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9 ways to improve your agency’s company culture

by | May 15, 2024 | Public Relations

How strong is your agency’s company culture? A positive culture keeps your team motivated and productive. A negative culture has the opposite effect. You’ll have unhappy employees, potentially leading to bad public relations and damaging client relationships. That’s why so many organizations emphasize company culture. 

If you’re reading this, you may be concerned that your agency company culture isn’t up to scratch. But don’t worry, this article is here to share some tips to get you back on track. 

Understanding agency company culture

Your agency’s company culture defines everything about your organization. Every agency has a culture. It defines its morals, general marketing approaches, and red lines. What strategies would be considered unethical for your organization? 

company culture

Image sourced from quantumworkplace.com

Your agency’s culture should be second nature to everyone within it. For example, staff working in an agency with a strong fiscally responsible culture should have no problem answering the question ‘what is financial risk management?’. An effective culture runs throughout an agency. This means it’s present not just in senior leaders, but also in more junior roles. 

There’s a reason that building a positive company culture is deemed essential by all credible marketing agencies. Employees who say their culture is positive are 3.8 times more likely to be engaged.

The different types of agency culture

There is a wide range of agency cultures. Some examples are listed below, consider which option best describes your agency. 

  • A clan culture: Built around people and best suited for agencies that want to describe themselves as a ‘family’. A strong clan culture means collaboration comes naturally, and you pride yourself on offering flexibility to teams. 
  • Adhocracy culture: Focuses on an innovative approach to digital marketing services. These agencies try to be ‘on the ball’ by embracing the latest marketing trends. A successful adhocracy culture means that you’ll pave the way for other marketing agencies. 
  • Market culture: Emphasizes profit above all else. These agencies tend to be less concerned about the satisfaction of their employees. A risky and morally grey area, but can bring large returns when handled well. 
  • Hierarchy culture: Operates firmly around a structure. Each role in an agency is clearly defined, and employees must adhere to a clear dress code. These organizations tend to outline a clear set of rules.  

Best practices to supercharge your agency culture

There’s no denying that the culture of your agency is important. But how can you give your culture a boost? Follow these steps for maximum chances of success. 

1. Hire the right people

Culture building begins at step one: the interview room. Let’s imagine a scenario, where you’re interviewing two separate candidates. 

Candidate A has a gleaming CV with lots of marketing experience. When you interview them, though, it’s clear that the candidate’s attitudes and approach are at odds with your culture. Candidate B has less experience but their values are a strong fit with your culture. So, which candidate should you pick?  

company culture

Many organizations would make the mistake of picking Candidate A due to their experience. A few months down the line, they’re likely to run into problems. An employee who is at odds with company culture is unlikely to mesh well with co-workers. Teamwork could suffer, and ultimately, you might be looking for another candidate in a few months. 

A candidate can gain experience, but values are much harder to alter. That’s why you should always prioritize culture during hiring. 

2. Rethink onboarding

Choosing a candidate with matching values is a good start, but the work shouldn’t stop there. Onboarding is considered a critical part of building company culture. As many as 79% of employers cited onboarding as enabling a quick integration into company culture. So, don’t overlook the importance of culture at this stage. 

company culture

Onboarding is a useful tool for helping a new employee feel a part of the team. It’s also an opportunity to remind an employee of your core agency values. Explain how your organization applies to them in its day-to-day work. Explain not only what you do, but why. Help explain why your values are important in driving your organization forward. 

To further enforce the importance of culture, consider offering training around certain values. For example, if your agency views ‘transparency’ as a key value, you could offer training in business integrity. 

Ultimately, if an employee knows what your organization stands for from day one, they’ll be more likely to feel engaged. 

3. Choose your clients carefully

An effective marketing agency culture should be more than just platitudes. Your values should be clear to both you and your target audiences. This means the undesirable scenario of having to turn some clients down if their values don’t align with yours. 

Moreover, considering the importance of reaching younger audiences in today’s digital landscape, ensure that your agency’s culture resonates with this demographic. Incorporating elements that appeal to younger generations, such as sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation, can help attract clients who prioritize engaging with this demographic.

Let’s imagine that your agency is vocal about how it views ‘trust’ as a key value. A healthcare brand approaches your agency, asking for promotion. The company has previously suffered allegations of not using customer data ethically or safely. 

Since then, they haven’t taken steps to turn this around, such as investing in a HIPAA compliant phone service, or creating stronger data storage practices. In this scenario, you’d have no option but to turn the client down. Any other approach would fly in the face of your values. 

To make sure you attract the right kind of clientele, think about how you market your agency. Is your culture clear from your marketing materials? If not, think about ways you can give your content marketing a boost. Using buzzwords such as ‘principles’, ‘honesty’, and ‘innovative approach’ can help clarify your culture. 

4. Build ‘recognition’ into your culture

While ‘The Great Resignation’ might be over, employees are still always looking for the next opportunity. In March 2024 3.5 million people left their jobs. If your agency wants to hold onto its talent, it needs to ensure people feel at home. 

As the expression goes, ‘a little recognition goes a long way’. If staff feel valued, they’ll be more content in their roles. That’s why recognition must be a part of your agency’s culture. 

company culture

Luckily, there’s no shortage of methods for recognizing your teams. Why not try some of the following? 

