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Phone: (+1) 773-904-2700

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Digital Third Coast

2540 W North Ave,
Chicago IL 60647
United States
Phone: (+1) 773-904-2700

How Agencies Choose Their Service Offerings

The marketing and advertising industry is full of agencies offering different arrays of services. While some are “full service” others focus on niches.

Earlier this year, we analyzed 6,000 agencies across the United States and found that, on average, they offer five services. We wanted to get the real story: How did executives settle on their offerings?

We spoke to over 30 of our peers from agencies all over the country to learn their stories.

Meet the Contributors
30 marketing and agency executives

Of these contributors, 40% work for agencies that offer four to six services. The types of offerings range from search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC), to influencer & social media management, and branding and website design work.

how many services do agencies offer How do agencies arrive at the number and types of services they offer?

Creating a unique menu of services isn’t easy. Especially when agencies want to stand out as experts in their field. Moreover, it’s not a quick process. Many of the executives we spoke with say their offerings have evolved over the years as the industry changed.

Today, their menus are a carefully curated assortment of marketing services that have grown and changed to answer for client needs and changing demands.

John Florey, President & Co-Founder of SAMA Labs said they arrived at their offerings based on “what we know moves the needle” to grow brands and add value.

Other companies, like Epic Marketing Consultants, grew their overall service offerings based on client demands. “We come from a place of ‘yes’ for our clients,” according to Epic’s CEO, Nancy Dilbert.

But the eternal question remains: Are they happy with what they chose?

how satisfied are agencies with their services

When asked if they were satisfied with the number of services they offered, an overwhelming majority (91%) said yes! While 40% said they were totally content with their service offerings, about half said they are still open to the possibility of adding more services down the road.

The remaining nine-percent of respondents who said they were “dissatisfied,” reported that they wished they offered fewer services, or could offer more.

Question: What, if anything is preventing you from offering additional or new services?
Mark Bealin

“I like our focus. In the past, we’ve made websites to hopefully get someone’s SEO business. We hated doing it and it hardly ever went as well as we expected. Towards the end of 2019, we decided to get super focused on Local SEO and Paid Search for small businesses.”

Mark Bealin, Principal, SearchLab

Jon Boles

“We are waiting to perfect our offerings and getting them extremely dialed in before we even think about adding more services and systems/processes to our agency. We are in it for the long game, not a get rich quick type of scaling where clients and projects suffer. We’re scaling the right way.”

Jon Boles, Founder & CEO, Avintiv Media

Trish Thomas

“At TEEM, we are very cautious when launching new services. Our primary concern is being able to deliver impeccably in new areas of capability, and ensuring we have the technology, capacity and talent to perform at a high level and generate ROI.

Trish Thomas, CEO, TEEM

Scott Elkins

We don’t want to offer a service unless we know we can do it at an expert level. Additional services at this point would require additional experts.

Scott Elkins, President, The Elkins Agency

Dana DiTomaso

“We’re comfortable with what we offer now and don’t see a compelling reason to change that.”

Dana DiTomaso, President & Partner, Kick Point

Timothy Weaver

“More is not always better. Sometimes more is just more, and your client loses sight of your best offerings.”

Timothy Weaver, CEO, Sure Exposure, Inc.

Newaz Chowdhury

“Finding the right people with the right experience. Some people are better on the design side of things and some people are better on the technical side of things. It’s hard to find someone who’s trustworthy and experienced enough to handle different types of services and clients.”

Newaz Chowdhury, Digital Marketer, Powerphrase

Deepak Shukla

“Nothing is stopping us from adding services. We continue to offer new services as the internet and the SEO industry calls for it.”

Deepak Shukla, CEO and Founder, Pearl Lemon

Aimee Meester

“Our goal is to deliver the best marketing possible for our clients, so if there is something new and innovative that we think they could benefit from, we add it. Testing on ourselves first of course.”

Aimee Meester, CEO, Madison Taylor Marketing

Alen Kevorkian

“Start with what you know, and concentrate only in one market first before expanding to other markets.”

Alen Kevorkian, CEO,LiveWebMedia

Mark Lennon

“The primary barriers to adding new services are time and money. We need to vet new technologies or channels before offering them to our clients. This offer is time consuming. And time is money.

