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Apprehensive to declare a niche? Worried that being a niche agency will limit your growth? Do you own a full-service agency that's in need of restructuring? Declaring a niche is one of the best ways to set your agency apart, but is it possible to find success with multiple niches?

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to demonstrate expertise as a full-service agency.
  • 3 steps to help your agency team adjust to change.
  • Is success possible in more than one niche?

Today I sat down with Jeff Hahn, owner of Hahn Public, a public communications and marketing agency. After purchasing a full-service agency, Jeff made a creative decision to split the agency into four practice areas. He's here to discuss the steps he took to make this change, how it worked, and how he made sure his team was on board.

How to Demonstrate Expertise as a Full-service Agency

You've heard me discuss just how important it is to declare a niche. When a client is looking for an agency, 9 times out of 10 they reach out to someone who is an expert in their niche. If you run a full-service agency, it doesn't matter how good you are, the majority of clients will always see you as a generalist. While this might work for a while, eventually, this model will almost certainly limit your growth.

When Jeff purchased his agency, he knew it was important to establish expertise right off the bat. But rather than choose just one niche, he chose four. Jeff took the existing agency and split it up into four separate practice areas. As separate mini-agencies, each was able to focus on their vertical and target a specific audience. While the agency shared resources and was organized around one central team, the division allowed each practice area to gain and demonstrate expertise.

3 Steps to Help Your Agency Team Adjust to Change

Whether you're splitting up into four different practice areas or bringing in a new CEO, change can be hard. Your team is your most important asset so it's important to approach major transitions with the care they deserve. There are a few things you can do to help your team adjust to change:

  1. Ease into it. Changes are the hardest to accept when they are not communicated well. The best thing you can do for your team is to take it slow. Roll in changes gradually and keep your team informed every step of the way.
  2. Show them how. Part of the reason people don't like change is the fear of the unknown. After you've told your team what you want to do, show them how you plan to achieve it.
  3. Provide an opportunity to opt-in. Look around and see who's excited about the change. Those who aren't can quickly become a cancer to the rest of the team.  When someone's not on board or actively opposed to change, Jeff says he likes to hold a "graduation ceremony" to recognize their contribution and allow that person to move on.

Is Success Possible in More Than One Niche?

Jeff has proven it is possible to break an agency into smaller, more-focused areas and find success. And maybe this approach will work for you. But Jeff says if there is one thing he could do over it would be to commit to one direction or one idea. When you split an agency into separate practice areas, you still have to market, maintain, and build intellectual property for each one. In this way, it's akin to running four separate agencies at the same time. Sure, it may work out, but it's a lot of extra work. That is why I advise agencies to focus on one niche at a time.

Should you run a full-service agency? Should you declare a niche? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. But when you choose your passion and run with it, you'll find you're happier and more likely to find success.

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Direct download: Can_an_Agency_Succeed_in_Four_Separate_Niches_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EDT