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

Are you having problems hiring or firing your employees? Ever feel like your team is holding back agency growth? Hiring and firing employees doesn't have to be difficult. Don't worry about firing your less-than-perfect team members as your agency grows; it's best for both of you in the long run!

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • #1 reason you should fire that one employee.
  • How to scale your agency with your current employees.
  • 3 key team management tips.

Today, I talked with Shantel Khlief CEO at Image Media Consulting, who has an absolutely incredible story of how she discovered her passion for marketing through pie! Shantel is one of those people who was born to be a marketer. She got her start when she couldn't find a local pie shop's menu on Facebook. Later, she stopped by and offered to grow the shop's social media presence... and then like many of us, an accidental agency emerged!

Shantel shares some fantastic tips on employee hiring and firing, which is one of the most challenging aspects of growing an agency.

#1 Reason You Should Fire That One Employee

Every agency encounters a team member who's just not making the cut. Maybe you feel a sense of loyalty toward a long time employee. Or, maybe you simply can't bring yourself fire someone because you like them as a person (but dislike their work). Or, maybe you're afraid of the impact firing will have on your clients and the rest of your team.

Here's what you should do: fire them! Letting someone go may be precisely what they want (or need.) If you feel like the employee isn't working hard enough, doesn't fit your company culture or values then firing them may kickstart both of you. That employee will go on to do something new, and your other team members will respect you for it.

Remember, you're the owner. You have to set the example. If you're still hesitant, think about it this way. Would you rather fire them or lose your good employees because of them?

How to Scale With Your Employees

When your agency starts growing it's typical to run into some employee friction. When you start out with just a few key team members, you're all friends. You grab coffee together and talk shop regularly. But, when that number balloons up to 20+ suddenly you've gone from friend to boss-friend. Roles change and sometimes perceptions do not, which can cause friction.

Look, it's perfectly ok to change the playbook as your agency grows. The more employees you're dealing with, the more difficult it becomes to please everyone. Sure, those loyal employees may be a little disappointed at first, but change happens. And, the good ones will understand how to help scale the agency to the next level.

3 Key Team Management Tips

1- Do more coaching. As your agency grows, your employees' perception of you will change.. You may think they will come to you with any problem, but they may think you're too busy. Coaching is a crucial piece of employee management. It's a way to set expectations, deal with inconsistencies, and get employees pumped up.

2- Rethink your bonuses. Stop giving your employees bonuses at specific times. Give them out randomly. For one, it makes them appreciate it more. But, it also reduces any pain points caused by changing bonus structures. Once you hit the $1 million mark, you may have so many employees that high bonuses aren't as realistic. My podcast with John Ruhlin completely changed the way I think about bonuses.

3- Fire the toxic employee. Seriously, I know it's hard. But, as Shantel explains, it has to happen in order to grow. Stop worrying so much about what everyone thinks of you and put your goals and your agency first. The right move isn't always the most popular one.

Do you know the 5 Roles of the Agency CEO? This is where you should be focusing your time, energy and efforts.

Direct download: How_to_Get_Over_the_Hurdles_of_Agency_Team_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Happy holidays from JasonSwenk.com and our entire agency tribe. We hope you never have to deal with these 12 Days of a BAD client project, but if you do ~ we hope this helps you get through it.

12 STRESSFUL DAYS OF WORKING ON THE WRONG CLIENT PROJECT...

On the first day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
A terrible deadline for me

On the second day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
2 more excuses,

On the third day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
3 contacts’ emails,

On the fourth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
Four 404 errors

On the fifth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
F-i-v-e W-o-r-d-p-r-e-s-s T-h-e-m-e-s,

On the sixth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
6 Salesforce plugins,

On the seventh day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
7 moving deadlines,

On the eighth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
8 automations,

On the ninth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
9 rounds of revisions,

On the tenth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
10 Twitter followers,

On the eleventh day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
11 annoying emails,

On the twelfth day of the project, my bad client gave to me,
12 shareholders screaming.

Direct download: THE_12_STRESSFUL_DAYS_WITH_A_BAD_CLIENT.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:00pm EST

Struggling with creativity for marketing your agency? Looking for ways to increase subscribers and opt-ins? In today's creative-driven landscape is now easier than ever to thrive. Don't let uncertainty or mental blocks get the best of you. Take some actionable steps that will cement your creativity and transform it into results.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • It's time to try the one creative thing you've been ignoring.
  • #1 most important creative tip.
  • 2 rules for creative agency owners.

Today, I talked to Jeff Goins, founder of GoinsWriter.com and author of several popular books — including Real Artists Don't Starve — who also teaches online classes and hosts events. He's not just a writer. Jeff is a writer that fell in love with marketing. After working at a non-profit for years, Jeff's writings skills and entrepreneurial spirit led him to a life as an amazing creative. Today, Jeff's going to share some juicy tips straight out of his new book.

It's Time to Try the One Thing You've Been Ignoring

Yes, that thing. You know the thing. It's that chatbot you're afraid to implement, or podcast you're afraid to start, or the video marketing you've put off.  Sure, you've got plenty of excuses to avoid that thing, but you it's time to stop ignoring it and get it going!

We all have strategies and tools available to us. And yet we all have excuses for not trying them out. Whether it's because we're positive it won't work or we think that it's just a fad, all of that head trash (link here) can prevent you from doing the one thing that could be the catalyst for change and agency growth.

Jeff tried blogging for 9 years with a very little following. In fact, it took 4 years to reach 250 subscribers. But, when he offered a free ebook as lead magnet to his new blog — he jumped from 70 subscribers to 1,000 in just one month. Why? Because he simply tried his thing.

Jeff says he thought lead magnets were just marketing mumbo-jumbo. But when he got out of his own way and tried it out, he found major success.

Here's my challenge for all of you this week -- identify one thing and go do it!

#1 Most Important Creative Tip

Why do you create content? Is your agency simply trying to convert leads to clients? A lot of people think content is for selling. If that's you, then you need to 180 the way you're thinking.

Content must provide value. This is especially true for blogs and video creatives that are hitting top-of-the-funnel prospects. Jeff says to think of content as a mutual gift to your audience. You give them valuable, free content, and in return, they give you their attention.

Don't just focus on conversion metrics. If you give them value, they will come. All of those prospects who don't buy anything now could end up being more valuable than you think. Give them fresh content, and they may just become brand evangelists on social media. Remember, marketing is more complex than lead metrics —and word-of-mouth is still powerful.

2 Rules for Creative Agency Owners

Jeff gave us a little sneak peek into his newest book where he shares the 14 rules for creatives to thrive. Here's 2 of them:

1. Steal from everyone

Here's the thing about originality, it usually produces terrible results. It's OK to steal from your influences. Are you creating a new blog? Go look at your competitors and your heroes. Guess what? They looked at their competitors and their heroes! Study what your peers are doing and use what's valuable to you.

Don't just say "I have to do everything differently!" Or, as Steven Jobs (quoting Igor Stravinsky) said "Good artists copy, great artists steal." This doesn't mean you should plagiarize. It means you should pick a few of the all the great things other people are doing and morph them your own.

2. Live a portfolio life

You have to be fluid to survive in the creative world. Sticking to one thing may be a great way to market your agency as a niche to clients, but when it comes to being creative, you have to adapt.

Think of the creative world as a mutual fund, not a single stock option. Tech is moving too fast and times are changing too rapidly to get caught up in one style or content type — you have to move with the tides. To do more than just survive you have to be continually creating and innovating.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_to_Thrive_as_a_Creative_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you stuck in a rut? Feel like your agency isn't going anywhere? Are you full of strategies but lacking in execution? Ever feel like you're stuck on an endless hamster wheel? It might be that you're in your own way and it's time to dig a little deeper. Your biggest obstacle might be all the trash in your own head. A change in mindset and thoughts can be a critical step towards growing your agency.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • What is head trash?
  • The problems caused by head trash.
  • 3 ways to take out the (head) trash and change your mindset so you can grow your agency.

Today, I talked with Erin Pheil founder of MindFix — a group dedicated to eliminating self-sabotage in entrepreneurs and high-performers. Before she founded MindFix, Erin spent 16 years hustling at her own digital agency, FollowBright, so she totally gets the struggles of agency life. She's here with a wealth of experience and savvy techniques to teach us how to overcome our own mental barriers. Once you get out of your own way, you'll be on a better trajectory to grow your agency faster and easier.

What Is Head Trash and Why Is It a Problem?

There are tons of agency owners out there who have the strategies and the resources they need to become hyper-successful, but they just can't seem to get there. Too often we look towards the latest-and-greatest strategy as a growth pillar but when it doesn't work we get frustrated. Instead, Erin says we should be looking inward at the stories we are telling ourselves.

What negative talk or stories are you telling yourself?

  • "All my clients just beat us up on price and don't appreciate our value."
  • "Our clients don't care about us, they treat us like a commodity."

All of these stories we have in our heads are what Erin calls head trash. Basically, head trash is the loops and patterns we fall into due to previous exposure to situations. All of these stories impact the way we deal with our every day and often times causing turmoil.

For example, let's say you used to work at a call center and you had one of those robotic scripts you had to say on every call. You couldn't stand the script; you felt it was turning away customers because it was so poorly written. Fast forward to today. You run a marketing agency and you're considering using a chatbot as a pre-qualifier for new leads. You have the resources and the strategy, but you don't pull the trigger because you believe scripted conversations aren't effective for gaining new customers. That is head trash.

Head trash is the stuff that stands in our way -- and it's the stuff we can actually control. It's so much easier to overcome than we realize, but most of us don't even know or understand why it exists. Head trash can cause your agency to stall, cost you clients or stand in your way of fulfilling your profession or personal potential.

3 Ways to Take Out the (Head) Trash

How do you clear all of this programming out of your head?

1. Stop and Think! Next time someone does something that doesn't sit right with you, think first instead of reacting. Why are they doing this? What are some reasons for this behavior? Are there external circumstances that may cause this? Once you learn how to think about every possible scenario in your encounters with others, you'll also begin to think about your own behavior in this same way. You'll be able to dissect your own hang-ups and understand the underlying stories you're telling yourself. (From the earlier example... Why don't you like chatbots? Is it because of that call center experience? Bingo!)

2. Think Neutral. You want to remove emotion from your decisions. If you start to feel emotion when you're making a decision that should be rational, try to figure out why. There's a root cause of every emotion; if you want to remove the head trash the key is getting to the bottom of the emotion.

3. Don't Jump to Conclusions. This is huge! Preconceived notions can kill a good idea before it even launches. For example, don't assume your chatbot won't work before you even test it. Don't be afraid to try, test, or fail. Failure is the key to future successes. If you're jumping to conclusions all the time, you have some serious head trash you need to deal with.

Want to learn more about becoming your own mental garbage man? Erin has a FREE 60-minute learning session here. Check it out.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_to_Get_Out_of_Your_Own_Way_and_Grow_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wish your agency had better account management? Want to learn how to increase client satisfaction and reduce churn-rate? It might be time to take an inward look in order to up your game and improve agency account management. When you and your team communicate more effectively with your clients, you will turn them into your biggest fans.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to build a deeper relationship with your clients.
  • The most effective way to communicate with clients.
  • Top 3 account management tactics.

Today, I talked with Karen Hayward a Fractional CMO at Chief Outsiders — the largest fractional CMO firm in the US. Karen works with CEOs and helps brands build growth strategies. She's an expert on account management, which is an area where we see a ton of growing agencies struggle. This episode contains crucial information that could be a real game-changer in your agency's client relations and retention.

How to Build a Deeper Relationship with Your Clients

Meaningful client relationships are churn's kryptonite. The faster (and better) you build a relationship with your clients, the less likely they are to jump-ship. After all, leaving a faceless brand is far easier than leaving an agency that you have nurtured a strong affiliation with. So, how do you build a deep-level relationship?

Karen says it's all about aligning your values and your client's values while leveraging your human assets. So, let the people in your agency get to know key members of your client's team. If you have a relationship that exists on multiple channels, you will suffer less when you hit those road-bumps. Make sure your team and your client's key employees (CEO, CFO, CMO, marketing director, etc.) build a relationship while agreeing on performance metrics.

We talked about relationships a ton when Joey Coleman, author of Never Lose a Client Again, was on the show. Bottom line, be certain you and your client have the same end-goal in mind as well as the same definition of success.

The Most Effective Way to Communicate With Clients

Figuring out how and when to communicate with clients is a huge headache for startup agencies (and lots of mature agencies as well). When are you bothering your clients? Some clients probably prefer not to communicate with you at all, right?

Karen suggests you communicate with your top clients quarterly. Even if everything is fine - and especially if everything is fine. Don't make communication about sales. Ask them for feedback and learn what your clients really want by asking them. Hear them out, reassure them, and take action before there are issues.

A great way to get off to a good start is to send new clients Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys after the first 30 days! You can send them these surveys quarterly as well. You can take all of these Net Promoter Scores and see what kinds of trends your agency is having with your client. This gives you some great insight and also takes care of sheltered client concerns they may not be openly sharing with you.

Top 3 Account Management Tactics

Before she left, Karen left us with a few great tactics we can all try out.

  • Start NPS immediately. Net Promoter Scores are amazing! They give you critical insight into your client-agency relationship status. Karen says you can get started right away with these if you take advantage of websites like Promoter.io and AskNicely, which both offer free NPSs in the U.S. with their free trials. Eat up the free trials and operationalize right away. If you aren't finding any value, at least you didn't spend anything!
  • Make marketing pervasive in your agency. Karen suggests pushing marketing at every turn in your agency. Whether that's attaching marketing supplements to email signatures or even small details like business card design, subtle marketing can add great immediate value to your business and keep your clients interested.
  • Engage in meaningful dialogue. Karen suggested making sure your team has a story to tell. In other words, the account team needs to study-up on their clients so they can engage in meaningful conversations. Karen uses a system she calls S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result). The key is for everyone to be prepared to interact deeper than surface-level.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

 

Direct download: Do_You_Need_to_Step_Up_Your_Agencys_Account_Management_Game_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Do you want to turn your agency's clients into raving fans? Would you like to retain more clients instead of just procuring more? Here's how to make your clients first 100 days noteworthy enough to turn them into advocates.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • What is the 100-day problem?
  • 8 phases of the client lifecycle and keeping them happy at every phrase.
  • 3 quick tips to transform clients into raving fans.

Today I talked to Joey Coleman, a professional keynote speaker, consultant and author of "Never Lose a Customer Again". Joey has worked on client retention with brands such as Hyatt Hotels, Deloitte, and even Zappos. He is a master of retaining clients and transforming them into raving fans. And that's why here's here with advice on how to keep the clients you have while simultaneously transforming them into advocates for your agency.

What is the 100-Day Problem?

As a marketing agency, we pour tons of time and resources into customer acquisition. Whether it's social media, sales strategies, content curation, or even email marketing, we focus tons of effort on turning prospects into customers... but then what?

According to Joey, anywhere from 20 - 70% of customers (depending upon your industry) don't make it more than six months. And of those, nearly 90% won't make it past the first 100 days. All of that time and all of those resources, wasted. That's the 100-Day Problem and we all encounter it whether we realize it or not!

Fortunately, we have Joey giving us some critical advice on keeping clients and turning them into our biggest fans, with the ultimate reward of referrals.

8 Phases of the Client Lifecycle and Keeping Them Happy

Joey defined 8 key phases of the customer's life cycle, plus he gave us some fantastic tips on keeping customers happy at every phase. Check out his First 100 Day Starter Kit.

  1. Assess: This is the phase where customers are deciding if they want to do business with you. They're assessing your website, third-party reviews, and your marketing materials to determine if you're the right fit for their needs.
  2. Admit: Here, your customer is finally admitting your agency can help them solve their need and achieve success. They feel a sense of hope and possibility by deciding to work with you.
  3. Affirm: Despite the initial feeling of hope, the very next thing your client will do is start to second-guess their decision to work with you. While your team is celebrating a new client, the client is already having thoughts of buyer's remorse and wondering if they've made a mistake. The key to overcoming this is to communicate with them right away and AFFIRM they've made the right decision! Connect and make sure they know you're with them every step of the way. Often times we get busy working on the work, we end up going dark on client communication and that's when they start to get worried.
  4. Activate: This is the first significant interaction your customer has with your agency. If you have a product, this is the unboxing. If you have a service, this is the implementation of it. This is where your client digests your product or service and evaluate whether they'll continue the relationship. This is the first impression and you need to totally nail it so you can continue the relationship!
  5. Acclimate: This is the phase where you need to get your client familiar with your way of doing things. Joey thinks this is the stage where most agencies fall short. During this phase, the client will be learning your processes as well as potentially interacting with your team members and learning about additional offerings.
  6. Accomplish: This is the phase where you actually helped the client achieve their initial goal. The key is to make sure their initial expectations for the end result is met. Did you actually accomplish their goal, or did you just achieve what you thought was their goal? You must communicate regularly to identify their full set of goals and understand their definition of success, as well as what metrics will be utilized to measure success.
  7. Adopt: At this phase, your client is loyal and they've fully adopted your agency's philosophy and practices. They don't care about competition or price point because they believe in what you do and how you do it based on the outcomes you're producing for them.
  8. Advocacy: When clients are all in, you've reached the final (and best) stage. They are out there advocating for your agency because you have established trust. This is typically anytime after their 100-Day Anniversary. They are now more likely to share stories with their network and provide you with testimonials or case stories... Ask for them and use them!

3 Quick Tips to Turn Clients into Raving Fans

  1. Get personal right from the beginning. Start the relationship off by connecting on a personal level. People like to work with people! Therefore, something as simple as a quick personalized thank you video can even do the trick. (I do this all the time for anyone who buys any of my products or services. It's been a game changer!)
  2. Incorporate video into your contact points. Everyone wants to know there's a person behind every action. When you use video (versus email or worse, automation!) your true personality can shine through and your client will get to know you more authentically.
  3. Remember snail mail carries real influence. Don't forget the old-school inbox. As everyone moves to digital, the physical inbox is looking a little empty. Get noticed quickly way by cutting through the digital clutter. Old fashioned, handwritten thank you notes are more memorable and have more staying power than an email.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_to_Turn_Your_Marketing_Agency_Clients_into_Raving_Fans.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you ready to make the jump and start your own agency? Do you want to the top 3 struggles of starting an agency? Don't let those startup agency jitters get you down! Get scrappy, and be picky! Also, learn about how Facebook Messenger Marketing and chatbots are going to change the future of agency lead generation.

  • Is it time to start your own agency?
  • The 3 biggest startup agency struggles.
  • #1 most important tip for the future of Facebook marketing.
  • 3 reasons to implement Facebook Messenger Marketing.

Today, I talked with Molly Pittman who owns and runs Digital Strategy Boot Camps, co-hosts the Perpetual Traffic podcast, and was a former VP of Marketing for DigitalMarketer. Molly brings some incredible startup agency insights as she started Digital Strategy Boot Camps a little over a year ago. We get down to the bare bone fears of starting an agency and her best advice for avoiding and overcoming the top 3 struggles of a new agency.

Is it Time to Start Your Own Agency?

One of the most challenging aspects of starting your own agency is knowing when to actually start one. After all, that you're probably really comfortable (but maybe unfulfilled) in your current gig. So is it time to start your own agency?

The answer isn't really clear. According to Molly -and I agree - you just know when you know. It's one of those internal things that drives you. We're all creators, and when it comes time to set out and create your own thing, your gut will do the talking.

You know yourself best, so you're going to be the one that decides when it's time. Are there risks? Sure! Are there rewards? You better believe it.

3 Biggest Startup Agency Struggles

Molly talked about the 3 biggest struggles she faced when she went out on her own. Trust us when we say these struggles are universal. You will encounter these when you start an agency, but you can manage them if you're aware in advance.

1- Project Management: When you first start your agency, you're going to have to learn how to juggle multiple clients requests at the same time. The squeaky wheel method is probably going to take over, and you'll either be servicing the loudest or the highest paying client first. That's natural. Here's a great tip from Molly. She has a notebook that she organizes everything she has to do for each client for the week (emails, meetings, work, etc.) This way she knows what she's walking into, and she doesn't leave clients in the dust.

2- Client Alignment: When you first open your agency's doors, you want to take all-comers. It will give you some great experience and give you the foot-in-the-water that you'll need at the beginning (oh, and the money!) Once you get to the point where you can pick-and-choose your clients, you can start making sure your client's values align with yours. Molly's big tip here is to work with clients that you get along with. Picture yourself in the airport next to them — would it be miserable or not?

3- Setting Expectations: Client-agency expectation misalignment is a run-of-the-mill problem. Your client wants more than you think they do, and you thought you agreed on terms they didn't actually want. It's crucial for you to sit down with your client and set expectations. Go over the metrics with them, and introduce specifics early on.

#1 Most Important Tip for the Future of Facebook Marketing

Since Molly works a ton on Facebook, I couldn't help but ask her what she sees Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica stuff... Her biggest tip is to create content that's more engaging. As Facebook returns to newsfeed values, it's rewarding the ads that get the most engagement. Facebook wants to see users interacting with ads.

The best way to get engagement is to be authentic. The best ads are less salesy and offer more (free) value.

3 Reasons To Implement Facebook Messenger Marketing

Since Molly's also a guru on Facebook marketing, we talked about the new landscape of the platform, as well as Messenger Marketing. When done right, Facebook Messenger and chatbots can drastically change your lead generation strategy. Here's why:

  1. It's where the people are! 1.3 billion people are using Messenger, and the number continues to grow. You could make a case that Facebook is dying down, but Messenger is just getting started.
  2. The metrics are crazy. People are seeing 80 - 90% open rates and +50% CTRs on Messenger. Compare that with email's 25% open rate and a measly 4% CTR, and you'll see why chatbots and Messenger Marketing is so valuable.
  3. You get engagement. Messenger is an engagement heavy platform and users who click want to engage. People want to talk to you. Just pop a bot in to automate the first part of the conversation and then pass it on over to someone real. Get quirky with it! Messenger is filled with an audience that's ready-to-talk.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_to_Avoid_the_Top_3_Struggles_of_Starting_an_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Looking for ways to get your agency noticed by your ideal clients? Do you want to stand out among the competition? Then it's time to understand and amplify your agency's talk triggers. With the right strategy, you can conquer word-of-mouth advertising and get your ideal clients talking about your agency.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why you should be doing something different.
  • 5 types of talk triggers.
  • #1 word-of-mouth tip.
  • What is your agency's triangle of awesome?

Today, I talked with Jay Baer founder of Convince and Convert, and (if you've been living under a rock) he's also an amazing content marketer, speaker, and author. He is also one of my favorite show guests because he's always got fantastic agency growth advice! This time, Jay is here with a lot to say on word-of-mouth advertising as well as what he calls Talk Triggers, which you can use to stand out from the competition.

Why You Should Be Doing Something Different

Jay talked about why agencies should be doing something unique and different. It's a noisy space and it's difficult to stand out among the competition even when you're the expert in your niche.

Instead of simply falling back on your expertise, do something! You have to be proactive in your word-of-mouth, and one way to do that is to take everyday things and do them differently. Putting a unique twist on something ordinary can generate a ton of buzz about your agency.

