If you’ve worked with a marketing/creative/digital agency before, you might have experienced something I’ve found frustrating.

For the organisations that need agency support most, there’s often a gap that prevents them from knowing how to actually engage the agency in a way where costs are low and benefits are high—the ‘service offering’ is so broad!

The agency can do basically anything.

It’s akin to a master chef presenting a blank menu to you. They can cook anything, to a world-class standard. You just have to choose…

At best, I think agencies just forget what it’s like to ‘not know’.

At worst, I think agencies fall into a sort of superiority complex.

Not to just pile on agencies—I have worked agency-side for years, and now I run Bolsta Digital. Cards on the table: I’ve been guilty of these mindsets above (and still am, occasionally).

The problems that organisations face are complex and nuanced.

As an agency owner, I don’t want to define what I can do into a process, product, or package because what if it doesn’t solve your unique problem? Yet, by not simplifying, I’m forcing you to pick a direction that may or may not be the best one to take.

Big agencies working with big clients with big budgets get around this by pricing in discovery. At this scale, if the scope changes partway through because the problem wasn’t well-defined at the beginning, there’s enough margin both ways to absorb the cost of change.

I’ve run projects like this and it can work great.

But what if you’re a smaller organisation, like a school, with an immature marketing culture and a tiny budget?

There’s no margin for error.

But your problems are still complex.

And you desperately need outside help.

I’ve thought a lot about how to approach this at Bolsta.

Here’s a few organising principles I’ve landed on:

  • Gradually customise
    (start with structured processes to ensure immediate quality and consistency, moving towards more custom, nuanced approaches over time)
  • “Teach first”
    (have a bias towards up-skilling internal teams, not creating dependant agency-client relationships)
  • Take action”
    (prioritise small, quick wins to get momentum for broader change)

We’ve just restructured Bolsta’s entire offering based on these principles.

These are the four ways you can start working with us:

  • 1. Enrolment Journey Health Assessment – A starting place for schools who quickly need to assess their marketing and digital assets and get a sense of where to go next.
  • 2. School Marketing Foundations Training – A 10-week training for school marketers that covers all the basic rhythms for super effective school marketing.
  • 3. Digital Rebuild – Website design and development, but with a tailored process specifically for schools.
  • 4. Parent Experience Program – A comprehensive program that improves and rebuilds your entire school brand, marketing & communications infrastructure and culture.