extensions past the agreed-upon deadline 

2. Scope of work? What’s that?

You may have mapped out an SOW that’s a thing of beauty. 

But what if your client doesn’t understand it? 

Or, even worse, doesn’t follow it on purpose — thanks to the whole “customer-is-the-king” song playing in their head all the time.

Instead of giving in to their “special” requests as “extras” and working beyond the scope for free, be upfront. Set clear boundaries, and avoid that grumble later on.

3. It’s urgent! It always is!

Well, here comes the most dreaded of them all — the one who is always running on tight timelines and wants quick results. Make sure your onboarding process is competent enough to filter out leads that want you to work on ridiculously short time frames. 

It’s no good. 

Being on a client’s beck and call constantly never is.

4. Hey client, “You’ve got an email!”

There are clients who are too occupied to check their emails and messages. 

And there are clients who just don’t bother to revert. 

Either way, it’s annoying to work with a bad communicator.

Whether you need feedback or sign off, reduce the frequency of contact to weekly check-ins, and use online tools like Slack and Asana, if possible.

 5.  Too many junior cooks in the kitchen.

Too many people working on a project? 

Result? 

Chaos and confusion abound! 

Goalposts change, quality decreases, and more time is spent organizing and sorting things out than on actual work.

While you can’t remove stakeholders from a project, crowdsourcing can allow them to be heard. 

Having a single point of contact for collecting and disseminating information can also prevent your project from becoming a fine kettle of fish.

Also, try automating the process. 

Assigning a single-point-of-contact and setting up automations can help everyone involved in the project. It’s a major step toward better collaboration. You can trust me on this (and on all of the other points too, btw). 

That’s the problem with a client process. 

You commit too much, you look needy. 

Not enough, you seem too laid back.

Clients commit too much, they’re lovely. 

Not enough, they’re busy.

Why, oh why, this discrimination?

Set clear expectations before you sign a contract. 

And create an unbiased onboarding client process that’ll help you identify red-flags while dealing with a potential overly-demanding client.

If, still, you happen to encounter a difficult-to-please customer, try one of the methods listed-above before giving up on them.

🤺Find, Fill and bulletproof the cracks in your process: 

  1. Set clear boundaries upfront about scope, and add buffers to the project deadlines
  2. Include margin fees for Client-Dragging-A$$ syndrome
  3. Filter out leads who want to work on crazy timelines
  4. Assign a single-point-of-contact
  5. Use automations

It may not be easy. But it’s worth it. 

How to protect your agency and manage a volatile crisis 💪

“Any tips for making sure we don’t derail during this time? I 
already feel like we’re changing strategies by the second (internally and client-facing) and I want to make sure

1) messaging is consistent

2) the team doesn’t feel overwhelmed with this very quick change and need for action.


Does that make sense??” [sic] 
asks Kate, a project manager of my beloved client.


It does if:

Your facebook feed is filled with Corona memes to distract you from

Your news feed that is FUD-filled (fear, uncertainty, doubt – so you don’t have to urban dictionary) with echoes of the last recession

Your WhatsApp is blown up by frantic friends and family away

You’re not sure which clients are sticking around, even if you feel like you have them under legal lock and key 

And worse… you are in a confined space with those closest to you while trying not to kill each other. 🤬You wish you could SOS yourself out of a Vampirina tranz because kids are home all day

Oh and did I mention it’s happening to your employees and clients, too?

Now that I have made you feel super warm and fuzzy 😉 I promise there is hope! 

In times of crisis, people look for leadership. 

> If you are reading this, you are a leader. 

> Step into it. 

> Own it. 

 The best crisis management we can model is the Situation Room of the United States (setting aside your feelings about the current administration)


It’s an effective way of managing crisis because it swiftly and effectively deals with the volatility by managing:

·         Information: parsing and prioritizing data that’s incoming from various sources

·         Dissemination: to whom and how to share relevant and urgent communication

·         Action: deploying and implementing tactics despite a barrage of new information coming at you (i.e revenue and resource changes)

·         Support: making sure the nation (in your case – clients and team) feel supported throughout


Five simple things to implement your own “Situation Room”:


1.        The Situation Room – needs to take place in real life (preferably with social distancing in this case). Whether that is a Slack channel, Zoom huddle or your team sneaks into a football field and then stands 6 feet apart (jk), you need a time and place to gather the info with the Gladiators you appoint.



