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

Ever had a client that just didn’t feel like a good fit right off the bat? Ever taken on the wrong agency projects out of desperation to pay bills and meet payroll? If it doesn’t feel right or there are some red flags, pay attention and go with your gut. Listen to the hard lesson this 25 year agency owner learned, how it knocked him down, and how he got back up again.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • How to avoid the wrong agency projects or clients.
  • Setting up a successful agency structure.
  • Tips on improving your search for inbound leads.

Today I got to talk with Jim Stewart, industry pioneer and CEO of StewArt Media and SEO/Digital Marketing Evangelist on his YouTube channel, Jimboot. With more than 25 years experience, Jim has good insight into both the struggles on the business side as well as great information on maximizing search.

Avoiding the Wrong Agency Projects or Clients

Jim’s biggest piece of advice is: Trust your gut instincts!

If something doesn’t feel right or there are some red flags, pay attention, listen to your gut. If your gut says run - then run!

And if you're white labeling or on the receiving end of an outsourcing situation, beware:

  • Being white labeled is tough and you get little to no credit for your work.
  • You don’t get direct interaction with the client and receive information through a third party.
  • You’re being sourced for your processes, yet the larger agencies don’t want to follow your processes.
  • Getting the work done on time can be challenging when your agency isn’t the main point of contact.
  • Determining how to charge isn’t clear cut when white labeling.

Using this type of structure in the beginning for small agencies is not uncommon, I did it. Just make it work for you by:

  • Letting the big agency know up front that you will credit them as a client name.
  • You will have direct contact with the client.

Sometimes in these situations, the big agency will start failing on the project and the client could start approaching your agency directly. Don’t burn any bridges. Being up front with the big agency is key, but you will find that sometimes, they are aware of their shortcomings and tell you to just go ahead and help the client with what’s needed. This can be a great opportunity to build your client base.

Creating a Successful Structure

You can’t change your first hire but if you could, would you? I sure would. Bringing someone into the fold that has the skill set to handle all the stuff you can’t, or aren’t very good at, is key... So, who should you hire first?

It really starts with self awareness. What are you good at? What do you like doing? Where do you want to  take the agency? Take all that info and hiring accordingly. Then...

  • Invest in those people.
  • Train those people.
  • Educate those people.

As the agency CEO it is important to know your five roles - and daily operations isn't one of them.

And, if you have you been thinking of yourself more as an owner than a CEO, it might be time to transition from Owner to CEO.

Be the leader. Communicate the plan. Make sure everyone knows the direction the agency is headed. Set goals and clearly outline them. This provides the team the freedom to work within their goal structures and figure out the best tools to utilize to achieve those goals. Even though ours can be a transient industry, we still have to invest in good people.

With the client, clearly outline the plan for them as well. Many clients have been burned before which is why outlining and communicating goals is crucial. Tell them what you’re going to do, when they can expect it and follow through.

Improving Search for Inbound Agency New Business

There is one major factor in Search: Trust

The way to build trust is by having a strong brand. The best thing you can do for search and your overall business is: Build That Brand.

There is no silver bullet when it comes to building your brand. It takes hard work and consistency. You need to be putting out valuable content that either educates or entertains. This content creates an impression of you and your brand; it is what your brand becomes.

The ultimate goal is to get people to associate your content, or brand, with keywords in your category and viewed as the authority in the industry.

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency 3X Faster?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Direct download: Smart_Agency_Master_Class_Podcast_-_Jim_Stewart.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am MDT

Are you avoiding video? Afraid you’re not interesting enough or don’t have enough content to produce? Does it look too hard or are you worrying about production quality? Find out how to build your digital communication with a video presence. It’s more accessible and approachable than you think!

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Understanding the importance of vlogging.
  • Finding a style that works for you and/or your client.
  • How to avoid getting discouraged.
  • How to turn viewers into subscribers.

Today I’m chatting with Amy Schmittauer, a media triple threat as a successful YouTuber, with her channel Savvy Sexy Social, best selling author of Vlog Like A Boss and keynote speaker. If anyone understands the power and importance of video in digital communication it’s Amy. She's looked to as the authority in the how-to vlogging space and actually one of the influencers of my vlog, SwenkToday.

Understanding the Importance of Vlogging

Digital communications is becoming a big need for businesses, both large and small. This need started with social media but is now moving towards video. It is difficult to survive online communications or digital marketing without some form of video.

Understanding the way people are consuming content is going to decide your digital communication. People are trying to find the better, faster way of what they want… video accommodates that need.

Video and vlogs are growing because they make the host seem approachable. The platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram Stories, Snapchat, etc. are growing and video is becoming more accessible. Because of this, it’s time to step outside your box and start asking, “How can we, as an agency, better consider what our customer wants when it comes to video?” Sit down and have a conversation with clients because using the visual of video is going to make a much deeper connection. This will help your agency make more money and serve your clients better, because this is a necessity in business today.

Finding a Style That Works for You

People can get caught up in feeling uninteresting, but that is the beauty of video… you can make ANYTHING look and sound interesting with video, IF you think about what it’s like for the end user!

