What’s the Difference? – Service Framework vs. SOP’S

Recently, I met with an agency owner the other day and he told me

‘I just need a clear process’.

 Of course, my ears perked up and my immediate question was 

‘a process for what?

He replied ‘a process for how to do things.’

 My (probably insensitive) comment was ‘wow, that’s going to be a really long process.’

 The critical mistake this particular agency owner made was confusing

a Service Framework with a Standard Operating Procedure, or ‘SOP’ for short.

 A Service Framework is your proprietary methodology for how you get results within a particular service.

 Let’s say, for example, you own a Facebook ads agency.

 Your Ads Service Framework might look something like: Leads <> Monetization <> Scale

You might advise your client who is new to Facebook Ads that they FIRST – need leads – SECOND –  they need a way to monetize those leads – FINALLY –  they need to scale that monetization system.

 Here’s where the specification comes…

 In each of those buckets (leads, monetization, scale) there are likely several elements that need to happen to check that box.

 Those elements each have a specific Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for how they are executed.

 Continuing the Facebook ads agency example, let’s say that the monetization element includes creating a digital funnel for a client.

 Your SOP would be ‘how to create a digital funnel for a client.’

 Typically, our ‘framework’ is used to explain the service path to our clients and our SOP’s aid our team in execution.

 As you probably guessed, the framework is

the first step. The foundation.

 Your service framework comes from getting super clear on what it is your offering, in what order and then assigning a specific outcome to each step.

 It’s likely (and common) that in the beginning of your agency’s existence you were executing most of the elements within your service framework.

 It’s likely that you were (and maybe still are) the sales person, the project manager and the main implementer for your clients.

 This is the exhausting part of growing an agency.


Wearing all the hats…

 So, drilling down and getting specific is critical.

 When you can get above your service framework and really consider ‘how’ to make these elements happen without you, that’s when we start cooking with peanut oil.

 I follow a particular framework with my clients to take their service framework and really define the key Standard Operating Procedures they need to make sure their team is executing with precision while they take time working on the business rather than in it.


This first step is the most critical element to defining your SOP’s.

 It’s just one very important question: what’s the outcome?

 Outcomes are usually measurable, time-based and results-driven metrics.

 Let’s use the Facebook ads agency example above…

 If the first step in their process is ‘Leads’, we’ll need a signal to tell us when that box is checked.

 So, let’s say that once a client has 500 leads, we consider that box checked…

 But, there are several other ‘outcomes’ we might need to consider.

 Perhaps this agency prides themselves on getting 500 leads within 3 months at under $2 per lead.

 That’s a lot of outcomes…

 And it would attach a lot of SOP’s.

 We’ll need to set up the campaign, get the copy and creative prepped, build a lead magnet funnel, establish a budget, targeting…

 You get the gist.

 Each of those elements have a ‘how to’ component and would be turned into an SOP.


If you’re still with me. Take a deep breath.

 This isn’t as complicated as it sounds and, in fact, you can have my 7-figure Agency Playbook Template to help get you started.


Head here to snag that template. 

After you get that tool in your arsenal, start breaking down your Service Framework or take each of the deliverables of your current service offerings and treat it like an equation.

  •  Take the OUTCOME and place it on the right hand side of the equation.
  •  Place the SOP’s on the other side.
  •  Now solve for X.

 In the extended Facebook ads agency example, theirs would be:

 (all the SOP’s above) = 500 leads in 3 months at under $2 per lead.




Do this for each step in your service framework and you’ll have most of the elements you’ll need to create your playbook and start documenting those SOP’s.

 Having this playbook will help your team understand when and how to execute the elements of your service framework and what outcomes they are specifically responsible for.

 When laid out properly, the playbook becomes the central hub for your team to be able to distinguish both the service framework and the steps that drive them.


So, in summary, the first step is to decide what your service framework is.


The next step is to define the outcomes of each of the elements in your service framework.


Then, finally, decide what SOP’s support that outcome.

 Just having those pieces in place will be a game-changer with agency fulfillment.

 Enough to support the weight of your growing client load and your growing team.




Lee Goff

Hyper focused on serving digital agency owners grow, scale, and enjoy their digital marketing agencies. It is hard to grow a digital agency unless you have the right tools and guidance.
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