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10 solid ways to manage crisis in your marketing agency

Guest contributor

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10 solid ways to manage crisis in your marketing agency

If you’ve been running a marketing agency for quite a while now, you know that no business is safe from any crisis. There will always be risks of facing challenges, especially those that your agency has little to no control over.

According to Hubspot, crises can come in various forms. Some of these include financial crisis, personnel crisis, technological crisis, and confrontation crisis. Regardless of the type, it impacts your productivity and bottom line.

As a marketing agency owner, you need to have a solid risk management action plan to prepare and deal with it. Because here’s the truth: Effective crisis management will lead to business growth.

Let’s begin by defining crisis management and its benefits. Then we’ll discuss ten ways you and your crisis management team should handle it.

What is crisis management?

Crisis management is about helping a company mitigate an adverse event or its effects. Take note that this process happens before, during, and after a crisis — not just in response to it. More importantly, its goal is to lessen the damage as much as possible.

Why should your marketing agency invest in crisis management? Why bother in the first place? It’s not just about helping your agency become more equipped to handle challenges. It’s also about being able to pinpoint factors that could potentially affect your agency’s operations.

For example, remote team members who live in locations with obsolete technologies are often hit by natural disasters. Perhaps the most significant advantage of managing a crisis is keeping the clients you’ve worked so hard for. Fewer problems in your agency = more satisfied clients.

Your crisis management action plan

Just like creating a marketing strategy, crisis management for your agency also requires a well-thought-out plan. Below, you’ll find ten strategies categorised as before, during, and after a crisis. Hopefully, these will steer your agency in the right direction. Keep reading:

Before a crisis

1. Identify potential risk areas

Any unfortunate event can be called a crisis if it affects your marketing agency’s reputation and bottom line. So, first and foremost, you must be aware of potential risks. Start with the most common risks that threaten any agency. They include:
  • Technology-related disruptions: Examples are poor internet speed, bad weather/storms/hurricanes, loss of data privacy, and cybersecurity threats.
  • Health: The COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of a crisis that affected employees and freelancers worldwide. Health problems cause absenteeism and reduced work output. Also, these health issues don’t just affect your agency’s team members but also their loved ones.
  • Decreased demand for your services: It costs an agency more to acquire new clients than to keep them. With this potential risk, make sure that you know what causes clients to end their contract or choose the competition over you.

2. Communicate clearly with your team

Involve your managers and the rest of your team. Letting them in on the crisis management plan helps them understand its importance and be proactive. Schedule a meeting that everyone can attend. Be sure to tell them about the meeting’s agenda. More importantly, encourage asking questions.

3. Brainstorm ideas

Effective crisis management requires the exploration of various strategies tailored to the problem at hand.

For example, with a health crisis like COVID-19, strategies that ensure continuity of your agency operations include remote working, equipment access, and a realistic workflow that reflects the “new normal.”

Keep in mind that you may have to hold multiple brainstorming sessions. This will not only cover all potential crises that your team identifies, but it also gives everyone the chance to speak their minds.

4. Assign clear roles

Different team members have additional capabilities. Therefore, delegating crisis management tasks according to their strengths leads to positive outcomes.

So, make sure you know what they’re good at. For example, if you have spokespersons or team members with leadership qualities, they may be best suited to give commands and direct others during the crisis.

Aside from choosing team members based on their strengths, know their availability. Else, that person might get overwhelmed. Effective crisis planning also requires a finance officer — someone who’ll manage your agency’s cash flow.

Provide everyone with the proper training so that when a crisis happens, they can perform their roles properly.

During a crisis

5. Gather data as quickly as possible

At this point, your team puts your plan into action. To ensure that your marketing agency thrives, lessen the impact of that crisis.

Collect as many facts as you can in the quickest possible time to proceed to the next step: Mitigating the event. Figure out the what, when, why, and how of that crisis. Then share with your team whatever needs to be shared. Be transparent. Communicate more frequently.

6. Control what you can control

Now that people are notified about the situation, everyone who has roles to play should implement the crisis management plan. Whatever the kind of crisis your agency is going through, it’s vital to stay calm. Focus on what you can control rather than wasting your time and effort on things you can’t.

While you’re all working to resolve the crisis, check in with one another. Fear and anxiety among your team members can prevent your agency from overcoming the crisis.

7. Don't ignore the ideas of your agency

You might be too focused on the problem at hand, only to find out that fires have started burning in other areas of your business.

Here’s a scenario: Several of your clients have been asking for reports, and you’ve missed those deadlines. As much as possible, have someone you can trust take over temporarily to make sure that your agency continues to run.

After a crisis

8. Document the crisis

Once the event is over and you’ve done everything you should, it’s time to take notes of what happened. Your team members should offer their personal observations and insights on the crisis. What took place? Were there flaws and weaknesses in the crisis management plan? What did they learn?

9. Identify what you can improve next time

Things can happen that you least expect. Even with a good crisis management plan, it’s possible that:

  • Information gathered was inadequate 
  • Team members fail to perform their duties at an optimal level
  • Important decisions weren’t made immediately 

There are many ways to make crisis management even better. You can work on simulating more real-life experiences to ensure active learning, engaging your team members, and improving your communication. Use those key learning points to update your plan early.

10. Discuss it with your team

Finally, share the new plan with your team. Arrange for a meeting that’s focused on that plan. You might need to return to the basics once again to help your team understand and connect with the plan.

Point out differences between the old plan and the new plan. Then, focus on the positive — on moving forward. Give everyone the freedom to ask questions and perhaps make additional suggestions if you haven’t finalized the plan yet.

Summing it up

Crisis is inevitable and can happen at any time. That is why your marketing agency should prepare for the worst negative impact possible scenario.

Through a crisis management plan, you can protect your business as well as your clients’. As long as you act accordingly, you can come out better and even experience growth in your revenue.

About the author

Before joining the team at Ethical Digital, Izaias built a successful SEO agency in São Paolo, Brazil. With over twelve years of experience providing data-driven SEO, he has worked with businesses of all sizes — from SMBs to Fortune 500 companies.

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