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  • Writer's pictureClaire Hutchings

The Agency Social Club Q&A

Last week, Chime Agency attended The Agency Social Club to chat about the findings from our Agency Research Report.

The event hosted by Trendy Grandad and StudioHawk saw 50 of the great and the good from UK independent agencies come together to socialise and network. Claire Hutchings, Chime Agency founder joined organiser, Stokely Howard on stage for a Q&A about our research and how agencies can elevate their own marketing.

Here is what they discussed.

Stokely: What is your research all about and why did you want to do it?

Claire: We all know agency marketing is really hard to show up consistently, manage the feast and famine of new biz, know where to put limited resources. And let’s face it, your best people need to be as billable as possible.

But its mad, because as agency owners we know the value of marketing, as in some way shape or form all agencies sell it to their clients.

So we decided knowledge is power and we wanted to understand where agencies are getting right, what the stumbling blocks are, which agencies are doing their own marketing well and what we can all learn to help scale our businesses.

As part of our marketing strategies we do a competitor analysis and have a scoring matrix – so we honed it and put 103 agencies through the scoring process which looks at an agencies website, proposition, socials and content strategy.

Each agency was scored out of 42. We found the average ‘benchmark’ score across all the agencies we assessed was 27/42.

Stokely: Were there differences between certain agency sizes?

Claire: Yes, there was a big difference. We saw that the larger the agency, the better their scores were. The cut off point was agencies with more than 30 people – that was when we started to see scores above the average benchmark. But the top 10% of agencies almost all had over 100 people. They simply have more resources.

Then at the other end of the scale it was agencies with less that 15 scored on average 23/42. Agencies around the 15-30 person mark were most in line with the overall benchmark average at 26/42.

We are going to dig deeper into where smaller agencies are performing well / lowest. We have a hunch that smaller agencies are relying heavily on their Founder’s personal brands and social profiles - which only makes up a small amount of the overall score.

Stokely: What about specialisms? Which agencies performed best or worst?

Claire: So, each agency specialism had an overall average score. But we also looked at the specific areas of our scoring matrix that related to the services they sell clients to assess if they ‘practice what you preach’. There’s a breakdown by agency specialism in the full report with learnings and recommendations so there’s a tonne more info there!

Interestingly SEO and PPC agencies came out top overall against benchmark at 33/42 and Marketing / full service agencies scored 29/42.

However – when we looked at the practice what you preach score – 64% of full service agencies were not showing evidence of practicing what they preach.

Then at the other end of the scale, it was PR agencies and event & experiential agencies that faired worst overall and when it comes to practicing what they preach.

There just isn’t evidence of PR agencies having earned coverage – if they do have it, they’re being too modest and not sharing it across their website and social channels or extending its life. And the same can be said for events agencies – they need to find ways of creating IRL connections for their agency brand.

Stokely: What about video production agencies or others that weren't scored - what can we learn?

Claire: Next year we plan to score more agencies and will include video, copy and content agencies in the mix too. There are some big take aways for all agencies regardless of specialism though.

74% of agencies had poor positioning. But there was a 38% uplift in an agency's overall marketing score when they had a strong proposition.

This is coupled with the fact that 44% of agencies are not clear on their website or their content about who they are communicating with. And 73% of agencies do not clearly explain the challenges they solve for their customers.

And all agencies need to avoid style over substance, 33% of agencies didn’t have clear calls to action on their website. But the same is true across content too – 46% don’t have a clear content strategy. Make sure you understand the intention of every piece of content and ensure it ladders back to your positioning and business goals.

We also put all the agencies' domains through a URL profiler to get some quantifiable SEO data. There is a whole section in the report and supporting blog series on this – but the headline is that just 8% of agencies were attributed a closely matching topic by the URL profiler and a whopping 42% were not assigned any matching topic.

Stokely: Do you have one piece of marketing advice for any agency

Claire: Practice what you preach. 40% of agencies do not practice what they preach currently. Review your tactical marketing activity through that lens first. Create a strong positioning, understand your audience and be consistent in whatever you do.

Follow The Agency Social Club on LinkedIn for updates for their next networking event here.


Download our Practice What You Preach report

Agency marketing is hard. Our research with over 100 UK agencies proves it. Download the report to learn how to become your own best case study.

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