How to Build the Best Marketing Agency Team

By Jason Swenk on July 2, 2019

Is all your time consumed by working in your business and leaving you with no time for working on your business? Is it time for you to build a rock solid marketing agency team?

The best way to grow and scale your agency is to make sure you’ve got all the right people in the right seats.  One telltale sign of a healthy, growing agency is when the owner realizes it’s time to add to the team. Whether you’re a solo agency working with freelancers or have a team in place, but looking to add to it by hiring agency employees is a major process.

I tend to get a lot of questions from agency owners on how to find, hire, manage, and compensate a team. Naturally, you want candidates who are skilled, as well as people who are going to be a good culture fit and align with your core values. But there’s so much more to it, right?

Your marketing agency is your livelihood and having the right people, in the right seats will make (or break) your agency’s growth.

How Can You Find Great Agency Employees?

My best advice is… always be recruiting.

Even if you don’t have a position open right now or not sure what type of person you need, always be on the lookout for the great talent. Your people are your greatest asset and an amazing marketing agency team is what makes a good agency great. So always be recruiting.

And by “always” I mean, watch out for those people who seem to have that “it” factor or that “thing” your agency needs. You don’t need (nor should you want a clone of yourself). Just be super self-aware. Know your own strengths and weaknesses. Then, don’t worry about working on those weaknesses. Instead, hire someone who’s better than you in those areas.


2 Tips for Recruiting Amazing Marketing Agency Team Members

Finding the right marketing agency team members and the right talent for your agency is the difference between you scaling your agency or struggling with being a prisoner of your agency.

As I said, you should always be recruiting… and here are a couple of simple tips to help:

1.  Add a “Careers” page to your website. This strategy actually services two purposes. It tells potential candidates what roles are needed in your agency, but it also gives prospective candidates an idea of your agency’s culture based on how the job descriptions are written. It can help weed out the wrong people before they even apply.

2. Add a “Now Hiring” image in the navigation bar or near the logo on your Home Page. This little tactic draws attention to the fact that you’re hiring, but it also tells prospective clients your agency is growing. And doesn’t every client want and need that reassurance that they’ve selected a solid agency partner?

Stop constantly working in your business when you hire the right people to manage clients and actually deliver the work, leaving you time to work on your business.


What to Look For In New Agency Employees

Hiring new employees for your marketing agency team can be a cumbersome process. What do you look for in an employee? Do they hold the same beliefs as you?

These are the things you should consider during the interview process. But what you really should think about is evaluating the candidates, not so much on can they do the job but how will they do the job? You don’t necessarily want a mini version of yourself. There’s more opportunity for improvement and creativity when you have a new and fresh perspective on things. You’re not looking for a candidate to “match” — you’re looking for a ying to your yang.

Equally important is having a process for a personality quiz. This is the best way to make sure you have the right person in the right role. Because if you hire the wrong employee, it could have an infectious effect on the rest of your team either by demotivating them or undermining the existing camaraderie.

Make sure you are looking for the right staff by sharing your expectations. Let candidates know expectations and how they will be evaluated. Also, and I know this sounds cliche, but go with your gut. If things feel “off” but they look great on paper, follow your instincts. Hire for culture and teach skill, because the reverse just isn’t possible.


What To Pay Marketing Agency Employees

What should you be paying your digital agency employees? What resources should you be looking at in order to gauge the appropriate pay range or salary? As a digital agency owner, naturally you want to know how to compensate your team. You want to make sure they feel valued while also doing what’s best for the business’ bottom line. But it can get overwhelming with all the different payscale resources out there, such as Glass Door or others.

So while those outside resources are a good starting point you need to do some reflection as well. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What can I afford to pay this person?

  2. What impact would this employee make on the business?

  3. What does the employee need in order to be happy?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t actually matter what you pay them as long as you help them achieve their goals (personal and profession ones). People make a decision on who they work for based on how it makes them feel. They want to feel as though their making a contribution to something great, they want to feel significant, and they want to know there’s an opportunity for growth.

In my agency, we allowed our team to grow within the company and contribute to the agency’s growth. We communicated the core values and beliefs so the team could feel aligned with us. And, we made sure the team knew where the agency was headed as a business so they could feel their significance toward the big picture.


How Can You Motivate New Hires Without Paying A Huge Salary?

As I mentioned, money isn’t really the only thing that can motivate a great employee. If you do a great job of communicating the core values and you have an amazing culture, those intangibles go a long way as well. Additionally, a lot of people are seeking a work/life balance they can’t get anywhere else.

According to a survey we conducted about the Future Outlook for Agencies in 2019, there’s been a growing trend of agencies who are ditching the office space for an entirely remote agency. A case can be made for a lesser salary along with the freedom to work remotely. No commute means more hours in their off time. Could the remote employee or virtual agency model work for you? I believe there are many roles within the agency where it really can work.

marketing agency employees in-office vs. remote or virtual

Now in terms of hiring people outside of your immediate geographic location, there’s a couple ways you can look at it.  You can pay for relocation costs or leave the move to them, but offer a signing bonus. But, here’s the thing about paying for a relocation —

You can definitely do it if having this person in the office is the right thing for your agency and if they live far enough away that their commute doesn’t make sense. However, think about whether their role could be remote and instead of spending money on their relo, use that money to help them set up a home-based office and create a structure where they only come into the office for meetings with key clients, large project kick-offs, etc.

Honestly, there are things people want more than money: time, respect, freedom… Once you determine what those things are, you will recruit the best agency employees to help grow your business.

How to Effectively Manage and Lead a Marketing Agency Team

You want to be an effective leader. You want to inspire (not motivate) your team. But, how do you know if your employees’ priorities are aligned with yours?

–> Side note: notice I said “inspire” and not “motivate”? You should not need to motivate your agency employees. It is, however, good to inspire them by speaking to their soul and connecting with their desire to do great things. If you have employees that need motivation, then you have the wrong employees.

But I digress 🙂

Your team is your agency’s greatest asset. So, create an environment they want to be part of – a place where they can be effective and significant. For example, having core values is one thing, but actually living them by example is completely different. Everyone knows about Zappos reputation for great customer service and a large part of them having happy customers is that they have happy employees. Zappos has created an amazing culture and they hire and live by their core values every single day.

Have confidence in your marketing agency team and celebrate their successes but also give them space to do their jobs and even screw up from time to time.

For example, looking back I remember inadvertently sabotaging my agency’s sales because I did not feel confident that our sales team could deliver. But, I also didn’t give them the opportunity to succeed. I stepped in before they could succeed or fail because I was afraid of the latter.

Don’t let fear or pride get in your way of being a good leader. As the agency owner, you know the end product your agency sells is a representation of you, and you don’t want people thinking badly about you or the company. But trust in your own hiring, management, and leadership skills.



What Your Marketing Agency Team Want Agency Owners To Know

Do you know what your marketing agency team really think? What do agency employees want their agency owners to know? I read this article about things employees hate that their bosses do.

Are you guilty of any of these leadership mistakes?

  1. Taking credit for employees work or ideas.

  2. Not appearing to trust or empower employees.

  3. Lack of sympathy when employees are overworked.

  4. Not advocating when it comes to monetary compensation.

  5. Hiring or promoting the wrong people

  6. Not backing employees when there is a dispute with a client.

  7. Not providing proper direction on assessments/roles

  8. Micromanaging and doesn’t allow freedom to work.

  9. Focusing more on weakness than your strengths.

  10. Not setting set clear expectations.

I’ll say it again — your employees are your agency’s #1 asset. Make sure you’re giving them the appreciation and respect they deserve. When your team feels undervalued, they will not make decisions that are in the best interest of the agency. This will hinder your growth and success. For more info, check out this great article and STOP committing these classic leadership mistakes!

I’ll leave you with a fun video my team and I put together about a disgruntled agency employee. Don’t be THAT boss 🙂

How Can I Help?

Now you know how to create the best marketing agency team possible, what’s next on your to do list?

Through my own career and professional life, I have more than likely experienced all if not most of the different struggles you have and can help you with what I have learned. From bad agency clientsdeveloping agency products as well as how you can build authority for your agency.

If you want to grow your agency even further, I have agency growth hacks, the best ways to improve management of your business as well as why building a remote team can be beneficial in the long run.

As well as this, you can learn more about my career as well as tips, tricks and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

I also hear the experience and advice from other successful agency experts in my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my Youtube channel.

Would You Like To Get Access To A Proven Agency Framework For Growing Your Agency?