Why Agency Leaders Should Embrace Bold Moves to Boost Growth

Why Agency Leaders Should Embrace Bold Moves to Boost Growth Hero Image


Embracing bold moves signifies a commitment to change and opportunity, necessary for agency growth and innovation. These decisions, whether redefining a niche or transforming an agency's identity, act as catalysts for success. History’s most impactful leaders share a common trait: the courage to take calculated risks, guided by a clear vision and lessons from the past. This article shares inspiration from various marketing agency leaders making bold moves to boost agency growth.

"Fortune favors the bold" is more than just an old saying; it's a guiding principle for agency leaders, CEOs, and marketing professionals who know that growth requires more than just following the status quo. 

For marketing agencies, standing still means falling behind. The most successful leaders are those who dare to take bold steps, even when it means stepping out of their comfort zones.

We recently surveyed agency leaders from our roster of 6,500+ clients and gathered stories highlighting the impact of such bold moves. These aren't just success stories; they're real-life examples of how taking calculated risks, backed by courage and vision, leads to success.

Are you ready to act boldly in pursuit of your agency's growth? Let's dive into why and how making bold moves is the key to growth.

How Bold Moves Benefit Agency Leaders

“What you resist persists.” There’s another little nugget of truth for you: Resisting making a bold agency move leads to stagnation. 

Take the story of PersistSEO, an Atlanta-based agency that has helped local businesses grow for more than a decade via SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media marketing, and website design services.

When it came time to define its SEO and PPC service line, instead of offering a broad range of digital services, PersistSEO Founder and Chief Marketing Technologist decided the agency should focus exclusively on technical SEO and PPC management for home services, health and wellness, and the legal industry.

This specialization enabled us to develop deep expertise, becoming the go-to agency for clients within that niche. We also committed to sustainable and ethical SEO practices, openly rejecting black-hat techniques. This ethical stance attracted clients looking for long-term, sustainable growth without risking penalties from search engines.

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist, PersistSEO

However, making this bold decision had several implications: 

  • Niching their service offerings reduced the number of clients PersistSEO could acquire.

  • Committing to ethical SEO and PPC practices reduced the potential for “quick wins.”

  • Strict targeting meant turning down clients in other areas.

Torrence admits this was a difficult decision to make, given the potential for immediate revenue, but that the decision was “driven by our dedication to delivering exceptional results where we know we can make the most significant impact.”

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist of PersistSEO meets clients

Jay Torrence (front) meets with PersistSEO clients. (Credit: PersistSEO)

PersistSEO was taking the long view for its strategy: By making such a bold decision, Torrence and his team stated the true value of their services to clients. They also honed a client selection process that reinforced respect, professional communication, and relationship-building—even with clients the agency ultimately turned down and referred to more suitable alternatives.

This approach has helped us manage the balance between specialization and business growth and emphasized the importance of clear marketing to attract the right clientele, gradually reducing mismatches and reinforcing our position as leaders in our targeted industries.

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist, PersistSEO

You’re probably wondering: What about the payoff? Did it work?

The bold actions taken by PersistSEO, particularly its commitment to niche specialization and ethical SEO, catalyzed immediate and long-term growth, propelling the agency into a seven-figure revenue bracket. 

Though they were turning away clients and committing to very specific SEO and PPC practices, Torrence adds these strategies significantly boosted their client acquisition rates and engagement.

Over time, this approach deepened our expertise and expanded our client base, as evidenced by the scores of clients we've successfully propelled to the top of search results. The quantitative impact of these actions is clear: Our focused strategy not only sustained our growth trajectory but also ensured our resilience and adaptability, securing PersistSEO's status as a leader in the SEO industry and setting the stage for continued expansion and success.

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist, PersistSEO

6 Clear Benefits of Bold Moves for Agency Leaders

PersistSEO’s story highlights six clear benefits of bold moves for agencies and agency leaders:




Market Differentiation


Whether it's adopting a new technology, carving out a niche, or launching an unconventional campaign, bold decisions set your agency apart from the competition. 


Accelerated Growth


Bold moves often lead to rapid growth. While safe strategies might yield steady progress, it's the daring initiatives that will catapult an agency to new heights.


Enhanced Innovation


Embracing boldness fosters a culture of innovation within the agency. It encourages teams to think creatively, challenge the status quo, and explore uncharted territories.


Resilience Building


Making and acting on bold decisions strengthens an agency's resilience. It prepares the team to face uncertainties and adapt to change more effectively.


Elevated Credibility


Agencies known for making bold moves gain enhanced credibility in the industry. Clients and peers respect leaders who have the courage to take risks and innovate.


Personal Growth


Bold moves push you out of your comfort zone, foster personal development, and provide a sense of accomplishment from overcoming challenges and seeing your vision come to life.

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Examples of Bold Moves for Agency Leaders

Tobie Group is a small agency with just a handful of employees. Working as a collective of specialized marketers, they don’t have the margins larger agencies have.

