Boosting Client Retention with the Right Offering

By Jason Swenk on March 29, 2023

Does your agency have a defined niche? Do you serve a specific industry or work in a specific vertical offering? We always hear the riches are in the niches, but it’s all about balance. Growth comes from serving the right clients with the right offering. Boost client retention when your agency’s positioning is clear on who you serve and the solution you provide. After all, you can’t be everything to everyone — you’ll just end up a generalist, ‘me too’ agency. However, choosing a vertical and horizontal niche might be too limiting at first. Niching down too much and too quickly can leave your business vulnerable to the whims of the market. Today’s guests learned this after seeing exponential growth and then panicking once a change in the algorithm threatened their business niche.

Adam Smith and Laura Hanlon are owners and Co-Directors of Pink Leopard, a growth acceleration agency that helps e-commerce brands grow and scale through the power of paid social, search, and email. The majority of their clients are female-owned e-commerce brands with a primarily female clientele. This wasn’t always the case, however. In its early days, the agency was exclusively focused on Facebook ads.  However, a shift in the market forced them to reconsider if they perhaps niched down too, much too soon.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • Discovering a niche is too limiting.
  • Growing from 1 hire to a team of 20.
  • Boosting client retention with the right offering.
  • Time tracking to increase profitability.


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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today’s episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.


Starting an Agency and Selecting a Business Partner

Initially, Laura worked in network marketing and used social media to launch and grow brands, as she had done with her own. It was a very different time and organization was the only thing you needed to grow. However, she quickly identified that paid social ads were the key to helping brands get to the next level.

During that time, she also found a passion for e-commerce and started her own e-commerce store. In hindsight, it was too much on top of her agency work, but it helped her understand her clients’ struggles. As her business grew, she was still a one-woman show getting more and more business thanks to referrals. This is when she thought about Adam.

They had known each other for years, he also wanted to start a business, and his experience in business development and employee engagement complemented her own experiences. He was an ideal match for a business partner.

Growing from the First Hire to a Team of 20

With Laura selling and Adam handling operations, the agency grew quickly. After just six months they hired an account manager to alleviate the handover from sales to delivery.

This meant Laura could focus on running accounts while the account manager handled the back-and-forth with clients. However, when the pandemic hit, as it happened to many, agency growth soared. They quickly went from a 2-person operation to a 20-person team.

Not every new hire was successful. In fact, they made the common mistake of hiring someone very junior when they didn’t have the time to train him. Adam and Laura learned they needed to hire skilled experts, which proved to be a great move. Now, they have specialists leading and growing the teams while they focus on growing the agency.

Can an Agency Be Too Niched? 

At first, Pink Leopard worked exclusively with Meta (Facebook) in the e-commerce space. They felt confident to be starting out with a clear idea of their niche and audience. They grew significantly during the Covid pandemic when a lot of brands moved to an e-commerce model or stepped up their e-comm presence. However, growth during the pandemic was very hard to maintain two years later, when things got back to normal. Additionally, the Apple/iOS changes removing data sharing were catastrophic for them as a Facebook agency.

They actually lost a few clients, who were cutting costs after growing too fast during the pandemic. A lot of this had to do with taking on the wrong clients, Laura admits. In 2020 and 2021 they were taking on many businesses without properly vetting them. They later discovered these clients weren’t a culture fit.

In the end, they learned relying on a single platform like Facebook was just too risky. They pivoted to being all-in with e-commerce and diversified their services to include email marketing and Google ads.

How to Boost Client Retention with the Right Offering

Diversifying their service offering actually turned out to be a massive client retention piece. It has also helped with growth as they established trust with their clients.

Their new expanded offering helps attract partners who understand the value of a marketing mix including discovery, intent, and retention. Their services are much more robust, now. Which helped improve client retention because they’re no longer reporting on just one channel’s performance. Now that they’re working on email, Facebook, and Google, their reports are true reflections of the results they’re getting for clients.

How Time Tracking Helps Track Profitability

If they could go back, Adam and Laura would take a closer look at their pricing model a lot sooner. Most agencies are guilty of starting out with lower pricing to attract clients and grow. But it’s important to implement time-tracking to really track where your team is spending time and which projects/clients are actually profitable. The next step to being profitable is saying no to the wrong clients.

It’s a risk many agency owners are afraid to take however it’s very liberating when you turn away clients that you know aren’t the right fit.

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