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

Would you like to master inbound marketing with killer content? Would you like your agency to generate more leads without working harder to find them? Generating more traffic and engagement is the key. And it's doing better is easier than you think when you address the right two audiences. With some strategy you can win at the content game and land your digital agency more inbound leads an ever.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Two audiences every digital agency needs to create content for.
  • Why the agency owner should be the face of the agency.
  • How your digital agency can increase blog site traffic.

Today, I talked with Kieran Flanagan — VP of Marketing for HubSpot. Not only did Kieran help HubSpot grow into an international marketing goliath, but he's also partially responsible for growing their freemium business. We all know HubSpot is a big deal in marketing but, did you know 100% of HubSpot's customers come from the demand created by the marketing team? Kieran's on the show today to share with us the two audiences his team focuses on and why your agency should too.

Two Audiences Every Digital Agency Needs to Create Content For

How do you satisfy the mental cravings of clients and forge emotional connections with them? HubSpot breaks their marketing department into two teams — Mind and Heart.

So, the Mind team is responsible for tactical content such as blog posts. The team figures out what people are searching and creates content around questions, concerns, and keywords based on SEO demand.

The Heart team is responsible for emotional creative, like videos and audio content. You know, the stuff that pulls at entertains or creates connections. This type of content makes people feel that working with your business will solve their problem or ease their pain point.

Here's what's great:  Each team has its own content calendar, and they act independently. This way, both types of content gets full focus, and HubSpot knows it's churning out both types of content regularly.

Why the Agency Owner Should Be the Face of the Agency

What do VaynerMedia, Apple, and Microsoft all have in common? They all have an owner who represents the brand! You need to be the face of your agency. Now, I know that can be scary sounding. Many agency owners feel being the face of their agency is too time-consuming, but it doesn't have to be! You set the methodology. Yes - you be a leader. And no, you don't have to hustle 24/7.

It can be as simple or as complicated as you want. As always, stop doing the things you suck at and nail your strengths. As an Agency CEO, you have 5 roles in the agency and being the front-face of the company is #1.

How Your Digital Agency Can Increase Blog Site Traffic

As most everyone knows, HubSpot has some fantastic blogging tips. They do pillar and cluster model for their posts, including marketing funnel diagrams and spend tons of time and resources on the HubSpot blog. So, obviously they have some phenomenal blogging tips, right?

Here it is... drumroll please... you have to have a reason to write blogs. Wait! Before you roll your eyes, think about it. Does your agency really have a reason to create your blogs? Are you just writing "10 Reasons to Hire a Digital Marketing Agency" style blog posts (which are so clearly just cushy soft sales pitches)? Your prospects aren't stupid - they see right through that stuff. Your blog posts don't capture the heart or the mind of your prospects.

When HubSpot writes "Best Marketing Hacks of 2019" their content isn't just ranking. They're accomplishing their mission, too. They sell marketing software and their mission is to help marketers with solutions to make their jobs easier. That blog post both ranks and it furthers their mission and it caters to a specific audience with a beneficial outcome.

So -- If you sell agency services to lawyers, don't write "10 reasons you need a digital marketing agency." Instead, write a post titled "10 Ways to Get Quality Law Leads for your Law Practice" and see what difference it makes.

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

We've all seen tech companies explode in popularity and valuation. How can your digital agency get a piece a sweet tech venture? Check out how one agency owner is out there successfully building technology and simultaneously running a digital marketing agency -- and crushing it at both.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to build technology at your digital agency.
  • One unique method to create tons of internal content.
  • #1 growth tip for new agency owners.

Today, I talked with Bhanuka Harischandra, Founder and CEO of Surge.Global — a digital marketing and tech agency in Sri Lanka. Bhanuka's agency does everything from video to mobile to content and even SEO... but they also build tech. So, while half of Surge Global is helping businesses scale with marketing, the other half is scaling tech projects and creating tech companies. Bhanuka is here to tell us how to build tech at your agency and use it to grow and scale your business.

How to Successfully Build Technology at Your Digital Agency

Tech revenue is tempting, am I right? We see these tech startups with 5 employees that scale to $500 million in a few years and it's mind-blowing. So, as an entrepreneur, you may be trying to balance your desire to chase tech with your love for agency work. Guess what? You don't have to decide between them. Instead, you can build tech and build your agency at the same time.

