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

Are you struggling to capture those big fish clients? Does it feel like your agency is constantly battling for every account? We've all been there! You've still got some growing pains. But, what if you could skip those growing pains and go right to be big leagues? Here's how one agency owner made his first client Kobe Bryant.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to score big agency clients.
  • 3 reasons your agency should hire some freelancers.
  • #1 way for digital agencies to stay competitive.

Today, I talked with David Brickley, CEO of STN Digital and Host of The Business Of Social podcast. We all have our own unique origin story but, David's story is downright crazy. Not only did he score one of the biggest names in sports (Kobe Bryant!) as his very first client — he continues to work with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment. James Harden, Shaq, Amazon, UFC, the Olympics, and even movie stars are his bread-and-butter. David's here to share his story about how you can grow your agency event while you're a small or mid-sized shop.

How to Score Big Agency Clients

What if I told you that David convinced Kobe Bryant to be his first client through a cold email? It's true! And, there's a lot we can all learn from that...

Scoring your first big client is all about taking chances. Get out there and chase them - because why couldn't it be you?

Forget about sticking to inbound and waiting for them to knock on your door. If there's something you want bad enough, get out there and chase it. And you know as well as I do — it only takes one big client to completely change the course of your agency.

Once you have a big name or a big brand, you can leverage them to get other big clients. It's the domino effect. And, winning with outbound doesn't require a big budget - it's all about the grind.

3 Reasons Your Agency Should Hire Some Freelancers

Don't worry - you don't need a huge team to serve big clients, you may just need to add some freelancers. The gig economy is in full swing. You can talented and highly skilled freelancers to work on a project basis. And here's why:

  1. Freelancers give you tons of flexibility. You don't have to worry about onboarding for each unique client need. If your next client needs a little camera work done, you don't have to go out and hire someone for the one job. You can pay someone by-the-hour, and you never have to make a commitment.
  2. Freelancers give you scale. What happens once you get your first big client? Do you have a team ready to handle their projects? If not, you've got an unlimited number of freelancers ready to tackle that project.
  3. Freelancers are cost-effective. Does it really make sense to hire a full-time writer for 40 hrs a week to create a few blog posts? Do you really need a full-time animator? Freelancers allow the flexibility to pay-as-you-go on a project basis, without the overhead of full-time employees.

#1 Way For Digital Agencies to Stay Competitive

Every year, hundreds of agencies close their doors for good... and for most of them it's not intentional, but rather the result of lacking one basic thing. They didn't adapt.

The algorithms keep changing and what worked last week or last month or last year isn't cutting it. For example, EO isn't the same this year as last year. And, it could be wildly different next year. Digital agencies have to be flexible and they need to be constantly innovating.

If you aren't creating bigger, better, and more interesting things, you're headed down a dangerous road. You can't keep performing the same old tricks; you must keep things new and evolve to the needs of your audience.

Client retention isn't all about wooing them (although the right gifts don't hurt!) It's about providing them value with innovative solutions they can't find with anyone else.

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

Creating video content is hard, right? It's got to be perfect lighting, sound, and of course relevant subject matter. Don't let all that overwhelm stands in your way of getting started. Video content is one of the hottest ways to attract new agency business. And, anyone can make incredible videos without a ton of experience - you just need to get out of your own way in order to get started.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to start making video content for your agency.
  • 3 easy video types to help get you started.
  • #1 tip for creating engaging video content.

Today, I talked with Chris Deblasio, actor, producer, and CEO of Agency850, the entertainment marketing company he founded. Chris's agency shoots Hollywood-quality videos and does product placement for movies and TV. Chris went from selling yellow page ads to running a successful video agency. And, he's learned a few tricks along the way. From being comfy in front of her camera to winning with video creatives, Chris explains how video marketing can add value to your agency's services.

How to Start Making Video Content

Chris makes high-quality videos at his agency but he's the first to admit you don't need fancy equipment to get the attention of your prospects. You don't need an expensive camera and a sound crew to produce outstanding videos -- just need your phone and a vision.

Want to know the big secret to making great video content? Just start!

The sooner you start, the sooner it will become second nature to you. Sure, you'll make some crappy videos in the beginning. But, you're never going to make really killer ones until you a few under your belt. No one is going to judge you by one or two stinky videos. Prospects will be looking at your entire body of content, not a few rough ones.

The sooner you start, the sooner you can find your voice. And the sooner you can cash in on video marketing – which isn't going away anytime soon.

3 Easy Video Types to Help You Get Started

Here are 3 super-easy video content types to get you started. All you'll need is a camera and a smile.

