To say agency life is busy may be an understatement. Work isn’t confined to the normal 9-5 schedule, and it can feel like there are never enough hours in the day to find new business, make sure existing clients are happy, contribute to projects, and lead a team of employees. Oh, and you still need to make time to think about the future of your agency and where you want to be in the next five years.
Creating a strategic plan for your agency can easily fall on the backburner. It can seem like there are more pressing issues in the present, like an unhappy client or an impending deadline. But, setting the course with a strategic plan creates context and value for these daily activities. It defines an overarching vision that everyone can get behind and helps you identify the two to three biggest priorities to reach success.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to create a strategic plan for your agency. It will provide newfound clarity on where you currently are and the specific steps you need to take to get where you want to be.
Here are five steps to creating an agency strategic plan:
1. Understand where you are now
First, an important distinction. This step is about clearly defining where you agency is right now, not where you want to be. This may include doing a SWOT analysis, which involves writing out and analyzing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By doing this, you may realize that your social media services bring in the most clients, while your SEO services are lacking necessary resources. You may also consider revisiting your mission statement and guiding principles, as well as researching the competitive landscape.
2. Define priorities and objectives
Now you can look to the future. From your SWOT analysis, you have realized that social media is bringing in a lot of profit, so one of your new objectives may be to increase your client base in social media services by 20% and create a thought leadership strategy around your social media expertise to increase referral traffic by 10%. Assign numbers to your objectives when possible, as they must be easily measurable.
3. Identify who is accountable
This is how you will accomplish your goals. Do you need to hire more employees for the social media team? Do you need to set a personal goal for yourself to spend more time on new client outreach? Who is responsible for daily account management? Clearly define roles and responsibilities with your team so everyone is aligned.
4. Set short-term goals
By now, you and your team may feel overwhelmed. Accomplishing your strategic vision can feel daunting, and you may not even know where to start. So, break it up into smaller, realistic goals that span a couple months. Maybe you attend one social media conference in the next quarter. Or, you write one thought leadership blog post each month. Break up your priorities and objectives into digestible action items.
5. Establish long-term vision
Don’t lose sight of where you ultimately want to end up. Make sure your short-term goals are aligned with the long-term vision. It may be helpful to map this all out. Write out your umbrella goals (the big, overarching priorities). Then, underneath each one, write out the bite-sized, short-term goals. This can help everyone understand the process and the value behind their work.
A strategic plan answers three main questions: where are we now? Where are we going? And, how will we get there? It is crucial that you understand your agency’s pain points, strengths, and opportunities for the future. As Winston Churchill once said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”