It's all about keeping a balance. Bhanuka's advice is to hire two separate teams. Your agency team should not develop tech projects. You need a separate R&D team to help build external and internal tech projects.

You can even create an incubator. Hire some developers to work on different projects, see which ones take off, and then scale the winners up. Bhanuka transitions R&D teams with great products into their own business and his agency remains a shareholder. It helps keep everyone focused on their unique task.

One Unique Method to Create Tons of Internal Content

Creating internal content can be a serious pain for agency owners. Here's the thing — it's super necessary to have internal content for your team to rally around. You probably have access to some great content creators; they just need a little motivation.

Bhanuka got his team to produce over 700 pieces of content in 30 days by gamifying content creation. He built an app and made a contest out of creating content. The team member who created the most content within a month would win $500. Second and third places were promised monetary prizes, too. And he compared everyone on a leaderboard to the team could view results in real-time.

In the end, Surge only paid out $800 for 700 pieces of content. That's what I call a bargain!

Here's what's awesome — Surge now has the app they developed out for other clients to use. (You can check out the app at

#1 Growth Tip for New Agency Owners

It's been nearly unanimous from my podcast guests. The #1 piece of advice is learning to say no. But, it's about more than just saying no... It's knowing how to prioritize and say no to the wrong things so you can say yes to the right things. Even Bhanuka admits his agency almost went under by saying yes to the wrong things. He says always vet your prospects before they become clients and determine:

  • Are they a good fit for your niche?
  • Can you and your team get along with them?
  • Are they a culture match with your agency?
  • Will payment be received on time?
  • Are they reliable and responsive?
  • And, most of all, do they have realistic expectations (remember NBAT!)?

If the answer to any of these is no, then you need to say no to working with this prospect.

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

Every agency wants its team to work smarter and hustle harder. But, the smart agencies know the best way to get results is with the right incentive program. On today's show, we're featuring an employee incentive model that may change the way you think about salaries and bonuses, as well as culture.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • 5 reasons to share 50% of agency profits.
  • Why agencies should only hire specialists
  • One big employee compensation secret
  • How to implement profit-sharing

Today, I talked with Tom Murray, Managing Director of Jump450 — a full-service marketing agency in Soho, NY. Tom's agency does something a little crazy... they give 50% of profits to its employees. He's on the show to share why and how this crazy strategy is actually growing the agency faster than ever.

5 Reasons to Share 50% of Agency Profits

Giving away 50% of your profits may sound more like a nightmare than a strategy but the thing is — it can work. Better yet, the agency is also paying employees a competitive base salary! Sounds crazy right? Maybe. But, it has a bunch of benefits you're probably not even thinking about:

  1. You'll get the best-of-the-best. Incentivizing your team with bonuses on 50% of the profit gives them insane salary potential. The best talent in the industry will flock to your agency for one simple reason — you pay more.
  2. Goodbye retention issues. Let's be honest. Your team isn't going to find better earning potential anywhere else if you're offering them a huge cut of revenue.
  3. You can cut the fluff. The amount of motivation that profit-sharing programs give employees is mind-boggling. Some of the roles you're currently utilizing (like project managers) may be able to be cut. This helps the agency stay lean and allows a cushion to share 50% of topline revenue.
  4. Everyone will be an ambassador. Giving your employees a direct stake in the agency will hype them up. It makes natural brand ambassadors for your agency.
  5. Clients know the team is motivated. Clients understand offering 50% to your team will get (and keep) them motivated. And that means clients rest assured the team is doing a great job at all times.

Why Agencies Must Only Hire Specialists

When you need someone to do SEO work, don't just hire "someone" - hire an SEO expert. This may sound obvious, but most agencies aren't following this rule. Tons of agencies just hire generalists and train for the skill. Try it the other way around.

If you pack your agency with people who are really good at one thing, everyone is going to be the best at their jobs. You can probably hire fewer people. And, best of all, your clients will get the best possible help.

Struggling to convince talent to come onboard? Consider filling in the holes with hyper-specialized freelancers.

One Big Employee Compensation Secret

Are you ready for the big secret? For most employees, it's not all about the money. Your team has to show up every day for work. In fact, half their life is basically going to be spent there. So having the right atmosphere and breeding a good agency culture is crucial when it comes to motivating, inspiring, and engaging employees. Believe it or not, amazing culture is another way to compensate your team.