Jay gave an example of sending your proposal at the bottom of a sheet cake. If you got a proposal at the bottom of a sheet cake, wouldn't you talk about it? That's a perfect example of what Jay calls a talk-trigger.

5 Types of Talk Triggers

Jay identified 5 of these talk triggers, which he works with clients to improve. You don't have to use all of these (that may be overkill) but you should attempt to have at least one thing that you do differently than other agencies. Here's Jay's list of his 5 types of talk-triggers.

  • Generosity: These are things such as gifts, presents, or anything else that adds free value to your customer's experience.  When done, properly gifting can be an amazing talk trigger.
  • Attitude: Sometimes wacky behaviors, such as the sheet cake example, can really stand out and make a solid impression. There are a ton of things you can do to set yourself apart from your competition with attitude, as long as it's authentic. You do you! Example: Every time someone asks for more info on your agency, send them a personalized video.
  • Responsiveness:  People love doing business with people who respect their time. Speedy responsiveness can make a great impression and get people talking about you. Jay gave an example of a New York car repair shop that picks up your car at night (while you're already not using it), fixes it while you sleep, and brings it back in the morning.
  • Usefulness: This is all about being extra useful for customers. Example: Does your agency provide written content services? Provide a bonus 500-words once in a while, just to go beyond expectations.
  • Empathy: We all know we need empathy, but some agencies go above-and-beyond. Empathy is talkable when it's at the correct dose. Too much feels pushy and too little feels rigid. Example: Call people who signed up for your service and personally thank them! Ask them how they're doing while you're at it.

#1 Word-of-Mouth Tip

If you're trying to figure out how to create your own talk triggers and you just can't seem to figure out the best strategy, try this... ask your clients!

Jay recommends sitting down with your clients (new, old, and former) and ask them what they expected at every point in their buyer's journey. Let's take proposals for example. They'll probably say that they expected to get a PDF of your proposal via email (which you better not be doing unless you present it in person first!) Whatever it is they expected, do something different - try the sheet cake thing, maybe? :)

The most important thing is that you do something your customer doesn't expect and that will surprise and delight them.

What Is Your Agency's Triangle of Awesome?

Jay talked about understanding your clients. Too many agency owners and workers spend the vast majority of their time at their desks. Marketers like to think they know customers better than anyone, but that's usually not the case.

Jay recommends running talk-triggers by your triangle of awesome — which consists of marketings, sales, and service departments.

You want to get ideas flowing in from every direction and collaborate to come up with the best talk-triggers possible. Get those marketers, salesman, and customer service employees in the same room.

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_Talk_Triggers_Will_Have_Clients_Knocking_Down_Your_Agencys_Door.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Worried your agency will collapse if you're not constantly working? Wish you could lead your agency without working 24/7? Feel like you sacrifice too much of your family and free time for your agency? Stop being a prisoner to your agency! This pace isn't the best way to run your agency. And maybe your agency doesn't actually need you as much as you think it does.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why you need to get uncomfortable in order to grow.
  • 2 ways to drop the hustle and grind.
  • #1 most important delegation tip!

Today, I talked to Mike Michalowicz author of six business growth books, including Profit First Book and his latest, titled Clockwork. In this new book, Mike attempts to disrupt the hustle and grind mentality that has taken over modern small businesses, especially marketing agencies. Instead of working 24/7, Mike wants you to work less, get more done, and change your entire work mentality.

Why You Need to Get Uncomfortable

Hustling for the sake of hustle is not the way grow your business. If you've been hustling non-stop for several years and you haven't gotten anywhere, it's time to change your strategy. You've slumped. Too often, agency owners think if they just work hard enough it'll pay off. But this hustle hard mentality isn't going to cause burnout and a sense of defeat.

Mike says you have to get uncomfortable. Put yourself out there and make a change. Hire new employees, delegate more of your responsibilities onto others, try to position employees in ways that disrupt your day-to-day. Even something as simple as trying a new software may be the kick-in-the-butt you need to get out of that constant grind.

There are 5 roles of an agency owner. If you're doing anything outside of them, consider ways you can delegate, automate or eliminate it. Stop doing things you suck at or don't enjoy!

2 Ways to Drop the Hustle and Grind

1. Hire owners.

If you're having trouble getting your agency employees to act like owners and take on the responsibility necessary to help you run your agency, hire people who will. Mike suggested hiring people who had the ambitions of owning an agency one day. Even if it's just a side gig, having people who understand the mentality it takes to run an agency is critical.

2. You do you.

Stop reading those "10 Lifestyle Habits of Highly Successful People" articles and get in touch with who you are. Agency strategies (and especially lifestyle strategies) aren't just one size fits all. They have to meld with you and who you are. If you're not authentic, your agency is going to suffer. So when you hear Gary Vee tell you it's all about the hustle -- maybe it is, but maybe it is. You do you.

Don't lose yourself in your agency. Don't be a prisoner to it. Remember, you started the agency to support your life. Not the other way around.

#1 Most Important Delegation Tip

When it comes to delegating employees, Mike has a critical tip. You want to assign the outcome.

[clickToTweet tweet="Delegate the outcome rather than the specific task. You'll be amazed at how your team responds to this method, and how much freer you feel, too. " quote="Delegate the outcome rather than the specific task. You'll be amazed at how your team responds to this method, and how much freer you feel, too."]

Standard "delegation" usually works like this:

"Jamie, can you go and work on that proposal for me?" This style of delegation, or assigning specific tasks to each employee is worn-out and results in you being stuck answering tons of questions. You end feeling like it's just easier to do it yourself rather than entertain so many interruptions.

Instead, Mike recommends assigning an outcome instead of delegating a task.

So, instead of saying: "Jamie go work on that stack of proposals." You should say: "Jamie, can you make sure that those proposals really reflect the value we bring to our clients? You got this!"

You want to turn your employees into decision makers. Give them permission to do their best job and make decisions that benefit the agency. So, if Jamie has another question, tell her to go with her gut and choose the option that best reflects the vision and goals of the agency.

Delegate by the outcome rather than the specific task. You'll be amazed at how your team responds to this method, and how much freer you feel, too!

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: How_to_Grow_Your_Agency_Without_Constantly_Working_In_It.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Is your agency having difficulty standing out? Want to get attention from strategic accounts or high profile clients? Looking for better ways to improve client retention? Getting prospects' trust, recognition, and loyalty doesn't have to be complicated. Giving the right gift to the right person at the right time is a gesture that goes noticed and rewarded.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • How to send gifts your clients want to receive.
  • 4 things you should never gift.
  • #1 group of people to give to (hint: it's not the prospect).
  • Bonus: When not to send gifts.

Today, I talked to John Ruhlin, founder of RuhlinGroup, an expert gift-giving agency. He also, quite literally, wrote the book on giving gifts. This is my favorite books of all time (which is really saying a lot since I rarely read!) Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention is John's book, and he's on the show to share strategies in order to score big clients, build business, and gain trust with clients.

How to Send Gifts That Your Clients Want to Receive

What gift does that CEO of the company that your agency has been chasing really want? Great question! You should go figure that out.

John talked about the time he wanted to connect with Cameron Herold (yes, that Cameron Herold,) so John called Cameron's assistant and asked for his shirt size. What did he do next?

He went to Cameron's favorite store — Brooks Brothers — and purchased shirts, jackets, pants, and all kinds of Brook's Brothers swag.

Then, he literally outfitted Cameron's entire hotel room in Brook's Brothers stuff and made it look like a showroom. Cameron was so impressed at the thought and consideration behind the gift that he agreed to a meeting with John. It's not about the gift itself, but rather the meaningful gesture.

So, next time you're looking to impress a client with a gift, don't just purchase something expensive for them — purchase something that they love and add an element of surprise.

4 Things You Should Never Send to Clients

Sending gifts is a great way to win over clients, increase referrals, and build critical relationships, but some gifts may be doing more harm than good.

John talked about 4 things that you should never send to clients.

  1. Branded Swag: Sending clients that cool branded gear you have is doing way more harm than it is good. Sure, every marketing book ever tells you that you literally need to brand everything, but gifts are supposed to be about the recipient, not you.
  2. Apple Products: Do you want to send that prospect an iPad? John wants you to know something before you do — everyone has an iPad! Don't send clients swag that they're just going to end up regifting.
  3. Food: John has two reasons that you shouldn't give clients food:
    • (You only get one impression. If you send clients something like a paring knife, they're going to use it a bunch of time throughout their life. Each time they use it, they're going to think about you. Once they eat that food, you're irrelevant.
    • There are too many diets! Is your client Paleo? Gluten-free? Jewish? There are too many diets, allergies, and restrictions. Giving food as a gift is risky.
  4. Gift Cards: Do you know what gift cards say? I'm too lazy to get to know you!

John teased that he actually had 10 gifts that he thinks are bad gift ideas. Get them all here.

#1 Group of People To Gift To

Let's say you want to nurture a relationship with a CEO with gifting. Should you send your gift to him? Not according to John. You should send a gift to his wife, kid(s), pet(s), or assistant(s) instead. You want to make everyone around him a sales advocate.

Think about it. That CEO gets tons of gifts all the time, but his wife or his assistant doesn't reap the same benefits. A $1 investment in his wife is like $200 investment in him.

Bonus: When Not to Send Gifts!

Don't let your gift sit next to 500 other gifts. There's a reason John never sends gifts on Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries. No matter how great your gift is, you don't want to be competing with 50 other people. Suddenly the gift you poured your heart into is now lame.

Also, don't send someone a gift after a referral. You just boiled your entire relationship down to a monetary value. Send them gifts when they aren't expecting them — not when they are - and add an element of surprise. Remember the scene in Christmas Vacation where Clark bring his boss a gift? Unimpressed and ungrateful, his boss tells him to add it to the stack with all the others.

Ask yourself what gift would provide unexpected thought and creativity... then execute. Don't be a Clark!

Movie image courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

Related:  How to Retain More Agency Clients & Increase Recurring Revenue 

Direct download: How_to_Use_Gifts_to_Win_and_Keep_More_Agency_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Looking for ways to improve your agency's long-term growth? Ever felt like throwing in the towel because the agency grind was just too much? It might be time for a gut check on whether you need to hustle harder or move on. So, check out these insights and actionable strategies from an agency owner that up-and-quit his $1 million agency with over 50% net profits, so he could chase a different dream.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Should you quit or hustle harder?
  • #1 most important long-term agency growth tool.
  • 3 reasons why scaling isn't always a good idea.
  • 4 benefits of podcasting to grow your agency.

Today I talked to Mark Asquith who is a founder over at PodcastWebsites.com. Mark moved onto podcasting from his agency that he dissolved (without selling) that was operating at over 50% net profit! Mark left the agency he created to start chasing his dreams creating SaaS for podcasts. We talk about why he left, how anyone could possibly leave such a successful agency, and why agency owners need to be podcasting.

Let's dive right in!

Should You Call it Quits or Hustle Harder?

Mark's former agency was operating at almost 60% net profit and filled with high ticket clients. How in the world can anyone leave that behind without selling it?

Mark left because, well, he got bored.

We all get bored at certain points with our agencies. Whether it's because the market is in a strange space that we're unfamiliar with, or it's because we have to deal with another sales pitch, running an agency has its ups and downs.

So, if you're tired of the grind, how do you know it's quitting time? When should you stop and when should you shift your position?

For Mark — who wanted to do SaaS for podcasts — what he wanted to do wasn't something that he could position his agency to do without disrupting its standard practice. He was tired of the sales pitch (who isn't?) so, instead of hiring a sales manager and delaying the inevitable, Mark decided to just jump ship and do what he was really passionate about, which didn't include running an agency

By not selling his agency, he got to keep all of those client relationships he had developed, and use them to consult on the side.

Did he make the right decision? Mark made the right decision for Mark! Only you can really know if quitting is the right thing to do. If you want to leave because your heart really isn't in it, you should consider it. However, if you know that you should be running an agency in your heart and you just aren't doing well at the moment, get scrappy and resourceful, and hustle harder!

#1 Most Important Long-Term Agency Growth Tool

What's more important your brand or your offer? Your offer may get you a quick sale, but your brand is the backbone of your entire agency.

Mark and I talked about ways to fight back against the commoditization of agencies in today's business world. I see lots of agencies just sticking the pedal-to-the-metal and trying to Walmart their way out (grab lots of clients to justify the low margins.)

But, let me ask you this. Why do most of us own Mac computers? I know, the Apple analogy has been done to death, but seriously, think about it. They are 3x more expensive, yet almost all agency owners and creatives have one. That's because Apple branded themselves so well that they made their product associated with creatives.

Trying to scale too fast to compensate for low margins will end up making you work 10x harder and possibly sink your whole agency. Branding, on the other hand, creates long-term success and shields you against market fluctuations.

Branding is the only way to set your agency up for long-term success. Successful branding will help you leverage yourself as more than a commodity. You want the price to be incidental.

As the old saying goes. Sell a good night's sleep — not the mattress.

3 Reasons Why Scaling isn't Always a Good Idea

To scale or not to scale, that is the question.

Mark's agency made the conscious choice not to scale. In fact, he did the opposite! He purposefully trimmed down his clients to the top 20%. This way, he got to work with high margin clients and develop deep meaningful relationships.

Here's why your agency may want to follow Mark's example and not scale.

  1. It gives you time to market yourself. If you aren't busy 24/7 working with clients, you have a chance to content market yourself. You can start a podcast, write some articles on Medium, or make that blog you keep putting off.
  2. You get better margins. If you focus on taking only the clients with the best margins, you set a precedent for future clients. You're an agency that's focused on delivering rich content, not being the cheapest.
  3. You don't get burnt out! Getting burnt out can seriously impact your business. Don't bite off more than you can chew.

Mark took on a few quality clients, built a photography studio downstairs, did speeches around the world, and found time to run a successful podcasting company on the side. He wouldn't have been able to do any of that if he was focused on scaling non-stop.

4 Benefits of Podcasting to Grow Your Agency

It's very simple. If you want to grow your agency and provide value, you should have a podcast. Here's why.

  1. You can position yourself as an expert. You're the head honcho of your podcast so you can position content however you want. People are listening to you, so you're already set up to be an expert  — all you have to do is follow that up with decent content.
  2. You can get hyperlocal. Forget the "geotargeted hyperlocal social media-driven ads" for a moment. With podcasts, you can get local and locally relevant. Do you run a digital agency in St. Louis that specializes in landscaping companies? Sweet! Start a podcast that talks about the current landscaping ongoings in St. Louis or how St. Louis landscapers can market themselves better. You can't get much more local than that.
  3. It lets you market yourself as an agency owner. Mark talked a bit about this on our podcast. The #1 tip he has for agency owners is to market themselves. You want to be putting out content that ads value to your customers. It will build you and your agency.
  4. You can target your ideal customer. Your podcast can target the exact audience you want. For example, who's my ideal client? Agency owners. What is my podcast about? Growing your agency.

If you haven't started a podcast yet, start one. It's so much easier than you think, and it's the perfect resource for building up an audience of quality leads while also bolstering yourself and your brand!

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 FreshBooks.com/SmartAgency and enter SMARTAGENCY in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section for a FREE 30-day, unrestricted trial.

Direct download: Should_You_Hustle_Harder_or_Call_It_Quits_on_Your_Agency_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Is billing a headache for your marketing agency? Do you wish you could quit hour-based pricing and actually get paid what you're worth? Good news! You can. By removing the time barrier, you will see increased profitability and improve client relationships for your agency.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • 3 reasons to bill by value instead of time.
  • What does it mean to break the time barrier?

Today, I talked with Mike McDerment, co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks —  invoicing and accounting software with over 24 million users. Mike talked about his recent free eBook called Breaking the Time Barrier and why agencies need to drop time-based billing and start to use a more value-centric model.

3 Reasons To Bill by Value Instead of Time

Most agencies bill by-the-hour or by-the-project, but, time-based pricing may be doing your agency more harm than good. Mike explains 3 reasons value-based pricing is a better approach.

  1. It removes incentive-based agency-client friction. You're incentivized to take longer on a project, while your client is focused on getting it done as fast as possible. This difference of incentives can lead to some friction between you and your clients that can ultimately fracture your relationship with them.
  2. Value is a better creative metric. Mike brings up a great point here. When you do creative work, every hour isn't the same. Sometimes we have a 20-hour burst of activity where our brain is firing all the right signals and we produce some insanely good content. But, sometimes we also work for 3 straight hours, and nothing seems to be moving forward. Do you get the same quality of work done every single hour? Of course not.
  3. You understand your client's goals better. If you bill by value, you have to really understand what value you're bringing to your clients. This means that you will have to fully understand why they want that new website. Are they trying to increase conversions? Are they looking to take advantage of a newer and faster CMS? Why do they want what they want? Understanding why a client wants something lets you nurture a more fulfilling goal-based relationship.

Value-based billing allows you to develop deeper relationships with your clients. Not only that, it gives you the ability to bill clients based on your deliverables, which benefits your agency since productivity isn't always consistent. And actually, with hour-based pricing, the smarter you get the more profit you lose.

What Does it Mean to Remove the Time Barrier?

Let me ask you a question. If you charge based on hours, are you selling a service with value or are you just selling hours?

For example, if your agency designs websites, what are you really doing? It depends on the client. Some clients want a new site so they can increase their conversions, right? Wouldn't it make more sense to sell them a website that increases conversions? The difference between billing by the hour and billing by the value of your service can seem like they're the same thing - but they are not!

Let's say it takes you 5 hours to design that website and it starts increasing the client's conversions immediately. Great! But, if you billed them at $60 an hour, you've only made $300. Is that really enough for improving a clients conversion rate by 4%? At the same time, if it took you 300 hours, your price may seem too high for the client.

Instead, sit the client down and figure out what they need. Once you understand their needs, you can bill them based on what you are delivering, not how many hours you worked.

There's no confusion at the end of the project, no combatting over hours, and you and the client will feel better about the end product. No one feels like they got the better of the other party. That's what removing the time barrier is all about.

Related:  Increasing Agency Profit with Value-Based Pricing

Direct download: How_to_Break_the_Time_Barrier_So_You_Can_Increase_Agency_Profit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am EST

How can your agency create compelling YouTube ads? How can you get the most ROI from YouTube ads? YouTube ads are a strange beast, and the creative landscape of YouTube is continually shifting. But, if you stick to your buyer's persona and chase your ideal customer, YouTube ads can help grow your agency fast.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why you may need 2 YouTube channels.
  • The difference between YouTube and Facebook ads.
  • 3 steps for making better YouTube ads.
  • Why 5 seconds could make-or-break your ad.
  • #1 most important tip for the future of YouTube ads.

Today, I talked with Tom Breeze (A.K.A the king of YouTube ads) who runs Viewability — the highest spending performance campaign agency on YouTube! Tom has been on the podcast before, and he dropped some great insight into performance-based models. I urge you to check out that episode if you haven't already; it's one of my favorites.

Tom went over some of the most critical YouTube ad strategies, and how he and his agency position YouTube ads that engage and convert.

Let's dive right in!

Why You May Need 2 YouTube Channels

Tom talked about splitting your organic YouTube channel and your Ad-based YouTube channel. That may seem strange at first, but, since both require different things for success, splitting them up actually makes a bunch of sense.

When you're releasing videos on your organic channel, you want to have a ton of views and engagement (subscribers, comments, shares, etc.) to help boost your channels ranking on the YouTube algorithm.

When you're running ads, you want views, but you aren't going to have a lot of engagement (and you probably don't want a lot of engagement.) That's where a second channel comes in useful.

Splitting them up gives you the freedom to chase different metrics on each account without risking tanking your YouTube rankings on either of them.

The Difference Between YouTube and Facebook Ads

Tom laid out the main difference between YouTube and other ad types. On YouTube, you already have your viewers attention. They're already there to view and buy. Facebook, TV, Instagram, and other creative outlets all require you to be entertaining and engaging enough to grab the viewers attention.

On YouTube, you don't want ads that are too entertaining. When you do pre-roll ads (those ads that you can skip after watching 5 seconds before the video you actually wanted to watch), you only pay if the viewer watches 30 seconds of the ad. You don't want anyone except potential buyers to watch the entire ad because you'll waste ad spend.

You'll end up paying for people who aren't your ideal clients and don't fit into your buyer's persona.

3 Steps for Making Better YouTube Ads

YouTube ads can be annoying. There, I said it. So, when it comes to creating ads that are going to nurture customers down your funnel, you have to use a little finesse. Tom shared some of his agency's biggest tips on how to chase those critical customers without wasting money and people's time.

  1. You want to disqualify people in the first 30 seconds of your ad. You have to pay for pre-roll ads once it hits the 30-second mark. Make sure only your ideal customers get to that point in the ad.
  2. Create different ads for each pain point your audience experiences. For example, let's say you run a social media marketing company. You will want to create an ad that targets companies looking for help running their Instagram accounts. At the same time, you'll want to run ads targeting companies looking for help with social media metrics on Facebook. If you create ads for each service, you'll be hyper-targeting people who need your service, so you'll only be paying for prime leads.
  3. Don't be too engaging! I know, everyone ever has told you that all your ads need to be engaging all-of-the-time, but, when it comes to YouTube, engaging ads are going to waste your money and people's time. Don't let people get all the way through the ad because you blew your budget to make a hilarious creative. Be engaging in a way that appeals to your ideal customer, not to everyone. Remember, you already have their attention — you don't need to fight for it.

Why 5 Seconds Could Make-or-Break Your Ad

Here's a prime tip for all of you. Adding an extra 5 seconds to the end of your ad can make-or-break your CTA. Tom recalls watching a Monday.com ad on YouTube that was engaging and appealed to him, but the ad ended before he could click the CTA.

Tom's company has been having major success testing a countdown timer at the end of the ad. This way, customers have time to click that CTA and it adds a sense of urgency. You have to remember that video ads aren't like landing pages. People only have a certain amount of time to click the CTA — give them an adequate amount of time to click it.

#1 Most Important Tip for the Future of YouTube Ads

The future of YouTube ads lies in AI metrics. You want to keep an eye on your conversion pixel. Gather as much information as possible on each ad you're running. You want to give the Google AI monster as much food as possible.

The more Google knows about your ad and the people consuming it, the better it's going to get at targeting your ad to the right customers. Data has become the king of marketing — we all know that.

The future of YouTube ad targeting (and ad targeting in general) is going to be reliant on AIs consuming as much data as possible.

For those of you that want to get ahold of some more great YouTube insights from Tom, he's written a book called Viewability where he breaks down some of his agencies time-tested strategies and tips — like how to find selling moments and capitalize on different customer types.

Ready to Grow Your Agency, but Not Ready to Hire?

Hiring freelancers can be frustrating. You post your job, wade through hundreds of proposals, and hire a few before you find the right fit. You want to scale your agency by outsourcing, but wonder if this dreadful process is worth it. That's where Freeeup is different. Instead of wading through freelancers yourself, FreeeUp does all that for you.

They have a network of the top 1% of freelancers, so everyone you hire is top notch. Depending on what you need, FreeeUp connects you with a freelancer who can make it happen. And just for Smart Agency Master Class listeners, create a Freeeup account and enter code "JSwenk50" for $50 off.