  1. Q&A Show: A simple question/answer show is an easy way to throw your hat in the video content ring. All you have to do is sit in front of a camera and answer some questions. It will help you get comfortable being yourself in front of the camera, plus it will position you as a thought leader. Don't have any questions to answer? Research some in online communities like Quora. I did that when I first started Swenk Today!
  2. Live Content: Facebook Live and other live social platforms make it almost too easy. No one expects live videos to be filled with high production quality. That gives you a good excuse to play around a little if you don't know what you're doing. Give people a tour of your office or host a live Q&A with your clients and team.
  3. PodcastYes, all agencies should have a podcast! Your podcasts can be video podcasts. And, it's low risk. Most people are watching for the audio. So, if you have poor production and lighting skills, no one is going to notice. Even better, if you keep the podcast going, you'll be able to look back on your first episode and see how far you've come! Want a good laugh? Check out my first one which we now fondly refer to as my hostage video.

#1 Tip for Creating Engaging Video Content

The number one tip for making videos is... drumroll, please... be yourself!

Yes! I know it's corny but it's true. Viewers want you to be genuine; this is easily the most important thing you can do to be successful with video content. Besides, no one can replicate you or your personality.

It's totally normal. Most people tend to get a little nervous when in front of a camera. When I first got in front of the camera, I looked like an Oompa Loompa :)

Take off the mask. A fake persona is obvious and copying someone else -- like Gary Vee or Casey Neistat is disingenuous. Go ahead and be yourself and give people a chance to like you for you.


Direct download: How_to_Make_Video_Content_To_Attract_New_Agency_Business.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:42am MDT

Looking for a low-risk, high-result way to scale your agency? Want the flexibility to grow and scale at will? Freelancers are a great way to grab top talent in this gig economy. Using freelancers can help scale your agency faster and easier than bringing on permanent employees and the overhead that goes with them. But, the real key is knowing which roles to hand to freelancers and which roles you should not outsource. But, how about using freelancers as a core component of your workforce? I talk to an agency owner that uses both in-house employees and freelancers on almost every project. And it's helped him grow at the speed-of-light.

  • How to win with freelancers
  • Which roles you should never outsource.
  • What not to do with agency freelancers.
  • 3 reasons smaller agencies win big.

Today, I talked with David Freund, Partner at Junto — a web design and content agency. David's agency doesn't just use freelancers on occasion... freelancers are a core component of his agency's growth strategy, with over 25 on his team. Vetting freelancers and leaning on them to deliver cost-effective results helps Junto stay competitive in the commoditized market. And, David's here to give us some tips on when and how to use freelancers the right way in order to grow your digital agency.

How to Win With Freelancers

Blending an in-house team with freelancers has a ton of benefits. Hiring a load of freelancers can help your agency go remote. And, it can definitely help you save on costs and onboarding headaches. But, the secret benefit is that it gives you insane flexibility to scale.

With a core team of employees in place, you can hire and let-go freelancers at will. As your growth has ebbs and flows, your hybrid team of employees and freelancers has the flexibility to ebb and flow, as well.

Need a new website designer? Hire a freelancer. Need fewer SEO specialists? Eliminate a few. With freelancers, you can grow and shrink at will. And, you don't have to worry about all of the junk that goes into hiring and firing. This gives you a huge advantage over your competitors who are stuck with less flexibility.

Which Roles You Should Never Outsource

As agency owners, the thought of outsourcing talent can be terrifying. Finding and vetting freelancers can be overwhelming. And, some freelancers can be unreliable or unpredictable unless. If you've been burned before you might be scared to work with others in the future. But, here's the secret — Dave says you have to outsource the right roles.

For starters, keep strategy and project/account managers in-house. Keeping these roles strictly for permanent employees gives you the quality control that is necessary to grow your business.

The last thing you want is to lose your agency's standard or sacrifice its reputation. Having a key team of managers within your walls is the secret to keeping a high standard and reaping the benefits of the gig economy.

Your account managers act as a liaison between the agency and the client. You can structure your agency to have account managers work with the freelancers. That leaves you in charge of the big picture. But, you don't have to manage ALL of these freelancers and in-house team members at the same time.

What Not To Do With Agency Freelancers

It can be tempting to hire some freelancers, send them work, and then you deliver the end product to the client. Basically, your agency is just playing the middleman and reaping the rewards. Sounds like a win-win, right? Nope! Your agency needs to hold the reigns. You must have the systems in place to facilitate freelancers success and deliver consistent results to your clients. If the end product is a representation of your agency's work you have to have control over it from start to finish.

Your job is to provide your freelancers with the systems they need in order to succeed. And, you or someone within your agency needs to have the skillset to understand and oversee the work you're outsourcing to a freelancer. So for example, if you don't know anything about web design, don't just hire freelancers and hand over a finished website to the client. At the very least, your account manager should have an understanding of web design and work hand-in-hand with the freelancer.