For founder Ryan Burch, making a bold move like adding a new employee is “gut-wrenching” due to its implications on the company’s P&L statement. He explains how they recently had a spot open for an intern or part-time employee. After interviewing candidates, they found someone they really liked… as more than just an intern or part-timer.

So they removed the part-time/intern tag and brought the person on full-time.

It hurt the P&L and went against our business plan. But, when you find great people, you make space. It's six months later, and we couldn't be happier with that bold decision.

Ryan Burch, Founder, Tobie Group

Initially, a key senior leader was hesitant to embrace the move, which admittedly was more than a year ahead of the agency’s business plan. 

Ryan Burch, founder of Tobie Group

Ryan Burch, founder of Tobie Group. (Credit: Ryan Burch/LinkedIn)

Still, Burch knew he could take a calculated risk in hiring a new person full-time without it being considered “crazy” or “ill-informed.” He did the math, identified ways to save money elsewhere, and hired the employee. 

Burch says it was a big decision that helped Tobie Group grow but that it wasn’t made without analysis or data research—spending time on the problem made them feel better about their bold move.

And they were right.

The ROI was almost instant. We immediately won an additional client and grew revenue from one of our larger retainer clients. These opportunities would not have been available to us without the additional headcount and workload that our newbie enabled. As an agency leader, sometimes it's difficult to take a risk. Some of the moves we make take months or even years to pay off. In this circumstance, it paid off within a month.

Ryan Burch, Founder, Tobie Group

Here are other examples of bold moves agency leaders take to propel their agencies forward:

Firing a Client Who Is a Bad Fit

Letting go of a client that doesn't align with your agency's values or working style liberates resources and energy. Focusing on more fruitful and harmonious relationships leads to better work and a happier team.

Turning Away Business Outside Your Niche

As we saw with PersistSEO, specializing and choosing to work only within your niche strengthens your agency's expertise and reputation. This focus makes your agency the go-to for specific services, attracting higher-quality projects and validating higher fees.

Rebranding the Agency

A bold rebrand signals your agency's evolution and sets you apart in a crowded market. It's an opportunity to realign your brand with your current vision, capabilities, and the clients you aim to attract, injecting new life into the agency.

Launching a New Strategic Focus

Shifting your agency's focus to new, emerging areas or technologies positions you as a forward-thinking leader. This move opens up new revenue streams and attracts clients looking for innovative solutions.

Acquiring Another Agency

Acquiring a complementary business is a fast track to growth, expanding your service offerings and client base. This bold strategy dramatically increases your market presence and operational capabilities.

Adopting a New Agency Marketing Technique

Adopting unconventional marketing techniques, like content creation or social media engagement, significantly increases your agency's visibility and thought leadership, attracting new clients and talent.

Pitching a Massive Account

Going after a large account, even as a smaller agency, demonstrates ambition and confidence. Securing such an account elevates your agency's status and opens doors to further big opportunities.

Raising Your Rates

Increasing your rates reflects the value and quality of your work. This move improves your agency's profitability and attracts clients who value and are willing to pay for top-notch services.

Best Practices for Bold Moves

Not too long ago, Arcane Marketing built a five-year plan and counted six partners in their agency. 

Having too many partners meant there were a lot of opinions on what Arcane should do and how to do it as an agency. Some of these opinions were strong, and many were opposing. They needed to solve their “too many cooks” situation—fast.

President Nathan Hawkes details how, over the last two and half years, Arcane actively bought out four partners, leaving only two at the company's helm. He admits the finances and plans to buy out these former partners were tough to budget and come up with. But the move was crucial: Too many partners made Arcane’s ability to market for itself and hire high-caliber talent difficult.

Nathan Hawkes, President of Arcane Marketing

Nathan Hawkes, President of Arcane Marketing. (Credit: Arcane Marketing)

Hawkes says the bold decision helped them simplify the business, shed some bloat, and focus on what really mattered.

Today, our agency is more stable financially than it ever has been. Additionally, we've really narrowed down the services we offer from 7-8 to 5. Narrowing it down has really been helpful for our focus and processes. It keeps everyone on the same page and more specialized in our services—ultimately making us better at them.

Nathan Hawkes, President, Arcane Marketing

Much like PersistSEO and Tobie Group, Arcane Marketing’s bold move wasn’t done in a vacuum. Hawkes and his team had to consider the potential consequences—good and bad—this bold move would have on the agency.

In light of what they learned throughout their processes, let’s highlight a few best practices for agency leaders considering their next big move.

Anticipate Criticism

Prepare to face skepticism and opposition—from coworkers, friends, and family. Develop responses to potential criticisms by thoroughly understanding the merits and potential pitfalls of your bold move. This preparation fortifies your strategy and demonstrates confidence and thorough planning to stakeholders.

There have been several friends who felt like our organization would fail and not turn a profit. Honestly, this has been a driver for us to work harder and want to succeed even more. It's been a good motivation to prove these people wrong.

