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Do you want more clients? Thinking about increasing your offering to attract more clients? Truth is, the opposite strategy is what helps a lot of agencies grow. Scale back to scale up! That's what this agency did when they took the scary approach of cutting back on their service offering and niching down. However, the results speak for themself.  That is how one PR agency went from functioning as a full-service to niching down and focusing on just one area. Learn the motivation that led to making this transition and how he prepared for it.

Matt McAllister is the Managing Director at Candor Content, a content marketing agency that helps technology companies grow by driving organic traffic and generating inbound leads. Their content programs turn websites into organic traffic magnets by publishing content that attracts visitors, builds trust, and forges enduring relationships. With a team so passionate about writing and content marketing, it’s hard to believe the agency was first focused on PR. Matt offers some insight into that transition process and their eventual success.

In this interview, we’ll discuss:

  • Simplify your agency service offering and say no to the wrong clients.
  • Going all in on niching down.
  • Is the emergence of AI affecting content marketing agencies?


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Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white-label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out and get 10% off for the first three months of service.

Shifting Focus From PR to Content Marketing

Matt started his agency 12 years ago, initially focusing on the PR side of the industry. At that time, he believed that most companies allocated a budget for public relations and that he would find clients easily. He did not consider content marketing because it was not yet a big thing. However, he had a content-centric approach to doing PR, offering to publish articles, research reports, and take over clients’ blogs.

Around 2015, HubSpot became popular and many companies realized the power of inbound marketing. They needed content to fuel their inbound engines, so Matt and his team focused more on creating content. However, in the early days of his agency, they fell into the trap of trying to be all things to all people. They gave clients a full-service offering where they would do anything needed, including branding, design, and positioning. This approach proved to be very stressful because they were a small team and had to rely on freelancers.

Simplifying the Agency Offering and Saying No to the Wrong Prospects

Eventually, they realized that it was time to strip down their services and focus on what they enjoyed doing the most. Niching down and saying no to the wrong customers is a natural part of growing an agency. But it's not as simple as it may sound. You have to consider possible risks and start implementing it with some clients first to assess the response. The hardest part will be drawing a line in the sand and start telling clients you will only work on a specific space. This involves offering referrals for all those wanting other services outside that expertise.

It's important to take the time to feel well-prepared for the shift. Too many agency owners pull the ripcord too early and go back to what they feel is safe before seeing results. Fortunately, they started to see results right away. Existing clients responded with more budgets for content creation, something they already knew his agency was good at. Additionally, new prospects trusted them in this area of expertise. They figured they must be really good at that if they were willing to focus on that one area.

Going All In On Niching Down to Attract More Clients

Realistically, you may go through a few rough weeks where you lose clients that don’t fit your new niche. The important thing is to push through that point. Matt’s agency lost about 10-15% of its overall revenue at first. "It was scary," he admits, "we’re a small agency so this was a significant part of our revenue for sure." He was definitely tempted to take some of the PR work opportunities that they have following their shift to content. Thankfully, his partner reminded him they needed to go all in on their strategy for it to work. Big changes like this benefit from having people around you who will hold you accountable for your commitment.

If he could go back to the agency’s first few years, Matt would have brought on help sooner. It’s common for agency owners to decide to do everything themselves at first to cut costs. "I called it an agency," he recalls, "but it was me and a couple of freelancers." Looking back, he would have liked to have more trust in the project and given more work to other people.

Scaling Back Services to Scale Up the Agency

As far as the transition, he would have more faith that it would all work out in the end. It certainly would have saved him some sleepless nights. Moreover, he would have cut down the agency’s services even more. It was a gradual transition, starting with the PR and messaging, and positioning offering. However, they kept doing email marketing and other services that they eventually dropped. Nowadays, it’s clearer for him that the agency shines when it comes to SEO, lead generation content, and brand generation content.

If you want to scale up, you must be willing to scale down first. In order to figure out how to strip down your offering, ask yourself two questions:

  1. What would I do if I only received my payment after having performed?
  2. How can I be the best at what I do and be clear about that?

How is the Emergence of ChatGPT Affecting Content Agencies?

Many in Matt’s team are writers and journalists who are very passionate about their craft. Understandably, a lot of writers are a bit nervous right now about the emergence of AI writing tools. There’s a lot of talk about these tools replacing writers. Matt doesn’t think this will be the case.

AI provides writers with the tools to get better ideas, get over writer’s block, and have the potential to make them better editors. Like anyone in the content creation space, he’s been following this technology closely and he’s excited about it.


Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners that can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.

Direct download: Want_More_Clients__Niching_Down_Can_Help_You_Find_Your_Ideal_Clients.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am MDT