So when you think about your video style you need to ask yourself these 3 questions:

1. What is the Brand of You?

How do you want people to be talking about you? Get creative. Stay consistent so your audience can get to know you and care about you.

2. Who are You Talking To?

Know your audience. Know what your audience wants. This will make you more interesting and keep them watching!

3. What is Your Audience Size and Loyalty Level?

If you are new to vlogging and have little or no audience, you have a lot of work to do to earn trust and interest. This will help you build a solid base audience, which can allow you to take things to another level and take some liberties with your content.

If you are more concerned with the number of views than the quality of viewer… you’re in trouble.

How to Build a Solid Video Presence

Don’t get discouraged! I get it, entrepreneurs are impatient (myself included!).

Remember: It’s not about the number of views or number of people you reach, because it just takes one person -- the perfect customer. Don’t lose focus on who that person is.

It’s tough, vanity metrics on Facebook can make it hard to choose a platform. Facebook feels like your content is getting more views, but in reality, the context of that view is not as valuable as on, say, YouTube.

Facebook pushes content into a newsfeed, can come without audio, and is logged as a view if it's watched for 3 seconds or more. So of course, views can look higher on Facebook.

YouTube viewers are more intentional. They come looking for the content you are providing and a view isn’t ticked off until 30 seconds is viewed. Every platform has a different algorithm to make more money and keep people happy. But remember, you are working with the same algorithm as top YouTubers. If you get that one person, that perfect customer to watch you and can build a connection through advising them on something that will help them in a positive way… that’s all that matters.

Keep ‘Em Coming Back

The BEST thing to do to get people to come back is: Ask them.

  • DO ask for them to subscribe - the ask makes them more likely to do it.
  • DON'T assume if they watch your video they will subscribe.
  • DON'T assume if you put a visual, without actually calling it out, they’ll subscribe.

Technology is always trying to get better for the viewer and also the vlogger, but sometimes they conflict.

You have to be explicit. Lead off with it, but make it short. You don’t want to spend too much time or you will lose them.

You want to keep your viewer until the end. If you get them to watch your video all the way to the end, you are considered their thought leader. So tell them what to do next, whatever the natural next step might be (i.e. subscribe, opt-in with email, or visit your site). Say it. You have to say it.

Use visuals and create features that make for a nice user experience. This also encourages more action.

Related: Want to get better at producing video? Check out this episode:

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency 3X Faster?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Direct download: How_to_Amp_Up_Your_Agency_or_Client_s_Video_Presence.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am MDT

Is your agency using the Foot in the Door strategy? Are you keeping all the clients you want to? Learn the three core parts of a proven sales process that is working to renew client contracts and improve recurring revenue.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • The 3 core parts to every agency sales process.
  • How to create a successful renewal process.
  • How to get out of your agency so it can be a successful agency.

Today my guests are Rob Murray and Paul Demarco, cofounders of Intrigue Media, a full-service digital agency servicing B2C clients. In the 11 years they have been working together, they’ve grown their agency from a $50 project fee to $3 million in revenue this year. They credit their growth to a proven sales process and to always sticking with the process.

3 Core Parts of a Proven Sales Process

1- The Sales Process Itself

The key to this part is how you interact with people, i.e. your client or customer. There are two main philosophies to consider:

  • Two ears, one mouth, use accordingly. Listening to your clients, let them do the majority of the talking. Ask lots of questions, your client wants to be understood.
  • Avoid writing a prescription without a diagnosis; that is malpractice. You cannot properly pitch them a successful idea without understanding them.

Be mindful and open to needing help. Your sales is what drives agency growth. Rob and Paul realized early on that they couldn’t afford not to get help. If you are in the same boat, then check out my Agency Sales Makeover.

2- Financial Commitment for Proposals

Traditionally, Intrigue’s proposals or plans had been provided up front for free, or virtually free. However, this is where you want to implement the Foot in the Door strategy, and create a fee-based proposal that is clearly outlined. This is the first step in the direction of a long-lasting client relationship.

Proposals require work, outlining this work with your fee is totally acceptable. Intrigue's Marketing Action Plan (MAP) includes the research and education necessary to understand what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, how it will be done and creating a plan around that.

Thinking the proposal “seals the deal” is looking at it the wrong way. Charging a low, set fee will:

  • Help you win the deal faster.
  • Make the deal less risky.
  • Provide you incentive and enjoyment through the process.
  • Help make it an easier decision for the client to trust you.
  • Can be a qualifier on your merit.

Using the Foot in the Door strategy will also help define the type of clients you want to be working with. If the partnership doesn’t feel right, you can walk away with little loss, rather than taking on a large retainer and becoming stuck.

3- Provide a Plan that Defines Expectations

You need to develop a crystal clear plan that defines crystal clear expectations. Something like:

  • "This is exactly what we are promising you."
  • "This is exactly how we will go do it."

This plan needs to be shared with your CLIENT as well as your TEAM so that it can be properly executed. With this thinking, you need to make sure that the team you intend on doing the work is the team you are having scope the work up front. This can prove to be a huge win.

Creating a Successful Renewal Process

Keeping your clients satisfied can be achieved with making sure they are delighted on a regular basis. They implemented “delightful client moments,” where they get to know their clients better. It’s those soft touches that make the business relationship more personal.

