The Little Agency That Could

I bet if I told you the headline of today’s news you not only could see it on television, but you could Google it.  Who would have thought you could say the word Google and automatically 98% of the world would know what you meant.

Nevertheless, here we are in the midst of a booming new business online frenzy… once again.  There is economic crisis, banks are folding like lawn chairs, houses are foreclosing daily, car giants are filing for bankruptcy and online social networks are growing at an alarming rate.

This is not earth shattering revelation I am giving up here, obviously, but what I want to share is a story about the Little Agency That Could.  A copywriting agency that has become a full service agency due to demand.  It has taken us some adjusting and re-adjusting but as a team of writers, we are confident with our results.  We have been getting steady work throughout the recession, but with that comes the good the bad and the ugly.

Inspiration happens at the oddest times in a writer’s life.  Some writers need to have complete silence in their working environment while others listen to music.  Then there are those of us who have the faint sound of the news in the background.  However, its days like these that give us a clear picture of why we are in business for ourselves.

As a writer that’s not a bad deal; as SEO copywriters that’s music to our ears.  What this means is more people are taking their business online and looking for great content.  The global market has finally caught up with re-inventing themselves.  Businesses that I have never heard of are contacting our agency looking for blogs, press releases, articles, web pages etc.  Some changes happened gradually as social media grew.  We have always been fans of blogs and bookmarking sites, but none really made me personally appreciate them until Twitter.  (that’s another article).

One of the major changes we have noticed is the quality of great clients versus the quantity of great clients.  Let me explain.

As part of the business development team at this agency, I’ve met some clients we have had to part with.  Actually, I shouldn’t call them clients, since they never made it that far.  They contact us with a specific project in mind.  After talking to them via email or phone, I’ve found that, more often than not, they have no idea what they are doing.  They have no direction or concept of what it takes to brand themselves and ultimately are wasting their time.  Spinning their wheels.  They know they need blogs, they need website copy and Oo, dear lord, they need SEO.

I spend time emailing, talking on the phone, sometimes I even offer a conference call when other writers or designers are involved.  That is all part of doing business, and for the Little Agency That Could, it does affect our bottom dollar.

Some of the clients try to squeeze you for every cent, from the ones that promise future work if you can give them a better rate to the ones that insult you by insinuating they expected fifteen articles for $40.  Sure, looking back, we have a great laugh and move on, but every so often you get the potential client that reveals their color from day one.  The ones that threaten to sue you over unfounded accusations.

Basically, my point is, regardless of what sort of business you are doing on the Internet, you need to know when to fold them and know when to walk away.

Writing or offering any service online is a delicate act that needs to have certain criteria.  Some call it the 80% 20% rule.  What that means is if you spend 80% of your time dealing with the client and only get a 20% return, then you know to walk away.  You shouldn’t have to spend more than 20% of your time dealing with the client.

Don’t get me wrong; we talk to our clients any time they want to discuss their project, but when all we do is talk and don’t get any work done due to their inability to have a plan then it’s apparent you are not dealing with a professional.  And in today’s market there are lots of people that really should not get into business; running or starting a business takes more than a great idea.  You have to have a vision, then a strong plan and, ultimately, you have to know how to deal with people.  My business partner said it clearly: “The vision for any online marketing business is so colorful, but the mission is always black and white.”  Can I get an Amen.

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