Direct download: How_to_Leverage_YouTube_Ads_to_Grow_Your_Marketing_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Is your marketing agency taking advantage of every possible tax break? Did you know you could get up to $250K in tax credits? A lot of agencies are actually leaving money on the table in the form of an R&D tax credit. So, let's dive in, and break down some actionable steps that any agency can take to cash in.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Tax credits vs. tax write-offs.
  • #1 tax credit agencies can take advantage of.
  • 4 steps to claim the R&D tax credit.
  • When to claim the credit and when not to.

Today, I talked with Jim Morrow from AATDM where he does tax consulting and CFO reporting for digital media companies. I actually met Jim after a conference; he gave me a ride to the airport. After figuring out he was an accountant, we talked shop for the entire trip and I just knew I had to get him on the podcast. Tax credits are one of those things that too many agencies just aren't taking advantage of, which is just like throwing money away. Jim is here to tell us how you can take full advantage of tax credits that you're due.

Today, we're going to get hyper-actionable, and show you how you can save your agency some money!

Tax Credits vs. Tax Write-Offs

Agencies need to be paying more attention to available credits. Credits have some significant benefits over write-offs. Here's the difference.

Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar reductions off your tax. Which means credits are basically free cash! If you have a $10k credit, you get $10k off of your paid taxes.

Write-offs — or deductions — lower your taxable income. So, let's say you made $150K, but you had a $50K expense. That $50K will lower your taxable income, but not lower your actual taxes.

Make sure that you look for those tax credits!

#1 Tax Credit Agencies Can Take Advantage Of

Jim talked about a tax credit nearly every marketing agency can take advantage of — the R&D tax credit. The R&D tax credit — officially known as the Credit for Increasing Research Activities — can refund your agency as much as $250,000 a year! That's money-in-the-bank!

The R&D tax credit is federal (though some states let you "double dip") so it's folded into your federal tax return.

To qualify for the R&D credit, your agency has to be "experimenting" with technology with a qualified purpose. Basically, anytime your agency is devoting man hours to either:

  1. Building your own technologies (CRM, databases, marketing automation, etc.)
  2. Customizing out-of-the-box technologies to capture unique analytics.

So, all of that hard work your agency has put into customizing your Infusionsoft or HubSpot software would count towards the credit.

The credit is also great for those of you in tech-heavy niches — like VR or AI. But, let's be honest. Almost every agency is going to devote some man hours to, at the very least, customizing out-of-the-box software.

Here's how it works.

Let's say you spent 7,500 combined manhours customizing your CRM (not unheard of,) you would get 10% of that 7,500 hours back as a credit. So, if your employees get paid $35/hr, you would be looking at around $262,000 total. That means your credit would be $26,200. Not bad! That's a pretty significant tax credit which you could be missing out on.

4 Steps to Claim This Tax Credit

Since the R&D tax credit will reimburse you 10% of your R&D cost, and the majority (if not all) of those costs are going to be attributable to manpower, the main two documentations that you need will be timesheets and payroll.

Here are some steps Jim provided which will help you take advantage of the R&D credit.

  1. Find an accountant who understands R&D tax credits. Sure, you could use your regular CPA, but why wouldn't you want someone that specializes in tax credits to handle it for you? Same reason niches work in marketing — if someone specializes in a few things, you know they do those few things well.
  2. Figure out your associated costs. Your accountant will probably do this for you. Most of the time, these costs are going to be manpower-related.
  3. Have your tax specialist fill out Form 6765.
  4. Claim previous years. This tax is retroactive so you can claim the last 3 years at the same time if you haven't done it before.

Most of the steps will be handled by your tax specialist (if you hire one) so you shouldn't have to put much legwork in. The only problem you could run into is payroll and timesheet related. If you don't keep timesheets or super-accurate payrolls, it may not be worth it to apply for this tax credit.

It's a large tax credit, so the IRS will probably be looking into it. If there isn't something concrete to back up your claim, you'll probably get denied and throw up a red flag. (Here's more on how to avoid an audit!)

When to Claim the Credit and When Not To

Let's go over the caveats. When should you try to claim the R&D tax credit and when should you not? Jim went over some of the "magic" numbers with us.

You should try to claim the tax credit if all of the following are true.

  1. You have around $200,000 in R&D related expenses, or you spend money on R&D every year.
  2. You have timesheets or expense reports that show definitive spending.

You probably shouldn't try to claim the tax credit if any of the following are true.

  • Your total R&D expenses are under $100,000 (unless you have 2 or 3 years to proactively claim).
  • You don't have hyper-accurate timesheets or payroll.

Since you're going to have to pay your accountant, gather some timesheets, and spend a little time on the credit, you'll probably just break even if you're trying to go after anything under $15k. That is, of course, unless you're proactively claiming it for a few years or you are planning on having R&D expenses each year.

Related:  What is a Healthy Profit Margin for a Digital Agency?

Ready to Grow Your Agency, but Not Ready to Hire?

Hiring freelancers can be frustrating. You post your job, wade through hundreds of proposals, and hire a few before you find the right fit. You want to scale your agency by outsourcing, but wonder if this dreadful process is worth it. That's where Freeeup is different. Instead of wading through freelancers yourself, FreeeUp does all that for you.

They have a network of the top 1% of freelancers, so everyone you hire is top notch. Depending on what you need, FreeeUp connects you with a freelancer who can make it happen. And just for Smart Agency Master Class listeners, create a Freeeup account and enter code "JSwenk50" for $50 off.

Direct download: Is_Your_Digital_Agency_Getting_This_250K_Tax_Credit_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Does your agency struggle with an outbound sales strategy? Do you even have an outbound strategy? You can build a scalable outbound strategy using LinkedIn by making connections and delivering those prospects critical content. If your LinkedIn profile isn't getting you the results that you need, or if you're looking for a way to boost your sales, check this out. You don't need a big budget to grow your agency using outbound marketing. With a solid plan, an ideal client in mind, and a little finesse, you can use LinkedIn to dominate outbound!

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Does your agency really need a LinkedIn outbound strategy?
  • #1 biggest mistake you're making on LinkedIn.
  • How to create a LinkedIn job story.
  • Why getting rid of connections will land more new business.
  • Bonus: Joey's super-secret growth hack!

Today I chatted with Joey Gilkey founder of Tribe Prospecting; his agency which provides done-for-you prospecting and marketing solutions. Joey comes with a solid sales background that eventually turned into a love for marketing. He leveraged that into a position as a growth hacker and growth strategist with a HubSpot agency. Today, he's crushing it over at Tribe Prospecting, and he's here to share some tips on how to dominate outbound using LinkedIn.

It's always refreshing to hear from someone who loves outbound marketing because I think that too many people gloss over it when it comes to generating leads.

Let's dive right in... and make sure you follow us to the end for a great LinkedIn hack from Joey that will help your agency immediately start reaching out to clients in an impactful way without breaking the bank.

Does Your Agency Really Need a LinkedIn Outbound Strategy?

There are way too many agencies that have absolutely no outbound sales strategy. We all like to pour over the inbound marketing blogs then run out there and smash ads on whatever is this year's biggest trending inbound strategy is (I think you're supposed to be throwing money at micro-influencers this year?), but when it comes to having a dependable outbound strategy, most of us fall short.

The problem with outbound marketing is lead generation. You spend tons of money trying to get customers to your landing page so that they can start slowly worming their way down your funnel.

Now, imagine that there was a platform that was saturated with potential clients, lots of those potential clients were decision makers for their company, and those clients were already sharing content and looking for solutions. Ok great! Now, imagine it's totally free!

Here's why you should be hyper-involved with LinkedIn outbound marketing.

  • It doesn't have cruise control. You control the speed of your outbound marketing campaign. Unlike referrals or ads, you are completely in control of the growth and scalability of cold emails, calls, etc.
  • It's predictable and dependable. Sure, there are definitely nuances that come with outbound marketing, but, as a whole, outbound is much more predictable than inbound. Want to connect with only dental assistants and deliver content directly to them? Great! LinkedIn lets you do that. Do you need to meet an aggressive sales quota? Great! Outbounding marketing enables you to be as aggressive or passive as you need to be.
  • It's free! Seriously, LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for growth-stage companies on a budget. You don't have to pour money into the ad or lead machine to get results.

#1 Biggest Mistake You're Probably Making on LinkedIn

Stop using LinkedIn as a bragging platform!

Utilize LinkedIn as a lead generation tool or a landing page. Don't just talk about how amazing you or your agency is --- talk about the customer's needs. Give them a reason to want to stay and learn more.

Joey tells us to use a specific framework when you build out your profile:

  1. Use your headline to call your customers out. Don't just talk about how you're the greatest thing since sliced bread, talk about what you can offer your customers. Don't say "I'm the world's greatest inbound marketer, and I own a multi-million dollar marketing agency." say "I help CMO's around the world generate leads effortlessly using omnichannel marketing dominance!" Who are they? CMOs. What do I do to help them? Using omnichannel marketing dominance. What will they get? Leads.
  2.  Your summary should have empathy and authority. When it comes to your summary, use empathy and authority to drive the point home. Empathize with their issue and tell them how you will solve it. Now, I always say to keep the authority light. Writing with authority is like using salt in food. Too much of it makes the whole thing taste horrible, but a little adds some depth of flavor.
  3. Lead up to a failure or fear of not working with you. After your CTA in your summary, lead the customer to a failure. "I help you create a growth-driven marketing strategy that literally shoves leads into your funnel and forces them down, so you don't go out of business!" No one wants to lose their job.
  4. Don't be afraid to add a prospect qualifier. If you are only looking for certain budgets or firm sizes, add a qualifying statement. Let them know that your agency is not going to waste your time with low-budget firms looking for growth-hacks if you're an inbound marketing agency working with multi-million dollar companies.

How to Create a LinkedIn Job Story

We all know that you have to identify and understand your ideal client - those are the ones right in your agency's sweet spot. But, Joey talked about his pro-tip for helping you really focus in and get super specific. This trick will help your agency zero in on their pain points and motivations.

A job story is one sentence about your ideal customer that breaks down into 3 parts.

The formula is:  When ____ + I Want _____ + So I Can _____

  • When: Why your customer would be looking for your product/service. ("When I am deciding on which sales software will help my startup the most...")
  • I Want: Why your customer would buy your product/service. ("I want a sales software that connects my sales team to potential customers the second that they fill out that landing page contact info.")
  • So I Can: What your customer's expected outcome of using your product/service is. ("So I can crush my sales quota this year!")

The full example of this job story would be:

When I am deciding on which sales software will help my startup most, I want a one that connects my sales team to potential customers the second they opt-in so I can crush my sales quota this year!

Why Getting Rid of Connections Will Land More Business

LinkedIn connections are a vanity metric. If you have 5 thousand connections but only 10% of them fit snugly into your ideal client's persona, start deleting. LinkedIn's algorithm likes to push your content out to a small sampling of your connections and see if it engages them. If half of your connections are doctors, but you want to target veterinarians, your white paper on neutering probably isn't going to generate a bunch of clicks. (Remember to use that job story!)

You want to make sure that you have a hyper-targeted connection list — one that you can push those sweet eBooks that you wrote onto. If you find connections that aren't relevant after you've pivoted your ideal client's persona, be merciless.

If you have quality connections, connecting to them is much easier. You can send them a message, share their content, give them content without bothering them for their email address because you already know that they are a perfect fit for you.

Having quality connections makes nurturing those connections a breeze.

Pro Tip: Joey's Super Secret Growth Hack!

Being the super cool guy that he is, Joey shared a little trick his agency uses to generate leads. This method takes advantage of LinkedIn, Facebook, and cold emails do you can triple down on outbound efforts.

Here's the rundown.

  1. Go to LinkedIn and click settings. You should be able to download all of your LinkedIn data. You will get the email addresses of all of your first-level contacts.
  2. Create a spreadsheet using that data with your contacts emails.
  3. Find someone (or do it yourself) to go through the list and pull out all of your ideal customers. This will be easy if you have quality connections.
  4. Go out and find a personal detail about everyone on that list. Do they love golfing? Do they know your cousin? Great! Use it.
  5. Drop those emails into a sales email automation platform (whichever one you like,) and then create a magic field (custom field) so you can put a sentence or two in each one that's super relevant and personal to that particular individual.
  6. Send out the emails.
  7. Here's where it gets juicy. Drop those same emails addresses into Facebook and spend a few bucks a day targeting ads to those people.
  8. BOOM! You're connected to them on LinkedIn, you've sent them some personal cold emails, and you're in their face when they're on Facebook.

Want more on LinkedIn lead gen strategies? Check out these posts/podcasts:

3 Steps for Using LinkedIn to Turn Connections Into Clients

5 Steps to Generating New Agency Business On LinkedIn

Ready to Grow Your Agency, but Not Ready to Hire?

Hiring freelancers can be frustrating. You post your job, wade through hundreds of proposals, and hire a few before you find the right fit. You want to scale your agency by outsourcing, but wonder if this dreadful process is worth it. That's where Freeeup is different. Instead of wading through freelancers yourself, FreeeUp does all that for you.

They have a network of the top 1% of freelancers, so everyone you hire is top notch. Depending on what you need, FreeeUp connects you with a freelancer who can make it happen. And just for Smart Agency Master Class listeners, create a Freeeup account and enter code "JSwenk50" for $50 off.

Direct download: How_to_Dominate_Outbound_Marketing_on_a_Lean_Budget.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Do you want to find a niche that you can carve out? Do you want to dominate a specific gap in the marketplace? This week we talked to one agency that picked a niche and is dominating their market. They have hyper-specific goals, achievements, and clients, and that exclusivity is propelling them forward as aggressors in their market space.

Today, we'll cover:

  • 4 benefits of operating within a niche.
  • Overcoming the obstacles of niching down.
  • How to dominate your competition.
  • The #1 pain-point of operating within a niche.

Today I chatted with Adam Draper CEO/Owner of Gladiator Law Marketing. Adam's digital agency operates deep within the law firm niche, and, recently, he's been crushing it. His agency is rapidly growing, focused on small to medium sized law firms. He's here to share some of his keys to success, specifically how his niche is propelling his agency forward.

4 Benefits of Operating Within a Niche

Why would an agency want to specialize? Doesn't working in a niche limit you from reaching clients outside of your niche? Doesn't specifying a niche mean losing out on potential clients outside the niche?

First, it's crucial that we all understand that finding a niche isn't only beneficial, it's critical in the current agency atmosphere. Being able to dominate a specific industry is more feasible than dominating the entire agency atmosphere; it just is.

Let's go over four critical benefits of operating in a space where you can specialize your services.

  1. You have a roadmap. If you start providing a service that's specialized to service everyone, you can lose track of what you're doing and where you're going. You have to find a way to position your service to clients without giving them a good example of why your service is more beneficial than your competitors. Finding a niche allows you to target specific pain-points and polish your service.
  2. You can predict outside influences. Being in a niche allows you to predict and adapt to outside impacts. You can position yourself more clearly because you're a master-of-one, not a master-of-none.
  3. You have killer growth potential. Because you can create a more actionable to-do list and you understand the exact nature of your services, operating in a niche can help you grow your businesses faster with higher ROI.
  4. You know your competition. When you wedge yourself into a specific gap in the market, you can really start to study your competition. You can understand precisely what services your competitors offer, and convince clients why your service are unique and have a higher value.

Overcoming the Obstacles of Niching Down

Adam and I talked a bit about overcoming those initial obstacles. I see far too many people get caught up in that one bad client. It's sad, and one ruthless client shouldn't ever defeat your self-worth. Here are some tips for overcoming those initial obstacles that are holding you and your overall growth back.

  1. Make sure that your client is a good fit. If you're too focused on the financial aspect of your business, you might be taking on all comers. Don't do that. If you feel like your client won't benefit from your services, don't take them on. It will end up biting you in the end (confidence, churn rate, etc.)
  2. Find out where your bad prospects are coming from. Pinpoint the avenues that are drawing in bad clients, and try to reduce negative experiences (even if that means an initial profit hit.)
  3. Learn your industry inside and out. Adam talks a bit about the obstacles that are generated due to him being so focused on one specific area of business. He says that you need to really learn the business you're in and plan accordingly. If there are any potential threats to your business (even if they seem far-fetched) create a contingency plan.
  4. Be on the lookout for new technologies. Keep your eye out, there could be upcoming technologies that will impact your area of expertise. Learn them before your competitors do.

How to Dominate Your Competition

When you're starting out in a niche, competition is heavy. Here are some tips on how to dominate your competition.

  1. Stay focused on your clients. You know that iconic photo of South African swimmer Chad le Clos watching his Olympic competitor, Michael Phelps? During the whole race, his eyes were so focused on Phelps that he was looking at him even while swimming. Of course, Phelps won. That's because Phelps was more focused on the prize than on his competitors.
  2. Think 2 years ahead. Since you can heavily focus on one specific area when you operate in a niche, start to think years ahead. Don't get caught up in the now and forget to plan dominance in the future.
  3. Turn down work. Remember, make sure your client is a good fit. Let your competitors get greedy and take on the bad clients. Not all clients are good clients. And when you spin your wheels working with the wrong ones, you're turning down some of the right ones.

The #1 Pain Point of Operating in a Niche

The main pain-point of working within a niche is that you're at the mercy of your niche. Whatever industry it is, is now completely in control of you and your business. If laws change, it impacts you. If the industry slows down, it impacts you. Make the niche your victim - not fall victim to it.

Related:

3 Big Benefits of Declaring Your Agency's Niche Market

Why Your Agency Needs to Start With One Niche at a Time

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

Direct download: How_Your_Agency_Can_Pick_a_Niche_and_Dominate_It.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

The creative landscape is changing. Is your agency keeping up? Are your creative people struggling to stay fresh? It's easy to become overwhelmed with change and uncertainty. Learning new trends and technologies can be challenging. However, there are massive opportunities available in our day and age. It's good to be a creative right now, and there's no excuse not to create!

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why it's never been a better time to be a creative.
  • Why you're out of excuses not to create.

Today I chatted with Sean Womack, founder, and CEO of Smack, a media agency, and author of the novel, The Six Sides of the Black Box. That's right, Sean wrote a fiction novel (not a business book!) which provides a glimpse into agency life and illustrates 6 lessons learned. Sean's interesting and extensive background a creative in the agency space speaks for itself. On today's show, Sean shares his interesting backstory and the excitement of being an agency creative in today's landscape. He also touches on the evolution of being a post-40-year-old creative person as well as give us some fresh insight on being creative in our crowded agency world.

With the ever-changing technology and fast-paced nature of our industry, it's refreshing to hear from someone who has navigated successfully and reminds us why it's an exciting time, no matter your age.

It's Never Been a Better Time to Be A Creative

Are you a Gen-X-er?

If so, then you remember the "Don Draper way" of pitching creative ideas to the client. As a Creative Director, you show up to a meeting and tell a compelling story to get a client to buy the idea. Not so much anymore...

Today's philosophy is to create as many ideas as possible. Then those ideas go into a system to be analyzed and tested in the marketplace and see which one(s) will fly.

That change has been radical and it's impacted the entire industry. Change can be difficult and scary but we have to remember all the positives that today's technology brings.

If you are (or if your agency has) an awesome creative who love creating stuff but feel guilty about not really knowing which idea will work...then this is the best time ever to be a creative! Not only do we get to generate as many ideas as possible, but we also get to put them into a system to be tested. That system is able to tell us which idea worked and with whom.

It's pretty ideal - the system always needs new creation in order to test and improve. So keep creating!

Why You're Out of Excuses Not to Create

1. There's plenty of material.

Today, creatives get to work directly with a ton of different people, from engineers and business people to artists and storytellers. Everyone comes together and mixes it all up to create an interesting and rich creative environment.

2. There's plenty of resources.

Let's not forget all the different mediums and platforms right at our fingertips. In recent times, a creative's job has expanded. You might be thinking of writing a book and you know that actually writing the book is just step #1 of like 20. But the amount of tools at our fingertips makes our expanding jobs easier... that's to technology and social media we can reach the masses at lightning speed.

No excuses... Now is an exciting time to be a creative!

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

Direct download: Creative_Agencies_Are_Out_of_Excuses.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you self-sabotaging your agency's sales? Do you lack trust or confidence in your team to deliver results? Worried they aren't going to live up to expectations and make you look bad? You probably have felt this way at one time or another. You might even be causing the problem and not realize it! Your agency is a reflection of you and it's natural to have these concerns. Once you're super honest and self-aware you can get out of your own way to grow your agency.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How niching down builds trust.
  • Avoiding 2 major pitfalls of growing an agency team.
  • 2 questions the guest has for Jason when she puts Swenk on the Spot

Today I chatted with Cat Howell, founder, and CEO of Eight Loop Social, a successful Facebook ads agency.  Cat faced some serious lows in the beginning and shares with us what she learned and how she overcame them to become a six-figure per month agency. Growing an agency can be hard, but you can make it even harder if you are self-sabotaging your agency sales... and you might not even realize you are doing it. As agency owners, we are all guilty of wanting or feeling that we need to "do it all". Cat tells us how to overcome that "do it all" mentality so you can learn to trust your team and grow your agency.

How Niching Down Builds Trust

When you are an agency that is trying to serve all types of clients, you aren't serving any type of client well. (The jack-of-all-trades is the master of none.) Trying to do everything means your agency team is constantly on a learning curve to a specific industry or service.

That constant learning curve can cost your agency:

  • Money
  • Resources
  • Accounts
  • Greatness

When you hone in on your agency's strengths it allows your team the ability to FOCUS. Pinpointing a niche - whether vertical, horizontal or both - provides the opportunity to save time, money, resources as well as gain clients and become great at one thing.

Once you pinpoint a niche, create SOP's around that particular funnel and get systemized so your agency team can be more efficient and effective. When you see your team running like a well-oiled machine, you'll gain trust and they'll feel empowered to do work that will grow the agency.

Avoiding 2 Major Pitfalls Of Growing an Agency Team

#1. DON'T borrow money to build your team.

It can be a vicious cycle... You're trying to win new business, but you don't have the money to hire staff. But then clients don't want to commit without you having enough staff in place. You might want to (or already have) taken out a large loan to build your team.

Here's how you can avoid this pitfall:

  • Have lead generation processes in place and be able to onboard new clients effectively.
  • Understand how to win clients and bring clients in under the right pricing.
  • Have a system for onboarding and training your team.
    • Minimize the amount of training that requires your time, personally.
    • While you're personally training, you're neglecting other important agency growth tasks.
    • This can lead to resentment and stunt agency's growth.

Don't expect new team members to just figure it out - that's a recipe for disaster.

#2. DON'T neglect your team during agency growth.

In times of fast growth, we tend to shift focus to onboarding clients quickly and lose sight of internal processes and systems such as properly training the agency team. This is a sure way to set them (and you) up for failure. Talk about self-sabotaging! Instead, here's what you can do:

  • Have a non-negotiable structure which includes proper training and processes in place so you can trust your team.
  • If you find yourself in a situation of too much, too fast and things are slipping through the cracks take a step back. Look at what's standing in the team's way of success.
    • Then STOP. Stop the funnel. No more calls. Focus on your team and train them.
    • Reset everyone on the right path in order to rebuild trust and confidence in your team.

