We had no leads, no pipeline, and no upcoming projects. As an agency, if you ever wanted a hill to die on - this is it. Becoming stagnant in any form is detrimental, but especially if you're running an agency. Ideally, an agency is pulling in enough monthly recurring revenue to covers costs and growth. In reality, this is a very tough go for any agency - more so for a small one such as ours.
Creating projects we're extremely proud of, showcasing them on our site, allowing us to build up authority and industry reputation. However, it's almost inevitable to hit a wall. A wall of down income and no sales. A feeling that is truly putting you through the ringer of what it takes to run a business.
Becoming deeply focused on our current client base, leaving little interest in obtaining growth in other channels. The fact is, keeping a pipeline of leads that could be contacted on a daily basis is a must! Without a steady, consistent flow of outreach, we were put in a position caused by our own doing. A tough lesson, but one we'll never lose the feeling of.
Agencies need what we've found to be 3 crucial components;
Rest assured, very few have all three of those pillars completely in tune and each requires passion, time and money. At Creators Never Die, we spent time mulling over our own product, which we've been quietly developing - Amulet and a React Admin Dashboard. That covers one pillar.
Content is something that was lacking for us, and a consistent output didn't quite come to fruition over the past 2 years. Content truly remains king, leaving no option but to embrace and bring value to niche-communities.
We've decided to go all in on our content, and we'll be coming out with a lot more in the form of video. We wanna give an in-depth look into our day to day, but not the usual style of preachiness. Not that we don't enjoy that on occasion, but we want to give the most authentic version of ourselves and Creators Never Die.
This lead to Music Packs for Creators, live streams, blog posts, and more we're working on. With as much noise as there is out there, we want our content to be like an addition to a creators tool-belt - working into our larger vision and goal of a creators ecosystem of tools and content.
Running a creative service based business is tough, leading to decisions that could prove detrimental in the near future if not managed correctly. We, as a business, failed to adhere to keeping leads rolling in and the pipeline relevant. This meant our third pillar wasn't even holding our business up.
It left us in a tough spot, not only from a financial perspective, holding up cash flow and growth, but from an emotional perspective too. Riding the momentum we had and having that come to a halting stop is a terrible feeling. Understanding the ups and downs of running your own business, mental preparation is part of the game. We knew it wasn't always going to be high MRR every month. Something had to be done and we kept not doing it.
What were we doing instead of solidifying the third pillar?
Majority of our time was spent working on the current roster of client projects, which all required extensive attention to maintaining our high standard of only putting out the best work.
We had some big clients, mostly focusing on their needs. Which, in essence, is one pillar of what needs to be done. Keeping our team small, we didn't focus on client growth and ignored our pipeline.
We honed in on making sure every client we had was happy and thought the idea of taking on more work was a feat we couldn't take on. Who would work on these projects? Would we have too much on our plate? Could we still deliver top quality value and incredible digital products with more clients?
Questions like those are crucial to ask when looking to grow and take on more work. However, simply asking these questions and not coming up with actionable solutions leads to down months an agency simply cannot afford.
Those big projects are coming to an end and you're left with 1, maybe 2 monthly recurring revenue streams. That can't cover costs. Payroll, expenses, company costs, the list goes on. This is where our empty pipeline and no lead gen system became glaring.
No leads, no referrals, nothing that we could even grasp onto as low hanging fruit. This is a major problem and cold starting this process will yield a low success rate in most cases - as it has for us.
Looking at various outlets for guidance and working off of what had brought some success.
Quickly, we began the process of building our pipeline - better late than never.
Collecting various top Canadian employers, using LinkedIn, Indeed, Stack Overflow and UpWork. Using Notion, we created a table compiled of the aforementioned, emails, names and notes of what specifically we could do to help.
This gave way for the current outreach method we're using as of now.
The process breaks down as such:
Not many steps, but requires research and in-depth review into actual problems where we can jump in and help right away. We aren't looking to take over the entire tech side, but we look to see if we can make small changes, that could lead to larger work.
A great selling point we've found when using a site like Indeed to find prospects is leveraging the cost savings for a remote team. No full-time salary, no benefits, and we're local so going to meetings wouldn't pose an issue. We've yet to see success from this, but like any process, it'll take time and persistence - with a mix of luck.
Working out of this hole is not easy, but we're working at it daily. Understanding that the three pillars work cohesively to produce a successful ecosystem is crucial.