  • Reward your employees by offering treats to teams that produce the best digital strategies.  
  • Create a special ‘recognition’ chat where teams can celebrate co-workers. 
  • Offer promotions to internal employees rather than hiring externally. 

When it comes to recognition, it may be wise to avoid certain competition-based methods. An ‘employee of the month’ scheme, for instance, can produce a healthy rivalry. There’s also a danger, however, of employees putting their own progression above teamwork. 

5. Avoid putting too much pressure on employees

Marketing agencies often work to tight deadlines. This is part and parcel of the job but can put your teams under a lot of pressure. If you’re not careful, you could create an uncaring, stressful workplace environment. To build a strong company culture, put the needs of your teams first. 

company culture

This means being upfront with clients about several factors. These include: 

  • Timescales: Don’t commit to a deadline that you know you can’t achieve or that will create massive pressure. Consider the skills of your team and the resources you have at your disposal. 
  • Payment: Lay down payment terms from the start. Don’t begin any work until a contract is signed and agreed upon. 
  • Communication: Explain your office hours and working days. Ensure the client knows when your teams will be unavailable (although you may offer contact details for emergencies). 

Additionally, fostering open channels of communication among team members is crucial. Regular check-ins, team meetings, and utilizing communication tools can all contribute to a more cohesive and efficient work environment. Improve team communication by encouraging transparent discussions and sharing best practices.

To further cut down on pressure, look at how AI-powered automation can help carry out certain tasks. For example, there are plenty of examples of AI in customer service. The tool can assist agents and even answer customer queries for you. Automation like this helps to cut down on the stress of manual day-to-day tasks. 

6. Offer more flexibility

The workplace is changing, and the traditional 9-5 in-office working arrangement is increasingly looking outdated. A modern, innovative culture focuses on providing flexibility to employees.

By offering a more flexible workplace culture, you’re helping to cultivate a happier workforce. Staff will be more engaged and likely to produce better work. This begins by offering more flexibility to your employees. 

One option is to give teams the ability to work on their terms. There is a clear appetite for this approach. Over half (55 percent) of workers say they will take a pay cut of 5% in return for more flexible working hours. Why not introduce staggered hours so that employees can choose working patterns that work for them? 

Another option is to offer remote or hybrid working opportunities. The same report found that a similar percentage (52 percent) would take a pay cut in return for a flexible working location. Thanks to modern technology, there are lots of effective tools to support a remote digital marketing firm.

7. Focus on PR

Your agency company culture isn’t just about looking internally. Your culture should be well known if you want to attract the best clients. To achieve this, you’ll need to put a strong focus on public relations. When target audiences interact with your brand, they should be left in no doubt about your values and approach. 

To ensure that your culture is clear, try building some of the following steps into your PR approach. 

  • Clarify your vision: What motivates you and drives you as a company? How will you help a client reach its marketing goals? Use your public-facing channels to clarify this vision. A few lines on your home page and in social media marketing can send a clear message. 
  • Announce new initiatives: What steps have you taken to improve your company? Perhaps you have recently introduced a new CCaaS phone system to provide more omnichannel experiences for customer support. In this scenario, you might create a press release answering the question ‘what is CCaaS?’ 
  • Be transparent: Be clear about company direction. If you’re undertaking a sudden change of approach, explain why. 

8. Check in with teammates

How are your teams doing? Performance-wise, there might not be any clear issues. Dig a little deeper though, and you may find employees are not as content as they seem. Issues relating to mental health, stress, and family life can damage the well-being of your staff. As time goes by, these issues might start to take a toll on overall engagement and productivity. 

A positive marketing agency company culture takes a holistic approach. In this environment, employees shouldn’t be concerned about talking about their struggles. Make sure that team leaders hold regular one-on-one meetings with co-workers, giving them the opportunities to express themselves in a judgefree scenario.  

It’s important to train leaders in mental health awareness. This way, they’re able to spot when an employee is struggling and provide help more quickly. You could also consider investing in an employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP provides a support network that employees can contact at any time, providing counseling and other forms of assistance. 

9. Seek frequent feedback

Internal struggles aren’t the only frustrations your teams may need to express. Whether leaders like it or not, staff sometimes want to share opinions on their leadership. Your approach to feedback will have a big impact on your company culture. 

Some leaders will shy away from criticism. But remember, feedback can be a valuable resource, ensuring the whole team is helping to steer your direction. They might make positive suggestions that alter the course of a campaign. Even if you don’t act on feedback, employees will appreciate you listening to their thoughts. 

company culture

Unfortunately, some employees will be wary of sharing suggestions. It’s important to offer a clear channel for anonymous feedback. Team leaders should check this regularly and should let the whole team know when acting on suggestions.  

A strong culture is essential

There’s no escaping that your marketing agency company culture is linked to your business growth. But a strong culture doesn’t come overnight. It takes work and commitment from everyone in your agency. Not just leadership, but the whole team needs to believe in a unified vision. This needs to be enacted both internally and to your clients through your PR approach. 

We’ve shared some simple tips for building a successful culture. Why not follow these step-by-step, carefully building your culture one brick at a time? We can promise that the rewards will far outweigh any short-term effort.

Jessica True
Jessica True is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy and Operations at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Here is her LinkedIn.

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