Agency success: How you can step up your game with the right IT

by Sabrina Stein
Last edited on: 2023-10-11

Every agency is different. Every agency works differently. Because every project is different. But in the end, success can always be summed up in a few influencing factors. Some of them are obvious – others seem secondary, but in the end affect much more than you would like to believe. Your IT is no exception.

If you have just founded an agency, it is even better if you know these key factors right from the start. But no matter where you are in your agency life, this article is written for you if you want to know how to use your IT as an important success factor in your agency's everyday life. Afterwards, you will know a few secret levers for your agency's success that remain hidden from your competitors.

If the IT foundation is right, you can switch on your agency turbo.

To begin with, we would like to ask you an important question:

Are you a necessary service provider that is "just needed" or a longed-for partner in the eyes of your customers?

Let's look at this from a pragmatic point of view: Your client probably just wanted to find a good way to address his target group as attractively as possible or to reach it well. In the end, it's the goal that counts. And since your client can't do everything, you come into play. The web and advertising professional he trusts – perhaps you would like to become that. But how do you become that? In principle, it's the same as everywhere else: your work must achieve the desired result or solve a problem for the client. HOW you do this – and above all: how easily, pleasantly and quickly your client achieves his goal will make the decisive difference. This is precisely the point that the following factors address.

Build a secure foundation for your agency's success!

Especially at the beginning, many entrepreneurs are very motivated and get a lot going in a very short time. That is admirable. But as the saying goes? – The devil is in the detail. Therefore, we want to show you briefly in which detail your devil could be:

What would happen if the foundations on which your customer projects are based – and which you have built up with the corresponding effort – were to collapse from one day to the next?

By the foundation, we mean, as you can probably guess, your servers and the data center where your valuable agency data resides. Your IT infrastructure.

Basically, you are in the flow of things and then it happens – a server failure. Either you – or your customers – are totally nervous, because the chances of a major catastrophe increase with every minute of disruption. Then not only your customers would have a problem, but also you! Probably many questions pop up in your head:

  • Is all the work from today destroyed?
  • Has the customer already noticed that his online shop is currently sending all visitors to nowhere?
  • Are there already annoyed customers, lost sales or lost data?

Everything that goes along with these points you have to reconstruct later and fix again technically as well as communicatively.

  • How long does it take to fix everything?
  • And how long do you think it will take before you can relax again afterwards?

What we want to show you with this: All the sensitive data, all the creative work and therefore the basis for your sales could be destroyed, disappear or at least be restored with a lot of effort from one moment to the next. Legal consequences due to damages or data protection issues could also follow. But all this is not really necessary – if the basis is right!

Had you already thought through these points in detail?

But what are these disasters in concrete terms? Why can such incidents actually occur? The causes are very diverse and can include everything from power outages to environmental influences to criminal cyberattacks (on you or your customers).

Be aware: If your data is gone – customer data, website data, etc. – then the best products, the best employees and the best marketing strategy are of no use to you. In the worst case, you can shut down your agency.

Let's move on to the now necessary step:

If you want to plan your IT solution or have it planned, be sure to keep these questions in mind:

  • Are the servers and systems protected from fire and environmental damage?
  • Is the data sufficiently protected against cyber attacks (for example through spam filters, virus and DDoS protection)?
  • What happens in the event of a power failure?
  • What happens if a data connection fails? Are there redundant systems here?
  • Are there regular backups, preferably separated by location (in other words, a useful backup concept)?
  • What about security against burglary in the data centers?
  • In short: Is your data in a safe place and is it absolutely secure even in the event of various emergencies?

The feel-good factor – Your customer relationship from a different perspective

Only when your customers feel really comfortable with you they will stay for a long time: It's the same with guests. Are they well entertained, well looked after and are their concerns addressed? Does one asks further questions when they tell you something about their lives? Then you won't want to leave!

So if you maintain a good relationship with your clients, respond transparently to their concerns and always go a bit beyond their expectations, you already fulfil the second factor that a successful agency takes into account.

