For a digital marketing agency, due to the exceptionally fluid and innovative niche, such an approach is almost guaranteed to fail. Instead, you have to dig in, brew yourself a ginormous pot of coffee and really get down to it.
Of course, since we are living in the year 2017, there will be some specific things to look out for, too.
Who is it for?
Inexperienced business owners almost invariably ignore the basic and eternal truth of writing a digital marketing agency business plan – the audience matters. It may seem inconsequential, but it is actually a distinction that will affect all subsequent decisions.
For example, you may be coming up with a business plan that will be used mostly for internal purposes. You will be laying out your goals and means to achieve those goals to your employees. You will let them know what is expected of them and what kind of performance will be considered satisfactory. It will also let them know how the company is doing and try to convince them to stay on board.
An internally-oriented business plan is also a great way to understand where you stand realistically, which is often a problem for digital marketing agencies.
Another kind of a business plan is aimed at investors and partners. This kind of a business plan is intended to reinforce their trust and belief in your digital marketing agency. It goes without saying that this kind of a business plan will be finances-heavy, dealing in cold, hard numbers.
Finally, your business plan may be aimed at your existing and potential customers. It will be a borderline marketing tactic where you will point out all of the amazing things you are planning to accomplish and tools that you intend to use. It can also be a great way to advertise the wide array of your services and introduce new ones.
For example, if you just started expanding and are now offering digital marketing strategy services, your customer-oriented business plan is the perfect “delivery mechanism” (to borrow from pharmaceutical terminology here) for this announcement.
It should be pointed out that, since this is 2017, your digital marketing agency business plan should also start introducing certain terms and concepts that will be the future of digital marketing, such as A.I. in digital, natural language processing, data analytics, account-based marketing and so on. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious in your business plan, especially if it is aimed at investors and potential customers.
Numbers. Numbers. Numbers.
It does not matter who the audience for your 2017 business plan is, you will have to be excruciatingly precise with your numbers. When you dig deep enough, a business plan is never about the words. It is about the numbers.
How many clients do you have at the moment? How many more do you plan on attracting? What are you doing to keep your clients? How much does your client retention cost? How much are you paying your outside partners? What kind of growth rate are you expecting? How do you plan on selling your services? How much will it cost to sell them? Are you planning on taking out a new business loan? What is your employee turnover rate?
All of this and much, much more has to be backed by numbers.
Simply put, without the numbers backing your claims, no one is going to believe you – not your employees, not your potential investors or partners, not your customers.
If you avoid numbers, they will notice it and once they do, the first place they will go to is that you are trying to hide something.
One word of warning – this does not mean you should divulge absolutely everything about your finances. That being said, some transparency with your numbers can go a long way.
Focus on people
The people from the subheading above are your people, your employees.
The reason why they are making a feature in an article about a digital marketing agency business plan in 2017 is that 2017 will hopefully finally be the year when digital marketing agency owners and managers realize the value of the people in their employ.
The situation is such that the employee loyalties are all but becoming a thing of the past and in an industry such as digital marketing, this is perhaps even more pronounced than in some other, “slower” industries. In addition to this, people are finally talking about the debilitating costs of high employee turnover which occurs when companies do not value the people who work for them.
It is because of all of this that you need to feature your people heavily in your business plan. (Of course, this is especially true if your business plan is of the internally-oriented kind.)
You should outline all the ways in which you plan on retaining your best people and help them do their jobs better.
You should write down all of the investments you will make in them and in making your company a better place to work. You should flesh out a clear-cut and results-driven hiring policy, as well as an onboarding one.
Everyone who gets a hold of your plan needs to understand that you are a digital marketing agency that understands the realities of the evolving workplace and that values its employees above everything else.
If you came looking for a bulletproof, step-by-step business plan template for your digital marketing agency, the author is sorry to disappoint. The reason why this article does not fit that description is that such a template does not exist.
Instead, the author tried to provide the most important things to keep in mind when coming up with a digital marketing agency business plan for 2017.
The rest will be up to you.