2.      Opening and closing debriefs – there is a phenomenal amount of info to digest between closing shop and opening … then it cycles throughout the day. This is crucial to pivot and/or course-correct quickly.



3.      Create a change board in your project manager – this is a project or board where new ideas that flood from you and the team get placed to be approved, denied or delayed based on resources and urgency. This will help keep track of all competing projects and ideas.



4.     Measure the capacity of both hours and emotional stress –  this is a prime time for people to be on edge and overwhelmed. Track hours for the good of everyone’s sanity. Support your people by checking in. Are their families healthy? Will they have wifi outages (SE ASIA)? Do they need to make appointments to go to supermarkets(certain South American countries)? Stay informed… Any new data will: Affect workflow. Affect productivity. Affect your business.



5.      Lastly, Lead.

 

          In your industry. 
          In your business. 
          In your home. 

As a kid, my stepdad would constantly ask me “Are you a leader or a follower?” That is ingrained in my head. Be the reliable, constant, future thinker your team and clients need you to be. 

If you need to silently scream into a pillow, reach out and I’ve got your back. 

Leadership is the manifestation of Expansion, Empathy, and Empowerment. 

Kick some ass and let me know if you have any questions. 

Legit, send me an email – I read them all (I’m unfortunately addicted and stuck at home), I promise to respond. 

Let’s grow together. 

How to Deal with Client Demands that Mess Up Your Workflow: Our Top 4 Tips

Your clients are the reason your project management is flowing. Learning how to deal with a difficult client is a key facet to scaling your agency. 

You were doing the happy dance after landing that new client. Woot woot.

They sure did look like a human when you met them and signed the paperwork. But you’re starting to think they’re actually a bunch of angry bees walking around in a skinsuit, masquerading as a human. 

What the hell went wrong?

It’s been a couple of weeks and the emails, the texts, the voicemails, and questions at ungodly hours just keep pouring in. You’re starting to wonder if the cash is worth all the time and energy this difficult client is sucking out of you.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing, y’all. As your business grows, you will come across PITA clients. It’s a fact of business life. 

But ScaleTime, I’m only going to ever work with amazing clients that I love and who love me! 

That’s the dream you’ve got to be asleep to always achieve. It’s not like a difficult, PITA (pain in the a$) client walks around with a flashing neon Look out, I’m difficult! sign attached to their forehead.

You can’t run away and you can’t hide. You’ve got to learn how to handle tough clients. It’s essential to running a profitable business. Difficult clients’ cash is still legal tender and you don’t want to leave money on the table. 

 

But ScaleTime, I’m going batshit! How do I deal with all these ridiculous client demands that leave me frustrated and annoyed?

Oh we sympathize. Believe me, we do. But there’s a way to deal with difficult clients and their crazy client demands that don’t involve a rope and shovel. 

Have you ever thought that your time isn’t being sucked dry by your engagement with a demanding client, but actually by your onboarding?

You can’t fix people. But you can fix your processes so you can scale your agency without investing in TUMS from demanding client stress. 

Here’s how. 

^ you after dealing with a challenging client

>>> Click here to download the easy Onboarding Checklist if you know you have issues with crazy client requests.

Get comfy and refill that coffee mug. It’s story time. 

Breaking out of the “request” trap from a demanding client

Armando is a client of mine who does digital marketing. He came to me because he felt like he was at capacity.

This was the sitch:

He had no weekends and no time for his partner. His treadmill was collecting dust. A new friend was hinting at making an appearance — the dreaded muffin top. 

Every day, Armando crossed his fingers that a certain challenging client didn’t call him. Amando just didn’t have the time, energy, or the patience to even deal. 

His saying was, “If they aren’t calling me, that means everything is great.” 

What made his client so difficult? They were constantly asking him to make changes and do reporting he was never paid to do and that wasn’t in the SOW.

I see you there nodding your head. It’s a common issue for agency owners when dealing with challenging clients. 

So, we took a look at his client engagements to assess what was affecting his ability to produce results and hop back on the treadmill. 

And the discoveries were surprising. For him. We had a good inkling at what the real problem was (and it wasn’t all on the demanding client). 

