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The Second Commandment of Agency Ownership-Thou Shalt Specialize and Develop In-Depth Expertise

You started out as a specialist. However, something changed along the way as you tried to scale. Here’s why it’s important for agencies to specialize.

When you started out, you specialized in something.

That’s how you got your first client. Let’s say your first job was creating awesome website designs.

Then, the second client comes along. They want you to design a website and handle the SEO. You say that you can do that and you’ve added another service.

The third client comes along and they want PPC on top. And the cycle keeps going on until you become a generalist.

Your expertise is now a mile wide and an inch deep.

The Symptoms

When you become a generalist, you make it so much harder for clients to understand why they should hire you.

That’s the first symptom of this problem. The agency can’t point to a couple of things that it does really well. Instead, you have to work to convince the client that you can do something well while doing a dozen other things.

The second symptom is that you get trapped as a founder if you’re the one selling in the business. You can’t create a system because what you’re selling changes all of the time. That means you have no processes in place that you can use to train other people.

The final symptom is that you’re always chasing the shiny balls. You don’t know what you’re best at so everything seems like an opportunity.

The Root Cause

Short-term thinking is the root cause of this problem.

When you’re small and trying to grow, you’ll take on any client. You want the money to fuel your immediate growth.

The problem is that you’re not thinking about how that policy affects your services in the future. You’re not thinking about where you want to be in three or five years.

Why You Should Fix the Issue

The problem with all of this is that you’re basically growing based on what the client wants. That leaves you with no control over the agency’s direction.

That’s what happened to Moz when they moved away from SEO and into web marketing software. The company tried to follow where they thought the audience wanted to go. However, they’d built themselves up via their specialization on SEO.

The move towards software slowed the company’s growth. That’s because they allowed others to dictate the direction.

When you follow this commandment, you know exactly what you have to offer. You can point straight to it so you’re not constantly trying to prove your value. This makes it so much easier to attract the right prospects and repel the wrong ones.

You can also create a more consistent message when you specialize. Plus, it’s so much easier to create processes and train people to follow them.

Dev “The Specialist” Basu