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

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: 3:00am MDT

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: 3:00am MDT

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: 3:00am MDT

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:


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