3 Reasons Smaller Agencies Win Big

Size doesn't matter - no, really! :) There's never been a better time to be a small or mid-sized agency. You can be nimble and agile with your clients, and you can be far more flexible than the bigger agencies. If or when prospects question your agency's size, use these benefits to spin the story in your favor:

  1. Small agencies can leverage freelancers. Using freelancers for skilled roles helps cut costs and compete for big projects. Sure, big agencies could hire freelancers but, they usually don't. They have a huge in-house team. And, they're going to lean on that team to get jobs done in order to justify salaries. But, that additional overhead puts them at a pricing disadvantage. Your agency can do the job cheaper and deliver better value. You have access to an entire global network of talented professionals because you're not restricted to just a specific few employees.
  2. They're still flexible. The best thing about being a small agency is that you can flip-the-script at-will. Want to start adding new services? Go for it by bringing on a freelancer with that skill set. Thinking about some new processes or strategies? Sure! You can try out all your ideas without disrupting a massive ecosystem
  3. Despite size, small agencies can compete in a changing world. Smaller means you're not stuck. You have plenty of maneuverability to start adjusting to the new trends in marketing. There are plenty of new and interesting avenues to explore... chatbotsartificial intelligence and a bunch of other emerging technologies exist in sparse markets. And, you can start jumping into those markets immediately!
Direct download: How_to_Use_Freelancers_as_a_Low-Risk_Way_to_Scale_Your_Agency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT

Struggling to win new agency business in order to supercharge growth? Stuck working in the business and unable to step back in order to work on the business? Your role as an agency leader is always evolving as the agency grows. But your #1 job is being an amazing leader and giving your team the guidance and support they need.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • How to win new agency business by building relationships.
  • #1 way to supercharge digital agency growth.
  • 3 tips for being an amazing digital agency leader.

Today, I talked with Steve Weiss, Co-founder of MuteSix — a Facebook ad agency. Steve moved to Los Angeles, CA to do standup comedy and instead ended up creating a digital agency. Four years later and he is now running an 8-figure agency with over 130 employees! So, how does a comedian transition to a massively successful agency owner....?  "Did you ever hear the one about the wildly successful agency owner?" No? Then stick around as Steve shares his story of growth, including his top 3 tips for being a better agency leader :)

How to Win New Agency Business By Building Relationships

As agency owners, we always want to win the pitch and land new business. You get in the room with the prospect and you want to tell them you can handle anything. You're willing to do anything and be anything in order to win a pitch. But that never ends well, does it? In Steve's case, he uses humor (remember, he's a former standup comedian!) to his benefit...

It's ok to tell a prospect you don't know how to do something. Be the authority in a specific niche - horizontal and/or vertical.  When they ask for something outside of your skillset, be honest or use humor like Steve. For example, he tells prospects that SEO is like "black magic" to him, but what he's really good at it Facebook ads. And, he tells them his agency crushes Facebook ads; there's no one better at Facebook ads. His honesty and a bit of humor builds trust and creates the foundation for a relationship.

In fact, it can be the secret to winning the pitch. If you're candid with them, they're going to respect you more for it. We can all smell a sales pitch from a mile away. So can your prospects. When you start bragging, they know you're desperate for the sale. Be truthful, honest, and win business with ideal clients who appreciate who you are.

They'll believe you when you tell them what you're actually good at. So, instead of trying to convince clients you're "full service" even though you aren't, think about flipping the script. Be honest with them. And, use that honesty to form a great relationship.

#1 Way to Supercharge Digital Agency Growth

Want to know the secret to accelerate digital agency growth? You can't do it alone ~ you need a team :) Empowering your team is one of the easiest ways to achieve fast growth. If you hired right, your team is filled with skill and talent. You want is to be the smartest person in the room. Hire people who are smarter and better than you are and reap the benefits of supercharging your agency's growth.

Believe me, if I would have been the smartest person at my digital agency, we would have never gotten anywhere!

Steve says to give your team some room to grow and dominate projects on their own. And, always put your team ahead of revenue. Clients come-and-go. Good team members don't. It's hard to find people who fit into your culture, understand your vision, and have the passion to create results on their own. Your team is your biggest asset so treat them as such.

Being a leader isn't all about you, your agency, and your vision... It's about providing opportunity and a pathway for growth and fulfillment. When you're a great leader that alone can be fulfilling for you. It's a win-win.

3 Tips for Being an Amazing Digital Agency Leader

1. Lead by example.

Don't tell your team how to win, show them how. As a digital agency owner, all eyes are on you. Yes, it can be stressful, but leading by example is a good way to empower your team. Recognize your team's strengths and make sure you're continually developing those, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Let your team shine by showing them how to become even better.

2. Don't try to please everyone.

Don't be the people pleaser. You have to know when to say no. And you should always be willing to bring up issues with your team. Try to be friendly and have fun with your team, for sure. But, at the end of the day, you still have to be respected as the leader and not just another guy or gal on the team.

3. Learn how to fire.

You should never have to motivate an employee. It's ok to inspire them, but motivation needs to come from within. Share the vision with them to inspire. Show them how they're part of something bigger and how their role creates a residual effect on clients and your clients' clients.  That's inspiring! But if you've got someone who needs constant motivation, then it's probably time to fire them. It's not as hard as it sounds and eliminating dead weight will actually benefit the rest of the team and the overall culture.

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