Mark Lennon, Managing Partner, Espresso B2B Marketing

Krtistaps Brenans

“Nothing, our agency is extremely agile, if we wanted to launch new service offerings we could easily do it. Right now we’re building more specialized existing service offerings. Particularly industry based, if we’re offering SEO we have packages for lead generation, e-commerce, sales, etc. Same concept is being applied to web development. Area where we’re growing really rapidly is Shopify apps and we truly believe this segment will build substantial revenue for us.”

Kristaps Brencans, CMO, On the Map Marketing

Roger Malinowski

“It’s a challenge to invest in new offerings when revenue has been so dramatically impacted.”

Roger Malinowski, VP of Business Development, BeCore

Sharon Ainsberg

“We are known for being very specialized and best in class in this particular service offering; and we are unique because we are a non-traditional agency which sits squarely at the intersection of PR and marketing. So we are not a PR agency in the traditional sense, nor just a marketing agency, but rather we have a laser-focus on how best to engage with talent and guide brands through what is often a rocky landscape.

Sharon Ainsberg, Co-Founder,SHO+CO

Matt Roberts

“99% of our clients needs are covered by our current offerings.”

Matt Roberts, President, AdInfusion

Ian Evenstar

“We don’t believe that being a generalist at a wide selection of services is a good business practice.

Ian Evenstar, Founder & CEO, UNINCORPORATED

Dror Cohen

“The confidence in delivering new types of services at the same level of our core services. It takes a few successful projects until you gain enough experience and the right workforce to successfully deliver new types of services.”

Dror Cohen, CEO, AirFleet

Rahul Vij

“We do not want to start offering services that are completely new for us.”

Rahul Vig, CEO, WebSpero Solutions

Question: What tips do you have for newer agencies about growing and expanding service offerings?

It’s always exciting to look ahead and imagine where your agency can go from here. When we asked executives about what to remember when growing and expanding, one theme was consistent: do what you know.

Mark Bealin

“Stay focused. It’s a lot more important to be perceived as the best at one thing than adequate at a bunch of things. Also, it’s actually hard to do a lot of things well.”

Mark Bealin, Principal, SearchLab

Chris Bonney

Make sure when you’re adding new offerings that there is a relevancy to your other services so you can bundle them for client cost savings. And also make sure the service can scale with you over time, that it’s not just a quick-hit service due to COVID.”

Chris Bonney, VP of Strategy, Gulo

Dana DiTomaso

Be very good at what you offer already before expanding further, and choose new offerings where it makes sense. For example, when we first started, we didn’t do websites in-house but we were finding it difficult to get our technical recommendations implemented – so we started offering website development.”

Dana DiTomaso, President & Partner, Kick Point

John Florey

Understand your profitability in services so it’s scalable, sustainable, and gives white-glove service.”

John Florey, President and Co-Founder, SAMA Labs

Nancy Dilbert

“Swing for the fences. If you have staff interested in a new service offering, get them lots of training and set them loose with it!

Nancy Dibert, CEO, Epic Marketing Consultants

Jonnathan Trilleras

“Not all services may fit your agency, nowadays, clients are looking for companies that are truly experts for specific services or industries and are more savvy on what they want and how to implement campaigns. From personal experience, we tried many different things to implement extra services and all we did was confuse our clients and our team with new services that really didn’t make much revenue.

Jonnathan Trilleras, CEO, LED Truck Media

Andy Walker

“Listen to your customers for pain points. Look for short term issues you can solve quickly with spot fixes and long term issues you can solve with strategy.”

Andy Walker, President,Cyberwalker Digital

Matt Roberts

“Add new services slowly. Focus on being great at less things then offering lots of things you’re not super confident you can actually deliver.

Matt Roberts, President, AdInfusion

Jon Boles

“Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on one niche industry and figure out how you can provide that niche or demographic as much value as possible. Test the waters and figure out which service offerings you’re a rockstar at.

See how you can add an MRR model to that so you can scale your agency with recurring revenue versus one-off projects. Then you can scale from there with more services or expand to another niche market.

Jon Boles, Founder & CEO,Avintiv Media

Jonathan Saeidian

“First, perfect the internal foundations of your marketing agency before exploring new services. If you constantly add new services, your team will naturally run out of time & resources to properly execute. The better you manage your existing services, the easier you can add on new ones.”

Jonathan Saeidian, Head of Growth, Brenton Way

Trish Thomas

“Newer agencies should expand service offerings with several factors in mind. 1. Are they saying ‘yes’ as a knee-jerk response to a one-off client request, or is this a sustainable play that addresses market demand? And 2. Do they have the skills and bandwidth internally to deliver effectively? New service roll-outs should be strategic, performance-focused and operationally and financially feasible.”