We realized that many of his client issues had very little to do with capacity and almost everything to do with — you guess it — onboarding. 

When it comes to dealing with tough clients, onboarding is usually what gets the ball rolling on down to funky-crazy town. Armando’s onboarding process was no different.

His onboarding process didn’t establish boundaries or reasonable expectations. Onboarding had also failed to determine what the clients’ digital marketing starting point was in the first place.

Ruh roh, Shaggy. This lack of a robust onboarding process made the client insecure and only fed into their unreasonable demands. 

Here’s what we told Armando: 

Your clients are trying to board a plane to an amazing destination. But if you want to take on a great volume of clients, you are going to have to go TSA on their ass and make sure they know the rules before boarding.

I just love the TSA strip search! 

Said no one. Ever. Well unless you’re into that kink. We don’t kink-shame here.  

But really, I think it’s safe to say we all hate the TSA strip search, the 100ml bottle restrictions, no shoes, no sweater, taking out your laptop — we hate it, BUT we comply anyway. 

There’s a process — if you travel you are made aware and get conditioned to it. There is simply no wiggle room. The process has become an expectation to get from Point A to Point B so you can go on a happy journey.

. . . mind, get it out of the gutter dear reader 😜 

The same needs to happen with your service business so you can wrangle demanding clients and keep them on a tight leash. Do this, and plenty of people will happily board for your destination. 

This was the ScaleTime Solution for Armando and how to deal with challenging clients:

  • We set up Armando’s onboarding process
  • Created an actionable workflow in his project manager
  • Saved 20 hours a month
  • Increased his revenue by 45% over the following three months

And the best part? Armando had his whole process documented into a replicable system that anyone could access. 

Naturally, he delegated the process, hiring a client success manager to take care of onboarding.

Whhhhhaaat!? Yeah, how relieving that is to read as a business owner. 

No more demanding clients. You can fast-track your agency to get the same results as our friend Armando.

>>> Click here to download my Client Onboarding Checklist if you want to see what we used for Armando’s onboarding.

Establishing ground rules with all clients, not just the demanding ones,  is going to create the biggest 80/20 impact for your onboarding. 

Think about:

  • When do you want them to reach you?
  • What’s the rule for scheduling — i.e. 48 hours, 24? (And is there a consequence to this?)
  • How many points of contact will there be for you? 
  • Which team members are you engaging with?
  • If you have a tangible deliverable: 
  • How many edits or iterations are you allowing in the scope of work before there is a change order?

Disclaimer: Don’t tell your bad clients about how they are hijacking your session or project!

Your clients are the lifeblood of your business. But, more often than you want, they will get on your nerves. That’s just part and parcel to working with people. 

Clients will demand things that are out of the contract, unreasonable, or simply out of this world!

Thankfully, you don’t have to lose your sanity to keep your difficult clients. You don’t have to do all of their requests either. 

I’ll say it again for all you peeps in the back:

YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO ALL OF THEIR REQUESTS EITHER.

In the end, the client will thank you for not giving in to their crazy requests. 

Here’s another demanding client request story and how to deal. I suggest not refilling your coffee because you will just spit it out when you see the results. 

Check out this design disaster that happened to a Japanese noodle company when the designer said yes to all of the client’s demands.

This was the designer’s first draft.

Not too bad. Looks like a pretty normal advert. 

But nooooo. Normal was simply not good enough for crazy client Charlie. 

Apparently, the client pretended to be an expert in design so more demands were made.

Okay. That’s pretty nuts. 

Nooooo. Pretty nuts wasn’t good enough either! The demands went out of control. 

And now, for the final product after all the demands were made!

Kids, this is your brain on Say yes to every client demand. 

This is how your project will turn out if you say yes to the client all the damn time even if they’re completely cracked.

How do you get through chaotic client requests from the demand regime?

You can get through these chaotic client requests and unrealistic expectations with win-win solutions through effective project management. Promise. 

Your deliverables will look like they came from Planet Earth instead of through the looking glass. And your clients will love them too, no matter how demanding they can be. 

Here are some tips to keep you sane while addressing your beloved, but not always so likable, difficult clients.

