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

Frustrated by Agency Prospects?

Are you sick and tired of agency prospects blowing you off after presenting a proposal? Frustrated when they string you along or send mixed signals? Wondering what you could do differently? You are not alone and this is a hurdle that many digital agency owners face when it comes to new clients and potential agency prospects.

I have put together a video with advice on how to deal with getting proposals blown off by agency prospects, excuses clients can make and how to make it stop happening.

Here's exactly how to handle it next time...

Shannon asked: “I need help finding a better way to close a deal!

...I had a great first call with a prospect who said he was ready to go. I put together the proposal and set up another call to present it. After I went through the entire proposal, the prospect said he wouldn't be ready to do anything for another 3 weeks. So I scheduled the next call for 3 weeks out and again he says he's not ready to pull the trigger. This is the third time in a row this has happened. It's frustrating to say the least!

My questions are: Why do these prospects act like their ready to go when they're not? Why can't they just be up front about their timing? What can I do or say to get them to start now?"

Are You Ready to Learn More?

I hope you found this helpful and it opened your mind to improving your agency life. If you are looking for advice with your current agency or learning how to start your own digital agency, I can help.

Find lots of tips, tricks and insights by reading my blogs that cover a wide variety of topics. And if videos are more your thing, you can check out the videos on my Youtube channel!

Direct download: Stop_getting_blown-off_by_agency_prospects..._AskSwenk_ep_62.mp3
Category:#AskSwenk Show -- posted at: 5:00am MDT

If you’re looking for new ideas to generate new agency business and attract new clients, you might want to hear what today’s guest tells us about branded web TV and influencer marketing.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How to use branded web TV for agency new business.
  • 4 Steps to positioning your agency or client as an influencer.

Mark Fidelman founder and CEO of Fanatics Media is here to tell us -- branded web TV is the next big thing. According to Mark, video content is heading away from one-offs in favor of series or episodes. As an agency you can use this influencer marketing strategy for building new agency business, and as an innovative idea for your clients.

Why Branded Web TV?

At Mark’s agency they’re seeing an upswing in the popularity of branded web TV series. You might be familiar with Celebrities in Cars Getting Coffee or YouTube’s First We Feast. These are examples of branded series’ where viewers get a small dose of entertaining content while also being marketed to… and that’s where Fanatics Media has found their niche. They’re matching influencers and celebrities with brands to create a series of branded episodes.

In fact, Marriott has started using this marketing strategy. They have Bill Rancic (winner of season 1 on "The Apprentice") as their celebrity influencer on Open Invitation. This series of episodes entertain and inform while Bill and his celebrity wife, Julianna, tour a vacation destination. However the series is obviously branded by Marriott as he engages in property amenities.

You can use branded web TV for your agency as an inbound strategy by creating a series or episodes of valuable, helpful videos. You can bring idea to your clients who look to your agency for unique, innovative solutions and develop business building ideas. Even if video isn’t your thing, by providing a new lightbulb idea your agency will be valued and respected as an advisor rather than just a commodity.

4 Steps to Position Yourself or Client as an Influencer

1- Have laser focus. Know exactly who you can help and get very specific with who you will target. Afraid to specialize and turn-off potential clients? Don’t be! When you niche down you aren’t eliminating or turning away business. You’re just aiming it in a particular direction. You can’t influence on what you don’t know but when you concentrate on what you do know, you’ll find confidence and success.

2- Know your customer’s platform. It’s super important to know where your prospects are congregating and become a servant to that community. Don’t go broad by smattering your content everyone, but instead concentrate it and talk to an audience of one.

3- Create relevant video content. Determine what your audience needs or wants to know. What are common questions or challenges they have? Produce a series of content to answer their questions and aid in their challenges. To maximize effectiveness, create a reliable and predictable content schedule.

4- Get out of your own way. Most of us hate how we look on camera or can’t stand our own voice. It’s OK and you’ll learn to get over it. The key is to just start. Mark says he recorded 1-2 mins every day for 30 days to get over his hang ups. And me? I look like an orange Oompa Loompa in my early videos. Even pros like Gary Vee and Casey Neistat started somewhere. Just practice - you’ll find your voice and comfort zone.

Cashflow or Bookkeeping Issues?

FreshBooks is the solution with their ridiculously easy­-to-­use cloud accounting software for agencies.

