Smart Agency Podcast: The #1 Digital Agency Podcast for Social Media, SEO, PPC & Creative Agencies

When building an agency, having big brand clients can elevate your agency to a whole other level. This is where the challenge comes in of how do you grab the attention of those big brands?

In this episode, we’ll cover:

Don’t be a “me too” agency

Mike says the agency’s Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Zak Mroueh, has always made it their mission to capture the attention of big brands and get to the next level. He says agencies are always telling their clients to stand out, be different, and do things that are uncomfortable. However, they don’t “walk the walk” and follow their own advice. For example, ever notice how agency websites all look the same?

That’s why Zulu’s website is one of the most entertaining agency site you’ll see. It pokes fun at the agency industry’s cliches and stereotypes. It’s edgy, it’s funny, and it’s one example of Zulu walking the walk. (I’m telling you that you’ve got to check out their site - it’s pretty awesome.)

5 Steps to creating a winning environment

  1. #SayNoToSpec  At Zulu, they don’t make decisions based on monetary gain. They’re OK with turning down work that doesn’t get them closer to their long-term goals. Spec work is a hinderance and an unfair expectation on the client’s behalf. Just. Say. No. When they implemented this 5 years ago they were turning down 80%+ of their RFP's.

  2. Focus on long-term dominance. Zulu’s website is just one example of their out-of-the-box creativity. Mike says the humor on the site isn’t for everyone. It’s a turnoff for some - and that’s OK. They take risks in pursuit of new clients. Zulu’s thinking:  If a prospective client doesn’t like their spoofy website, they’re probably not the right fit anyway.

  3. Know why you do what you do. What’s your agency’s purpose? What are your core values? Why did you start an agency? (Don’t say you’re in it to make money. Money is an outcome, not a goal.) Determine your answers and communicate them from the top down. When you know your belief system it makes bigger decisions a lot easier to make.

  4. Be purposeful in your onboarding. Start day 1 with setting the right tone and helping a new employee adapt to the culture. At Zulu it's an orientation called “The Zulu Way” and it’s a 90-minute one-on-one with the agency founder where a new hire learns expectations and do’s/don’ts of the agency. It sets both parties up for a long and successful relationship.

  5. Hire senior people in key roles. This circles back to not making decisions based on money. You need some experienced people - ones who’ve already made their big career mistakes - in leadership roles. According to Mike, one of the best things they did was hire a seasoned CFO and an IT Director. Stop thinking about how these positions re non-billable. Having senior people in place sets a foundation for success and their value to the agency is priceless.

As you grow, structure your agency for greatness

So wait... the Founder is NOT the President?

That’s right. After about one year juggling the roles of Founder and President, Zak Mroueh, realized he’d rather be working IN the business than ON the business. Zak hired Mike Sutton as agency President to deal with all the “business stuff” that was getting in his way of being creative. Today Zak is the Chief Creative Officer and uses his experience and technical skills to oversee all aspects of creative, while Mike is the President overseeing contracts, billing, scopes, and other business details.

Beneath the top tier of agency leadership, each department has 4-5 layers much like a traditionally structure agency.

Moral of the story: know your strengths. Know your team’s strengths. Be the best at one thing. Hire people to do what you can’t (or don’t want to) do.

That’s all great advice but what with the name?

Why Zulu Alpha Kilo? It stems from the global Nato Phonetic Alphabet, the widely known language often used by pilots (aka: the “Alpha Bravo Charlie” alphabet). It’s symbolic of the agency’s dedication to clarity of communication. And it just so happens to spell Z-A-K, which is the founder’s first name :)

By the way - here’s another super cool example of Zulu pushing themselves outside their comfort zone:

Challenge:  What are YOU doing to stand out? Comment below and share how you separate yourself from the pack.

Discover the best Digital Agency Strategies today. Get Online Training to help you setup the right systems and strategies to help you grow faster.

Bringing Your Agency to a New Level

Landing big brands for clients can really bring your agency to a new level but also improve how you reach out to prospective clients moving forward. I hope you found this beneficial but I know there are other potential struggles you are experiencing in your agency and I can help.

I can give you advice on recognising these new potential client opportunities to creating the best marketing proposal to land these new potential leads.

Issues with growing your agency? I’ve broken down the different phases of growth within your agency and how performance based pricing can be the best pricing strategy for your business. And let's not forget the three questions you need to be asking yourself to sell more!

Learn all about my career and different experiences as well as lots of tips, tricks and insights by checking out my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

Check out more from my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my Youtube channel. There you will find advice from myself and other agency experts.

What pricing model are you using in your agency? If you didn't know the benefits of using a performance-based pricing model within your agency, I can show you how to implement it and why it will be worth it in the long run.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • The benefits of performance-based pricing.
  • Maximizing agency revenue using performance-based pricing.
  • Tips for turning your videos into low cost, high quality lead generators.


Today’s episode is by far one of my very favorite -- and no, I don’t say that about every interview:) Tom Breeze not only trains people on getting more leads for their business using video, but he’s also so confident in his agency’s skill to do the same, that Viewability operates on performance-based pricing.

With undergraduate and master’s degrees in psychology, Tom launched his agency only after learning to successful market his private anxiety counseling practice using video on his website. This was back when video for web was pretty new. (We’re talking pre-smartphone era... Tom carried a camera-less PDAs and recorded his videos old-school, with a camcorder!)

He discovered his videos had a great conversion rate and cost far less than he was spending on Google Adwords. This transformed his business and eventually launched a whole new career into business video training and digital advertising.

What are the benefits of performance-based pricing?

Tom compared his business model to a trojan horse story. On the outside it appears his agency takes on all the risk and fronts all the costs. In reality, they’ve got a killer process for qualifying their leads, they’re very picky with who they’ll work with and they know how to crush it when it comes to fulfillment.

Performance-based pricing is packaged with the notion that it must work, otherwise the agency wouldn’t be doing it... This means the agency’s inbound leads are “pre-sold” on the idea of working this way - there’s very little convincing or converting.

So exactly how do they get paid? At the onset of a new relationship, they have a frank discussion with about the breakeven CPA (cost per acquisition). They create a script, edit footage and run the ads in a 4-6 week test. Then analyze, tweak and repeat a second month. Tom’s agency usually absorb the first month’s costs, breaks even the second month and is profitable by the third month. Once the campaign is up and running successfully, they can “set it and forget it” - so there’s a greater profit margin.

About 4 out of every 5 clients are a win. And, when the client is seeing results they’re happy to pay, even though this structure ends up costing more than a traditional agency’s pricing model. Viewability’s qualification process is so efficient and effective - they’ve never been stiffed on fees.

Setting up success for agency performance-based pricing.

Thinking of a performance-based pricing model for your agency? Here’s some of Tom’s very best advice for minimizing risk and maximizing revenue potential:

  1. Do not act as an agent, act as an affiliate. Rather than structuring client relationships like most service-based businesses, Viewability establishes a partner relationship where they work with their clients instead of for them.

  2. Know the formula for what makes a good client. Tom’s agency has a super specific list of questions and criteria that determines who they’ll work with - selecting quality over quantity. They take on fewer clients, but they have more time to spend with them.

  3. Work directly with the decision-maker. For Viewability, that’s the business owner who can provide specific direction as well as maintains accountability for payment.

  4. Maintain realistic expectations. Goals need to be measurable and attainable. Ask and answer these questions first: Do they know their current cost per lead and what they’d like it to be? (If not, that’s a major red flag.) Is it an evergreen offer that just needs more promotion? Has the funnel already been tested?

How can you predict cash flow with a performance-based model?

In a sense, the revenue from current clients funds the activity for future clients. However, within a couple months they’re self-sustaining.

It takes a shift in mindset. As a results-driven agency they’re dedicated to only taking on clients with a greater lifetime value. The drawbacks, of course, are the upfront cost and the lack of predictability that retainer clients provide. However, as highly effective specialists in a narrow niche with a great profit margin the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Turn your agency YouTube videos into lead generators.

Tom says to look at the 4 P’s to lower the cost per lead, maintain or increase the volume of leads and improve the quality of the leads,

Here’s a few simple hacks to make your existing video content lead generators:

1- Platform - learn where your leads hang out and put your video in front of them. He says you should connect on YouTube and convert on Google.

2- Person - connect with your organic traffic by linking your YouTube channel with your AdWords account.

3- Pursuit - change the customer’s journey. Why didn’t they opt-in? Change your lead magnet to improve results, some may prefer a webinar and others a download of swipe files.

4- Promotion - improve the ad itself by using pattern interruption or dynamic keyword insertion.

Taking Your Agency to the Next Level

You now know how to implement performance-based pricing in your agency but this is only one aspect you need to consider when wanting to take your agency to the next level. You should take a step back and really look at areas you haven't explored yet as well as struggles you need to focus on to improve your business and then check out how I have all you need to get through these obstacles.

I have advice to share with you from using Facebook in your marketing strategy, ways of building authority for your agency or even ways to pitch to big brand clients. If growth is your focus, I’ve discussed the four phases of growth within your agency and how website issues could be holding your business back from reach your potential.

You can learn more about my life and my experience as well as lots of tips, tricks and insights by reading my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics.

If videos are more your thing, did you know I have a Youtube channel?

You can check out more from my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my YouTube channel. There you will find advice from me and other agency experts.

Direct download: Smart_Agency_Master_Class_Podcast_-_Tom_Breeze.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:37am MDT

Direct download: How_Involved_an_Agency_Owner_Should_Be_In_Sales_AskSwenk_Episode_26.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:32am MDT

Have you ever considered live streaming as part of your marketing strategy for your business? Not sure how to get started?

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Why live streaming video is so HOT right now.
  • How you can use live streaming video for generating new agency business.
  • One new technology that will keep you ahead of current trends.

Former agency owner Kim Garst is totally on top of the social media game. She’s been named on a couple pretty prestigious lists, including Forbes’ Top 50 Social Media Influencers and Top 20 Women Influencers. She’s a serial entrepreneur who has spent the last two decades forging her way with online startups - including a digital agency.

Kim’s business, Boom Social began as an agency which has now morphed into a social media training resource for entrepreneurs. She’s finding more success and satisfaction in helping entrepreneurs find and develop their social media voice. Here’s what she shared about this year’s hottest trend: live streaming video.

What’s the big deal with live streaming video?

Live streaming video isn’t new. What is new, is the accessibility and convenience of it. Apps like Meerkat and Periscope brought live stream to handheld devices and their popularity soared. This is the year for Live Streaming Video. Already this year, we’ve seen Facebook and YouTube jump onboard.

As a society, we’ve spent the better part of a decade on social media. Status updates and Tweets are the norm. But as humans we crave more personal contact. When we consume in video form we find it more personal. When it’s a live feed, it’s more authentic, raw and real.

If you’re apprehensive about recording live video, you’re not alone. It definitely exposes you and makes you more vulnerable. The upside is, you’re not alone!

How to use live streaming video for business:

Remember people are craving that personal element that video provides? Use it to your advantage! Pick a platform and use it for things like -

  • Recruiting Top Talent - if you’ve got a great company culture, spotlight it on video.  Showcase the people and environment of your agency and let viewers get a glimpse.

  • Client Retention - showcase who’s doing what. This lets your clients see some of the “behind the scenes” work that goes on.

  • Generate Leads - consider it a “video blog”. You’re already creating content that solves a problem or eases a pain point for your prospects. Turn on the video camera and talk through it instead of writing it. Create that know-like-trust factor a lot sooner by giving it a personal touch.

If you’re personable and providing valuable information you will convert faster using live streaming video. The effects of live streaming video moves much faster than blogging or tweeting. Kim says she’s even converting some leads after just one touchpoint!

Clients expect you to bring them emerging trends.

You’re an agency so you’ve got to be on top of the latest technologies. In our Future Outlook Report for 2016, we discovered the #1 thing brands want from agencies is new business building strategies and solutions. Even if you aren’t using some of the latest social media technologies for your own business, your clients are expecting you to be skilled at using them.

One new, cutting edge technology.

One super NEW social app is Anchor. It’s an audio app described as “radio by real people”. Anchor is  a free iPhone app that let’s you broadcast short (2 mins or less) audio clips to global followers. Listeners can talk back which is something live streaming video doesn’t allow.

Kim and I agree that Anchor is the next BIG THING. Anchor encourages more engagement and satisfies our human craving for personal contact. She does say, however, that Anchor can become time consuming because it requires attention and constant follow-up to develop relationships.

2 creative ways to use live video and audio for business:

  • Work smarter, not harder. Think of ways to stack your social media efforts. Get this -- Kim hosts live Q&A’s on Anchor while broadcasting on TWO live streaming video platforms - Periscope and Facebook Live. Then she embeds the Anchor broadcasts into blog posts to repurpose and give it a longer life. Don’t know about you, but my mind is officially blown.
  • Start your own Q&A. You don’t have to score a triple-pointer like Kim, but answering your client’s biggest questions is the easiest and most effective ways to use these live video or radio apps. Find out what people want to know, let them ask and you answer. Establish authority and nurture the relationship into trust and eventual sales. Speaking of...  ever heard of #AskSwenk? :)

Kim’s best advice:  Jump over the fear hurdle and hit the “start broadcast” button!

Take action NOW ...because ACTIONS lead to TRANSACTIONS

How Can I Help You?

I hope you found this beneficial and it gave you an insight into using live streaming video for your business and marketing strategy.

If you have more questions about how you can improve your agency, I can help. Whether you are an experienced agency owner or have just started a new agency, I have covered topics including how to stop losing clients to reasons you should sell your agency.

Have other topics you want advice on? You can check out all my tips, tricks, and everything you need to know in my blogs. I have covered a wide variety of topics as well as answered your questions in more from my Ask Swenk series.

Are videos more your thing?  You can check out my Ask Swenk series and more of my videos on my YouTube channel for advice from myself and other agency experts.

Direct download: Why_Your_Agency_Needs_Live_Streaming_Video_for_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:58am MDT