Smart Agency Podcast: 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: 3:00am MDT

Happy holidays from 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.


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.

Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm MDT

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 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 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: 3:00am MDT

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 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: 3:00am MDT