Your team is your greatest asset. You need to trust your team and put them first. New agency business and growth can only follow when there is confidence in your team to deliver results on the services you're promising. When you lose confidence in your agency team it is natural to start pulling back and that is self-sabotaging agency sales while negatively impacting growth.

Swenk On The Spot

Today I tried something new on the podcast and let my guest, Cat, ask me two questions. It could be anything she wants, within appropriate reason (ha!) and I answered them on the spot.

1- Do you run background checks on contractors and full-time staff?

I run background checks, dig into social accounts, and check references on employees but not on contractors. I'm totally transparent about this policy with job candidates and I've found it filters out the shady ones.

2- What do you do if a client asks you for a grace period on your invoice?

No. Don't do it. You have to start by setting up expectations from the beginning of the client relationship. Clients start to get nervous if they don't see results as big or fast as they want to, and they want to put on the brakes. If this happens, remind them they hired you to achieve specific results and you will do it when allowed the proper time. In the meantime, they're still responsible for paying you on time.

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

 

Direct download: Are_You_Self-Sabotaging_Your_Agencys_Sales__Growth_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Looking for ways to generate more new agency business? Tired of watching your competition grow and want to set your agency apart from the pack? Now is the time to be a front runner with the cutting edge technology of chatbots. You can use chatbots to generate new business and as an add-on service for your clients. It's easier than you might think to build and use a chatbot. Chatbot technology helps you engage with your ideal prospects and keep the conversation going in order to convert them into a client.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why chatbots are better than other methods of prospecting.
  • #1 mistake agencies make using chatbots.
  • Should you add chatbot building as a service?
  • 2 easy steps to get start using chatbots.

Today I talked with Andrew Warner, Founder and CEO of Mixergy, a development resource for entrepreneurs. He's also the founder of Bot Academy. Andrew built his first company to over $30 million in sales and sold it. He started Mixergy to help business owners, by interviewing successful entrepreneurs and learning how they built their businesses. After learning about chatbots and eventually becoming an angel investor, he immediately knew chatbots were going to change the way we do business. He shares the potential that comes from using chatbots to generate new agency business.

Why Chatbots Are Better Than Other Methods of Prospecting

Email isn't working like it used to. Inboxes are flooded and we are learning that people love instant messaging or chats instead. People like to engage with communication apps.

Chatbots are the ideal tool to educate, build trust, and nurture a relationship from prospect-stage to client-stage.

For example....

Think about your Contact Page. People can come to it and ask a question... they want to know if you can help them. Then they have to wait for a response and that is it. That's the end of it. With a chatbot, there is potential for further engagement. A potential customer can ask questions while the chatbot is also garnering information. After the chatbot interaction, your agency can also followup and engage. A relationship is formed and can be nurtured over time.

The change can be as simple as moving from a form, which is transactional in nature, to a chatbot that is more of a relationship-builder.

A chatbot allows businesses to connect with their customers. Right now very few agencies are using chatbots, and even fewer are offering chatbot building as a service. Your agency can get in on this early-on.

#1 Mistake Agencies Make Using Chatbots

Don't try to have your chatbot do too much!

While it can be exciting to jump out of the gate with new ideas, remember chatbots are still relatively new to the receiver and you don't want too overwhelm them.

You can test my 'bot here. You'll see I only use the it to qualify the prospect and determine who I'm talking to by asking 2-3 questions. Then a live person jumps in to keep the conversation going.

Should You Add Chatbot Building As A Service?

In addition to using chatbots to generate new agency business, you might consider adding it as a service. Chatbot building might be a service to consider for bringing value-added to your clients.

Andrew says a basic chatbot takes just minutes to make. He suggesting building one to present to your clients and let them play with it.

Start by approaching your agency clients who already do email marketing well and show them how their current content would work with a 'bot. Be sure to do it in person or via video conference, so you can get real-time reactions. Since chatbots are in the early stages, creating this add-on for clients might set your agency apart from the competition.

2 Easy Steps To Get Started Using Chatbots

  1. Test out different chatbots.
    • You wouldn't start building a website without doing some research, so approach chatbot building the same way.
    • Check out the chatbot built specifically for this podcast, here.
  2. Create a fake chatbot and go from there.
    • Visit botlist.co to find a list of software for chatbot building.
    • Play with different tools to see what works for your agency and it's chatbot purposes.

If you build your chatbot right, your agency will be able to know exactly where the audience is coming from.

Generate leads for your agency by checking out Builtwith, to find out who's using chatbots. Then use an email service, like Mailshake to send out mass emails (that don't actually look like mass emails) as well as follow-ups, to start a chatbot conversation.

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you're a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

 

Direct download: 2_Ways_Chatbots_Can_Grow_Your_Digital_Agency_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

When is the right time to bring on freelancers or contractors? How can you stop doing everything yourself so you can grow your agency? If you're overwhelmed at the thought of building your agency team and nervous about how to find the right people, check this out. Great freelancers are out there. You can find and onboard them easier than you think! Learn some suggestions and easy tips to make freelancers work for you, so you can build your team and grow your agency.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • 2 reasons to bring on freelancers.
  • How to find & onboard freelancers.
  • #1 biggest mistake to avoid when using freelancers.
  • Why it's time to pay attention to the gig economy.

 

Today I chatted with Nathan Hirsch, founder and CEO of Freeeup.com, an optimized freelance marketplace. Freeeup.com vets and trains all potential candidates, so you don't have to. After running a successful e-commerce business, Nathan quickly felt the frustration of trying to find and hire reliable freelancers. He realized the need for a better way to source freelance help and from there, Freeeup.com was born. On the show today, he shares his expertise on how to hire and onboard freelancers faster in order to ensure mutual success.

 2 Reasons To Bring On Freelancers

It is very simple. If your agency work is taking up so much time that every other aspect of your life is suffering... it's probably time to outsource. Here's 2 reasons to look for freelancers:

  1. Hire to get your hours back
    • Make a list. Figure out everything you are doing for your agency on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.
    • Hand over the easiest stuff that doesn't have to be done by you.
  2. Turn your weaknesses into strengths.
    • Have a yearly review for yourself and figure out what you are not very good at.
    • Hire a freelancer who is an expert at it. Bring on freelancers who bring something to the table, that you may be lacking.

If you haven't yet, it's time to become self aware of where your hours are spent, and where your skill set lies. You'll see more rapid agency growth when you get really clear on where you're at and where your agency is headed.

How To Find & Onboard Reliable Freelancers

Finding freelancers can be a crap shoot. There are dozens of different platforms out there.

Your agency can try out Nathan's company freeeup.com and receive a $50 credit to try it out.

Nathan recommends creating a living training document... whether it's a video with screen share or step-by-step Word doc. It just need to be something your agency's freelancers can sit within the beginning to learn and ask questions. Be clear on processes and procedures, as well as expectations.

Sure, paying a freelancer for training time will cost your agency some non-billable hours but there are major benefits:

  • A training document takes less time away from you and your agency leadership team.
  • Questions will be answered before they are asked or before issues arise.
  • After training is complete, you can ask the freelancer questions and make sure they will be a good fit.
  • Any follow-up, one-on-one training will be easier and quicker, since the freelancer has already read through the training document.

Nathan's training document has grown to over 80 pages, but your agency just needs to start out with a one to two page outline. Appoint someone responsible for updating the document, with input from people in other roles. This will also make adding or replacing people much easier because everything will be living in the document.

#1 Biggest Mistake to Avoid When Using Freelancers

The biggest mistake Nathan sees agencies make is not setting expectations.

Spend the time up-front going through the specifics. Don't assume a project will take a certain amount of time - confirm it. Make sure you're clear on a due date and time (especially when working across different time zones!)

Make sure everything is in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. Follow-up and follow-through is key. So for example, your agency does remote meetings via phone call, then make sure to follow-up with an email reiterating what was discussed as assigning responsibilities. Your agency and your freelancers need to be 100% on the same page.

Here's the other BIG MISTAKES to avoid when working with freelancers.

It's Time To Pay Attention To The Gig Economy

The gig economy is growing fast! Did your know that in the next ten years, it's expected that over 50% of the workforce will be remote? So it's definitely time to start figuring out how your agency can incorporate the remote workforce.

You can get started by checking out a special offer from Nathan and Freeeup.com. He's offering my listeners a $50 credit when they create an account. Why not check out what Freeeup.com has to offer? Check out:  https://freeeup.com/jasonswenk/

Direct download: How_To_Find__Onboard_Reliable_Freelancers_for_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Want to grow your agency to 8-figure revenue? Thinking of growing your team but worried about the overhead? Hoping for a moment of clarity, where it'll all come together? Then it's time to put your foot on the gas and push through. Acquiring quick agency growth is achievable when you're focused. Find out how one agency owner got to $1 million in under 6 months and 8-figures in under 5 years!

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • A different agency structure.
  • 2 attributes for quick agency growth.
  • #1 thing to achieve constant agency growth.
  • The 8-figure revenue a-ha moment.
  • Overcoming the small agency hump.

Today I talked with Jake Baadsgaard, founder and CEO of Disruptive Advertising, an agency built on results-based relationships. Jake grew his agency to the $1 million mark, run-rate, in six months and was able to exceed 8-figure revenue in under five years. Today, Disruptive Advertising boasts over 100 employees and continues to grow. He shares some thoughts on agency growth, pivotal moments for his company and advice on how your agency can overcome that plateau and accelerate growth.

A Different Agency Structure

Jake's agency has an interesting structure. Disruptive separate out the account management from the execution. He brings in employee and continues the face-time with the client, to ensure the agency is moving in the right strategic direction for the client. He then provides a list of what needs to get done. This develops into the employee taking over the face-time and owning the relationship as well as the execution.

2 Attributes for Quick Agency Growth

Always be in a hurry. Jake always felt a need to be in a hurry and get things done. He attributes their quick agency growth to two things:

  1. Cash
    • Having a physical software that he could sell, Jake started with no debt.
    • Keeping his monthly expenses low, he didn't have to worry about making money the first two years.
    • Having cash on the table allows your agency to focus on growing.
    • Cash on hand can shave 2-3 years off what typical agencies will go through to achieve growth.
  2. Hustle
    • Network and get good at bringing in business and selling.
    • Build relationships to help build your agency and attract top talent.

#1 Thing To Achieve Constant Agency Growth

Don't give up ~ push through!

There are always bumps in the road. Jake thought about quitting all the time in the first couple of years, but he didn't. After successfully navigating some difficult relationships and figuring out the direction of the agency, he chose to push through.

There is no magic bullet. Don't quit today, quit tomorrow.

The 8-Figure Revenue "A-Ha Moment"?

There were different things that pointed Jake in the right direction, but his true "a-ha moment" came when he realized he was trying to make decisions before he needed to. This approach creates a lot of unnecessary pressure.

It comes down to this:  What is your agency's end game? Do you ultimately want to sell your agency?

Once you establish this decision, then you can build something exciting to come to work on everyday. It's all about clarity, vision and communicating direction.

--> See related articles to sell your agency.

How To Overcome the Small Agency Hump

It can be scary to bring on more overhead, knowing that it will cut into revenue. If your agency has multiple partners, that brings the challenge of keeping everyone satisfied while still having room left to grow the financials.

Here's the thing. Sometimes you have to take a hit on your bottom line, by investing in sales and marketing, to feed the pipeline and encourage growth.

It's important to recognize when it's time to move past founder-based selling. To do that, carve out a percentage of revenue to invest in a sales team and marketing team. That's the best way to grow.

Always be building your agency pipeline... and, don't take your foot off the gas.

Don't forget the value that comes from collaboration with other agencies. Strategic partners can be lead to major growth.

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you're a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

Direct download: How_to_Grow_Your_Agency_to_an_8-Figure_Revenue_in_Under_5_Years.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you looking for better ways grow your agency? Tired of the status quo? Missing easy targets and low hanging fruit opportunities? Then take some lessons from an agency owner who's doubled revenue every year for five consecutive years and growing at a crazy fast rate!

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Finding your agency's share of the market.
  • What to expect in your agency's first year.
  • 4 simple actions to grow your agency.
  • 3 easy ways to maintain agency growth.

Today I chatted with Tony Delmercado, co-founder and CEO of Hawke Media. With only five years in business, Hawke Media has grown from a 5 person team to 100+ employees and has doubled it's revenue every year, looking to hit the $18 million mark this year. With that kind of success, I couldn't wait to pick Tony's brain on how he was able to start and maintain growth of his agency. From his start to present day, Tony walks us through some simple tips and strategies he found successful.

Finding Your Agency's Share of the Market

Tony says you need to find a hole in the market and respond to demand.

The catalyst for starting a company, whether you want to grow a brand or do marketing well, you need to either:

  • Build a team in-house
    • Multitude of challenges
  • Work with an agency
    • cost prohibitive - straight up expensive

Unfortunately there isn't a good intermediate option. So Tony and his business partner turned to qualified friends that checked off necessary boxes. As their clients wanted more things, they built their agency's internal competency and hired more people with the necessary talents and skill sets.

What To Expect Your Agency's First Year

Work, work, work...and more work. Lots of hours and hard work. In the beginning, your agency says "yes" to everything whether it's speaking engagements, meetings, committees, public appearances, anything and everything to get your agency name and brand out there.

Hawke Media, didn't take on investors or debt, they simply bootstrapped on the cash coming in. In that first year, because of this model, they were very judicious with their spending.

Tony says his personal mantra is three-fold:

  1. Get shit done.
  2. Learn quickly.
  3. Be cool.

He and his partner hustled hard that first year, living this mantra every single day. That's why it was easy to realize these needed to be their agency's core values. Since then, they have hired their team around these values.

Your agency NEEDS to nail down and define core values and build a company culture.

One of the best things about being an entrepreneur, is that you get to pick who you want to work with. Your agency needs to make sure that it picks well, that it gets the right people, good people, to keep a good cultural vibe.

As an agency owner, Tony says, "it will never all be done". Your agency to-do list will always and continuously grow. Stop worrying about checking off the last box, instead start prioritizing and allocate  time to the important stuff.

Your agency, but also you, will need to learn how to say "no" to those things that aren't necessary or can be better managed by a team member. Get rid of time-sucks, like recurring meetings that aren't necessary.

4 Simple Actions To Grow Your Agency

Growth might not be easy, but it can be made simpler when you model after someone who's doing it the right way....

  1. Use a CRM and some form of follow-up or reminder.
    • You don't have to use an expensive service
    • There are cheap options out there.
  2. Create some basic email automation
    • Have a form to capture information.
    • Develop a system to drop prospects into funnels for your agency.
  3. Use Google retargeting or GDN
    • Don't underestimate the abilities of this service.
    • This is still a powerful tool when done correctly.
  4. Pick up the phone.
    • A call back or follow-up phone call, keeps lines of communication open.
    • Build solid personal relationships while your competition is automating everything.

PRO TIP: Don't forget about the low-hanging fruit. These are old or stale leads right at your fingertips. Create a system for routinely checking those out, too!

3 Easy Ways To Maintain Agency Growth

  1. Don't become complacent.
  2. Always look to do better and to improve.
  3. Be aggressive in marketing your agency.

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you're a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

 

Direct download: How_One_Agency_Doubled_Revenue_Every_Year_for_5_Years.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you looking to get your agency revenue to the $1 million mark? Already at $1 million and struggle to get beyond it? What got you where you are now, isn't what's going to get your agency to the next level. Have you lost focus or just don't know where to look? Then it's time your agency explored the power of content and started making investments into it's future.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Growing your agency from the first million to the next million.
  • One growth strategy often forgotten.
  • 5 simple tips to help scale your agency.
  • #1 Technology your agency should be using.
  • How to find your agency's focus.
  • Know yourself and build a solid team.

Today I got to talk to John Hall, CEO and co-founder of the content marketing agency, Influence & Co. He's also a keynote speaker and author of the best-selling business book, Top of Mind. Considered a content marketing guru, John shares with us tips and tricks he has learned along the way, as he grew his company from just 2 people in 2007 up to 130 employees in 2018. Implementing John's strategies will help scale your agency and position you as a thought leader and influencer in your agency's niche.

Growing Your Agency from the First Million to the Next Million

The biggest challenge your agency will face when scaling is taking on clients and employees you shouldn't.

To avoid this classic pitfall, use these two tips in your agency process:

  1. Take time to hire the right person. Having the right people in the right seats will make all the difference.
  2. Really look at potential clients and ask "why?". Make sure you are only taking on the right clients for the right reasons.

Having processes in place is important when scaling.

One Growth Strategy Often Forgotten

Simply put -- CONTENT

Content is more than a  lead generator or marketing vehicle, content is the core of the company. Content allows your agency to share it's culture, industry trends, leadership, vision, and more.

Your agency wants to generate content in "themes" to outline the environment and to attract people, whether it's employees or clients. You can't just say the words in an interview or pitch, you need to be continually communicating it as a company. This allows potential clients or employees to see what your agency is all about and makes them want to work with you.

Define your agency's core values and live them out.

5 Simple Tips To Help Scale Your Agency

  1. Amplify your agency's services on your website with an excellent user experience.
  2. Make an investment in what your agency does.
  3. Utilize technology that can help your agency scale by saving you time.
  4. Create efficient practice that will lead to higher margins.
  5. Leverage content across the company by multi-purposing it.

Differentiation can be hard, but it is important. Don't be like the competition - stand apart from them!

#1 Technology Your Agency Should Be Using

Technology needs depend on the agency, but to have the absolute best tech for your agency's needs, you need to create it. Creating your own technology allows customization towards your agency's needs. If there is a problem you're experiencing, and you can create a tech tool as the solution, that's the ultimate benefit.

How To Find Your Agency's Focus

Where is the biggest opportunity for your agency?

It's not about what is most exciting, it's about what is going to drive longterm success. What are the things that your agency can say no to and what are those things that your agency needs to say yes to?

Owners typically jump quickly and this can lead to a loss of respect from your team, as well as opportunity costs. Don't put your agency in a position where it is no longer doing productive work, because you're too busy "chasing butterflies."

Know Yourself And Build A Solid Team

Who you get into business with and how you treat the people around you is key! Your agency needs trust at the core. John and his two partners are in sync with another and he attributes it to total transparency. Although I usually say: "you either know the bad partner or you are the bad partner,"  I've seen some really successful agency partnerships too. However, having an out clause and operating agreement in place can keep things from getting messy if someone wants out.

And most importantly, your personal brand is important. You are a vehicle to create opportunities for your agency and you need to invest in it and in yourself.

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you're a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

Direct download: How_Do_You_Build_a_Digital_Agency_to_1_Million_Level_and_Beyond_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Thinking of vlogging but doesn't know where to start? Don't think you're any good on camera? Afraid you don't have the right equipment? With these simple tips and tricks you'll be able to  get started right away. You will become an authority in the marketplace and build trust with your ideal clients so you can win more new agency business.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • #1 reason your agency should be vlogging.
  • More benefits of vlogging.
  • Why video views and subscriber numbers don't matter.
  • How to get started and what equipment you need.

Today I got to talk with Cody Wanner, daily vlogger and co-founder of the video production company CAP Collective. After watching and being inspired by another vlogger, Cody thought about creating his own daily video series. Over a year of thinking about it, he finally decided to just do it and it's been a major game-changer for his video agency. With Cody's simple tips and easy style, he shares how your agency can start vlogging immediately.

#1 Reason Your Agency Should Be Vlogging

It Builds Trust!

Just getting a face in front of people, in front of possible clients and talking to them is building trust. Consistent face time will build trust between your agency and your audience and trust is everything. People buy from people they trust. And, with that trust comes authority.

Trust + authority = more new agency business

More Benefits Of Vlogging

Sharing content via a vlog will help position your agency as an expert in the marketplace. Your audience will look to your agency for answers. There's a serious ROI when you vlog on a consistent basis.

For Cody, his vlog has also become a constant follow-up tool to help keep his agency top of mind. His consistent (daily) video content serves as a reminder to his prospects, and works SO MUCH BETTER than a "checking in" phone call.

Why Video Views And Subscriber Numbers Don't Matter

Cody has a cool movement he's pushing right now, which he's calling No Small Creator  #nosmallcreator... he says there is no such thing as a small creator or small subscriber.

He believes anyone who's creating content is a big deal. There's no such thing as insignificant content because you never know who is going to be inspired by something you say or create... your content could be influencing the next Oprah. You never know who your viewers are, who they're sharing with or who they're affecting on a daily basis. Influence them to be great and let the domino affect happen.

How To Get Started and What Equipment You Need

Your agency needs to commit to uploading content every day - even if it's not great. Even if it's downright bad. Once you commit to that, you can trust the process and yourself.

Once you start vlogging, it is in your entrepreneurial nature to make things better. If your agency just starts uploading content, the process will take you to reviewing, analyzing and improving on it because that is what you do.

Perfection is the enemy of good. Your agency's vlogging is probably not going to be perfect at first but upload it anyway. As my friend Ian Garlic says,

What Type Of Equipment Your Agency Needs To Start Vlogging

Check your pocket.

The best equipment is the equipment you already have... meaning, don't let equipment be an excuse that keeps you from vlogging!

If all the video equipment you have is a smart phone - use it. Vlogging on a smart phone can be just as successful as with expensive equipment. As you get more experience and more comfortable you may want to buy other equipment, but it's not a necessity.

And if you really want to know more about equipment, here's a video about what I use now. Just note - I started by using my iPhone and iPad! :)

Vlogging is not about the technical quality of the footage, it's about the story you tell. The way you document growth or change and how your agency is helping others. You can check out my evolution as a vlogger... and seriously, it was pretty rough when I first started. This was my first vlog episode and it's pretty terrible!

Cody and I agree; just start by documenting what your agency is doing and get it out there. Find a main focus and go do it. And be sure to make it your own - modeling other vloggers is ok as long as your end product is genuine to who you are.

 

Looking for a Payroll and HR Solution for your Agency?

Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you're a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits and HR easy for small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team.

For a limited time, Gusto is offering a deal to Smart Agency Master Class listeners. Check out Gusto.com/agency for 3-months FREE once you run your first payroll with them.

 

Direct download: How_Vlogging_Builds_Trust_and_Authority_to_Win_More_Agency_Clients.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you great at creating but seem to fail with execution? Do you have a hard time delegating tasks and get lost in the day-to-day of working in your agency instead of on it? Then it's time your agency makes a marketing plan for your agency! When you get your team on board and delegate to a lead in charge of the execution, you are freed up to create the longterm vision. Learn how to step away from being the Agency Owner and become the Agency CEO.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Simple lessons to grow and scale a business.
  • 3 easy mindset shifts to grow your agency.
  • How to stay consistent and treat your agency like a client.
  • 3 buckets to have in your agency's marketing plan.
  • The importance of implementing your agency's core values.

Today I got to chat with Derek Champagne, founder and CEO of the full-service marketing agency, The Artist Evolution and author of Don't Buy A Duck: Stop Wasting Money & Only Do Marketing That Works!. With a mantra of "without fail," a vision and some failures in his pocket, Derek built his current agency to a 30+ employee business. Today he shares with us the importance of having a vision and marketing plan for your agency. In order to grow and scale you need to make sure you're treating your agency with the same consistency and level of attention you give your clients.