Taking a binary look at satisfaction creates a more black & white answer:

  • If they don’t renew they aren’t satisfied.
  • If they do renew they are satisfied.

Everyone can say your stuff is great, but if they pay you for it, then you know it is great.

Using the Foot in the Door method is a stepping stone towards a 1-year retainer. A month or two before the retainer is up, bring the client back in for a renewal. This is when you go for the longer term because you have built up a relationship of trust.

How to Get Out of Your Agency So It Can Be a Successful Agency

Consider a successful business being a business that can run without you. Leave the details to the team who specialize in the details. Success is all about:

  • The focus you provide for the team.
  • The focus you put on the team.

Bring consistency in what they do everyday:

  • Create structure inside the organization.
  • Put your priorities in focus.
  • Get those priorities accomplished.
  • Do updates frequently so everyone is in the know.

Providing clarity and context to team members ensures that everyone knows what is going on and can roll in the same direction... sticking to the process and growing your client base.

Need Guidance and Support to Grow Your Agency 3X Faster?

Are you overwhelmed by all the information out there on various ways to grow your agency? Do you want direction on how you can grow your agency faster and easier?

Then you’re in luck! I created an innovative mentorship called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides the 1-on-1 mentorship and ongoing support that is crucial to the success of your agency. Click here to see if it’s the right fit for you.

Direct download: 3_Elements_of_a_Proven_Agency_Sales_Process.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Is your agency stuck in a "best practices" rut? Are you following so-called industry best practices without seeing results? If you’re in a place where excitement and momentum have puttered out and you think your agency has plateaued, you’ve hit what my guest calls your “crapping point” :) It's time to start asking the right questions and creating your own best practices.

In this episode we’ll cover:

  • Understanding your context and its three components.
  • How to create your own formula for best practices.
  • How to not fall into the best practices trap.

Today’s guest is Jay Acunzo, is Sorry for Marketing and shares it all as a keynote speaker, blogger and host of the podcast, Unthinkable. Jay has an impressive background in the tech world and with start-ups, including a career at Google and Hubspot. He also did investing in start-ups for a firm, so his experience and insight comes from both sides of the aisle.

Jay understands the importance of asking a lot of questions, the right questions, and turning away from conventional thinking. Today he is in a fight with best practices because “it has never been easier to be average.”

If you aren’t seeing the results you expected and your agency has “Crapped Out,” Jay is here to give us some tips on how to better find your best practices by asking the right questions so you can stand out, rather than blend in.

Understanding Your Agency’s Context

Your context consists of three things:

  1. Those doing the work - yourself, your agency, your team
  2. Those receiving the work - your audience, the customer or client
  3. Your resources - the means to make things a reality

If you find yourself asking “Why isn’t this working?” don’t forget to start adding the word “us” to the equation…. Such as: “Why isn’t this working… for us?” The best practices that might work for one company, may not for yours because your context is different.

“Success leaves clues.” ~ Tony Robbins

Success might leave clues, but it doesn’t leave answers. Best practices are simply a possibility that still need to be put through the filter, that is your context and then add your details to, and find, a best practice that will work for you.

It is time to start thinking for yourself and not just following a list. You are the expert of your agency’s context.

How To Create Your Own Formula for Best Practices


We aren’t talking about the gut feeling you get from emotion and running with it. We are talking about the defined word, Intuition, which has roots in Latin that mean: Knowledge from within

In other words, this circles back to knowing your stuff -- knowing your context

The best way to know your context is to make sure you are asking the right questions for the three things that make up your context, listed above, Yourself, Your Audience and Your Resources.

Visualize your intuition as a thing or tool that is on par with a list article. Understand that Intuition is that compounding return you experience from, constantly asking questions and understanding your context, and making the right call.

Trust your INTUITION.

How To Avoid the Best Practices Trap

It all starts with a shift from the desire of knowing the answer, to caring more about how to find answers. This mindshift begins with asking the right questions of your context points. Each component has two questions and we can look at it like a funnel...

The TOP Level is where all the confusion and all the excessive information is found.

Sublevel 1 - YOU

  1. What is my aspirational anchor? Meaning, your intent for the future and hunger for today.
  2. What is my unfair advantage? Do an audit on your team to determine strengths and figure out how to best utilize them.

Sublevel 2 - YOUR AUDIENCE

  1. What is my first principle insight? Understanding your clients needs/wants and knowing what you can bring to the table to help them achieve those.
  2. Who are my true believers? These are the people (even if just a few) who are passionate about what you're doing. Find your super fans.

Sublevel 3 - RESOURCES

  1. What are my constraints? Is it money, size, time? Understanding these constraints will help you innovate within them.
  2. How can I expand? Think big, but understand that you have to start small. Putting a lot of boxes on a field will still cover the field and can build something big

The BOTTOM Point is where you find your CLARITY.

Be the exception. By identifying and acknowledging your specific context you are in a category of ONE!

Related: Creating content that speaks to an audience of one.

Direct download: How_to_Overcome__Best_Practices__Overload_for_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT