How Can Strategic Partnerships Help Grow Agency Revenue?

By Jason Swenk on November 4, 2020

Are you looking for a way to grow agency revenue through strategic partnerships? Do you struggle to understand what type of partnership might be right for you? There are so many ways you can build and grow your agency — the trick is creating a partnership that aligns with your prospective clients’ needs.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • Technology agencies use to grow agency revenue.
  • 2 ways to be a successful strategic partner.
  • Understanding where your agency’s value truly lies.
  • Can a digital agency be good at SaaS?

Today I sat down with Rick Carlson, President of SharpSpring. As a marketing automation software company, SharpSpring works with hundreds of agencies, building strategic partnerships that build on the strengths of all parties involved. He’s here to talk about how agencies can grow agency revenue by finding and being a good strategic partner.

New Technology Agencies Use to Grow Agency Revenue

As a marketing automation expert, Rick has seen the evolution of the various platforms out there. He says there has been a major shift in the way marketing automation has developed over the years. Instead of just traditional email marketing and landing pages, it now integrates with the full sales cycle. He refers to SharpSpring as not just marketing automation but rather a “revenue growth platform.”

Rick says there has been a lag between the innovation of marketing automation platforms and agencies’ adoption of the full scope of the platform. No longer just limited to email automation, SharpSpring includes intelligent forms, CRM, social post scheduling, and even a chatbot tool. When agencies harness the full potential of a tool like SharpSpring it becomes a true “black box” and can exponentially escalate the agency’s value to their client. As Rick says, agencies are only limited by their imagination — the capabilities are there and ready to deploy.

2 Ways to Be a Successful Strategic Partner

I always tell my clients there are three sales channels you need to focus on in order to grow: inbound, outbound, and strategic partnerships. Strategic partnerships is the one that is often neglected or misunderstood. It is not just a referral partner (those are great too, but not reliable for growth). To align with the right strategic partner, figure out which technologies make are natural companions with your core service. Then, leverage that partnership to help your agency grow.

Once you find the right partners, there are two main ways Rick sees agencies become successful with those  relationships:

  1. The cookie-cutter approach: Agencies who utilize the cookie-cutter approach typically spend a lot of time perfecting one strategy. However, they are then able to replicate the same model over and over again. This method is highly efficient and highly profitable, focusing on volume over contracts.
  2. Personalization: With this approach, the agency looks at the unique needs of the client. This approach requires more strategy and often more time commitment. However, the trade-off is typically a bigger retainer and longer engagement.

Understanding Where Your Agency’s Value Truly Lies

One of the problems with strategic partnerships is agencies find it easy to pass on their partners’ work as their own. The main issue with this is it can cause the client to overlook the value your agency actually provides, which is strategy.

Look at it this way, when you get your taxes done, the accountant doesn’t expect you to believe they developed QuickBooks. When you go to a tax professional, you expect them to review your finances, find tax breaks, and file your taxes.

The same holds true for digital agency clients and the tools you use to be great at the results you provide. Remember, most of the time technology is nothing more than a tool if it is not placed in capable hands. Make it clear where your agency’s value truly lies.

Can a Digital Agency Be Good at SaaS?

Have you developed a technology you think would help others? Maybe you want to create another profit stream. There’s nothing wrong with branching out, but once you start marketing a new SaaS tool, you become a software developer and not just an agency. Sure, you can do both, but if you choose this route, you need to separate the two. Trying to do both will become a distraction and one of your ventures will suffer. If you’re going to create tech, you need a clear separation — different teams, different presidents, etc.

Strategic partnerships are meant to benefit all parties involved. They should not be a one-way street. Focus on what you can provide and what your agency really needs. When you find the right match, you’ll find more time to devote to other areas to help your agency grow.

Struggling to maintain consistent project work and revenue streams?

Check out SharpSpring. They’ve built a low-cost, comprehensive marketing, and sales platform that helps agencies increase their margins and build consistent monthly recurring revenue.

For a limited time, you can get a live demo of SharpSpring and see what it’s like to use a platform built specifically for agencies.

Also, be sure you check out SharpSpring’s FREE Agency Acceleration Series featuring presentations by some of today’s best marketers — including the one and only Seth Godin.

Elevating Your Agency

Now that I shave shown you how strategic partnerships can elevate and grow agency revenue, what is the next obstacle you need to face to improve your digital agency.

Through my career, I have experienced many different struggles with my own agency and I can help you deal with bad agency clients, how to build authority for your agency and more.

If it’s challenges growing your business that you are experiencing, 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.

Learn more about my career as well as tips, tricks and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

You can hear about all my experiences as well as advice from other successful agency experts in my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my Youtube channel.

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