Simple Lessons to Grow & Scale a Business

Derek says some of his failures have taught him some great (yet, simple) lessons about business growth and scaling. These are key to transitioning from Agency Owner to Agency CEO:

  1. You need to have the right people around you to grow effectively and get the advice you need.
  2. You don't need to hold your cards so close. Collaborating with other agencies can bring great success.
  3. You need to have a longterm focus and vision for your agency.

3 Easy Mindset Shifts To Grow Your Agency

  1. Have a vision and set goals to achieve it. Don't get lost in the weeds of the day-to-day grind.
  2. Let your agency team understand your clear vision:
    • How can a team get behind you if they don't know the plan or where the agency is going?
    • Communicate your agency marketing plan and vision.
    • Empower your agency employees to make decisions that help achieve your vision.
  3. Know what you're good at and where/when you need to delegate.
    • Get out of your own way and don't be the smartest person in the room.

How To Stay Consistent & Treat Your Agency Like a Client

Much like your clients, your agency's growth is also dependent upon having a marketing plan. If you haven't niched down yet, it's time to do that. Know who you are, who you target and what you're best at - then go after it.

If your marketing isn't going according to plan... maybe you don't really have a "plan" after all?!

Having a marketing plan is crucial. Map it out. Not just you, bring in your agency team. Whiteboard it out. Hold a strategy session and answer "what does our marketing plan look like and why." The "why" is important - your team needs to know and understand why you're doing what you're doing. Don't just do it because you think you should, knowing the why makes it much more effective.

3 Buckets To Have In Your Agency's Marketing Plan

A marketing plan isn't just for clients.... it is critical to have an agency marketing plan, too.

  1. Customer Acquisition
    • How is your agency gaining new clients?
    • How are marketing dollars spent?
  2. Client Retention
    • What is your agency doing to retain existing customers?
    • What are you doing to cross-pollinate services and build partnerships?
  3. Agency Reputation
    • What is your agency doing to stay top of mind and tip of tongue?
    • How are you present and interacting with those in your community and client base?

Also... assign, don't assume! Along with a marketing plan your agency needs to also know who is doing what. Be sure that every marketing plan has a point person who is responsible for the execution and results.

Being able to present a solid marketing plan to your agency clients will help build trust.

Creativity and strategy are great, however they sit on the cutting room floor if you don't have implementation and execution figured out!

Implementing Your Core Values

Go back and take a look at your agency's core values. Are you implementing them consistently?

If you're doing core values right, you should be able to focus on building the team, holding the vision and gaining resources towards that vision. When you make this things a priority for your agency, then the client-side will come together. Your focus should be on finding and keeping a solid team. You can always get more clients, but it will cost you more to rebuild a quality team.

Ready to Discover the Best Agency Strategies Working Today?

[Invitation-Only Group for Digital Agency Owners]

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed a process that will 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 agency thought 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, here's how Agency University™ Mastermind will HELP. Request your personal invite here.

 

Direct download: Why_You_Need_to_Create__Execute_a_Marketing_Plan_for_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

It's tough making decisions as an agency owner! From your first hire to knowing when it's time to sell. Here's advice from an 11-year agency owner veteran on some of the key attributes to look for in your agency's first hire as well as some simple considerations to help you know if it's time to sell your agency.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • The #1 thing to look for in a first hire.
  • Is it time to sell your agency?

Today I chatted up Kathleen Booth, VP of Marketing at Impact, a resource for inbound marketers, and host of the Inbound Success podcast. After growing her own digital marketing agency for 11 years, from startup to a HubSpot platinum level partner, Kathleen read the signs that it was time to move on and sold her agency in a merger. She shares with us how she made big agency leadership decisions, from her first hire to selling the agency.

The #1 Thing To Look For In a First Hire

A burning, insatiable desire to learn and figure things out! The digital marketing landscape is ever-evolving and your agency needs people who will evolve with it.

Your agency wants people with a good marketing presence. Remember, this could be a person with any number of marketing-type backgrounds, so don't limit your interview process by job title.

Kathleen suggests hiring someone who can take tasks off your plate. (In most cases, I advise hiring a Project Manager - here's why.) As an owner, you need to be able to focus on strategy and building your agency, not on tedious tasks that could be handed off. Be sure your candidate can manage a client, so you don't have to. It's time for you to step away from managing agency clients and details.

Clients value that to which they don't have easy access. Meaning, if you're accessible all the time, clients won't value your time and they won't pay as much for it. Keep your interactions consistent, but spread out.

Time To Consider Selling Your Digital Agency?

Are you still having fun? You need to love what you're doing. Kathleen was having fun for the first 10 years, but the 11th year was draining.

Is your agency scalable to the level you want to be? In Kathleen's case her agency's growth was tied to being an early Hubspot partner. But as their program grew her agency's lead generation suffered.

If you answer "no" to either of these questions it might be time to consider selling.

Kathleen was faced with either pushing ahead, doubling down to grow and scale OR selling her agency and moving on.

If you're thinking of selling, use your network and start putting out feelers. It was easier for Kathleen to make her decision, because she found an interested party.

Be self aware. Don't let money and ego get in the way of making the right decisions for you and your agency. The best entrepreneurs know when it's time to walk away and can do so fast.

Ready to Discover the Best Agency Strategies Working Today?

[Invitation-Only Group for Digital Agency Owners]

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed a process that will 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 agency thought 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 advisor in the context of motivated peers. If you want to GROW fast and smart, here's how Agency University™ Mastermind will HELP. Request your personal invite here.

Direct download: How_to_Make_the_Big_Decisions_to_Hire_Scale__Even_Sell_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Thinking about doing a podcast, but don't know where to start? Overwhelmed by the prep work like booking guests and developing questions? Here's some insight, helpful tips and actionable strategies to have your agency stay top-of-mind and build relationships.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why your agency needs to start a podcast.
  • How to get over the first hurdle.
  • 2 easy steps to secure great podcast guests.
  • #1 tip to develop strong podcast questions.
  • Tips and tools to build relationships after the episode airs.

Today I talked with social dynamics expert, Jordan Harbinger. As host of the podcast, The Jordan Harbinger Show and contributor to the website Advanced Human Dynamics, Jordan uses his great questioning skills to delve into strategies, techniques and habits of some of the most successful people on the planet. He's had the opportunity to interview huge guests like Larry King, a CIA agency, a military General, even Shaquille O'Neal! Jordan understands the influence of podcasting and shares some great nuggets of knowledge on how to start and maintain a successful podcast to keep your agency top of mind.

Why Your Agency Needs A Podcast

A podcast is a great way because:

  1. It is an outreach tool to create relationships.
  2. Your ideal audience is searching for your content.

Check out this related interview with Pat Flynn on Starting a Podcast

How To Get Over The First Hurdle

The #1 objection to starting a podcast is usually that people hate the sound of their own voice. Jordan says there is a simple way to get past this -- edit your own show.

Having to listen to your own agency show over and over will provide you with some great insight on things to work on:

  • What filler words are being used too much (such as "like" or "ummm").
  • How to be dynamic in your tone and inflection.
  • How to use a microphone and test/track sound quality.

Once these are corrected, listening to your own voice won't be so bad.

2 Easy Steps To Secure Great Podcast Guests

To get great guests you need to simply:

  1. ASK!
  2. Be persistent.

People are more accessible than you might think. Just be brave and reach out because you'll never know if you don't ask :)

Utilize and create network connections that your agency can leverage to bring on podcast guests.

Make a list of who you want. Create a system to reach out, and be sure you doesn't just focus on one guest at a time. Reach out to multiple potential guests and follow-up consistently until you get a yes.

#1 Tip To Develop Strong Podcast Questions

Be well prepared! Out-prepare everyone else.

Do the research on the guest, read their book, watch their videos, listen to their podcast... learn about them before the podcast.

Keep the questions insightful and don't focus on being super witty or clever.

Your goal for a successful interview should be that you run out of time, not material. Set up the questioning to last double the amount of time as the actual podcast. This will allow for editing to really hone in on the most valuable nuggets of information and get rid of all the "fluff" that is not of vital interest to your listeners.

Tips And Tools To Build Relationships After the Episode Airs

Follow-up, reach out, stay in touch. Just because someone was a guest, doesn't automatically make them a solid contact. Make an effort to continue communication to build the relationship. Jordan's website Advanced Human Dynamics offers a free mini-course on things like:

  • How to keep in touch
  • reengaging contacts
  • reach-out text drills and exercises

These tips require very little investment of your time, but can drastically impact your relationships with guests, sponsors, and potential clients. It is worth the time! Visit the website here and click on Level 1.

There are also 2 great tools for your agency to use:

  1. Boomerang
    • A useful tool that works with Gmail and allows you to control when emails are sent and received as well as schedule reminders.
  2. Contactually
    • A CRM program that can organize and prioritize contacts and communication with them. Set reminders and store information so remember to touch base with potential guests, pasts guests, etc. at a predetermined increment of time (30 days, 45 days, etc.)

Ready to Discover the Best Agency Strategies Working Today?

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed a process that will 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 agency thought 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 advisor in the context of motivated peers. If you want to GROW fast and smart, here's how Agency University™ Mastermind will HELP.  Request your personal invite here...

Direct download: How_to_Build_Relationships_and_Keep_Your_Agency_Top_of_Mind.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wondering how to adapt to all the Facebook changes? Upset your Facebook ads aren't getting the ROI you expect? Wondering if Facebook is a dying platform for lead generation? Facebook is evolving with the demands of it's users and we know Facebook isn't going away anytime soon. Learn from an expert on the best way to position your Facebook ads as well as utilizing Facebook live and videos to build relationships.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Is Facebook a dying platform for lead gen?
  • How to use Facebook ads to generate leads.
  • 3 strategies for using video on Facebook.

Today I chatted with Curt Maly, CBDO at Black Box Social Media, speaker and primary voice of Social Media Ad Genius. With over 8 years experience working with Facebook Ads, Curt shares some insight on the current Facebook landscape and how your agency can adapt. With the focus being on building relationships, Curt shares some tips on Facebook Live and videos that will help your agency achieve a like, know and trust factor that is so important for building a sales pipeline.

Is Facebook a Dying Platform for Lead Gen?

The current news media surrounding Europe's GDPR has definitely scared some from using Facebook, but this won't necessarily last.

Curt says Facebook ads definitely aren't for every industry. You and/or your clients might perform better on another platform. For example, Instagram is showing success as it emerges as a more popular platform. However since it's photo-centric you need to make sure you're smart about relevant content to build your agency brand on Instagram.

If we look at the history of Facebook it can help see where the future is going. It's similar to the early years of Google Adwords, when they weren't focusing on customer service. Facebook has struggled with privacy issues as well as customer service. (Like, how hard is it to get a Facebook contact on the phone?!) But Facebook is stepping up their game by working with agencies and focusing on customer support. So, they're coming around... and Facebook is far from "dying" :)

How To Use Facebook Ads to Generate Leads

Your agency needs to build a human relationship and that's going to cost more in ad dollars. It is time to focus on content vs. relevance.

Facebook is currently the largest publishing platform. And, if your agency want to use the largest publishing platform to generate leads, then you need to publish really good content and follow-up accordingly!

A current Facebook analysis says that clicks and/or click-thru rates don't necessarily mean someone is going to increase brand awareness or intent to purchase. This goes against the common ideology, so the industry needs an ideology change. We need to adapt to change, social media platforms are still a bit of the wild wild west.

Facebook is ever changing their algorithms. Right now Facebook is looking at the engagement on business profile pages and their posts. Facebook is dinging business for "click bait" if people are clicking your link to a landing page and then come right back to Facebook. This is why using Facebook for organic reach with direct response won't work if your agency isn't playing in the game of Facebook. A successful business plan includes engaging posts and relationship building, not just running ads. You won't have scalable traffic or a predictable pipeline if you're just focusing on ROI and not the personal relationships.

3 Strategies for Your Agency's Videos on Facebook

Video allows a viewer to relate to you, get to know you and build a rapport with you. This is a much better business building strategy than a "good hook" in your ad copy.

When looking to create a video, Curt says he likes to think of structure of infomercials. That's right, infomercials. Infomercials last the test of time and follow a basic formula: every 3-5 minutes, there is a call-to-action. Many of us only give a CTA at the end of the video. But for those who don't want all the way through, they miss out on the their next steps.

There are three types of videos your agency can use:

  1. Short one minute video. Use this video to address a cold audience.
    • Generally, this video is to build awareness.
    • Provide 2-3 bullet points and then a call-to-action.
    • Hint: Instagram can support a 1-minute video too, so why not multipurpose?
  2. Facebook Live. Use this type of video to help people get to know you and your agency brand.
    • Facebook Live videos can help grow engagement to score points with Facebook.
    • As much as 80-90% of views are from Facebook live replays.
    • Apply infomercial structure and split your video into 4 equal parts with a CTA after each part.
    • In the first 30 seconds give them: what you're going to cover or why they should watch and a CTA or where to find out more info.
  3. Long, 10-15 minute videos. Use these videos to provide great value to the existing followers. as well as to announce or promote something new.
    • Apply infomercial structure and split your video into 4 equal parts with a CTA after each part.
    • You can have more than one CTA and take them multiple places, such as a landing page, an early bird list, or even point them to "like" and "follow" you on Facebook.

Ready to Discover the Best Agency Strategies Working Today?

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed a process that will 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 agency thought 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 advisor in the context of motivated peers. If you want to GROW fast and smart, here's how Agency University™ Mastermind will HELP.

Direct download: Is_Facebook_Ads_ROI_Dying__How_to_Adapt_and_Generate_Leads.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wondering how you can get PR and media coverage a for your agency? Afraid your agency isn't newsworthy? Then it's time to learn some simple tips to get your agency the media coverage it deserve so you can generate interest and leads organically, plus amplify your brand. Today's show guest is talking ways to jump-start your agency's publicity.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • 3 tips to achieve media coverage.
  • The #1 thing to do for a media interview.

Today I chatted with Emily Richett, founder and owner of Richett Media. In 2013, Emily left her job as a TV news reporter to start a new venture and naturally leaned towards publicity. Over the past five years her agency has grown from a solo act, to now 5 full time employees. Emily shares some great advice on working with different media outlets and how to start getting your agency in the news.

3 Tips To Achieve Media Coverage

Your agency is newsworthy, even if you don't think so. There are always ways to be newsworthy if you understands what the media outlets are targeting, what they care about and the natural ebb and flow of the news cycle. Emily shared 3 big tips for getting noticed by the media:

  1. Make it easy for the media to want to cover your story.
    • The media is going to cover seasonal and holiday trends, based on their annual calendar. If you can connect the dots for them and align with a season or time-sensitive current trend you're more likely to get noticed.
    • Create the hook for the media. Often times reporters are too busy, so if you do some of the leg work for them it's a much easier sell.
  2. Tie into what the media outlet's viewers care about.
    • People care about people (not businesses) and their impact on society.
    • Outline how your agency is making an impact, whether on a local or national level.
  3. Utilize social media as a media lead generation tool.
    • On Twitter search #journalrequest, where journalists request information and quotes for stories.
    • On LinkedIn, use Dux Soup as a lead generation tool to leverage for media lead generation.
    • Check out other resources, like H.A.R.O. ("Help a Reporter Out")

The #1 Thing To Do For a Media Interview

Prepare in advance!

You want to leverage this media opportunity, so you MUST do your homework in order to make your media coverage great.

  • See if  you can find out what questions they will ask. A great way to do this is to study past interviews.
  • Create a list of questions you want to be asked in order to touch on the important topics; provide the list to the media outlet.
  • If your agency will be in print, provide professional pictures and /or headshots.
  • If you agency will be on TV, shoot a hi-res B-roll and provide it.

Remember to be yourself. Find your agency's voice.

[clickToTweet tweet="Fifty-percent of a great PR opportunity is getting the press. The other 50% is leveraging the media exposure." quote="Fifty-percent of a great PR opportunity is getting the press. The other 50% is leveraging the media exposure."]

Always have a call to action with media coverage. Make sure the viewers can find your agency or your client.

For Emily's free entrepreneur's publicity guide, click here.

 

Ready to Discover the Best Agency Strategies Working Today?

[Invitation-Only Group for Digital Agency Owners]

Most agency owners struggle to scale. We’ve developed a process that will 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 agency thought 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 advisor in the context of motivated peers. If you want to GROW fast and smart, here's how Agency University™ Mastermind will HELP. Request your personal invite here.

Direct download: How_To_Get_Media_Coverage_And_Amplify_Your_Agency_Brand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

You know video marketing is where it's at right now, but are you struggling to get started? Do you want to generate leads using video but not sure how to get the right viewers? Wondering how to grow a YouTube channel and leverage it for your new business pipeline? It's time to learn how to utilize YouTube to grow new relationships, make connections, and build your authority.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • #1 thing to grow your YouTube Channel.
  • How to leverage YouTube as a search engine.
  • How is YouTube ranking videos?
  • 3 steps to a successful video.

Today I chatted with Sean Cannell, YouTuber at Think Media and Video Influencers, international speaker and coach. Sean spends his time helping entrepreneurs build their influence through online video. Today he is providing us with insight and tips on building a YouTube channel and generating leads with video.

#1 Thing To Grow Your YouTube Channel

Clarity -  your agency needs to know:

  • Where your agency wants to go.
  • Who your agency is, in the marketplace.
  • Who your agency wants to reach.

To find this clarity, answer these 2 questions before posting videos:

1- Who is your target audience?

  • Remember, broader is not better
  • The riches are in the niches (yes, really!).

2- What is your value proposition to the target audience?

  • What consistent value are you going to deliver?
    • Articulated messages to get viewers to think: "Wow, this is exactly what I am looking for!"
  • How often will your agency deliver content?
    • Start out with at least a weekly video, then increase from there.

How To Leverage YouTube As A Search Engine

YouTube is less crowded than Google, as a search engine, so there is a lot of white space and opportunity.

Just like with Google, the search bar in YouTube will predict phrases, based on common searches. So position your agency videos on the other side of people's questions. This will set your agency up to get "views while you snooze."

How do you do this? It's simple:

Take the top 20-30 FAQ's your agency gets and make a video answering each question. Position the videos to leverage search by embedding them in your agency blog or linking to your agency website. Create a library within YouTube, for easy linking access. By pushing people to YouTube, this encourages 'likes' and subscribers.

Video content is powerful. It builds the important Know, Like, and Trust Factor. And Sean says it is 53% more likely to rank on the first page of Google (than written content is). Video is most people's preferred content format, which leads to a higher level of engagement and can help grow your agency!

How is YouTube Ranking Videos?

Minutes Matter Most!

Originally YouTube would track views as a success metric. But, as click-bait started popping up, YouTube started to see the benefit of measuring minutes. YouTube learned that just because viewers where clicking on a video, it didn't mean that they were actually viewing the content. Impressions don't necessarily mean impact. However, a minute of someone's time, is a big deal. So, when you go into the metrics on your agency's YouTube channel, you will see analytics of minutes, views, and subscribers.

YouTube values these metrics because, first and foremost, it is a business and makes money from advertising. So, they reward people and businesses that create lengthy content that get viewers to linger longer on their platform.

3 Steps To A Successful Video

Step 1- The beginning. There are 3 parts to the beginning and should all work in unison.

  1. Title - this is what gets viewers to stop scrolling. Keep it straightforward. Having numbers is powerful, so consider things like: 5 Tips, 3 Reasons, etc.
  2. Thumbnail - this is what gets viewers to click on your video. The biggest mistake Sean sees is thumbnails with too much text.
  3. Hook - this is what gets viewers to stay and watch. The first couple minutes of your video should make them want to keep watching. Another great tactic is to include a teaser for a "bonus tip" at the end, to ensure longevity.

Remember: online interaction is linear and progressive.

Step 2 - the middle. Videos should be as long as they need to be, but as short as possible.

Data has shown that the ideal video length is between 7-16 minutes. A video within this length performs 50% better than videos shorter or longer. But remember, minutes matter, so you want to get viewers to watch to the end. (That's where those "bonus" teasers become helpful.)

If your agency wants to use "i" cards, you will not be penalized if you link away. On the other hand, YouTube will note the end of the viewing session. So be sure this use is intentional and strategic. Don't link away in every video.

If viewers watch your videos to the end and increase the amount of minutes in your channel's metrics, YouTube will help grow your channel by suggesting it more often.

YouTube analyzes the ultimate impact of what your agency's channel is putting out, but also understands that some viewing is programmatic (like with a TV network). It will not penalize if one "show" performs better than another.

YouTube also rewards for an additional metric. This one is hard to achieve, but...

When you get over 50% of your audience watching to the end of your videos (the "end" is considered to be anything >80%), YouTube will provide an algorithmic advantage to your channel.

Step 3 - the end. Every video should include a call-to-action that keeps the viewer engaged. 

There are 2 ways you can approach your CTA.

  1. Create a call-to-action, such as a lead magnet, that takes the viewer off platform but grows your agency email list.
  2. Utilize YouTube's free end cards to create clickable buttons that link to other relevant videos. Hint:  Create 2 clickable buttons... the first birst button links the viewer to a relevant video of your choice and the second button uses a back-end feature that lets YouTube decide what video the viewer should watch next based on viewing habits and relevancy.

To learn more strategies, check out Sean's Tube Influence masterclass replay.

Related:  https://jasonswenk.com/video-marketing/

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

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've created an innovative agency owner mastermind called Agency University.

Agency University is a program which provides 1-on-1 mentorship, coupled with the ongoing group 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_Your_Agency_Can_Leverage_YouTube__Generate_Leads_With_Videos.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you ready for GDPR? Wondering how it will affect your agency and/or your clients? Even if you’re not in Europe, you are required to be in compliance with these new data privacy regulations. In this episode, learn what you need to do to protect your agency and stay in compliance with GDPR.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • What is GDPR?
  • What does GDPR mean for agencies?
  • 3 Steps to GDPR compliance.
  • What happens if your agency is non-compliant?

I’m super excited to talk to today’s guest, Suzanne Dibble the small business law expert based in The UK. She’s got 20+ years experience and has worked some big time entrepreneurs, like Richard Branson. She has been living, breathing, and consuming everything related to GDPR and how it affect small businesses for the past 3 months. Suzanne is on the show today to explain the ins and outs of GDPR so you can keep your agency in compliance and continue to generate leads despite stricter guidelines.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is a set of rules imposed by the European Union (EU) who seek to create a harmonized data protection law framework across the EU and aims to give back to data subjects, control of their personal data. GDPR imposes strict rules on businesses hosting and processing this type of data, anywhere in the world.

Suzanne says GDPR comes from a place of good intention, and isn’t just a new set of regulations to make our lives miserable. The good news is that there’s just a few steps to take that will keep you compliant by May 25, 2018. And the really good news is that there’s no enforcement agency waiting to haul you off to prison for non-compliance. :)

What Does GDPR Mean for Agencies?

Basically, this will affect your lead magnets and automated marketing campaign sequences. It’s all about transparency. Under these regulations, when people opt-in for something (like a lead magnet) that’s the only thing you can send them. If you want to continue to use their email address for marketing purposes, this will require additional consent.

3 Steps to GDPR Compliance

Compliance does not have to be an overwhelming process. Suzanne top lined the three steps we can take to make sure we stay compliant:

1. Decide whether GDPR is relevant to your agency.

It affects businesses who either (A.) process data of people in the EU with the intent to offer goods or services, and (B.) businesses monitoring the behaviors of those in the EU. If you’ve answered yes to either of these criteria, then you need to send a re-consent email to your lists to those recipients in the EU.

2. Determine if you have lawful grounds of processing data.

There are 6 criteria that fall under the definition of being lawful under GDPR, though most small businesses will fall under one of the first four.

  1. Consent. The real issue is obtaining re-consent after May 25. With that, you have lawful grounds.
  2. Contractual agreement. If you’re already under contract with a client, you’re all set and new consent is not required.
  3. Compliance with the law. Record keeping or maintaining data on clients, employees, and contractors is consensual and therefore no new consent is required.
  4. Legitimate interest. Many of us will fall into this category, where you’re marketing to someone with legitimate interest in your service you can lawfully process their data with consent to do so.
  5. Vital interest.
  6. Public interest.

3. Write a new privacy policy and a cookies notice.

Under GDPR you must be completely transparent about what you data you’re holding and why. Additionally, you must rationalize what you’re doing with any data, where it comes from, where you’re transferring it to, etc. GDPR has 13 points that must be addressed in your privacy policy so be sure you’re fully covered.

Cookies are considered an extension of personal data. Therefore, businesses are also required to be transparent with their use and handling of cookie data with a cookies policy.

What Happens If You’re Non-Compliant?

As Suzanne explained, there’s no governing agency that’s enforcing these regulations or hunting down offenders. Basically, it just all comes down to a risk analysis.

The real risks are to your brand reputation. Breaking compliance may upset people who are knowledgable on the subject. They may choose to take direct action and make a legal claim. And even if they don’t take action, you risk losing their trust and respect.

There are over 250 pages to the Articles and Recitals of GDPR. If you are unsure whether this relates to you, or you’d like to dig in deeper you can learn more in Suzanne’s exclusive GDPR for Online Entrepreneurs Facebook group. She also has a ton of information on her website here: SuzanneDibble.com/GDPR

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

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've created an innovative agency owner mastermind called Agency University.

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

 

Direct download: What_Digital_Agencies_Need_to_Know_About_GDPR.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

When you think of Artificial Intelligence, do you think of sci-fi movies? Do you wonder or worry if AI can take over some of the data driven work your agency does for it's client? Don't let Artificial Intelligence scare you! AI can be your competitive advantage when you learn how it really works and what it can do for your agency growth.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • What exactly is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
  • The two types of AI.
  • How your agency can embrace AI and use it to grow.

Today I got to talk with Paul Roetzer, author, CEO and founder of the inbound marketing agency, PR20/20. He is also founder of the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute. Paul got his start in PR, but started questioning the agency model, specifically billable hours. His goal was to figure out ways to achieve economics of scale and profitability, so he set up shop with PR20/20 and created standardized services with set prices. Paul's interest in AI first piqued when he watched the Jeopardy episode featuring IBM's Watson supercomputer which beat out the humans. He has been researching and writing about AI, ever since.

What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

It's easy to go to images of science fiction movies and Will Smith, when thinking of Artificial Intelligence (AI), but that's not accurate. AI is the science of teaching machines to be smart.

It's more like when Netflix suggests another show or movie for you to watch after learning what other shows/movies you like. The machine's abilities revolve around very narrow tasks that are data driven, such as what time to send an e-mail, what content to write about, A/B testing of landing pages and predicting conversions, to name a few. They excel at things that are hard or time consuming for humans to do.

When used within data driven areas, AI helps your agency make better decisions.

[clickToTweet tweet="'80% of what we do as an agency will be intelligently automated within five years.' Says @paulroetzer, found of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute" quote="80% of what we do as an agency will be intelligently automated within five years. ~ Paul Roetzer, found of Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute"]

The Two Types Of AI

  1. Machine Learning - This is the AI that we are talking about. This is where your agency uses machines to solve data driven problems with superhuman skill.
  2. Deep Learning - This is the AI that falls in the sci-fi realm. This involves getting machines to think like a human brain works, by processing through neurons. Facebook has a hand in this type of AI with the facial recognition feature they're developing.

How Your Agency Can Embrace AI

Don't let it overwhelm you, AI is happening.

It's time that your agency starts learning and understanding he capabilities of AI. Then look for ways you can apply it to your business and use it to grow.

For example, Paul says you can utilize AI when automating e-mails. If your agency wants to send emails at a certain time, does it take into account different time zones or the receiver's opening habits? AI can make adjustments to automated sending habits, based on predicative information. As the data comes in from the email blasts, the AI tool gets smarter on it's own and will make the necessary adjustments, based on it's learning. If your receiver usually opens emails at local time of 9AM, there's no sense in sending the email at 3AM, right?

Another great application to use AI for your agency growth is with chatbots. You can let chatbot AI engage with your prospects until a human can take over.

AI is currently all around us, it is present in much of the technology we use every day.

So be aware. Don't define your agency on one little thing. Now that you can see this coming, it's time to pivot, use AI to support and build upon the systems your agency already has so you can grow easier and faster.

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

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've created an innovative agency owner mastermind called Agency University.

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

Direct download: Is_Artificial_Intelligence_a_Threat_to_Your_Marketing_Agency_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you looking to become the authority in your agency’s niche? Writing a book can have a tremendous affect on your business by helping you build authority. You can also use your book to start conversations with potential clients and generate new agency business. Check out this simple strategy that is getting one digital agency owner some amazing results.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Who has time to write a book?
  • 3 easy steps to writing a book.
  • 4 tips for using your book to generate new business.

I had the opportunity to chat with Marty McDonald, co-founder and CEO of the full-service social media marketing agency, Bad Rhino. Marty has also authored the book, Great Beer Is NOT Enough. With over 12 years industry experience Marty found his agency's niche at a speaking engagement, where he realized the craft beer industry was underserved in the marketing arena. After building relationships (and a craft beer brand himself which he used as a testing ground), Marty found that he had acquired a ton of information. He decided to use this information to build authority within the niche by simply writing a book. On today's show he shares how he tackled this seemingly daunting task and how he uses it for lead generation, and relationship building. (P.S. It's not as daunting as you might think!)

Who Has Time To Write A Book?

The quick answer is, you do. (Yes, you!)

Does your agency already produce e-books, and you think that’s good enough? It’s not.

Using an e-book as a lead magnet is crap. No one digests them and they are easily overlooked or avoided. BUT an actual book, that a potential client can hold in their hands, that is something. It brings with it a sense of credibility and authority that no e-book can give you or your agency.

3 Easy Steps to Writing A Book

The process can be broken down in a few easy steps:

  1. The longest part of the process comes in the front end, answering lots of questions in order to acquire enough content. Marty did his on audio, that he broke up into two hour chunks.
  2. If writing isn’t your thing, then get yourself a ghostwriter. Determine what size of book you are looking to create and hand over the audio with an outline to your writer.
  3. Edit the ghostwriter's copy making sure it matches your style and voice after each chapter, until your book is complete.

4 Tips for Using Your Book To Generate New Business

  1. Know your niche. When you find potential clients, send them a copy of your book. Do your mailings in short, little bursts.
  2. Do your research. Learn about the company your agency is going after and let them know you did your homework. Marty will place his business card in the chapter where he wants the potential client to start reading. The chapter he selects is based on the information he gathers beforehand.
  3. Build relationships. Use your book to start a conversation and be sure to add a personal touch. Marty includes a Bad Rhino branded thank you card in the book, with a hand written note. He also very rarely sends a book out if he isn’t familiar with the targeted prospect.
  4. Be reachable. Consider including your cell phone number on your business cards, if you don’t already, so book recipients can shoot you a text, if they are more comfortable. (Because even a text message can open up a conversation - and that's all you need :) )

These three easy tips has netted Marty with an approx. 70% response rate!

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_Writing_a_Book_Can_Generate_New_Agency_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wondering how you can use Instagram to generate awareness and build your agency's brand? Look, not all social media platforms are the same, so don't treat them all the same. Are you struggling to build a following and find Instagram success for your agency brand? Then it's probably because you're committing some of the biggest Instagram mistakes. In this episode, learn some tips and tricks on how to utilize Instagram to build a culture and drive new business for your agency.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • The #1 mistake agencies make with social media.
  • 2 Strategies for Finding Success on Instagram.
  • Rules for using direct message on Instagram.
  • What to post and share for Instagram success.

Today I chatted with Sue B. Zimmerman, entrepreneur and Instagram expert who consults others on upping their Instagram game. With 18 businesses under her belt and having taught social media, Sue has unlocked and embraced the power of Instagram for your marketing agency.  Today she shares with us how your agency can have success in order to start building a culture that cultivates relationships, with both prospective clients and potential employees.

The #1 Mistake Agencies Make With Social Media

Every platform is NOT the same and should not be treated as such. Your agency should be choosing platforms that serve your audience and which you enjoy engaging in.

Social media, as a tool, should not be a "post and dash," scenario. For success with social platforms, your agency must hang out, show up and engage.

Automating posts might seem efficient, but it can be your biggest downfall. Interactions need to be personal in order to start building relationships.

2 Strategies for Finding Success On Instagram

The magic of Instagram are the micro-communities that exist within. When you invest the time to seek out these micro-communities you'll find more and better opportunities to engage.

1- Search Hashtags

Use the explore tab (magnifying glass icon) and type in a word or phrase of relevance for your prospective clients.

Tap on 'People' to see who is using that word and view the profiles of people your agency or client would want to do business with. Check out their posting habits and what hashtags are they using. Find out what they want, not what your agency thinks they want!

2- Follow Hashtags

When you find hashtags that resonate, you should be following them so they show up in your agency newsfeed. Tap on the hashtag and then hit 'Follow.' Event or conference hashtags are important because it opens a door to connecting ahead of time. You can then use Instagram's direct message to make personal connections prior to an event.

Rules for Using Direct Message On Instagram

Direct message used to have a bad reputation with people thinking it was spammy, but not anymore. Instagram direct message is an intimate way to connect to people. But, it shouldn't be the first place you go.

First, engage. Tap 'Photos' and then like photos and comment on photos. Be sure that your agency is interacting with relevant content you enjoy. Start the conversation in the feed. Then, if you've earned trust and can provide something of value, then engage via direct message. Direct message is where you can get personal by sharing links or sending a video. Add a personal message and, most important, no automated messages!

There are two ways your agency can share a video via direct message:

  1. On the Left - Record a video message using the camera icon, from 8 seconds up to 1 minute. This video can be viewed once or twice and then it goes away
  2. On the Right- Upload a video using the picture icon, from a camera roll. The person receiving the video can then download the video to their camera roll.

What To Post and Share For Instagram Success

If your agency has built a solid reputation on another platform and is an authority or thought leader, then you have more freedom on what you can share. There still needs to be consistency and the content should align with your core values. The benefit is your agency can reference the account, and what to expect from the content, from the other platforms, where you have credibility.

If your agency wants to have Instagram success and doesn't have another platform where you're crushing it, then you will need to start with a more polished look and feel. Build the account around content that showcases your agency and it's point of differentiation. Think of buckets and put what people say about your agency into separate buckets, like:  customer service, your processes, and even your culture or humor. Then show all of this on Instagram so followers can get a taste of who you are and what you do.

Remember, the photos don't have to be a literal match to the description. Get creative. The images you share need to capture attention and be relevant to the description. And don't forget about the description, if relevant, it can be treated as a micro-blog.

Use the hashtag search function for agencies, and check out what other businesses are doing, get inspiration. Figure out what is and isn't working or what your agency likes or doesn't like. The search function is a great place to do market research. Remember, there is SEO on Instagram, in your bio, so be sure you are using "agency" in your name. Your agency can use its Instagram account to build a culture.

If your agency has a physical location, this is an advantage. Be sure you're using geotags in your stories and Instagram posts. Use geolocations can score up to 72% more engagement... and social media success is all about engagement.

Speaking of engagement, hit me on on Instagram @jswenk

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've created an innovative agency owner mastermind called Agency University.

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

 

Direct download: Using_Instagram_to_Generate_Awareness_and_Build_Your_Agencys_Brand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wondering how you can use LinkedIn to generate new business? Are you sending out generic connection requests that lead with a pitch? Disappointed that you're not getting the results you expected? LinkedIn can be an amazing platform for capturing the attention of your ideal clients if you do it right. Here's what your agency is probably doing wrong and the three simple steps to turn-it around right away.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 step strategy to LinkedIn success.
  • One simple lead generation hack for gaining new prospects.

Today I chatted with Dennis Brown founder of Ask Dennis Brown, a LinkedIn marketing and social selling agency. As a serial entrepreneur, Dennis was admittedly a social media naysayer. While starting his third company he decided to try out LinkedIn and with some persistence, he landed a 6-figure client and became a believer. Today he shares his simple and successful strategy for LinkedIn that you can implement for marketing agency immediately.

3 Step Strategy To LinkedIn Success

The most important thing with any social media strategy is to have a system and be consistent with it. Dennis’s strategy is simple: The 3 C’s: Create, Connect and Convert.

1- CREATE

First create a profile or customer avatar for the perfect prospect. Then, create a compelling LinkedIn profile. Don’t treat this like a resume, instead this should be built like a personal or agency branding page. Follow these 5 steps for creating your agency's LinkedIn profile.

2- CONNECT

Use your agency’s customer avatar to find new clients and then use the advanced search options in LinkedIn. Research, research, research. Compile sales intelligence, such as personal information, what are their ping points, where do they get their information? Use this sales intelligence to create a customized connection request and make it personal. The key here, is in customizing this connection request, which can double or triple the response rate vs. a blind, automated connection request.

3- CONVERT

Do not think of this as converting to a sale but instead convert them into a fan. Get the prospective clients to engage with you, either through content your agency is publishing or through LinkedIn messenger. Put together hyper-focused content and remember, this is not a sales pitch. Your agency wants to create content relative to the prospect, or directly related to that market, so use language the client speaks, and provide information they care about. Think of it in the lines of a drip sequence, without the automation. Lastly, provide value and offer to connect your prospect with someone of value to them and their business. Leverage your agency’s network, while ultimately giving value to both parties.

Remember: It's not about you, it’s about them.

One Simple Lead Gen Hack For Gaining New Prospects

Do you find when you ask for referrals they don't usually pan out? This can be for one of two reason. Either the client is uncomfortable because you put them on the spot. Or, they are not ready to start referring your agency because you haven't proved yourself yet. That's OK because referrals are not scalable! But, if you have a premium LinkedIn account try this simple lead generation hack.

With a premium account:

Take a look at your clients LinkedIn connections and see who they know, that you wish you knew :) Search for decision makers of other brands, based on what your agency is looking for and who you hope to work with.

Next, create a list of prospects you're interested in and share the list with your client. Then, ask for an intro/referral. By doing the work for them and bringing them specifics it increases your  chances of your client passing along the referral or helping make the connection.

Mine for the connections --> Create relevance --> Ask for the introduction

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_Steps_For_Using_LinkedIn_To_Turn_Connections_Into_Agency_Clients.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you avoiding third party apps for social media posting? Do you want a better, faster, and easier way to schedule your social media marketing? Do you feel automated social post scheduling negatively affects your reach? Then it’s time to hear some surprising and encouraging results from the guy who knows all the ins and outs. Don’t stop scheduling, reposting, and automating until you hear all about it.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • Should your agency repost your content marketing?
  • 3 tests on the big 3: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Does automating your posts hurt your agency’s reach?

Today I chatted with Emeric Ernoult, Co-founder and CEO of Agorapulse, an international social media management software company, serving over 3500 clients around the world. With over 17 years experience working within communities and social media, as well as SAAS, Emeric brings interesting data and insight into how we should be managing our agency’s and/or clients social media accounts.

Should Your Agency Repost Your Content Marketing?

That is the question, and you’re going to hear arguments on both sides of the discussion. Some say reposting content makes sense and keeps a more recent engagement. Some say it is totally worthless and not the point of social media. So what’s the right answer? There isn’t one.

But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t tests that can be done and data to be had, so that’s what Emeric and his team at Agorapulse did, they tested.

3 Tests On The Big 3 Social Media Platforms

Facebook

Test: Repeat a specific piece of content, 7 times across a 6-7 week period.

Findings: The level of engagement on the posts in weeks 6 and 7, were the same as the posts in weeks 1, 2 and 3.

Twitter

Test: Analyze 3 months worth of data on a Twitter user, who has an extensive schedule of tweeting every 15 minutes and repeating those tweets, every 4 days.

Findings: The average number of impressions, the average number for engagement and the average amount of link links were very steady, so much so, that if you look at the data over the span of a year, there was no decrease and the variations being minimal.

LinkedIn

Test: Take an insightful post, written by Emeric, and repeat the content at the exact same time every 5 days.

Findings: The amount of engagement was small at first, but over the course of weeks, the numbers for engagement would spike. The post could go from 139 clicks on day 2, to 1995 clicks on day 5. This just reinforced that you never know when someone will bump into your agency’s post on LinkedIn.

Do Third Party Posting Applications Hurt Your Agency’s Reach?

After getting feedback from a group of social media managers, and having 80% of them confirm their fears of utilizing third party vendors for posting, it was time to run another test:

Emeric decided to run a test through the Social Media Lab by Agorapulse, with the end result being that a third party management application does NOT affect reach. You can read about his findings here and here.

Knowing that kind of information definitely helps put a mind at ease and allows you to start exploring a third party application, like Agorapulse, to help simplify your social media posting needs and so much more.

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: Do_Third_Party_Posting_Apps_Impact_Your_Agencys_Social_Media_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Wondering how you can use Instagram to drum up new business? Want to break through social media clutter and build your agency’s brand and authority? Then it’s not too late to get on the Instagram train. This is one simple, easy inbound marketing strategy you can start implementing right now to build your community and fill your new business pipeline.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • One easy approach to niching down.
  • Can Instagram work for marketing agencies?
  • A simple Instagram content formula.

Today I chatted with Steve Larosiliere, founder and president of the non-profit, Stoked, as well as founder and owner of SawmillBusiness.com, a super-niched marketing agency. With an extremely focused industry specialization, Steve has been able to become the authority in the portable sawmill, wood and lumber industry. He has an easy tactic to find the niche for his agency and a simple Instagram strategy to build a community that comes to him for their marketing needs. Steve shares tips with us on building authority, community and brand through Instagram.

One Easy Approach to Niching Down

We’ve discussed niches before and we’ll probably discuss this again. Does your agency have a niche? Do you know why you need one? Is your agency holding out, because you just don’t know where to start?

Steve has an easy approach:

  • Think about an industry that is important to you or your family/friends - something you can relate to.
    • Pick a niche that people are fanatically obsessed with.
    • Encourage great user-generated content.
  • Start calling people, lots of people, in that industry, CEO’s, marketing directors, etc
  • Gather information about the #1 problem they are facing.
  • Build your agency’s business around solving that problem.
  • Stay super focused on the industry - learn their special nuances, terms of the trade, etc.

Think of your agency as the media outlet for this specific field. Make it your agency’s business to promote, celebrate and highlight that industry.

Can Instagram Work for Marketing Agencies?

YES! Building a brand takes a lot of work. Be patient.

Your agency can build a lot of authority on Instagram. Combine different mediums and cross-promote, such as use posts Instagram to support your podcast. Use that to filter down into the niche and supplement with back channel conversations, either through direct message in order to find out how you can help people. Use DM to build relationships and trust.

Share the best work, the most beautiful things. Repost and use the hashtags your audience is using so they can find you. This will help build a community and a brand.

3 Simple Steps to Growing Instagram Followers

  1. To encourage growth, connect with influencers in the niche. Go to a certain set of hashtags and start engaging with the top followed.
  2. Put out goodwill content first and foremost. Engage, converse, share/repost.
  3. Occasionally drive traffic to a landing page. Grow your lists with a lead magnet to capture the leads you’re generating. Put out an offer that solves a problem. A low-ticket foot in the door offer works best.

Remember, with Instagram you’re creating a story to share. Create memories. Highlight the things that mean something.

Be where your agency’s clients are. Put out good stuff. Be innovative. Don’t compare your agency to what others are doing. Instead build upon what you think is right and create your own path to success.

Check out Steve’s on Instagram at @stevelaros

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_Build_Authority__Generate_New_Business_With_Instagram.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Ready for your agency sales to takeoff? Want to drive traffic, generate leads, and create new opportunities that will grow and scale your agency? Digital marketing agency guru Neil Patel shares his #1 outbound strategy for scoring the clients you want to work with.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 Steps to growing new agency business.
  • One big growth challenge and advice to overcome it.

Neil Patel is a serial entrepreneur focused on helping businesses grow through digital marketing. He is well-known in the digital marketing space as an author, speaker, and agency co-founder at Neil Patel. I’m honored to have him as a guest on the show so he can share his experience as a startup agency owner. Today Neil shares some really valuable tips on getting scrappy so you can scale your agency.

Beginning as a self-taught marketer at the age of 16, Neil has become one of the best digital marketing. Like many of us, he’s an accidental agency owner who knew how to do something cool that people are willing to pay for, and turned it into a business. In Neil’s case, he “something cool” is SEO.

3 Steps to Grow New Agency Business

#1- Make your hit list.

Make a list of your ideal clients and be specific with who you want to work with. Who can you help that is within your niche and area of expertise? Then use a source like Crunchbase to find out the CEO, investors and decision-makers.

#2 - Do targeted research.

Use industry resources to know what they’re spending on the services you provide. Neil suggested tools such as: Google keyword planner, SEMrush, and his own UberSuggest to research spend amounts.

#3 - Reach out.

Once you’ve done the research on your prospect, then make contact. Neil says it’s important not to sell services, but instead sell a solution. To do this, explain what they’re doing wrong, what could be done better and how you would fix it. I know it’s hard, but go old school and PICK. UP. THE. PHONE. Cold calling as an outbound strategy can be a total game changer.

Advice for Digital Agency Owners

It’s not easy to grow an agency. If you’re willing to do the grind, great. If not, you’re not going to do well.” ~ Neil Patel

It’s all about the hard work and the hustle. I always tell agency owners that if you’re building an agency just to create a job for yourself, you’ll struggle the entire time. You’ve got to be passionate about the agency space, the niche you’re in and the clients you’re helping. That’s the only way you’ll succeed and thrive.

Neil says his biggest challenge in the beginning was knowing how to scale with a team. He felt the entire hiring and training process was completely trial and error. In hindsight he would advise his old self to hire people who know how to fill their role instead of training up.

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: 1_Outbound_Strategy_To_Grow_Your_Digital_Agency_Like_Neil_Patel.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you worried about your digital agency's competition? Don't be! Instead focus that energy on building your agency brand and improving your authority. Learn how to become a major influencer, so you can eliminate the competition and develop collaborative relationships with them instead.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • Which type of agency owner are you?
  • 4 benefits of building your agency’s authority.
  • 3 things you should be doing to increase your agency’s authority.
  • Why you need to stop competing and start collaborating.

Today I talked with Josh Elledge, consumer expert, speaker and Founder/CEO of his PR program Up My Influence. He understood the importance of the media and harnessed that to $6 million in revenue for his other startup venture, Savings Angel, while spending less than $500 in advertising. He talked with me about some tips and insight to upping your influencer game so your agency can build its brand and authority in the your niche.

Which Type of Agency Owner Are You?

  • Artists... These are the agency owners who love to solve problems and create solutions.
  • Leader/Manager... These are the agency owners who love the operations of business. They have an ability to lead people.
  • True Entrepreneur... These are the agency owners who love venture capital and money. They love the ups and downs of owning a business.

To find out what type of agency owner you are, Josh recommends this simple litmus test inspired by Tony Robbins:

Ask yourself, if you had all the money you needed and you had to pick something to do with your agency/business, what would your gravitate toward?

Nearly 80-85% of people will gravitate toward Artist, but it is good to have that Leader/Manager and Entrepreneurial characteristic within your agency.

4 Benefits of Increasing Your Agency’s Authority

  1. Improves your agency’s conversion rate.
  2. Decreases the amount of time your clients are in the sales pipeline.
  3. Attracts more people/clients to the top of the sales funnel.
  4. Builds trust quicker with clients.

3 Things You Should Be Doing To Increase Your Agency’s Authority

  1. Be helpful on the internet to up your searchability. Blog, do podcasts, have a social media presence, and get involved. Clients will search your agency to gauge its relevance and status in the industry.
  2. Get active on Twitter and LinkedIn. It is most important to build up your agency’s position in the industry. Do it organically (don’t buy followers). Having a limited social media footprint can affect your agency’s image in the the eyes of prospective clients. Vanity metrics are important, so you need followers as social proof.
  3. Build an impressive website. Make it look amazing - even though you're really busy with client work. It needs to be impactful in the first 3 seconds and indicates your agency is professional.

According to Josh, the most valuable currency for agency owners is authority. If you aren’t sure where your agency stands, Google yourself and gauge it.

Stop Competing and Start Collaborating

In the competition game, you’ll never win. Your agency can’t be all things to all clients and getting OK with that is healthy.

Focus on you. When you’re busy focusing on the competition, you’re not focused on your agency’s strength and growth. Concentrate on making your business, team and clients shine without giving a second thought to the competition.

You don’t need to add additional agency services to grow. Ask yourself: What’s the purpose of your services? Who is your agency trying to help? 

Then, once you know what your agency is all about and have become the authority in that niche you are in a great position to collaborate with agencies also in that space.

Partner with other agencies who are strong in areas your agency doesn’t cover, to make your services appear more valuable. Find collaborators who offer complimentary services and become strategic partners.

When you learn to collaborate, you stop the competition. As you work with agencies, ask if you can refer them. When you build up those contacts, you become very resourceful and clients love that!

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.

Related:  Using Influencer Marketing to Win New Agency Clients

Direct download: How_to_Up_Your_Influencer_Game_and_Grow_Your_Agency_Brand.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Is your employee training process non-existent or too cumbersome? Do you want your team, contractors and clients to understand the fundamentals of what makes your agency unique? Then don’t overlook the power of a solid training process! With these three easy steps you can start onboarding your digital agency’s new hires and provide them with a consistent set of experiences and expectations on how you want to work with them.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Helping your new hires with systemized onboarding.
  • 3 easy steps to build your agency’s training process.
  • Measuring the success of your agency’s training process.

Today I chatted with Tom Kulzer, CEO and founder of AWeber, the successful email marketing platform agency he started over 20 years ago. Tom has built his business to over 100 employees and has helped over 100,000 clients.He is a well-respect expert in building a strong business with core values that are ingrained in every employee. Today he shares three quick tips for building your agency’s employee training process so you can grow.

Helping Your New Hires By Onboarding

Making that first hire, or tenth hire, or beyond, can be scary but it’s totally doable!

Implementing a solid onboarding process is important to get your new hire(s) acclimated from day 1. This is a way to get everyone on the same page with the value your agency delivers to people.

And, since AWeber is an email platform guess what they use for onboarding new hires? That right - a sequence of welcome emails with bite-sized nuggets of information, placed in the right order and sent at the right time.

Tom also has all of his new hires participate in a two-week training program. The focus is mainly on customer service but it also allows new employees to understand the fundamentals of what makes AWeber unique. It’s similar to the training methods of Zappos.com who’s known and globally recognized for their company culture and core values.

3 Easy Steps to Build Your Agency’s Training Process

1. Identify your agency's biggest problem.

You need to figure out where your agency has hang-ups or issues most regularly. Think of a checklist, like airplane pilots have their preflight check. What would need to be on your agency checklist, so everything runs smoothly?

2. Come up with the training around the identified problem.

When you figure out your agency’s biggest trip-ups, start documenting a process on how to avoid tripping over them again. It can be as simple as a Word document, or whatever internal tool your agency uses. Your agency just needs to start somewhere. You can’t change anything if you don’t start somewhere. Then as you gain time and experience, layer on more expertise.

3. Create “bite size” content that is given slowly, over a period of time.

A new employee isn’t going to read a one hundred page manual, and even if they do, how much will they really retain? You want to break down processes into easily digestible nuggets of information. Then feed them this information over a period of time, be it 2 weeks or 6 months, just NOT all at once. This “small and slow” method is more likely to be read, retained, and allow your agency employees to grow from it.

Also, you can use this type of onboarding for your agency’s clients as well.

Is Your Training Process Successful?

Your agency will need to look at each job function separately. Different roles will have a different measurement for success.

Use internal metrics to develop a quality score. Then have your agency team leaders review calls, emails, conversions, quality assurance, etc. and actually assign a grade. As you track this information and see how the grades change over time. Wherever you see improvement needed, then you know where there may be holes in your training and you can adjust accordingly.

Assessment areas could include:

  • Customer Service - Consider product knowledge and customer interactions
  • Engineers - Escape defects found through quality assurance.
  • Marketing - Conversions, success of split-test launches, etc.

Remember, measuring the success of your agency’s training process is not a one-size fits all approach.

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_Build_Your_Agency_s_Employee_Training_Process.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Do you lack the knowledge on how to grow and scale your digital agency? Overwhelmed by not knowing what role to hire first? Afraid to niche down, and afraid what might happen if you don't? You're not alone! Learn how to tackle these very important tasks in order to grow and scale your digital agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Overcoming common challenges of starting an agency.
  • Hiring based on your agency’s needs.
  • Why and how to choose your agency’s niche.
  • Benefits of an agency mastermind.

On today’s show, I talked with Jeremiah Smith, President and CEO of Simple Tiger, a digital agency which focuses on SEO for SAAS clients. With over 12 years of SEO experience, Jeremiah has watched Simple Tiger go through many changes and has had to face the difficult decisions we all face with our agencies. He shares some of his big challenges and decisions with us and some guidance on how he knew, it was time to act. He is, admittedly, still working on some aspects, so don’t beat yourself up if your agency has some tough calls to make. Let’s just get your agency to a place, where you start making the right calls.

Overcoming Common Challenges Starting Your Own Agency

Jeremiah shared his two main challenges starting Simple Tiger and what you can do to overcome or avoid them...

1- Starting out as self-taught SEO consultant and then moving on to build an agency was difficult. It’s tough going from a “lone wolf” freelancer to building a team. It was a transition that took time and has grown the agency because of smart hiring choices.

2- It can be hard to separating your personal life from your business. When you work for yourself you can spend your money on what you want. When you start a business, this isn’t the case. It’s important to be careful and keep business income and expenses separate, particularly in regards to taxes. (You can even check out this podcast with Jason Blumer CPAs.)

Hiring Based On Your Agency’s Needs

Understanding what your agency’s needs are, will then point you in the direction of who your agency needs to hire and when.

In most cases, you will hear consultants recommend hiring a sales team first. (Although I tell my clients to hire a Project Manager first!)

However, Jeremiah’s main role is sales, and the sales role is his baby. He says SEO sales can get scammy and shady, so selling it in a truthful manner is the most important thing. He wants his agency to be seen with integrity and that starts with sales.

That’s why Jeremiah’s first hire was someone who could produce the work he was selling. Hiring the right people can be the difference between feeling like you’re a prisoner to your agency, or enjoying running your agency.

Why and How to Choose Your Agency’s Niche

There are many benefits of niching down. Jeremiah says he finally did it because:

  1. Your agency’s marketing gets easier.
  2. You will attract more of other types of businesses.

The beauty is you can still say ‘yes’ and service clients outside your niche if you choose. But, your marketing is targeted at just one specific audience. Instead of casting a wide net, you’re getting really specific.

Picking a horizontal niche should be based on your background and pretty easy. With Jeremiah, SEO was a no-brainer. Selecting a vertical niche can prove more difficult and can even be terrifying.

What got Jeremiah thinking was a client who couldn’t identify their target market and instead said “we service everyone.” It made him start looking inwardly at his own agency.

When you specialize in a particular niche, you become an authority in that segment of business. By becoming a member of my Agency University Jeremiah learned the value in declaring a niche.

He starting by asking himself these 3 questions:

  1. Who are my agency’s most profitable clients?
  2. Which clients were an easy sell, they just get you?
  3. Who do I love working with?

Benefits of an Agency Mastermind

Speaking of Agency University…. :) Jeremiah felt like he knew a lot about agencies and how they operate, so he was apprehensive to join Agency University. However, by participating in our mentorship program he realized he was making things harder and more complex than they needed to be. And, he realized he had a lack of focus.

He says he learned some real game changing strategies that helped his agency grow and scale. And hey, that’s why I do this - so it’s a win-win.

What’s Agency University All About?

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_-_Simple_Tiger.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Want to build your agency’s authority in your niche? How about a content marketing strategy that delivers high return with little effort? Then adopting this combo blogging/podcasting strategy could be the shift to get quality clicks, organic backlinks and make your agency’s service offering more attractive to your ideal clients.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 7 benefits of being a podcast guest.
  • The blogging strategy your agency needs to implement.
  • 7 easy steps to building a blog strategy calendar.
  • A bonus lead gen strategy.

Today I talked with Phil Singleton, founder and CEO at Kansas City Web Design & SEO and co-author of SEO for Growth. With over a decade of experience, Phil has a passion for SEO and has learned the need to include it into a holistic marketing plan to help his clients move the needle. Phil has implemented a really interesting strategy for personal branding and authority campaigns for his clients and today he shares how your agency can do it too, in order to build authority and attract the right clients.

7 Benefits of Being a Podcast Guest

  1. Get exposure and quality backlinks on someone else’s website in a niche.
  2. Be perceived as an expert in the niche because they have been contracted by someone else to speak on a particular topic.
  3. Get exposed to someone else’s trusted audience.
  4. Podcast show notes are all about your agency.
  5. Interviews build your agency’s brand (or the owner’s personal brand) and authority.
  6. Receive organically earned backlinks that Google loves.
  7. Do a 20-30 minute phone interview and the host does all the work.

The Blogging Strategy Your Agency Needs to Implement

If your agency doesn’t have a steady stream of content marketing, then it is time to start making some adjustments. Guest blogging is getting spammy and harder to do, with all the competition out there. It’s not bringing your agency the quality clicks you need.

That’s where Phil’s Personal Branding and Authority Campaigns Strategy comes into play.

Blogging is still a cornerstone of inbound marketing, it’s benefits are:

  • Growing out your agency’s website organically.
  • Targeting long tail keywords.
  • Feed your social media (with proper setup).

But blogging isn’t going to work if it’s one-off guest posts that stand alone. That’s why your agency needs to build a blogging strategy around a content calendar and set it up as steps. Ultimately, this should tie in with doing podcast interviews. With all moving parts working together your agency can truly reap all the benefits listed above.

7 Easy Steps to Building a Blog Strategy Calendar

  1. Create your agency blogs in a batch of 10-15.
  2. Create the blog posts so they can be stitched together into an ebook.
  3. Utilize the ebook as a call-to-action on your agency’s website.
  4. Spin the ebook to Kindle on Amazon.
  5. Having an Amazon presence gives the agency/owner the new title of "author."
  6. Utilize the author page on Amazon to feed your RSS, which will get your agency’s blog posted on the author page.
  7.  Use this author status to start a podcast guest campaign now that you’re viewed as an authority in your niche market.

You don’t want to use your ebook as a lead generation source. Instead, use it as a branding exercise and let it snowball from there.

Building a blog strategy calendar will help your agency avoid the dreaded “SEO fatigue.” You know it…. It’s that 3 to 6 month period where clients start to panic, because they aren’t seeing results fast enough.

Providing clients with a set strategy that can reach twelve months out, helps set the tone for allowing enough time for results to come. Your agency is also is providing the bonus of a nice, shiny author page which feeds into client egos and makes them happy.

A Bonus Lead Gen Strategy

Do you have multiple clients in a niche market? You can use those existing clients to pull in more clients, by teaming them up.

Phil says, approach your current clients about authoring a book on their specific niche market. Maybe each client would write a chapter to cover their specialty and they could invite others in the industry (your potential clients) to participate with their specialty and write additional chapters.

Then utilize a platform like Amazon and Createspace to publish a physical book for you and your clients to promote. Then, throw a launch party where your agency can work on relationships and building a referral channel for future projects. It’s a win for your existing clients, a win for your potential clients and a win for you!

Related:

https://jasonswenk.com/lead-generation/

https://jasonswenk.com/bs-best-practices/

Direct download: How_to_Build_Your_Agency_s_Authority_By_Going_Beyond_the_Blog.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Want to know the key to finding and retaining the best agency employees? Looking for ways to find and hire top talent? Your team is your agency's #1 most valuable asset. Turnover and training is difficult and expensive. So in this episode, you'll discover some simple tips to hiring, managing and keeping loyal employees who want to stay and grow with your business.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Hiring top agency talent.
  • 3 Steps to developing loyal employees.
  • How to retain talent that wants to grow with your agency.

Today I talked with Scott Love, former Navy leadership trainer (thank you for your service) and current high-stakes headhunter. With over two decades experience recruiting professionals, Scott shares some simple tips you can take build and continue to retain your team. You can start implementing his tips immediately and start building a loyal team that will never want to leave.

Hiring Top Agency Talent

When going through the hiring process the main thing that you want to think of is hiring based outcomes vs. duties and responsibilities. Ask candidates questions on how they have accomplished outcomes in the past and how they will in the future. Once you find someone that exhibits outcomes you’re looking for, remember that there is an emotional context to a potential employee’s decision making process. As they decide to work with you, consider two things:

  1. What does your agency have that is unique or distinct? We’re not talking about desirable culture or team collaboration - every agency has those things. But what really makes you different and desirable?
  2. How does this uniqueness improve their situation on an emotional/personal level?

To help get these two questions answered go into sales mode. (But not “our agency is so great, let me tell you all about us” sales mode!)

Try these 2 sales tricks:

  1. Ask the candidate about their current situation and current company. Find out their complaints, challenges or problems.
  2. Ask what an ideal situation looks like to alleviate their stated concerns? You are trying to find their intrinsic motivations and speak to those… make it about them!

BONUS: Here are the 3 core competencies to look for in an eligible candidate:

  1. Influence: How do they effectively influence others?
  2. Resilience: How do they bounce back from adversity?
  3. Achievement: What makes them keep going?

3 Steps to Developing Loyal Employees

#1. Make them feel good by being true and sincere. Nothing puts up walls faster than negative comments and/or criticism.

#2. Build up their emotional equity. Do this by making them feel like they have a stake in the agency business. (Not a financial stake, but help them feel some ownership of their projects and clients.)

#3. Utilize insights and feedback by obtaining cross-departmental ideas. Allow your employees to not only feel like, but also actually BE part of the solution.

How to Retain Amazing Employees

Meet their needs!

Ask yourself how you can help them achieve fulfillment in what it is you are doing as an agency. How can you show them their work makes a difference in your agency’s goal… the noble goal, that goal that goes beyond profit?

Find the emotional context of your agency’s goal and then show them how they contribute.

Remember: As Agency CEO, you are in the business of leadership.

Be followable.

Your employees need to trust you, so don’t let allow walls to go up.

These two simple exercises will set you on the path of building a loyal team:

  1. Get clear on your core values.
  2. Get clear on your personal mission.

Figure those out first, write them down, then strive to be that person every day.

Check out Scott’s book: Why They Follow

Related: Where to Find the Right Digital Agency Talent & Creating a Vision and Culture to Attract Top Agency Talent

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: Tips_On_How_to_Hire_Lead__Retain_Amazing_Agency_Talent.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you frustrated working with freelancers? Does your agency experience high freelancer turnover that leaves you stuck, or sometimes screwed? The struggle is real! Learn the 5 big mistakes agencies make using freelancers and what you can do to avoid frustration.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 5 big mistakes agencies make using freelancers.
  • How to avoid pitfalls of working with freelancers.

Today I talked with Nathan Hirsch, CEO and founder of FreeeUp, the agency he formed after numerous frustrating accounts with the freelance/hiring process. FreeeUp connects businesses, of all sizes, with vetted freelancers. Today he shares the five mistakes he sees agencies make when using freelancers and is here to help us avoid those pitfalls.

5 Big Mistakes Agencies Working With Freelancers

MISTAKE 1: Hiring one freelancer to do a multitude of tasks.

It can seem like a great idea to hire one talented person with a large skill set to manage a large portion of the agency work, but what happens when they leave? You are left scrambling.

INSTEAD: Diversify. This is important with your clients, finances and also with your freelancers. Split things up and diversify your delegation of tasks as much as possible. This will make replacement costs minimal when a turnover does happen.

MISTAKE 2: Sticking with one freelancer for all things.

It is easy to get comfortable with employees but freelancers do not hold loyalties. They are working for others so their availability and loyalty varies with their workload.

INSTEAD: Build up your agency’s freelancer rolodex. It is beneficial to have two to three freelancers available to your agency. That way if a large project comes down the shoot, you can request time from whomever has the bandwidth. When you rely on just one freelancer, you could be left scrambling if he/she is booked when you need them.

MISTAKE 3: Treating a freelancer like an inessential outsider.

It can be easy in the bustle of agency life to hand over projects to freelancers, get them back and move on; treating the freelancer like a commodity.

INSTEAD: You should have a goal of bringing them on full-time. Freelancers are, usually, freelancing until they can get something more stable. So when that opportunity comes along, they’re going to say yes to a permanent position. You’re goal should be let your agency be the one they say yes to.

Turnover is expensive and painful. Anything you can do to reduce it is in your agency’s best interest.

  • Until you able to offer a freelancer permanent employment, keep them engaged.
  • Treat your freelancers well and let them know how they’re contributing.
  • Keep freelancers involved and a member of your agency community so they want to stay with your agency.

MISTAKE 4:  Being vague with timing and due dates.

A lot of times we unintentionally leave deadlines up to interpretation. Ten hours be one ten hour day, or ten one hours days. You can’t know the freelancers current workload when receiving their estimates and sometimes it's unclear which leads to disaster.

INSTEAD: Manage expectations up front. Get these two numbers from your agency’s freelancers when estimating a project for you:

  1. Estimated hours. How many hours it will take to complete and at what hourly rate?
  2. Due date and time. Make sure you’re clear with the client’s due date and build in your buffer. Make sure the date is clear and what time of day you should expect the work to be handed over.

MISTAKE 5:  Assuming the freelancer knows what you want.

Just because they are a freelancer in the agency industry, does not mean they know what your agency or clients expect. Remember, most freelancers are working with multiple agencies, all with different processes and procedures.

INSTEAD: Set expectations right off the bat. Days and hours of availability, preferred method of communication,etc… all those things your agency expects to see in it’s employees. Have these expectations written down and get the freelancer’s sign off.

Related: Solving Sucky Staffing Issues

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: 5_Big_Mistakes_Agencies_Make_Working_With_Freelancers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Does the thought of committing your agency to a niche market makes you nervous? Are you worried your agency will lose clients and miss out on revenue? Stop the madness of trying to be everything to everyone and start focusing on what it is your agency does best. You will reap major benefits of having a niche market, including increased clients and revenue.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Finding your agency’s niche market and niches within niches.
  • 3 benefits of choosing a niche.
  • Is your agency charging enough?

Today I spoke with Raman Sehgal, founder and managing director of the super niche agency, Ramarketing. With over a decade of experience in his agency’s niche market, Ramarketing is still servicing their very first retainer client, eight years later. Raman provides great insight into the importance of niching down and the benefits it can bring to your agency.

Is It Time To Declare A Niche Market?

Has your agency had a painful project with an unrealistic client ultimately ending in dissatisfaction? Were you able to walk away with insights on how to move forward? If  not, you need to learn from these experiences and start to understand:

  • How to spec a project properly.
  • How to manage client expectations.
  • How to value what your agency does and communicate that to prospects.

Raman offered up a great idea of a “red flag system” that his agency uses when prospecting clients. It could be criteria such as demographic or size, it could be attitudinal or behavioral.

Whatever it is, figure out what will and not will not work with your agency and be prepared to say no. Don’t force the fit just to make a buck. Most of the time it'll bite you in the ass. Go with you gut when something doesn't feel like a good fit.

This just reinforces that you cannot be everything to everyone successfully. Your agency can’t know every sector. So find the sector you DO know and stick with it. Learn the ins and outs.

Money isn’t the best indicator for taking on clients, even if the amount is large, the costs to properly manage the account will probably be large as well.

Remember: Once you get your niche market, you can always expand. And, choosing a niche only means targeting your agency's marketing to a specific audience. You are still free to take on work outside of the niche. Therefore, it's a win-win.

When Do You Know It’s Time To Expand?

Finding clarity is key.

When your agency is focused, finding clients and hiring talent will all start to click because you will be doing these things with purpose and intention. Expanding can happen within your niche market - you will find niches within niches.

Raman uses an 80/20 model, dedicating 80% of agency resources to their niche market and 20% of resources are for fun projects outside the niche. This model allows for some flexibility and keeps things fresh with the ability to change things up once in a while.

3 Benefits of Finding Your Agency’s Niche Market

  1. Free up time for opportunities that closer align to your agency’s expertise. Stop being afraid to niche down because you might push one or two clients away. Losing those clients will free up time to work on better ones.
  2. Providing focus allows you to become an expert. If you totally get your clients business, they’ll trust you more and when they trust you, it makes it very easy for them to choose to work with you.
  3. Finding your niche market will help keep your competition at bay. If you become the authority in one segment of the market, then your competition of "generalists" will be left in the dust.

Are You Charging Enough?

Having a niche market raises your stock in what you can charge. Being competitive with your rates is important. If you are too cheap, this could cause the client to worry that there will be something wrong with your work. When you know what the market is expecting, you can adjust your agency rates accordingly. Pricing models will vary based on who you are talking to… and that’s ok.

You probably aren’t charging enough. This is the case with most of the agencies I work with, and it’s because they don’t fully understand the value they provide.

My challenge to all listeners is to consider increasing your rates by 25% right now!

Related: Start With One Niche At A Time,  Being A Leader In Your Agency's Niche

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_Big_Benefits_of_Declaring_Your_Agency_s_Niche_Market.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Want to find a way to interact and engage with your prospects? If you’re relying on an old-school “chat box” you could be missing out. Chatbots are the best way to generate more agency new business. They create interact conversational experiences with your prospects so you can engage with them when it matters most.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • What is a chatbot?
  • Why use chatbots?
  • 2 key features of bots.
  • How to use chatbots to generate more agency new business.

Today I chatted with Peter Lisoskie, founder of Bot Nation the innovative chatbot agency he created in 2017. He’s also the CEO of inViral, a business and product incubator. He has a background neurological research as well as development of hardware, software and firmware for companies like Hewlett-Packard and Nike. Peter's here to bring us great insights into the shift toward chatbots for the ultimate user-experience so you can capture more leads for your agency… No ifs, ands or “bots” about it! :)

What Is A Chatbot?

A chatbot is a software service or application that allows you to have an interactive conversational experience with your prospects or clients. A chatbot has the ability to take them on a conversational journey far beyond the typical automated chatbox, which usually ends up unread in the user’s email inbox.

Why Use Chatbots?

Did you know more people are using instant, private messaging apps than are using big 4 social networking apps, including Facebook?

As agencies, we tend to focus on email marketing, websites, webinars and social media marketing. The problem with these is that they’re passive and reactive. For an email campaign, your prospects have too many steps to take: check email, open the email, read the email, click-thru the email… (you see where this is going?)

As we know, email marketing has a 20% open rate and maybe a 1-2% click-thru rate, at best. And if you’re using a pop-up chat box messaging to capture leads on your website, it’s even lower. If that chat isn’t answered before your prospect leaves the site, it goes to their email inbox.  And we know what happens to email open and click-thru rates.

However, chatbots are instant and our society is addicted to instant results. Chatbot messaging interfaces with the users Facebook instant message and has upwards of a 95% open rate!

2 Key Benefits Of A Bot

  1. It’s user driven. The user choose their journey. Bots are set up with a series of questions and the “conversation” develops based on the users' responses. It’s a “choose your own adventure” approach to marketing.
  2. It’s engaging. Your agency prospects like to be engaged and entertained. Using bots will captivate your audience and keep the conversation alive as they connect or identify with the bot.

Using A Chatbot to Generate New Business

To do it the right way, use a chatbot to get the conversation started with agency prospects in a fun and engaging way but have a live human take over at some point.

Let the bot ask the questions, then use those answers to get the prospects to the right place or as a primer for when a live person can respond.

Be honest and let the user know it’s a bot. Many brands and agencies will pretend it’s a live person, but that’s just an insult to the user. Instead, let them know upfront that it’s a bot. Heck, I’ve even named mine Don (as in Mad Men’s Don Draper). Giving it a name and a personality helps the user identify with it a bit more.

Then, ask a series of questions to gain understanding of where your prospect is at in their buying journey. You can use this as a pre-qualification sequence and/or to get them in to the right place and able to access the right helpful content.

The key to using bots to keep the conversation alive and continue to nurture the relationships.

Peter’s innovative technology has also added in an element of artificial intelligence that can really be mind blowing. You can check it out using the demos at the bottom of the page at: www.botnation.tech

 

Direct download: How_Chatbots_Can_Generate_More_Agency_New_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Would you like to scale your agency? Is the thought of hiring a full-time employee overwhelming? Does your agency have a speciality that other agencies might need? Consider this tactic of collaboration and contractors as a means to grow your agency.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Growing your agency without hiring.
  • Maintaining quality, without overseeing everything.
  • Managing contractors and inspiring the good ones to stay.

Today I talked with Mandy McEwen, Founder and CEO of Mod Girl Marketing, which not only manages their own client base in healthcare and technology, but also provides services to other agencies looking to stand out and scale. Not hiring her first full-time employee until over four years of being in business, Mandy found the beauty and benefit of collaboration. Today she shares with us tips on using collaboration and contractors as a growth tactic.

How to Grow Your Agency Without Hiring?

Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

When you are in the beginning stages of growing your agency, it should be pretty easy to realize what you are good at and what you love doing. And with that, you’re also able to realize what areas might not be your strong suit, or shouldn’t be taking up so much of your time.

If you’re doing it all, it’s time to realize that there are other vendors and freelancers that could be doing some of it for you. This is how the work can start to be broken out, without having to invest in a full-time employee.

You can also consider working in partnership with other agencies who white label their services. I’m not typically a fan of straight up white labeling, but it can work if you leverage it into a partnership with mutual benefit.

As Mandy points out, “why compete with agencies, when (we) can collaborate? They can hire (us) and (we) can hire them.”

How Do You Manage Contractor Quality?

Vetting, Vetting, Vetting

Don’t hire a white label agency or contractor based solely on reviews or price. Finding good people is key and will save you money in the long run.

Check on their capacity before starting with them. Ensure they have the bandwidth to dedicate the needed time to the project they will be working on.

Mandy assigns trial projects, whether directly working for her or one she made up, to get a feel for the person and their work product.

It’s kinda like going on a date with someone. You need to see if you and that person click before you would ever enter any type of partnership. My former guest, Melinda Byerly, talked about  tactics of a contractor courtship.

How Do You Keep Great Contractors?

Culture, Culture, Culture

People will stick around if they are enjoying themselves.

Bring in people who not only have the skill set you are looking for but have the personality and vibe that is going to mesh well with the rest of your agency team. Create a desirable agency culture so there’s nowhere else they’d rather work; and no one else they’d rather work with.

There is something to be said for working with people that you would also enjoy hanging out with.

Who Manages The Contractors?

Divide, Divide, Divide

Divide and conquer. This can depend on the size of your agency, client profile, and definitely, the project itself.

One of the best first hires you can make is a project manager. I know a lot of agency owners have a hard time justifying this type of hire because their hours aren’t billable, but their skill set is invaluable. My advice is to hire a PM early in the game and adjust your fees accordingly. It’s worth it in the long run!

If you are doing it all, you can’t focus on the growth aspects of your agency. Trust and delegate so you can grow and scale.

 

Direct download: Using_Collaboration__Contractors_to_Grow_Your_Marketing_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you asking your client questions? Are you asking the right one? Do you listen in client meetings more than you talk? If you want to land more agency clients, it’s time to start asking a lot of questions and identifying what your clients need, rather than just giving them what they think they want.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • Getting over the hump of hiring.
  • Getting to the bottom of what the client really needs.
  • What questions you should be asking every client.
  • When is the right time to hire?

Today I talked with Pete Polgar, partner at Clikz Digital which started just a mere 6 months before this interview and is already at a team of five. Pete brings a background of consulting with agencies struggling with operational problems. He sheds some light on those early struggles at Clikz Digital and walks us through the steps he has taken to overcome them and grow his agency.

Getting Over the Hump of Hiring

There is a high turnover in this industry. You need to stop hiring based on an immediate need and start hiring based on what your company needs in order to achieve long term goals.

Ask a lot of questions

Vetting your candidates better will allow you to hire people that make you and/or your agency better. Don’t aim to hire “mini-me’s” and instead find the “yin” to your “yang.”

Pete is a frequent listeners of our show and recalls this episode where I advised listeners to “always try to be the dumbest person in the room.” And that’s what he has done whens it comes to hiring for his agency. He tells us we can accelerate agency growth by surrounding ourselves with people smarter than us.

Getting to the Bottom of What the Client Really Needs

As an agency, your #1 job is to be the trusted advisor your clients need in order to achieve their goals. They rely on your experience and expertise to guide them to the solution to their problem.

The thing is, you have to be able to identify the right problems and start solving them. You can’t do this if you aren’t asking the right questions. Think: “What does the client actually need?” vs. “What do they want?”

Keep asking “why?” and keep digging until you get to the root of the problem. Once you find the problem and its impact on the business, that is when you can present what the client actually needs, not what you want to sell them.

Asking questions keeps the focus on the client, because, really, this is about them and not you.

Learn their business, listen to what they tell you and take lots of notes. This will allow you to visualize the information. Pete’s uses his meeting notes to build a process flow that he can later share with the client.

Clients are looking for a trusted advisor. They already made the choice to work with you, they don’t want to make more choices, so stop giving them so many. Be the expert. Know what their business needs and be able to tell them why. Then they will become your champion.

In the beginning it is all about learning - don’t sell first, just learn.

What Questions You Should You Be Asking Every Client

Did I mention that you should be asking a LOT of questions?

The types of questions are going to vary based on the client and the problems you start to uncover. But some good baseline questions are:

  • What do you want?
  • Where are you now?
  • What is your struggle?
  • Where do you want to be?

Ultimately you need to just keep asking questions so you can drill down to the biggest problem.

[clickToTweet tweet="Remember, the client's biggest problem is not necessarily the first problem." quote="Remember, the client's biggest problem is not necessarily the first problem."]

If thinking on your feet to ask the right questions isn’t your strong suit...then hire someone who is good at it. It’s that important.

Pete likes to use a whiteboard and draw out a map as they are solving a client’s problem. He says to focus on one problem at a time to solve and nurture it to build trust with your client.

Asking the right questions upfront also helped Pete start implementing a MAP (Marketing Action Plan) into his client engagements - which is something he learned from my podcast episodes on the 3 core elements of the agency sales process.

When Is the Right Time to Hire?

Learn from your employees. Find that one employee who is most resourceful, who is able to get things done quickly and do more with less. Then learn from them and incorporate that resourcefulness into your agency operations.

Listen to your employees when they feel overwhelmed or frustrated, but don’t let them dictate resolutions… because their resolution is usually going to be to hire more people. With that, make sure you are hiring based on asking the right questions, figuring out what is needed and best for the company and using measurable indicators to justify the hire.

Direct download: What_Client_Questions_You_Must_Ask_to_Grow_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Are the unknowns of the agency industry overwhelming? Do you sometimes feel like maybe it’s time to close shop? Learn about the 4 phases of successful agency growth from an owner with over two decades of experience. Hear all his ups and downs plus learn what to expect as you scale and grow.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 4 phases of successful agency growth.
  • How to manage a growing agency.
  • Deciding whether to bring on a partner or not.

Today I talked with Chris Emergui, CEO of BAM Strategy, the agency he founded in 1996. With over 20 years of agency ownership experience he's seen his agency grow, deplete and grow again. He learned a couple things along the way and shares with us some of those nuggets of knowledge as well as the 4 phases his agency went through to get to reach the success they enjoy today. Sometimes just knowing what other agency owners have gone through can provide the encouragement and support we need in this lonely entrepreneurial world.

4 Phases of a Successful Agency Journey

Phase 1: The Start-Up

This is the time when you get things going. You could take this on alone or with a partner (although I don’t recommend partnerships - more on that later). This phase lends itself to being more ambitious and more willing to take some risks. This can be a time of quick prosper and scaling quickly, but can also include a downturn in business and can be messy.

This is when you learn lessons.

Phase 2: Switching It Up

This could be when you and your partner part ways. When you realize you have different visions. It’s a time when a business model change might take place. If you’ve been dealt the hardship of budgets getting slashed, this is when you anchor yourself with your client. Start servicing clients in areas that will not be affected if their marketing budget is cut.

This is when you are getting more experienced at knowing what to offer.

Phase 3: The Romantic Phase

This is the time when you have fun. You are at that 20-25 employee marker and you know them inside and out. You are experiencing growth and have a good, solid culture. You understand the impact you can have on the business.

This is the phase you would stay in if you could.

Phase 4: Continuation of Growth

A lot of agency owners think Phase 3 is ideal and want to stop growth there. But, you can’t stay there forever, no matter how much you’d like to. You don’t have a choice in this industry. You need to constantly go after new business and have a goal to grow. Because in this business, because you’re only one client-decision away from being shattered.

Phase 4 is where you start laying your infrastructure. Bring in the people to start handling the things you might not be so good at and start empowering them for success. In Chris’s case he brought in a new partner at this point.

If you hire the right people, put them in the right role and give them the right systems. Then you can start doing less and focus on growth goals.

This is the phase when you get out of the day-to-day and take on a new role of heading the ship.

How to Manage a Growing Agency

When we empower our agency employees we set them up for success. And that is really our biggest role in agency management - helping our people succeed. If they aren’t coming to you for all the answers, that’s a good thing. It means you are providing them with the right upfront direction so they can make decisions.

It feels good to be needed but you need to remember that being their “hero” isn’t a long-term solution. You want people who can run things on their own; you don’t want your agency to crumble if you get hit by a bus.

The transition from Agency Owner to CEO can be tough. And doing so can create both a freedom and a void. However, as CEO one of your five main roles is to mentor your leadership team, giving them confidence and direction. You are there to help them become more successful and grow. This is when you can really start scaling your agency, because now they are making decisions that are good for the agency and not just for themselves!

Your number one asset is your team. So invest in them, because that is an investment that will pay for itself.

Deciding On A Partner: Should You or Shouldn't You?

I always advise against bringing on an agency partner because you either know the bad partner, or you are the bad partner.

But, I know it’s pretty typical to bring on a partner when you are looking for a lead person to manage an area of business where your skills are lacking. An agency partnership or part-ownership provides a vested interest for that person while strengthening the agency leadership.

Chris’s advice is to make sure you are hiring someone you can empower, and someone who is smarter than you. Don’t be blinded by their prior experience and large network or influence.

Most importantly, you and your partner have to have the same view/reaction to any given event. While you can complement each other’s weaknesses, your vision needs to be the same.

Key Takeaways:

  • No one has all the answers.
  • Learn as you go is the nature of the business.
  • You’ll make mistakes along the way.
  • It only takes one big client to get on the map.
  • Keep on pushing! You will get that one break.
  • Don’t try to compare yourself to the larger agencies, but have the confidence that you can complete with them and can service the larger brands.

A mindset of perseverance is how you’ll find success for your agency. Things can change on a dime in this industry! You will find the hard stuff is what you’re going to remember, you’ll appreciate it more, when it’s in hindsight. And it will always remind you that you can handle it, you can get through. Let the tough times make you smarter and move on!

 

Direct download: 4_Phases_of_a_Successful_Agency_Growth_Journey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Would you like to grow your agency faster by increasing recurring revenue? Do you feel like your agency is on a constant roller coaster gaining and losing clients? Then learn about innovative agency pricing,  a licensing model, that can set you on a stable path. Plus, turn the tables on the industry standard of always fearing losing clients. Instead, discover how to make your clients fear losing you.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • What is an agency licensing pricing model?
  • How and why does a licensing model work?
  • 5 Benefits of the licensing model.

Today I chatted with Andrey Polston, a man who has been obsessed with marketing and sales since he was 11 years old mowing lawns. He ended up self taught in SEO and web design, and his motivation and knowledge is impressive. Andrey now plans and operates his own virtual summits, including The Agency Summit. On today’s episode, he shares his ingenious licensing model and the benefits it can bring to your agency.

What is a Licensing Pricing Model?

In short, a licensing model is taking what you do, niching it down in a way that you can flip it on it’s head and license it for exclusivity.

This model was born from Andrey trying to solve the main challenges agencies face, including:

  • Financial instability and fear of losing clients.
  • Providing all the creative work upfront.
  • Relinquishing ownership of completed assets to the clients.
  • Difficulty proving value later in client relationships.

These challenges are what spawned this idea of creating a process that will make the clients fear losing the agency instead of always the other way around.

How Does the Licensing Model Work?

Generally agency clients have a broad range of customers they could go after. As the agency, you must understand your client’s clients. Then select a niche customer that you are going to help them go after. In other words, identify a single type of customer that is ideal for your client.

Once you determine this niche customer, pre-build high converting funnels, marketing assets and conversion pathways that will absolutely crush it for that one specific channel of customers.

Then charge your clients a monthly licensing fee for the funnel and its accompanying assets.

There is also the ability to nano niche the ideal customer you identified and then create even more streamlined funnels, as well as a possible IP that can be included as an add-on to the client. You can also sell an add-on of your marketing services.

Why the Licensing Model Works

“People will do more things to avoid pain, than they’ll do to gain pleasure.” ~ Andrey Polston

Agencies can play the game of constantly trying to report their worth and value, but the greater incentive here, is the fear of loss. You want the client to fear losing you, your talents, and your expertise.

With the licensing model, this is embedded in the beginning. “If you leave, that’s fine, but you’re losing all this work because it isn’t yours to keep.” And with that fear comes the underlying understanding that if they leave, you will probably walk next door to their competitor and offer this service to them.

When prospecting a target client you lead with the licensing model, exclusive to the niche you have determined.

This doesn’t work if you don’t have a niche and don’t identify specific categories of customers your client wants.

5 Benefits of a Licensing Model

Andrey has identified five major benefits to a licensing model.

1- Automated Recurring Revenue

When you’re dealing with a service, you go out there, chase the work down and then try to get them to pay for it. With the licensing model, they’re put on a subscription and billed at the beginning of each month.

2- Accumulated Advantage

When you start playing deeper into a niche you will start finding new pockets of opportunity you can take advantage of, such as “nano niches” or niches within a singular niche. This is where you can create even tighter funnels and an IP that can also be licensed out to a client or provided as an add-on.

3- Productizing of a Service(s)

In order to productize your agency service, look up the ladder to tap into a potential client that would want to sell your license as an add-on to what they are selling. This provides value to them in that you’re exclusive to them and their product takes a competitive advantage, because they’re now providing a proven marketing system, as a value add-on, with their client. By doing this, you are harnessing somebody else’s distribution channel, marketing, and sales efforts and piggybacking off of it.

4- Taking On Multiple Clients

Some agencies feel restrained by geographic location. However, you can take on multiple clients within the same location by niching down to those nano niches and licensing all those nano niches out. So different clients can pay per nano niche license, or one client could pay a large licensing fee for exclusivity within their city or location.

5- Potential for Referrals & Partnership

A lot of agencies start out as “full service” so they can compete against everyone. But, what that really does is just cut them off from referrals/partners, because they are competing with everyone. It’s simple - when your agency has one specific niche, you can partner with other agencies offering complimentary services.

With a licensing model your specialization becomes so narrow that you can now cross sell/upsell those different services or white label them out, and take a cut.

You can now go to every category of companies, that would have been a competitor, and work with them as a referral partner because you aren’t competing against them anymore. AND because of the high margins of licensing you can pay out a lucrative, recurring monthly affiliate rate :)

Direct download: How_to_Retain_More_Agency_Clients__Increase_Recurring_Revenue.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am EST

Are you "that" agency? Do you tend to talk a lot about how smart you are? The awards you have won? It’s easy to fall into this trap of trying to sell your agency as the best, but sometimes it’s to the detriment of the client /agency relationship. Not anymore. Learn how to scale your agency by collaborating with your client to make their lives easier. Be the agency that keeps things simple and lets the client shine.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • The best way to scale your agency.
  • Which clients you should be paying attention to.
  • How to make your client shine.
  • How to prove your agency’s worth.

Today I chatted with Melinda Byerly, founder of her digital consultancy Time Share CMO. She’s got over fifteen years experience in Silicon Valley working in tech with start-ups and becoming an expert in digital marketing and analytic attribution. She’s also learned a thing or two about clients needs when it comes to data and analytics, as well as how to manage those expectations. Melinda is sharing all this and more with us so you can learn how to set your client up for success and ultimately, setting yourself up for success as well.

The Best Way to Scale Your Agency

There is a danger to scaling too fast. If you’re a service business, it’s so important to find the right people that will help you move towards your goals. Instead of proposing marriage first, maybe it’s time to try “going on a date” instead?

When you’re looking for the right person, it can take time to see if you will work well together, so that’s when you “go on a date.” Don’t do a contract, do a project - just one, minimal-commitment-type project together first. If that goes well, do another project together. This will allow you to get a feel for that person, how you work together and how they fit into the agency.

Build your agency one person at a time and take it slow, so that it’s the right fit.

“Dating” is a great concept with clients as well. Find out what keeps them up at night, do they wish they had somebody doing X?” Then focus on X first. Take it one problem at a time to make sure it is going to be a true client/agency partnership.

Taking on a bad client can be like a cancer. I like to say: there are no bad clients, only bad prospects or a bad process. If you don’t qualify your prospects, you could be letting in the wrong ones. And, if they aren’t following your process in the beginning, they are not going to follow your process under contract. Pay attention to those red flags!

Either bad clients never should have been let in, or you created them.

Clients You Should be Paying Attention To

Think about your prospects... Are they responsive? Pleasant and respectful? Do they listen and take your feedback into consideration? These are the clients you want.

An agency/client relationship is a collaboration. You need to be respectful of your clients requests, but it’s a collaborative effort and they should respect your experience and expertise as well.

Agencies tend to talk a lot, touting their awards and boasting their accomplishments. In a desire to impress, agencies are constantly selling themselves. Stop. It’s better to listen and ask questions, make the client the focal point. Focus on the needs of the decision maker in order to achieve their goals and ease their pain points.

Is Your Direct Client the Hero?

They should be.

You need to make your day-to-day client contact look good. Don’t make the mistake of always trying to make yourself look good and in the process throw your sponsor under the bus.

Before doing a presentation to a larger group, meet with your direct client contact. You are presenting on their behalf, so position things the way they would like them positioned and be sure to create moments for them to step in and be the expert. Establish moments to help them shine; allow them to be the hero.

People are loyal to people. There is a high turnover in this industry and if your client-sponsor leaves their, make them want to take you with them.

Are You Effectively Proving Your Worth?

Have you ever had a project where you’re totally killing it? But… you’re getting great results and all of a sudden your client wants to change directions?! You weren’t effectively communicating those great results.

First, you need to be sure you are setting expectations with the client. Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting unachievable expectations. Let them know what results can and cannot be tracked or quantified. Not everything will be trackable so be honest with them about this and most importantly, help them understand so that your agency is held to reasonable expectations.

At the same time you want to make sure you are being authentic and have high integrity about this. Don’t just regurgitate analytics reports -- make sure you are providing useful analytics that can help navigate the course of your client’s digital marketing.

Tell them what those analytics mean and provide them with a recommendation - that is your value add. By doing this, you’re preparing to justify yourself. You’re educating your client and managing their expectations so they can manage their manager’s expectations… which circles back to making them the hero.

Remember:  there is a difference between what you do and what you provide.

How to Know What Your Clients Want

Do you know what your clients really want? Your client hired you to do work for them and make their job easier. Don’t put more work on them. The more options someone has, the harder they have to work to make a decision. The harder, their brain has to work and the more you risk them shutting down or walking away. Remove that friction from your client’s decision making.

Keep it simple, such as saying:

  • “Here is option A and B. The data suggest option A” ...OR...
  • “The data is silent so it’s a judgement call... Here is our opinion on the judgement call.”

This is what they want! Their biggest decision is hiring you and then after that, answering “which of these things are you going to do?” Keep it simply “yes” or “no.”

Are Your Agency's Presentations Powerful?

Are you doing the work ahead of time but saving the presentation for the night before? Don’t.

Give data presentations they can’t ignore - make it easy for them.

For as much as you do the work ahead of time, you should be dedicating the same amount of time to preparing your client presentations. Be prepared with the material, so that you don’t need your slides. This gives you the ability to look the decision makers in the eyes, really listen to their questions and thoughtfully answer them.

When you put time into your presentation, you will present with more confidence. More confidence makes you more believable. When you’re believable things are less likely to sit on the shelf and clients are more likely to take action.

The action is what you’re looking for! When a client takes action, they’re happy. When they’re happy, they are more likely to re-engage you! And that makes you happy, right? :)

 

Direct download: Smart_Agency_Master_Class_Podcast_-_Melinda_Byerley__version_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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