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Improve Your Business

With this blog, I hope it has given you an insight into the world of influencer marketing as well as how it could benefit your business. However, if there are other struggles you are experiencing in your agency, I can help you get through all of it.

I can give you advice on how to recognise new client opportunities to the different ways of building authority to improve your agency.

If you are having issues with growing your agency, I’ve the different phases of growth within your agency and the three questions you need to ask yourself to sell more of your digital agency services.

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.

Direct download: Using_Influencer_Marketing_to_Win_New_Agency_Clients.mp3
Category:#PODCAST -- posted at: 5:00am MDT

If you want to grow your agency like some of the big guys but you’re not sure how to get there, you’ll want to check out this episode. Our guest has grown four (almost five!) 8-figure businesses. He shares ways to increase your profitability so you can grow and scale too with the best growth model for your agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 2 tips to building an 8-figure agency.
  • The right way to create a growth model after the big agencies.
  • 2 ways to increase profitability and eliminate scope creep.

Today’s guest is on in the process of building his 5th eight-figure business. Vinnie Fisher is the authority on profitability and growth. He’s an attorney by trade but left his law career to fulfill his dreams as an entrepreneur. Currently, he is the founder and CEO of Fully Accountable, a back office accounting and HR solution for service-based businesses. Vinnie shares the two big secrets he attributes to his 8-figure success with the right growth model, plus how an agency can become more profitable.

2 Tips to Building an 8-Figure Agency

1. Invest in developing people.

Vinnie says through out growing five different businesses he’s come to notice that the company flourishes when he doesn’t trap himself in a primary role. He spends time nurturing his team and trusts them to take the company to the next level.

2. Understand the marketplace.

We have an innate desire to be all things to everybody. However, defining an area expertise is imperative to growing your business. When you dive deeper into a specific target market, you can really zero in and get a comprehensive understanding of it. There is often resistance to specialize because owners are afraid of trapping themselves in their business. But those who don’t specialize end up wasting time and money.

How to Create a Growth Model Like Bigger Agencies

Naturally, if you’ve got a growth mindset you want to model what the big agencies are doing. And that’s a great idea, but you have to make sure you’re looking at the right season of that business. The big agencies didn’t always start with a broad business. Look at their early years and notice how they grew.

With his law background, Vinnie compared it law practices. He says all the successful law offices have specialize in a particular type of law: Family Law, Class Actions, Mergers & Acquisitions, etc. He says general practitioners can build a nice business but the big, well-known firms are the ones with an expertise.

[HOMEWORK] When you’re looking at a bigger agency to model, I challenge you to do this exercise as homework:

  • Select a couple big agencies you’d like to replicate and check them out on The Wayback Machine. Notice the evolution of their site and note the changes.

  • Create a timeline of changes to their site and what might have been going on in the industry, technology, financial market, politics. See if you can draw connections between their online presence, their business growth and the outside influences.

  • Don’t actually replicate what they’ve done - remember, they made mistakes along the way, too. Instead, use this exercise as your inspiration and an agent of change.

Target Profitability Rate for Agencies

In the debate over growth vs. profitability, Vinnie and I agree. Growth doesn’t mean sh*t if you’re not profitable. As a general rule for businesses that operate strictly with a service model (for example, agencies without any productized business), the magic target is 33% profit. Vinnie quoted this statistic from US Census data. Generally, agencies should see their revenue equally split in these three buckets: ⅓ Overhead, ⅓ Expenses and ⅓ Profit.

Remember, 33% is just a target for service businesses. You can micro-analyze your profit margin based on your agency’s uniqueness. However, Vinnie says no agency in a growth phase should be at less than 20% profitability.

How to Increase Profitability

Believe it or not, there’s a good chance you’re guilty of sabotaging your own profitability. If you are under charging, over delivering or doing too many “quick little favors” for free that is scope creep. It is absolutely the #1 agency profit killer.

Vinnie advises us to understand fair market value for the services we provide. Sometimes that means raising your prices. However, you may be priced just right but giving away work or doing extra work that goes unnoticed or unappreciated.

One of the best ways to prevent scope creep, is to understand why it’s happening in the first place. Sometimes the client asks for “favors” to get more value than what they’re paying for. The agency complies because they are trying to create goodwill and build the relationship. Other times, agencies are going above and beyond on technical components of a project, which goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

2 Ways to Minimize Profit Leaks

1- The $0 Change Order.

Document all changes you make on a Change Order Form. This is especially helpful for those "favors" and out of scope requests that you do for free. Make sure the form indicates the value of the work, then zero out the amount and have the client sign it. This shows the client what their “favor” is worth and serves as a reminder later when they ask for more. Once you assign a value to it, the client will be reluctant to ask for many more changes or favors in the future.

2- Communicate with the client.

If you’re going above and beyond, make sure you explain it them. Clients don’t know exactly what their agencies are doing behind the scenes. However, when you involve them they’re able to appreciate the extra energy you’re putting into their projects.

FREE Agency Accounting & HR Resources:

Vinnie and his team at Fully Accountable has a gift for our podcast listeners. Check out for an ebook, HR resources and more.

Need to up your staffing game?

Agency workflow is constantly in flux, making it a real gamble to bring on full-time staff. And, freelancers can often be difficult to manage. That's why Agency Boon has simplified the process and cost of building a great creative team.

Check out Agency Boon as an amazing alternative to full-time or freelance staff. The Agency Boon team will integrate as members of your team and you'll love their commitment to making you look good in your clients' eyes.

What Happens After Your New Growth Model?

Creating the best model growth strategy for your business can elevate your agency to the next level but you need to be prepared for a potential influx of business this growth model can create. By evaluating other areas of weakness within your agency. No matter what challenge your agency is facing, I can help you get through all of it.

There are many topics I can give advice on from what to do when you want to speed up sales processes, ways to increase your business profit or how you can build authority for your agency.

Growing your agency can be a major struggle for any agency owner and I can show you the different phases of growth you will experience, how placing a process for performance based pricing can be the best pricing strategy for your business and the three questions you need to ask yourself to sell more!

Want more? Learn about my career and different experiences as well as 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.

Direct download: Smart_Agency_Master_Class_Podcast_-_Vinnie_Fisher.mp3
Category:#PODCAST -- posted at: 5:00am MDT

Profiling Ideal Clients to Attract New Agency Business

If you are pulling generic data and basing your entire client persona off of it, you’ve got to catch this interview. To attract and qualify new agency business you need to be profiling ideal clients. This episode is all about how you can really zero in on how to start profiling ideal clients and your client’s clients.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • What “attitudinal segmentation” is and why you need to be doing it.
  • 2 problems with the way agencies are strategizing now.
  • 3 ways of profiling ideal clients and getting better data on your prospects.

Our guest today is Susan Baier, founder of has spent 30 years in the marketing space. She’s worked both agency-side and client-side as a strategist until eight years ago when she founded her agency specializing in attitudinal segmentation and research. Susan tells us all about using custom research and data to avoid being a “me too” agency.

Profiling Ideal Clients: The Key Factors

WTF is "Attitudinal Segmentation"? (And why should your agency care?)

Since the dawn of time, agencies have been using research and data to hone in on their clients needs, and using the same for their client's clients. However, as things change we need to start considering more than just geographic and demographic information. Attitudinal segmentation is a fancy way of using customers preconceived notions and attitude in order to market to them better. With this type of research and data, marketers can tailor their campaigns with regard to customers’ attitude toward an industry, business or product. Marketers can also learn more customers’ thoughts and feelings about a particular industry, product, service, brand etc. by using this type of data. The result is more efficient and effective marketing that provides the service and value their prospects desire most.

2 Problems with Status Quo

Susan says agencies and clients think they understand what their customers want. However, without considering attitude and emotion, we’re not getting the whole picture. Gone are the days of marketing to a particular demographic (i.e. white females 25-40, on Pinterest), so most small and mid-sized agencies are doing a combination of going with their gut and buying packaged data. The problem is:

1. The data is irrelevant. Agencies and client execs spend hours upon hours developing their customer persona based on what they “believe” is going on in the marketplace. They are using their own personal experiences, underlying beliefs and anecdotal information to make assumptions about their customers.

2. The research is unhelpful. Generally, pre-packaged data is pretty accessible to everyone and doesn't identify anyone in particular. It is only industry specific, but not customer or brand specific. The data is vague and only gives insight into a type of person (based on age, race, interests, etc.) but nothing specific.

3 Ways to Get Better Data

1. Surveys

Surveys can help you understand what content is more relevant and valuable to the people visiting your site. For the past year, I have been using a Progressive Profiling Page for my lead magnet opt-ins and it is getting a 94% response rate. Progressive profiling is a series of 3-4 questions that helps me understand who is visiting my site as well as helps me qualify and tag them into the right automated marketing campaign. You can also survey your existing customer base to gather and interpret the data on why or how they feel about your business, offerings, industry, etc.

Pro: People are programmed to answer questions when asked. When you require a few answers before delivering on your lead magnet promise, you’ll get a really good picture of who’s visiting your site and why.

Con: Identifying the right questions to ask can be tricky. There are still some assumptions involved and it’s hard to pinpoint the exact questions to ask in order to get a the data you desire.

2. Personal Outreach

It might seem old fashioned, but talking to your existing clients can give you keen insights. This means picking up the phone and actually speaking to someone - no hiding behind email. Ask all your questions and get honest feedback to use in your marketing strategies.

Pro: One on one conversations can be highly effective and beneficial for gaining an understanding of your clients thoughts, attitudes and emotions.

Con: This type of research is not statistically valid. While you can gain information and insight, personal conversations cannot be used as mathematical data. It’s also really hard to reach a large sampling when making personal calls, therefore you can’t drive all your marketing strategy based on conversations with a handful of people.

3. Statistical Study

This is the best and most valuable way of securing data full of with attitudes, thought and feelings. A statistical study involves a large sampling with custom filters for demographics as well as specific questions about habits, opinion, mood and mindset of a distinct group of people.

Pro: This approach yields the best results and gives a very clear picture of what’s really going on. You can use it to obtain custom information and create a very clear persona for your content and marketing strategy.

Con: Fear of the results… it’s not really a “con” but some are afraid of getting super specific research because it might make results may show that your marketing strategy isn’t working. Don’t be afraid of results. Do a good job of selling in the need for research and the benefits of it’s accuracy. Then use it to learn what is and is not working. Don’t shy away from accountability. Instead use it to your advantage. You can analyze data and make it work in your and your clients’ favor.

With good data and research your “good” work will be even better. Clarity on who you’re talking to and what’s important and valuable to them means getting it right, right away. Less testing and tweaking means more efficiency and faster results.

[clickToTweet tweet="Marketing is a one-to-one conversation. Having good data gets you closer to a one-on-one, a lot quicker." quote="Ultimately, marketing is a one-to-one conversation. Having good data gets you closer to a one-on-one, a lot quicker."]

Cashflow or Bookkeeping Issues?

FreshBooks is the solution with their ridiculously easy­-to-­use cloud accounting software for agencies. Freshbooks helps you work smarter and become more organized. Most importantly, it gets you paid quicker.

Check out and enter SMARTAGENCY in the "How Did You Hear About Us?" section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Building Authority for your Agency

When profiling ideal clients for your agency, you could be at the beginning of increasing the workflow for your team and increasing revenue. However, what happens if this happens and there are weaknesses within your agency that causes everything to breakdown? Don't worry, i'm here for all the advice you need.

I have been in the industry for a long time and I have had my own experience running my own digital agency as well as helping other digital agency owners so there are many topics where I can offer guidance. Whether you are experiencing challenges as an established agency or a new agency unsure of what the different phases of growth you will experience will look like, I've got you covered.

As you continue to grow your agency team, I can show how to recognise when it’s time to hire a sales manager or expand your sales team to perfecting your business strategy with creating a process for performance based pricing and how to keep your big name clients happy.

Are you ready to create something cool and want more advice? Learn about my career and different experiences as well as 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

Direct download: Profiling_Your_Ideal_Clients_to_Attract__Qualify_New_Agency_Business.mp3
Category:#PODCAST -- posted at: 5:00am MDT

Solutions for Staffing Issues

Are you trying to grow your agency while keep a tight lid on staffing? Busy chasing freelancers, all the while worrying they might go rogue or MIA? Over and understaffing can cause a ton of stress, but so can relying too heavily on freelancers. Today’s podcast guest has a solution for those staffing issues and more.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Solutions to common agency owner struggles and staffing issues.
  • #1 staffing mistake agency owners make.
  • One service that makes agency owners’ lives easier.

