Gareth Morgan is the founder of marketing agency Liberty, which recently celebrated its 13th birthday. In this blog post, Gareth talks us through how he set up the company and a few of the things he’s learned along the way. He acknowledges and thanks all those who have helped and guided him on this exciting journey and now wants to pay it forward, giving that insight to others.
Over the past few years, I have been approached by a number of agencies that sought my advice on how to grow. So, during the lockdowns of the past year, I’ve held dozens of free coaching sessions, attempting to guide these aspiring agency leaders away from the common pitfalls, towards the things that I’ve found make a huge difference.
Here are some of the main recommendations that I regularly find myself making. Between them, they cover many of the big things any marketing agency needs to do in order to stand out, grow and operate in as painless a manner as possible.
#1 Stand for something
These days it’s not good enough to just offer services to businesses without a reason for doing so. The “why” really matters, especially in agency world.
We’re now seeing lots of agencies appear with strong values, showcased front and centre on their website and creds decks. It makes it clear for all to see their reason for existing and it’s exciting to work with them. It also, very importantly, makes you feel better about giving them your marketing budget. The surge in agencies becoming B Corps recently proved that purpose is important.
”Your drive doesn’t have to be about saving the world or fixing climate change, but your reason for existing should be significant and mean something to you, your target clients and your staff.
What’s your reason for being? Do you want to create the UK’s best workplace? Have you uncovered a certain problem that you aim to eradicate? When you decide, shout about it. People will remember it and they will respond. For further info, see Simon Sinek and his famous TED talk on this subject.
Differentiate. Have a USP. Don’t be a Jack of all Trades.
In my 20 years as a marketer, I’m yet to discover a one-stop-shop that can get even half the results that a good team of specialists can.
Specialist agencies have seen great growth in the past few years, especially in digital, where brands are seeking experts that can stay ahead of fast-paced changes. Most clients will want a small group of experts that they can get to work well together and make real gains across those channels.
Be great at just a couple of things and you’ll not have to worry about finding work.
#3 Systemise everything
Figuring out who in your business is responsible for each thing and in what order, is the most important area to invest your time if you want to grow with as little stress as possible.
It’s also the only way that you, the founder/leader/MD/CEO/owner, will ever get to a happy place and can focus on the one or two things you are good at, which is usually promoting the business and dealing with the largest accounts.
It’s all about getting the right people in the right seats. Lining up the roles and responsibilities throughout the business, making sure everyone is working in-line with their core strengths.
#4 Hire the right people
“A business is only as good as its people” as the saying goes, is as true for a marketing agency as it is any other operation.
You need to have a people first approach with solid cultural values if you want to attract and keep real talent. You need to figure out what motivates and empowers them, so they feel fulfilled in their roles. Your people need to know what is expected of them. Not just in terms of the work they do but how they should behave and interact with colleagues, clients and suppliers.
#5 Build a network of peers to support you
Running any business can be a lonely job, especially if you are the sole founder. The sheer volume of issues to deal with, many of which are outside of your core strengths, can soon become overwhelming. But there are plenty of people who have already been through these issues and more, that are happy to help you figure it out.
One of my favourite things about the marketing agency world is the connectivity between businesses. We seem quite unique in this regard, I don’t know of another sector where leaders regularly speak at events, giving all of their secrets away to a room full of potential rivals.
Thank you so much Gareth for this great insight and for all the tips and advice! This post was originally posted on Liberty’s blog and there’s lots to dive into over there, so be sure to have a read.
Gareth Morgan is Liberty’s Founder and Group CEO. Liberty was established in 2008 through a desire to create an agency that puts the client front and centre, always acts ethically and transparently while trying its best to come up with innovative campaigns to keep our clients at the forefront of their markets.