1. Use your tech stack to set yourself up for success with tough clients

Make sure your ship is in tip-top shape before the storm hits! Do I hear an aye aye captain? You’re setting yourself up for a disaster if your company is already in chaos before more craziness comes in.

If you have all your systems in place, it’ll be easier to regain composure no matter how crazy the demand of your client will be. 

You have two things to set up: the system and the person.

Your system is like a conveyor belt. Every step ensures that a perfect product will come out. 

The person you assign will serve as the account manager. 

Remember, keeping your clients happy is important so choose someone who can be calm (or pretend to be) even during surprise requests from bad clients. This person has to be poised, patient, and reliable because every request, no matter how nuts, will be sent to them.

2. Categorize the request

You have to clarify if the request makes sense. Because, sometimes, we don’t know what kind of sorcery comes into clients’ minds that compels them to make insane demands. 

Just look at the advertisement for the cup noodles above. Look at it! Promise to never do crazy client request drugs.

Yes, it takes a bit of extra effort to categorize requests. But it’s worth it in the long run so you don’t end up with an acid trip of a deliverable. 

Next, if you have decided that the request makes sense, ensure it’s part of your scope. 

This is one of the reasons why project managers lose profit. They end up doing stuff that they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place!

If the request is not in your contract, you have to decide if you want to do it just because you want to impress your client. If not, talk to your client to modify the scope and adjust the budget accordingly.

3. Watch your timeline

Be realistic about your team’s capacity. Don’t forget that you only have 24 hours in a day. And those hours aren’t made for work alone. 

Come down off the cross. There’s a lumber shortage and we need the wood. You, your teammates, and your employees aren’t superheroes or martyrs.

Be forthcoming in telling your client if tight deadlines are unrealistic. Most deadlines are flexible. So don’t be afraid to negotiate. You’re not a time wizard, you know. 

Sure your client might want that rush job or extended labor they don’t even have to pay for. But we all get how frustrating it can be when clients expect us to complete an impossible amount of quality work in the space of a day, or even mere hours.

4. Be honest and lay off the sugarcoating

No need for sugar coating here. You’ve already gained your client, so stop the sweet talk. What you need to deal with a tough client is honest, straightforward, effective communication so you can help your client reach their goals.

Some of the client’s requests may not be helping them to reach their goals. 

Whatever their reason is for making outlandish wishes, it’s your job to make them see the bigger picture. Insist on what you know. They hired you for your expertise because you know better. 

So hold your ground. They’ll thank you for it in the end.

How to deal with a demanding client: The customer is not always right

The customer is always right!

Uh no. No they’re not. Just let this axiom go and realize that clients are not always right and sometimes their demands are downright ludicrous. And it’s okay to say no to them.

But you’ve got to set boundaries early and establish your agency TSA. 

  • Watch your timelines
  • Always communicate honestly
  • Categorize the requests
  • Use your tech stack

Clients are not always right. If they are, they wouldn’t need your help! 

Be kind but firm when a bad client tries to mess with your project management workflow. Your client is not trying to make you crazy. They may just be misguided or overwhelmed. 

Remember, you both want the same thing — a successful project

So work together to make it happen. 

Another reason you shouldn’t say yes to the request is that it might not be within the project scope. 

If you let one demanding client get away with it, word gets around. Your other prospective clients may expect similar special treatment that you’re giving to the demanding client. 

The next time you have to deal with a difficult client making an out-of-this-world request, remember your action steps!

Most of you know what’s good for you and your business and will take action.

Remember these key tips and tricks for handling those PITA clients:

  • The customer is not always right. Reverse engineering your boundaries never goes well, so be sure to set expectations upfront.
  • You’ve got your marketing tools. Use them! Your tech stack should automate certain processes for you that’ll cut down on those wacky, last-minute requests.
  • Categorize requests so you stay within scope and on-budget. 
  • Watch your timelines. Rush jobs and last-minute changes require extra payment (and reasonable deadlines) for your efforts. 
  • Be honest and tell your client like it is. Like it really is. Needlessly sugarcoating things can derail their projects and prevent both of you from reaching your goals. 

Follow these steps, and PITA clients won’t take over your life or crimp your style anymore. 

But for those of you who’d love some ideas that are more specific to your particular business, I’m super happy to hop on a quick call to chat about what you need to have a headache-free client relationship! 

