Welcome all. Thank you for being here.
A new agency is exciting, in fact a new business of any sort is exciting. It’s full of opportunity and energy. This is the time when you get to stick it to the man, gain independence, transition into a new industry. Whatever your reasons are for starting this adventure, this is when it really starts. If you could bottle this feeling it would sell off the shelves. Tony Robbins wouldn’t stand a chance.
It has its side effects though. Apprehension, irritability, sleeplessness and in some cases, downright fear. For most of us we have to take the leap from a steady paying job. We may have been employed or self-employed, whatever it was we have now move into a land of semi-unknowns. Of course there is a period of moonlighting which helps in starting some of the heavy lifting early. Does that mitigate the side effects? A little, but not a lot. You still have to jump. This isn’t my first time though. From experience, you have to enjoy the successes as much as you have to roll with the blows.
What is Catchworks?
We are a search led agency. That means that SEO sits at our core, supplementing (and being supplemented by) website design and paid search. Who knows, in the future we could transition into a full service agency. For the moment we are sticking to our guns. We know search. We know we can deliver great work and results within search.
We want to solve a number of problems
The agency model works, it has done for years. It will continue to do so for years.
There is a better way to go about it though.
Catchworks was born out of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. If you’re reading this in the future, it’s bad. Lives are being lost at an accelerating rate. Society is having to communicate through video calls from everyone’s individual lounge. It’s as if a giant alien spaceship has shot a stun gun at the world’s economy. Everyone is on hold, without the irritating music.
The loss of life is terrible. No business going bankrupt can ever be worse than that. Make no mistake though, Covid-19 was (and currently is) awful for business. Marketing agencies were hard hit. Within days of social distancing measures being enacted by the UK government, clients started to cut marketing spend. Yes, the government offered multiple aid packages for businesses without which the economy would have hit unimaginable lows. However, the point remains that marketing fits into the non-business critical spend bracket.
Catchworks was not created because of Covid-19. Far from it. The outbreak exacerbated issues that already exist within the agency model. Catchworks exists to solve problems for both the agency and the client.
We fight for both sides. They feed off each other.
Small and growing agencies face a lot of issues. In fact, I’ve contacted many agency owners across the UK to take part in a poll. I’m going to be writing an article on what they would change if they could start over. More on this at a later date.
The key issues we identified in agencies:
- Small agencies struggle to hire the best talent, often due to a lack of budget. This can reduce results, impacting their ability to win bigger spending clients.
- Agencies make money in the good times but can struggle to adapt quickly to lost clients and revenue
- Agencies can experience inflexibility due to high fixed costs
- As a result of reduced talent and lack of larger clients, agencies have to run formulaic campaigns that can be rolled out easily. This ‘paint by numbers’ approach reduces creativity and results.
It’s true that a portion of client problems are born out of the agency problems. That’s why we’re looking to help with both.
- Clients expect a lot from SEOs, but struggle to get sign off on budget. This leads to high expectations at a lower fee rate. Not a good pair.
- There is often a lack of clarity on strategy and/or reporting. This lack of clarity can extend to having different points of contacts within the agency.
- SEO is a long-term investment. This creates pressure on the Marketing Director to justify spend in the early stages.
- A lack of internal skillsets within SEO can muddy the waters. Assumptions are made and a campaigns are oversimplified.
- Internal reporting structures fail to deliver the most salient information with regards to SEO.
- Depending on the agency they use, clients are overcharged for team members that do not need to be involved at certain times in the campaign.
We won’t solve them all
We are under no illusions that we will solve every one of these problems. We may not be able to completely solve any of these problems.
Is that bad? Not in our opinion.
We are set up to make drastic improvements to them.
Our model blends a core team of agency employees, with a deep network of specific freelancers. This allows us to:
- Maintain a core ethos within the agency, i.e we don’t paint by numbers. Creativity is required, and it has to be fostered. It also means that reporting and communication remains consistent.
- Through stringent testing of freelancers we can extend our skillsets. This results in higher performing services compared with similar sized agencies. We have access to experience that, frankly, is out of our budget on a full time basis.
- The client is only billed when team members are required for for specific tasks. With reduced fixed costs, we don’t need to charge more. i.e clients don’t feel like they are paying for ‘agency perks’.
- We have created strategy & reporting documentation that educates clients. With this, reports can be distributed internally without them being misconstrued. These help to gain further buy-in outside of the immediate digital marketing team.
The point is that Catchworks has been set up with these issues at the forefront. Of course, there are other motives. Yet it remains that we are not following the same inefficient model. Our team members understand this, full-time and freelancer. It governs our recruitment strategy. We hope that one day it governs which clients we choose to work with.
Let’s chat. We want you have transparency into how our model works.