But what does your IT have to do with it? After all, your customers have no contact with your servers? – Yes, indirectly they do.

On the one hand, your customer data is on your servers – this can be very confidential information. Especially for online shop operators and business customers, this information is very sensitive and therefore requires special protection. In order for your customers to feel that they are in good hands with you, it is important that they know how you handle their data. Are they well protected from cybercriminals? Could they be recovered in an emergency – for whatever reason?

What exactly happens if your servers fail? How do you communicate with your customers at that moment? Can you give them information quickly? Tell them confidently that the problem will soon be solved? Or does your customer – justifiably – sense that something is wrong? That would definitely not be a basis for trust.

If the customer's project is really no longer available, you should give your customer credible and transparent information. He must feel safe with you. However, you can only succeed in this if you have the situation halfway under control, know about it yourself or have a very good contact person who can give you the necessary information.

The worst thing that can happen is that you yourself have no idea whatsoever and leave your customer in the dark with uncertain statements. This has a lasting negative impact on the customer relationship.

Of course, this transparent communication can only take place if your IT department or your IT service provider, who looks after your agency's IT, communicates just as transparently with you and can react just as quickly to the situation. In short: You, too, must feel in good hands in order to be able to pass this on to your clients.

Optimally, you have a professional contact person who informs you in the best possible way right from the start and at the same time puts the situation back in order for you. This way you can continue to take care of your actual work or move on as quickly as possible.

Another important factor related to the sensitive data of your agency and agency clients is data protection. To ensure that the data on the servers is handled in accordance with the GDPR, your server – if it is located in an external data center – should be in Germany or the EU.

Transparent services!

Transparency creates trust. There should be a high degree of transparency both between you and your customers and employees, and between you and your IT provider. If you deliberately withhold information from your customers or if they conceal important details from you, the business relationship is very likely to move into a downward spiral.

No matter which provider you ultimately choose for your agency IT – inform yourself in advance in detail about all costs and conditions. This includes, on the one hand, contract terms and periods of notice and, on the other hand, for example, licensing costs for included software and such. Another point that is often hidden when it comes to IT and servers is the performance limits. This is particularly the case with virtualised servers. Here, specifications are sometimes made that cannot be adhered to in times of high utilisation. Therefore, make sure that you are guaranteed resources.

If in doubt, ask again so that you do not experience disappointment afterwards. At this point in your research process, you can also see how transparent the provider is towards potential customers. Do not ignore this, because transparent communication is one of the most important aspects of the business relationship – and, as already mentioned, also pays off for your success!

Stay competitive!

The marketing world is changing. We are increasingly dependent on new, fast and complex strategies and technologies that enable us to address the target group or those of our customers. If you don't keep up, you lose. You, too, have to keep up here for your customers. But this also means that the foundation on which your products and services are built must keep pace with increased demands.

The performance and speed, but also the reliability and scalability of your IT are of particular interest here.

  • Do your servers have powerful hardware?
  • Is it possible for you to expand your resources relatively quickly and easily?
  • Does the performance remain stable even in times of high utilisation?

Should you choose an IT service provider, these are criteria that should definitely be decisive – after all, it would be a shame if you were competitive at every level but your IT ultimately slowed everything down.

Look for a provider who meets all these criteria. Ask here exactly and don't let yourself be put off with vague answers under any circumstances. It's about your IT – your foundation. For your success.

Timing & focus – how efficiently does your agency work?

In agency life, no day is like the other. On the one hand, projects are already very diverse and often time-critical – on the other hand, technologies change just as quickly as the world keeps turning. This in turn has a major impact on your agency business. Processes and workflows are becoming more and more complex – and: let's not kid ourselves – agency life is becoming more and more stressful and challenging. Therefore, it is particularly important for you and your success to always keep a steady hand on the wheel.

In order not to lose sight of the goal in all the hustle and bustle, project plans, to-do lists, focus tools and sufficient coffee can simplify your working life. As an agency or creative person, you are probably a master of multitasking – but if you are completely honest, you know that it is much more beneficial to stay on the ball, to focus on one thing and thus to create masterpieces.