I take the first three inquiries every week, so click here to schedule space now. They’re going fast and you’re getting low on Imitrex.

The Ultimate Hack for Improving Client Engagement

Luuuucy… You have some splainin’ to do!!! (Did I just age myself with this reference?)

I’m about to hop on a call with a client that may or may not have done their work for the meeting (ahem).

I ask myself: “Where are they in their business? And what’s on the schedule for today?”

But first, let’s rewind a few months.

I used to track my client engagement on a spreadsheet that I called Actions2Scale (fancy right?) in google drive. It had all the components I needed:

      • Meeting dates
      • What was accomplished during each meeting
      • What the deliverables were
      • Any notes my client or I had

The problem was that as a consultant, there are a lot of tangible worksheets and documents that my clients and I share, and since my average client is with me for about 7 months, this spreadsheet inevitably grew long, confusing and not easily searchable. Not only that, but with the mish-mosh of documents in google drive – we could never find anything quickly!

Since most of my clients are visual thinkers, I thought I would give Trello a shot. And boy am I happy I did! Here’s what it looks like:

ScaleTime Roadmap Trello

1. Creating a Visual Roadmap

The first thing I do with my clients now is create a roadmap with all the modules of our engagement on the first few lists.

Keep in mind that pre-Trello, there was no visual roadmap for the client to know where we were going. No matter how much I listed out the milestones and talked about the direction of the engagement and what we were going to do next, there was NO VISUAL REMINDER.

It was like being on a road trip with my client, who kept innocently asking “are we there yet?” every 5 minutes.

In their defense though, it wasn’t their fault!

The problem was they didn’t know what had already been done, and what was still left to do. For the productivity geeks out there – I implemented some kanban-esque methodology. Fortunately, in Trello when we are done with a topic I can change the color (nifty right?). Take a look:

ScaleTime Trello Program

2. Forget About Client Amnesia

Client amnesia is a common condition in which the client can’t seem to remember the amazing work we’ve done together.

Symptoms include saying things like “I love this system – it literally takes me 2 minutes to do a proposal. Oh, was it you that helped me implement this?”

This used to raise my blood pressure and frustrate me to no end. Now, I just point them to the Trello board as I gleefully put my feet on my desk. After all, it’s a great way to show a historical record of everything that was accomplished. All without saying a single word. Not bad if you ask me!

3. When Clients “Hijack”

This doesn’t happen as much in my practice anymore (thank the lord!), but in the past I had clients take over the session with “emergencies” or what they thought were urgent questions. In other words, “Drop everything and help me now!”

Ever since I started using Trello however, clients can see for themselves when a task moves from this month to next month for example. Suddenly the urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

Tweet this: A client’s urge to hijack a session is trumped by the urge to complete what they started.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. The psychology of wanting to see the white cards turn blue ( labeled complete) and knowing that this particular urgency will be covered in a systematic way puts a cease and desist on wasting time. (Can I get an amen!?)

4. Say Goodbye to Inbox Flooding

With Trello, there is simply no flooding of inboxes with back and forth updates, deliverables, homework, pre-work, or any kind of work really. It’s all in a nice checklist where clients can reference their tasks whenever they want, from anywhere in the world.

I’ve actually had clients text me in their PJ’s just to tell me how much they enjoyed checking a few items from their list.

Do NOT underestimate the need to complete things!

5. Delegating Tasks Has Never Been Easier

My clients can now share their board with their staff to strategize or delegate the work, and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Nuff said.

6. Get Organized!

Out of all the benefits, one of my favorites is never hearing this question: “Where is that document again?”

Whether your documents are located in dropbox, a company server, or google docs, you can link to them inside the topics in Trello. Everything has context and searchability.

Yeah baby!

To sum up, here are all the benefits of using a project management tool to manage your client engagement:

      • Clients have a visual roadmap
      • Client Amnesia cured
      • No more session hijacking
      • Inbox flooding eliminated
      • Easy to delegate tasks to team members
      • Great way to organize documents

So let me ask you… How are YOU tracking your client engagement, and giving your clients direction in the process?

I recommend Trello (obviously), but I’m also open to learning about other options that would incorporate some or all of the concepts I discussed in this article.

I would love to hear from you either way!