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

How can you turn your agency into a highly sought-after brand? Today’s guest knows how because he’s done it for the OxiClean and the George Foreman Grill. In this episode, learn the 5 key strategies to build a brand that gets clients beating down your door.


In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How the right positioning can drastically change your business.
  • 5 things you can implement right now to build a successful brand.

Today’s guest on the show is Rick Cesari of Cesari Media, the agency he founded over 20 years ago. They specialize in building brands that sell products direct to the consumer. Over his career, Rick has worked some amazing brands such as OxiClean, George Foreman Grill, Rug Doctor, and Sonicare to name a few. He’s here to share the secrets to building these amazing brands so you can apply them and grow your agency.


“Figure out a good way to position so you’re different than everyone else.” ~ Rick Cesari

Why You Might Need to Reframe Your Brand Positioning

Have  you ever heard of The Fajita Express? No, you haven’t. But I’ll bet you have heard of the George Foreman Grill.


When Rick was first approached to help with branding it was for grilling product called The Fajita Express. It was a slanted grill so the meat could slide right into taco shells. It didn’t sound too groundbreaking to Rick but with his help repositioning, that grill became the George Foreman Grill. As you probably know, it is marketed for its ability to drain grease away from the meat. They’ve sold over 30 million grills since then!

5 Keys to Building a Better Brand

With over two decades in the direct response business Rick has discovered some consistent themes to building brands. These are easily adaptable from product to service-based agency business.


1- Develop a Unique Selling Proposition

A USP is the foundation of building a better brand. It’s the single most important factor clients use when deciding to work with you over your competition. The best type of USP for an agency is a niche or specialization that helps you stand out. When you show expertise in a specific area you develop a reputation for being the best. You will become “the choice” rather than just “a choice.”


2- Position to Stand Out

Rick says he tells his clients to sell benefits or results rather than features. In the agency industry that means you should be marketing the ways your agency can serve your clients. Show clients what you can do for them and how you are the trusted advisor who helps achieve their desired results.


3- Deliver More Value

When you are laser focused on particular niche you can drill down and really understand the intricacies of that industry. Then use that understanding to exceed expectations. For example, when Rick’s agency was helping OxiClean he says they always sent a larger container than what the customer expected and included free samples of other products. This is a great strategy for growing revenue from your existing client base.


4- Always Listen to Your Clients

Speak to satisfied clients - the people who have already had success working with you - and see what they liked and disliked. Use the positive feedback when crafting your marketing messages, in your new business proposals, etc. When you get input from existing clients you can use that information to understand and then market toward the benefits of working with you.


5- Procure and Use Authentic Testimonials

Today’s decision makers want to hear from others in their same boat. Talk to your clients that are getting great results and ask them to share their story as a testimonial. Social proof such as testimonials (particularly video testimonials) will go a long way with your prospects. It’s a very powerful message when existing happy clients share their story of success.


Above all else, Rick’s best advice is to be unique. You can’t be everything to everybody so focus on an industry or segment of the population that you help best.

Direct download: rick.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00am MDT

If you know a ton about your agency but aren’t winning all the clients you think you should be, you might be plagued with the curse of knowledge. In this episode, you will learn how you can clarify your message and use it as a competitive advantage. Win more clients when you communicate in a way that makes clients feel educated and helped.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • What is the curse of knowledge?
  • How to break the curse of knowledge.
  • How to use explanation to separate your agency from the competition.

Today’s guest on the show is Lee Lefever founder of Common Craft and Explainer Academy and author of The Art of Explanation. His businesses and his book center around the idea of making explanation a business growth strategy. He’s on the show to share ways to clarify your agency’s message so you can win more clients... because when you confuse, you lose.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~ Albert Einstein

What is the Curse of Knowledge?

Ever wonder why no one “gets” what you do? Do you get puzzled looks when you describe your agency work in detail? That’s the curse of knowledge. It’s the theory that the more you know about something the harder it is to understand what it’s like not knowing.

You spend all day engrossed in the technical side of the industry, surrounded by people speaking a language very specific to your agency’s skill set. However, outside of the agency setting you might continue to use technical jargon that makes other people (like prospective clients) feel confused, overwhelmed, or inferior. It’s not intentional but it happens!

Lee compares it talking to a mechanic when you have car trouble. They use technical phrasing to explain the problem but you don’t understand most of what they say. You don’t want to look stupid by asking questions so you smile and nod... Then, you either trust them and agree to the repairs or shop around to find someone you can understand. That’s what your prospective clients are doing when you don’t clearly explain how your agency can help them.

Working this way might makes you (and your agency) feel and sound smart but creates a set of problems:

  1. It makes clients feel inferior when you talk above their level of understanding.
  2. When you water it or simplify too much, it sounds condescending.
  3. Your client doesn’t want to ask questions for fear of sounding stupid.

How Can You Break the Curse?

The goal is to explain in a such a way that it makes your client feel a sense of familiarity. You can adjust your assumptions on what you think people might know about your business. Lee says you have to avoid getting stuck in a loop where your client doesn’t understand and is afraid to ask questions, so you continue to use language they don’t understand and they continue to be confused.

What you can do is start using phrases like: “I don’t know how much you already know about XYZ…” before you simplify an explanation. Framing the conversation this way allows you to “dumb down” the explanation without sounding condescending.

How to Use Explanation as a Competitive Advantage

There’s a difference between “understanding” and “convincing.” Understanding is a higher level concept and it’s not the same as convincing someone they need your service. Your agency’s job is to help your prospects/clients think conceptually and understand why. When they understand how you can help they are more apt to want to buy.

For example, if you’re an SEO agency… clients might not care about SEO but they do care about what SEO can do for them.

If you have the curse of knowledge it seems obvious to you why someone should work with you. However, when you have a shift in mindset and break the curse you will win more clients. Take a step back and think about what questions you can answer for your clients before they even ask them. Things like: “Why is this relevant to me?” or “How will this affect me?” Consider the struggles and pain points your clients have, then explain how you can help ease them. People don’t buy what they don’t understand - so help them understand!

You will stand out from your competition when your agency tackles the WHY for more directly. Win more clients when you help them understand why your agency’s work is important instead of just convincing them it’s something they need.

3 Questions Your Agency Website Must Answer

Your website is the central hub of everything you do. Your homepage is where your prospects go first and how they’ll compare you against other agencies. STOP worrying about what other agencies sites look like and make sure yours answers these 3 questions:

  1. Who do you help?
  2. What do you offer?
  3. How do you help?

Too many agency websites skip answering #1 and assume their services are for everyone. Be a specialist and announce it on your website. Use language that is familiar to your clients and phrases that are specific to their industry. You will win more business when your prospects realize you “get” them and the nuances of their industry.

Save time & win more work!

Replace your proposals, quotes and presentations with interactive + mobile-friendly webpages that plug into your systems and are as easy to build and reuse as they are beautiful. Check out Qwilr or head to Sign up now for FREE and get 50% your first three months using the code smart agency while upgrading.


Direct download: Lee.mp3
Category:business -- posted at: 4:00am MDT

Are you trying to land bigger clients for your agency? It’s hard to communicate value when a lot your agency work invisible to clients. In this episode, discover how you can build better relationships and win bigger agency clients by stepping up your communication game.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 4 Ways to communicate to win bigger clients.
  • How to avoid feeling like an imposter when you land big clients.

Dylan Baskind is today’s guest on the show. He’s here to share ways agencies can step up their game to land bigger clients. Dylan is the CEO and Co-founder of Qwilr, a software solution for for creating attractive proposals and sales documents. He's on the show to share ways to notch up your client services and win bigger agency clients.

Dylan spent 8 years in the digital consultancy space growing his business from small, local clients to larger, multinational ones. He found the one consistent pain point was always the time suck of creating impressive proposals. So he created Qwilr as a solution for replacing aggrevating, time consuming cut and paste PDF or Word doc proposals/presentations with interactive and trackable web pages.

4 Ways to Use Communication to Win Bigger Agency Clients

It all comes down to better communication with your existing clients. Dylan says when you put more effort into your existing clients you will start getting noticed by bigger ones. Disclaimer: you cannot rely solely on referrals because they aren’t scalable! However, if you’re giving excellent service to existing clients you will build a reputation… and sometimes small fish know dolphins, and some dolphins know whales.

1. Communicate beyond expectations. Be concise, prompt and polite. When a client asks 3 questions in an email, respond to all 3. Don’t sit on emails too long, be prompt by replying in a timely manner. And keep a friendly but professional tone in all communication.

2. Consider the client’s user experience. Digital agencies spend so much time considering their clients’ customers UX that they sometimes forget about their own users... the client. Little things can really wow your clients in big ways. For example, I’ve seen amazing results just by sending my new new clients a personalized video (using a tool like Covideo).

3. Demonstrate value. A lot of agency work is invisible to the client. However, if you outline the invisible tasks and correlate them to results, the client can connect the dots and have a better appreciation for your work.

4. Eliminate the mystery. Clients tend to view agency’s as a magic box where they put money in, wait awhile and hopefully, eventually get results. Use reporting tools to communicate analytics regularly. Clients can get a better understanding of what and why you do what you do when the see regular updates of the results.

How to Avoid Feeling Like an Imposter

It’s totally normal to feel like an imposter the first time you take on bigger project or bigger client than you’re accustomed to. You feel like you’ve got to fake it until you make it and just pray no one figures you out.

If you’re at the point where you’re ready to jump a rung on the ladder it’s time to step up the quality your communications. You can and bigger clients and increase your agency’s perceived value. Your agency’s reputation rests on your confidence and ability - you DO NOT need to fake it :) Avoid feeling like an imposter by leading conversations and presentations in a more professional manner. Consider your prospects experience and knock it out of the park from day one.

Save time & win more work

Replace your proposals, quotes and presentations with interactive + mobile-friendly webpages that plug into your systems and are as easy to build and reuse as they are beautiful. Check out Qwilr or head to Sign up now for FREE and get 50% your first three months using the code smartagency while upgrading.

Grow as a Business

I hope you found this information helpful in finding the best ways to land those bigger agency clients and achieve the business growth you aspire to.

If you are looking for advice on what you need to do as an agency owner or learn how to fast track growth for your agency, I can help.

On my website, I have a bank of tips, tricks and insights that as an agency owner, you might find helpful. Head on over to the blog section of my website where you can find everything you need covering a wide variety of topics. If videos are more your thing and you find the more beneficial, you can check out the videos on my Youtube channel!

Direct download: Ways_to_Attract_the_Attention_of_Bigger_Agency_Clients.mp3
Category:#PODCAST -- posted at: 7:00am MDT

Do you feel like your agency spends more time being an order taker than providing insight and value to your clients? If so - listen up. It’s time to show your clients how much value you bring their business. You can increase revenue by measuring your client's success and finding new opportunities for them. Data reporting done right can be your secret weapon to growing your agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How agencies can retain their clients.
  • What KPI’s agencies should measure in their data reporting for clients.
  • How to use data reporting to grow agency business.
  • Steps to acquiring and growing retainers.

Today’s guest is Peter Caputa CEO at Databox, a SaaS tool to simplifying analytics and reporting for agencies. He joined Databox after serving as the VP of Sales at Hubspot, so in this interview he brings us a ton of knowledge on retaining and growing clients.

How Agencies Can Retain Clients

It’s all about reporting. And we’re not talking about just going through the motions of reporting. More like, actual face time with the client to present them with an analysis of metrics and provide insightful value.

Most agencies start out a new client relationship by going over their analytics reports but after a few months it turns into a mundane task, the client loses interest and no one pays much attention to it... That’s where agencies are losing out!

Pete says it’s super important to start every client relationship by selecting the metrics that are important to the client and show them a return on their investment. He suggests agencies also benchmark where the client is at the beginning of the engagement and measure changes that are resulting from your work. That’s how you’ll prove your agency’s worth and value.

Data Reporting: The KPI’s Agencies Should Measure for Clients

Most agencies are pulling data from several sources. Then, they do a cut and paste of data into their own slides or template, which is a major time suck. (And a big reason why most agencies just “go through the motions” when it comes to reporting!) Databox offers a unique solution to that problem by integrating with CRMs and marketing automation tools to pull and format data from several sources all into one place. KPI’s most agencies are pulling for clients are: traffic, leads, customer counts, revenue, and CRM stages.

How Can You Use Data to Up-Sell Existing Clients?

Don’t just pull the data - analyze it. Good agencies pull and present data every month. Really great agencies go a level deeper and show the impact of their activity on the data. Report the effectiveness of blog and social posts, Adwords and landing pages to set your agency apart from others. The key is to analyze the data, find holes or areas for growth. Use that information as a springboard to pitch areas for improvement. Turn monthly reporting from a chore into an up-sell opportunity.

Pete says you do have to be comfortable having the “it didn’t work” conversation. Don’t be afraid of it - agencies don’t get fired for campaigns that don’t work; they get fired for not catching it or not owning up to it.

It happens. Sometimes email campaigns don’t get any clicks, blog posts don’t rank high, etc. An agency should always have a pulse on what’s happening and know about issues before the client. Be truthful and have integrity. If the report isn’t good, the client probably already knows it and just needs to hear it from you. Glossing over bad news only makes matters worse in the long run. It’s your job to report the good and the bad, the innovate a solution to overcome the bad.

[clickToTweet tweet="Don’t just sit idle with blog or social posts for your clients. Use innovative technology to add value!" quote="Don’t just sit idle with blog or social posts for your clients. Use innovative technology to add value!"]

How to Prove Your Agency’s Value to a Client

Too many agencies don’t know the results they’re achieving because they aren’t benchmarking from the beginning. Clients care about one thing - their bottom line. So, the agency has the burden of proof and must to tie activity to results. Pete says agencies need to ask the tough questions from the start, such as:

  • “How much is a lead worth?”
  • “What’s the average deal size?”
  • “How many deals are you getting per month?”
  • “What are you trying to achieve? Why?”

To skirt around some the tough questions, you can use an inbound marketing calculator. But it’s SO important to get a baseline at the beginning of an engagement so you can document improvements. Equally important is frequent conversations with the client about results. Agencies are good at selling visions but not always good at revisiting the topic. Prove your agency’s value by showing them a direct correlation to their ROI.

Steps to Acquiring and Growing Retainers

  1. At the beginning of an engagement, meet with the client and agree on the key metrics to measure and monitor success.
  2. Get a benchmark on the key data from the beginning and measure success against it.
  3. Meet with the client regularly to present changes in key metrics and suggest areas of opportunity.
  4. Introduce new ways to improve client metrics and stand out among the “me too” agencies….

Marketing technology has come a long way in a very short period of time. It is incredibly sophisticated and as an agency, you can become indispensable black box agency by deploying your knowledge and use of information. Using software like Databox to pull, analyze and interpret data is a step in that direction of improving the data reporting of your agency.

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency Faster?

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed an amazing mastermind to guide you through the journey of implementing the right systems so you can scale your agency — instead of feeling overwhelmed by it.

We do this by bringing together successful agency leaders to share strategies, offer advice, and reveal what’s working (and what’s not working) in their agency. The truth is, whatever you want to accomplish in life, nothing will help you go further, faster than getting the right adviser in the context of motivated peers. If you want to GROW fast and smart, Digital Agency Elite mastermind will help.


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