Nathan Hawkes, President, Arcane Marketing

Soothe Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome

It's natural to experience self-doubt and imposter syndrome, especially when breaking new ground. Remind yourself of past successes. Think about how many revolutionary ideas, initially dismissed as unrealistic, have shaped the world. This perspective helps in overcoming internal barriers and reinforces your conviction.

You're an expert for a reason, and even if you don't know the answer, there are so many resources out there to help. Everyone has doubts, but it's the way we react to those thoughts that differentiate us from the pack. Growth only happens from mistakes. How else do you know it's a mistake until it goes wrong?

Magan Hurrelbrink, Senior Digital Advertising Strategist, Word of Mouth Agency

Seek Mentors

Identify and reach out to individuals who have achieved similar goals. These mentors provide practical advice, moral support, and valuable insights based on their experiences. Their guidance will help you navigate challenges and refine your approach, reducing the learning curve associated with bold initiatives.

You will get results faster—they have been there, so it's easy to relate and be real. You know your mentor has the experience you want to gain.

Ben Spray, Managing Director, We Are Marketable

Stick With It

Recognize that significant changes and results often take time. Be patient and commit to your bold strategy, even when immediate results aren’t visible. Consistency and perseverance are key to realizing the long-term benefits of your bold move.

It feels like we've experienced true grit, doing what was necessary, not because it felt good—because it didn't. It was the move we knew we needed to make to improve our situation moving forward. We endured tough times, knowing that better times were coming.

Nathan Hawkes, President, Arcane Marketing

Consider the Consequences of Inaction

Assess what might happen if you choose not to act. Often, the risk of missed opportunities or falling behind competitors is greater than the risk associated with a bold move. This evaluation provides the necessary push to move forward with conviction.

Welcome Feedback and Communication

Create channels for open communication and encourage feedback from your team and stakeholders. This approach brings diverse perspectives and helps identify potential issues early, allowing for timely adjustments.

Keep the Team Informed

Regularly update your team about the progress and challenges of the bold initiative. Encourage them to express their concerns and suggestions. Transparency builds trust and ensures that everyone is aligned and committed to the shared vision.

Plan Strategically

Invest time in carefully planning your bold move. Conduct thorough research, weigh the pros and cons, and develop a clear strategy with defined goals and milestones. A well-planned initiative is more likely to succeed and less prone to unforeseen challenges.

The worst thing that would happen is that you'll learn a great way to not do it. Or the risk could pay off. If you're careful and dot all of your "i’s" and cross your "t’s" and learn everything you can ahead of time, then proceed with caution. You'll probably be okay!

Nathan Hawkes, President, Arcane Marketing

Create Supporting Processes and Implement Solutions

Develop processes and systems that support implementing your bold move. This might include allocating resources, setting up new teams, establishing new operational procedures, or implementing cost- and time-saving solutions like AgencyAnalytics, which enables agencies to build customized, white-labeled campaign reports in just a few clicks!

To other agency owners contemplating a bold move for growth, my advice is to trust your instincts. Don't shy away from challenges or the fear of failure, as these are often the stepping stones to innovation and success. Ensure your team is aligned with your vision and prepared for the journey ahead. 

Remember, growth is a process of continuous learning and adaptation; stay resilient, keep your goals in sight, and be prepared to pivot as you learn from the market and your own experiences.

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist, PersistSEO

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Live Bold and Prosper

Bold moves aren't just about taking risks; they’re about embracing change and seizing opportunities with both hands. As we've seen, whether it's redefining your niche, daring to say no to misaligned projects, or transforming your agency's identity, bold moves are the engines of growth and innovation.

Remember that every great achievement was once considered a gamble. The leaders who make history are those who dare to defy the odds. They anticipate criticism yet stand firm, propelled by the conviction of their vision and drawing wisdom from those who've walked the path before.

But above all, bold moves are about sticking to your guns, knowing that the seeds of your decisions need time to take root. It's about looking beyond the horizon and considering the risks of action and inaction.


Looking back on our journey, I firmly believe there is nothing I would have done differently. Each decision, including the mistakes, played a crucial role in shaping our agency into what it is today. 

These missteps were not setbacks but invaluable learning opportunities that honed our strategies, strengthened our resolve, and deepened our expertise. They taught us resilience, pushed us to innovate, and ultimately made us better. 

Jay Torrence, Chief Marketing Technologist, PersistSEO

So, as we wrap up the conversation, let's not just ponder the “what ifs.” Let's commit to making those bold moves. Not rashly, but with purpose, planning, and passion. The future doesn't belong to the timid; it belongs to those who are bold enough to dream, decide, and do.

Headshot for Francois Marchand

Written by

Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand brings more than 20 years of experience in marketing, journalism, and content production. His goal is to equip agency leaders with innovative strategies and actionable advice to succeed in digital marketing, SaaS, and ecommerce.

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