Photo: Standret, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock

Does Niching Down Lead To Advertising Agency Burnout?

It’s every marketer's responsibility to grow with the changing landscape and sharpen their toolset. Any repetitive act improves one tool but dulls the rest.

How many times can one build a marketing strategy for a law firm? How creative can one get with their fourteenth dentist office website? For years, agencies have been told to niche down to become experts, but things are changing and that isn’t necessarily true anymore.

It’s every marketer’s responsibility to grow with the changing landscape and sharpen their toolset. Any repetitive act improves one tool but dulls the rest.

This is one of the reasons why it’s outdated to pigeonhole yourself into a niche marketplace when it comes to building an agency. Owners are limiting their pool of clients and the potential of their employees.

Take a look at McMillan & Phillips Digital Creative Agency.

Born during the pandemic, Kaitlin McMillan and Zach Phillips teamed up with a grand vision to lead the way into the next generation of agencies.

“For me, it was less about changing the agency world,” Kaitlin McMillan commented, “and more about re-engineering the corporate world entirely. There’s this idea that, as marketers, we know it all. We know more than our clients because our job is to sell their ideas, but I don’t find that to be true.”

“The real brand messaging lives within our clients and it’s our job to ask the right questions to extract it. This feeds into our belief that there’s no need to niche down. We don’t need to be experts in a singular industry. Our clients are the experts and we allow them to own that role.”

Photo: Standret, YFS Magazine, Adobe Stock
Photo: Standret, YFS Magazine

In the end, what McMillan & Phillips has found through refusing to niche down is that it doesn’t matter the industry; the search engine, social media, & programmatic algorithms apply to all industries equally. Whether an agency is marketing for cannabis or colleges.

“We always say, there’s your real-life competition but then there’s your digital competition. Your digital competition might not even be in the same hemisphere but they’re outranking you on Google for vital keywords,” Kaitlin remarked.

By implementing this client-customized strategy, they’re on track to increase their monthly revenue by 78% and have grown their team by 300% in the last six months.

Here are a couple of reasons why the McMillan & Phillips team doesn’t find a need to niche down as told by CMO, Zach Phillips:


1. Rising to the creative challenge

Our team thrives on creative challenges.  If we only cater to one industry, we would limit ourselves. Not only with the type of employees we can hire, but the campaigns we run, too. Marketing can be fun. Why box ourselves in like that?

Every industry has unique hurdles, the M&P team is ready for anything because we learn and adapt from every creative challenge. Servicing industries across the board leads to the professional growth of everyone on our team:

Create a social campaign to sell asphalting services? Not an easy game, but our campaign yielded insights and strategies that we apply to all of our social media clients.

Navigate the restrictions with CBD advertising? The M&P team solved this by running variations of landing pages to serve as a buffer between ad regulation bots and our client’s CBD e-commerce websites.

Every challenge has a solution. Every solution is not limited to that industry.


2.  Promoting client buy-in

Our reluctance to niche down has helped us frame ourselves as the experts in the digital space – not the client industry.

We frequently tell clients that we will never know their business as well as they do. Our job is to support marketing efforts by intimately understanding the digital realm, extracting their marketing goals, and building a strategy that ties two and two together.

This framework allows our clients to not see us as vendors, but as long-term partners who can listen when required and lead when needed. A useful trait that niched down agencies often has trouble understanding.


3.  Opportunities for client cross-promotion

Beyond servicing our client’s marketing needs, the M&P team views ourselves as facilitators in the larger business goals of our clients.

Because we refuse to niche down, we’re able to incorporate multiple clients into our marketing strategies. For example, our home care client recently published a blog discussing home design tips for seniors with dementia. The quoted expert in the blog was our interior design client.

This cross-promotion doesn’t cost our agency anything. Yet, it builds brand awareness and boosts SEO for both of our client’s websites.

Agencies that niche down don’t have this option when building their out-of-the-box campaigns.


Zach Phillips is the CMO and Co-Owner of the award-winning digital creative marketing agency, McMillan & Phillips.


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