Today’s guest is Ryan Crozier, founder of Agency Boon - an agency that provides creative agency talent to U.S. agencies. In other words, it's the agency that helps agencies.

Like many agency owners Ryan stumbled into the agency business. However, Ryan’s story has a different twist. He was a U.S. missionary in Romania where he started a nonprofit. He discovered his team’s creative talents and started farming out those talents to make ends meet for the nonprofit. They began assisting U.S. agencies on a project-basis and used all their profits for their charity work.

That was three years ago... today Agency Boon is a team of 20 with a variety of talents. One thing that has not changed over time is Ryan’s vision for the agency. They’re still in existence for nonprofits and they reinvesting all the agency profits back into Romanian charities.

Common Agency Owner Struggles

Ryan says his goal has always been to add value and serve his clients. The problem is that he has ZERO agency experience. There’s been a massive learning curve and a lot of second guessing himself, like:

  • Feeling isolated. Running an agency can be very lonely. Prior to founding the agency, Ryan worked at a church and managed volunteers. Being an American leading an international agency has a completely different set of challenges. Mixing cultures with different work styles and work ethics can be really difficult.

  • Growing a team. Under and overstaffing is a concern of every growing agency. You want to keep people busy enough but not too busy or overworked. Ryan says he has tried to grow smart. Starting out with a small team of 1-2 is one thing but knowing when, how and which people to add is always a difficult decision.

  • Growing the agency. Finding new business can be challenging. Finding new business in the States when you’re in Romania is a completely different set of challenges. Since outsourcing to international companies has a certain stigma and a reputation for delivering shoddy work, . Overcoming these preconceived notions about his Romanian-based agency has been a major struggle.

Overcoming Agency Owner Struggles

1- Engaging in communities. Online communities and networking organizations can be a great resource. Ryan says advice and guidance from other agency owners is a huge help in solving some of his agency’s issues. It’s also reassuring to hear that other agency owners are experiencing similar struggles and facing the same challenges. If you’re a digital agency owner, you can request membership in our Facebook community with over 2,000 other agency owners.

2- Adding structure with systems and processes. There are resources and programs like our Agency Playbook that can provide a framework for running your agency. Ryan says he learned that having systems in place to streamline his business left him with time to concentrate on growing it rather than dealing with the day-to-day stuff.

#1 Staffing Mistake Agency Owners Make

You know there’s a saying about putting all your eggs in one basket. The same is true for relying too heavily on freelancers.

There are benefits to using freelancers - no employee overhead, schedule flexibility, etc. However there are staffing issues and also risk involved. There’s not much accountability. And, if you’ve got a lot of work tied to them and then you can’t track them down, it’s a nightmare. Every agency owner has or knows a “freelancer disappearance” story, right?. It happens. You can’t scale and grow an agency under those circumstances.

It’s also really difficult to juggle multiple freelancers. Managing projects gets really pretty tough when you’re bouncing work between a couple different freelancers with different skill sets. That alone can create major issues.

Working with Agency Boon is the best of both worlds. They make agency owners’ lives easier without the commitment of a permanent employee. Agency partners that work with Agency Boon find the experience an improvement over working with freelancers. Their Project Managers work with the talent, oversee projects, and can even integrate into the client’s PM software (Asana, Slack, etc.) Plus, since they’re in Romania, they’re working while the U.S. market is sleeping, so turnaround is often less than 24 hours. BONUS!

Check them out at or hit up Ryan on Twitter @RyanCrozier and tell him you're a friend of mine :)

Becoming a Better Agency Owner

I hope this has provided you solutions to your staffing issues as well as any other struggles you are experiencing. Through my experience running my own digital agency and helping other digital agency owners, there are many topics I can offer guidance whether you are experiencing challenges as an established agency or a new agency unsure of what the different phases of growth you will experience will look like.

As you continue to grow your agency team, I can show how to recognise when it’s time to hire a sales manager or expand your sales team to perfecting your business strategy with creating a process for performance based pricing and how to keep your big name clients happy.

Are you ready to create something cool and want more advice? Learn about my career and different experiences as well as 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.

Direct download: Solving_Sucky_Staffing_Issues.mp3
Category:#PODCAST -- posted at: 5:00am MDT