7 Elements a Successful Marketing Agency Should Have

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
  • February 22, 2021

Marketing, like most other disciplines, has evolved significantly over the past several decades. Back in the ’70s and ‘80s, just about everything was done by hand, and important documents were stored in large filing cabinets. Computers were only starting to become widespread.

We’ve come a long way in 40-50 years, and things are still changing rapidly. At the rate technology is improving, you can’t afford to be a step behind the competition.

To run a successful marketing agency, you’ll need a strategy to not only get ahead, but stay ahead. Here’s what will help you get there:

1. Specialization

Marketing is a broad term that covers a wide range of activities. If you look up marketing agencies in your area, you’ll probably find that all of their websites say they “do it all.”

While they technically can pull off most jobs, there’s a good chance that they claim full service but are actually outsourcing out the work they can’t do. Or worse, they’re not good at it but aren’t willing to turn away paying customers, so they’re going to “figure it out” as they go.

Be wary of any company that says they’re a “full service” marketing firm. When starting a marketing agency (or rebuilding an existing one), it’s best to find your niche and be up front about it.

You’ll gain more respect for saying what you do best and for turning away projects that aren’t a good fit. Doing so also enables you to more easily master one or a handful of marketing activities, which means you can charge a premium for them. In addition, you’ll be able to better leverage your team’s expertise and ensure that they’re working on projects that utilize their particular skill set.

2. Enthusiasm

Finding, closing, and retaining clients as a marketing agency is hard work. For every agency specializing in email marketing or Facebook advertising, there are hundreds more that look identical to the outside world.

Kevin Kelly, the founder of Wired magazine, says, “Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.” Pure talent and a high IQ will undoubtedly help you achieve success, but it’s not enough by itself to attract and retain the right customers. You have to be enthusiastic.

Likeability is a huge factor in sales, and showing a baseline level of enthusiasm will take you far. Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you get the prospect feeling the same way about your services, you’re well on your way to closing the deal.

Your team can show more enthusiasm by:

  • Focusing on the way you onboard a new customer and making an effort to get to know them on a personal basis.
  • Deliver your results and position yourself as a partner vs. a vendor.
  • Celebrate all their milestones, no matter how small.

In essence, every interaction is a performance, and the more you show enthusiasm, the better your chances of closing deals and retaining your clients.

3. Growth-Minded

The personal mindset of your team matters more than you may think. Your agency is only as strong as the people working there. An agency with a “fixed mindset” assumes that their culture, creative ability, and capabilities, are static and unchanging.

An agency with a “growth mindset,” on the other hand, will thrive on challenge and see failure not as evidence of unintelligence or incompetence, but as a springboard for learning and growth.

The marketing industry is growth-minded. It’s constantly evolving and advancing, and just when you think you understand it, you get the rug ripped out from underneath you by some new platform, software, or industry shift.

A successful marketing agency keeps its finger on the pulse and is constantly mastering new techniques, platforms, theories, and technology. Doing so will help you stay ahead of the competition and will allow you to offer the best possible services and expertise to your clients.

4. Data-Driven

Data-driven marketing provides leverage. CMOs today don’t just focus on ad copy and color palettes – they want user experience (UX) insights and data warehouses to pull actionable data for their next campaign. They also want to split test various strategies and double-down on what’s working.

If you’re an agency looking to thrive in today’s market, then you need to back your strategy up with clear data. It’s important to note that not all key performance indicators (KPIs) are made equal. Some metrics matter more than others, and taking the time upfront to figure out which is which will pay off in the long run.

In addition, you need to not only provide insightful data, but also package it in a way that’s easy to understand and is visually appealing. With the near-infinite combination of platforms, channels, and media devices currently available, there has to be a mechanism for filtering out the noise and cutting to the heart of what’s working and what’s not.

5. Transparency

Unfortunately, there are some snake oil salespeople out there who are positioning themselves as experts and will take on any job that pays a decent retainer. Filtering out the wannabes and the time-wasters isn’t easy.

That’s why you have to show the masses that you’re different and that your agency provides a better experience. A good starting point is maintaining clear pricing from the beginning. Don’t nickel and dime for every add-on, every extra hour over retainer, and edit request that comes your way. Offer a flat rate that’s competitive, but also keeps everyone on the same page.

If there are variable costs, make them simple to understand, and provide them on your website or in a handy pricing sheet that potential clients can refer to when mulling over potential opportunities.

Show them that you’re committed to timelines early on and stick to it. If you’re going to miss a deadline, don’t take it lightly. Follow up with a reason as far ahead of time as possible and reassure them that you’re committed to getting them the results they expect from you.

6. Creativity

There’s a good chance that your customers are coming to you because they’ve tried things the old fashioned way. Maybe they’ve hired graduate students with degrees in marketing, or they’ve gone to the “experts” and have fallen short of their goals anyway.

Creativity and a fresh approach are what clients crave, and displaying that you’re the agency to provide that isn’t always easy.

Your web presence, from your website to your social media channels, needs to be on point. We’re talking highly designed graphics, carefully curated storytelling, and a flair for eye-catching ad copy. If SEO rankings are your specialty, then you’d ideally rank for key terms that will impress your clients.

To gather inspiration, you need to consume content – a lot of it. Your staff should follow the best newsletters in the industry, attend conferences, and read the latest books on marketing. Anything to give them an edge and bring their A-game is highly advisable.

7. Technology

What does your tech stack look like these days? Are you using the latest technologies, or are you stuck in the past with what’s “familiar”?

Sometimes, the tools you use matter more than you think. If you’re behind the curve on technology, you’re going to get lapped by a younger and more tech-savvy agency in the long run.

Investing in the right technology can streamline your processes, make it easier to satisfy clients, and drive more sales. For example, Mailshake gives you the means to send personalized email at scale. You can automate your email campaigns, actively AB test them, and monitor the most important KPIs in real-time.

Marketing automation tools give you the edge you need to do more with less and scale your agency to heights you never knew possible.

Running a successful marketing agency isn’t as simple as reading an article. It takes real dedication and a relentless approach to making improvements each and every day. A little honesty, frankness, and display of integrity go a long way to creating a sustainable marketing agency. Your customers will come to trust you and see you as more than a vendor.


Along the way, if you leverage the right stack of software and marketing automation tools, you’ll find data-driven insights that get both you and your client’s tangible results. Finally, if you enter every client interaction with enthusiasm and remain growth-minded, you’ll not only create a better work culture but also build a stronger relationship with your clients.

The world of digital marketing changes constantly and rapidly. A single announcement from Google can completely reorient or wipe out a strategy or business model. A good marketing agency, therefore, is on top of the major industry trends and changes. If you are shopping around for a marketing agency, making sure their knowledge and tactics are current and cutting edge is a must.

On top of this, superior interpersonal skills and people with up-to-date marketing designations from reputable online and offline institutions are two additional criteria that anyone looking to hire a marketing agency or a marketer should be interested in. Companies looking to add to their employees’ existing marketing knowledge and understanding should also look into marketing education as an important form of professional development.

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