"All right", you might be thinking to yourself. "But it doesn't work for me. Something always comes up".

Yes, exactly. And exactly for this point we would like to give you an important hint for the IT sector: Many people think that if you handle everything yourself and take care of everything yourself, it will be better than involving others.

This is always true when you are dealing with an unreliable "partner". Yes, then you are better off doing it yourself. BUT if, on the other hand, you work with a real professional, then you save yourself (or your staff) long training periods in "foreign subject areas" and also longer "project phases" (because if it is not actually your subject, you need much longer than a professional). And much more important: you don't waste the valuable focus energy that you could put into your own projects. It makes sense to actually do a calculation here once.

  • How much of your agency's working time is lost to " secondary" but important activities that you could actually spend effectively on your own projects and generate revenue with them?
  • What difference does that make financially?
  • Is a service provider or professional perhaps worthwhile after all?

Clarify clearly who is responsible for the IT! And if this cannot be clearly defined internally, it is better to look for a service provider. Otherwise it will remain an area for which "nobody and everybody" is responsible – and that usually ends in chaos.

Expertise & Creativity: Your USP

Similarly, you are definitely an expert if you help your clients with their projects with your specific expertise.

But if you want to be successful for a long time, to stand out from others or at least not be overtaken, then more than that is necessary. You have to stay on the ball – be up to date and always learn something new in your field. The digital world never sleeps. And if you always keep up with the times (and take the other points into account), you will always be able to deliver very high value to your customers.

But if you have so many different things to take care of in your daily work that only a fraction of your working time can be used for expertise, you will eventually be left behind as an agency.

Think of it this way: if you are an expert in a certain field, you create the most value in that field and pass it on to your clients. However, if you are constantly occupied with things that are on the periphery of your area of responsibility – and it may take you three times as long as an expert in this area – the value of your actual work is reduced.

The best variant is that everyone is active in the area in which they have the most expertise and can also develop this consistently.

So what does this mean for your IT? – Unless you or your employee are a real expert in the field: Hands off!

And yes, at the same time you should always be in control. Therefore, our practical solution proposal in terms of IT now follows in the next section.

How to retain your independence and control over your servers and customer projects

Ideally, you host your customer projects directly on one or more agency servers. In this case, you should have full root rights for your agency server and be completely flexible in administration. This allows you to freely allocate the available web space to your customers and projects as required.

You are also the central contact for your customer – without complicated detours via a service provider.

You could then combine this with a comprehensive service, e.g. a managed service, by an IT expert.

Customised solutions for customised success

People buy products and services that are precisely targeted at them. Therefore, it is an advantage if you as an agency serve a very specific target group whose requirements you can fulfil to a particular degree due to your expertise. Does your competitor's offer fit your customer's need better? Then you already know where he buys.

It's a similar story with IT. To be really happy with a solution, you should make sure that it really suits you and your projects. Otherwise, disappointment will follow in retrospect.

The perfect solution is still an IT solution that is individually customised to you with all its aspects.

The (technical) basis must be right!

Apart from all the service and trust aspects, very "simple" and logical technical and financial factors should of course also be considered when choosing an IT provider. After all, it does no one any good if you choose a solution that is customer-oriented but completely overpriced.

Do the technical conditions fully match your requirements?

For example storage space, databases, server speed, system compatibility and similar. We don't want to go into all these details here: Because if you have found a good provider, then he will be able to address precisely these points comprehensively and in detail. Which brings us back to the point of service quality. A good partner at your side is simply worth its weight in gold.

And how can you now approach all this practically?

How can you succeed in optimally serving these success factors – in terms of IT and, of course, profit from them?

On the one hand, one should now pay very close attention to the points mentioned when researching.

If you are looking for a service provider that provides you with comprehensive support, we can also recommend the Managed Service from our product portfolio – because this optimally serves the aspects. We as an IT service provider are – after we have realised the optimal IT infrastructure with you – at your side at any time when you need us. You, on the other hand, always have full control over your IT. You can find out all the details here.

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