Trish Thomas, CEO, TEEM

Scott Elkins

Hire “jack-of-all-trades” early on, but work your way toward hiring specialists as soon as possible.”

Scott Elkins, President, The Elkins Agency

Jonas Dominique

“Listen to your customers, and don’t let internal processes stop you from enabling their success.

Jonas Dominique, Senior Marketing Manager, LeaseLabs by RealPage

Dustin Moore

“Honing in on your specialty can allow you to become the “go-to” agency for the service in the space.”

Dustin Moore, Founder,Ivio Agency

Timothy Weaver

“I like to tell my clients, “Great companies are built on two things: innovation and marketing.” Adding new features, customers, offerings, and brand models will help keep your business growing.”

Timothy Weaver, CEO, Sure Exposure, Inc.

Rahul Vij

“Start service offerings that are related to or an extension to what you are doing already, it makes it easy for the team to cross sell, to get your initial set of customers and then you can build on it.”

Rahul Vij, CEO, WebSpero Solutions

Dave Reed

“Stick to what you’re good at!”

Dave Reed, Director,Giants & Titans

Kritsaps Brencans

“Be hyper-focused and be really good at what you’re offering. Agency space is extremely-extremely saturated and without being able to offer high-quality service the future growth will be very slow.”

Kristaps Brencans, CMO, On The Map Marketing

Newaz Chowdhury

“Stick with 1 or 2 services that you are good at right now. You can outsource with a partner that is good at something that you are not and vice versa. Keep it simple and grow slowly.”

Newaz Chowdhury, Digital Marketer, Powerphrase

Rebecca Hanson

“Be great at a few offerings before spreading too thin trying to offer too much and being mediocre at a lot and great at nothing.”

Rebecca Hanson, Business Development Executive, Rainfactory

Deepak Shukla

“Start with what you know. Once you build a foundation in your area of expertise, then you can expand into new and different areas within that. For us, SEO is our bread and butter, but we have also reached into areas such as lead generation and conversion rate optimization.”

Deepak Shukla, CEO and Founder, Pearl Lemon

Aimee Meester

Don’t add services just to say yes to the client – make sure you have the expertise on staff either by hiring or developing talent, the proper technology to perform, and the operational systems in place to deliver a top-notch service before rolling it out.”

Aimee Meester, CEO, Madison Taylor Marketing

Mark Lennon

“It’s best to offer fewer services and to be truly great at those services than to try to offer too many services and be mediocre at some of them.

Mark Lennon, Managing Partner,Espresso B2B Marketing

Roger Malinowski

“Don’t look to tomorrow or a few months from now, try to extrapolate to what will be happening in 1 year or more.”

Roger Malinowski, VP of Business Development, BeCore

Sharon Ainsberg

“It’s always smart to think about where your expertise lies and how you might expand into neighboring offerings naturally.”

Sharon Ainsberg, Co-Founder,SHO+CO

Ian Evenstar

“Be careful… if you try to be all things to everyone, you’ll end up being nothing to no one.”

Ian Evenstar, Founder & CEO, UNINCORPORATED

Pia Celestino

“Numbers are king. Not everything can be profitable for every agency. Look at your strengths and work on that instead. Partner with other small agencies instead of trying to cover everything.”

Pia Celestino, Chief Creative Officer, Crea7ive

Tori Hall

Offer your core services but add additional as needed. Do not offer too many services that you can’t be the best at.

Tori Hall, Owner, Elevate Creative

Dror Cohen

“Focus on a specific target audience to which you can offer a unique value proposition that is aligned with your background and expertise. Start with a focused and even localized persona in which you can quickly create a swift word-of-mouth effect. Make sure you only make a sell if you can ensure that the client will absolutely love your service and results.”

Dror Cohen, CEO, AirFleet

Key Takeaways:

As one of our contributors aptly put it, “if you try to be all things to everyone, you’ll end up being nothing to no one.”

The biggest takeaway from this roundup is that no agency offered it all at once. They all started small and gradually grew to fit their team, their clients, and their goals.

Agency leader after agency leader offered similar advice about scaling slowly and sticking to your expertise. Before an agency can grow, it needs to know itself.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the elephant in the room in 2020: Covid-19. The pandemic changed the way many “non-essential” businesses operate. We asked these same industry executives what impact, if any, it’s had on their service offerings. Check out our blog post to learn more.