So, you can bonus your team or offer a profit-sharing incentive, but if your culture is garbage, the team is not going to engage. When you start thinking about salary, think culture first. You can make your team happy by providing an amazing place to work (first) and then think about the compensation model and any bonus structure.

How to Implement Profit-Sharing

For smaller agencies, changing the salary structure is a breeze. But, if your agency has over 10 team members, it can be difficult to make a wide-reaching change. If you're just now considering a profit-sharing model, you'll need to spend time forecasting. The key is to build out data models and track cash flow before implementing a profit-sharing model, so you can be sure the agency can support it.

In other words... it's tough but, it's definitely doable. Because -- your salary structure could be the one thing holding back your agency's success.

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

Having trouble getting your agency to the next level? Want to increase agency revenue but can't get beyond a plateau? Then it might be time to get a little uncomfortable and take some risks. If you really want to level-up your agency check out the big risk one agency took which yielded 4X revenue in just two years.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • 3 hacks to help your agency level up and increase revenue.
  • Why outbound will make your digital agency revenue soar.
  • How to hire the right agency sales team.

Today, I talked with Chris Brencans, CMO at OnTheMap — a full-service digital marketing agency. Chris's agency does something that may sound a little strange. Half of the agency's team are salespeople. That's right! 50% of the approximately 70 people at the agency are involved in sales, and business is booming. OnTheMap's revenue has grown from $1 Million to $4 Million in the last 2 years by investing in its salespeople and taking some risks. Chris is on the show to share some tips with us.

3 Hacks Help Your Agency Level Up

  1. Lean on your processes. If you don't have processes, you're driving the highway without cruise control, constantly speeding up and slowing down. Why make it harder on yourself? Once you build-out the right processes, you can take your foot off the gas and start working on other areas of your business. You shouldn't be spending a ton of your time on client work. Instead, build processes so you can work on the business rather than in it.
  2. Find the glaring problems. Here's the big secret — you already know what your biggest problems are. Chances are, everyone in your agency knows what they are. Ask your employees and be honest with yourself as you reflect on them. They may be hard to fix. But ignoring them is causing them to be bigger than necessary. Tackle your agency's problems because they are a roadblock to your growth.
  3. Take some risks! If you have processes in place (#1) and you don't have any big problems (#2), then you're not taking enough risks. And, your reservations are what's holding back your agency's growth. Take a leap - bet on your agency! Organic growth still requires money, time, and resources. Be willing to spend them. (Like Chris's agency -- their big leap was betting on their sales team and poof! 4x growth in 2 years.)

Why Outbound Will Make Your Digital Agency Revenue Soar

Inbound marketing keeps you successful. But it's outbound marketing which makes you successful.

Chris's agency is 50% salespeople. They bet big on outbound, and it grew them from $1m to $4m. This isn't a one-off tactic. Neil Patel uses outbound to grow his agency, and I had one agency on the podcast who has grown to $6m in 2 years tackling outbound.

Outbound just works. You can execute it on a lean budget. There are tons of killer strategies to follow. And it's easy to get started. You don't need half of your team in sales, like Chris. It just depends on your specific processes. But you definitely need one person, or a few, dedicated to sales.

How to Hire the Right Agency Sales Team

Attracting salespeople is all about salary, benefits, and culture. Selecting the right candidate(s) is all about these 3 things.

  • Look for initiative. You want to give your salespeople some formal training, sure. But you should be able to hand them processes and let them run with it. This team is going to be handling valuable leads. Make sure you give them some room to prove themselves. I believe salespeople prove their worth in their first 60 days. If they aren't cutting it.... you know what you have to do.
  • Find the right soft skills. They say good salespeople aren't made; they're born. That's sort of true. Amazing salespeople need the right soft skills. Look for empathy, leadership, and resolve. You want a team of great communicators. Always hire for soft skills first. You can train the rest of the skill sets but personality either works with your culture or it doesn't.
  • Seek an eagerness to constantly improve. You want a team that's always looking to do better than last month. Do they set their own goals? Do they take constructive feedback? Make sure their hungry and eager to be successful.
Direct download: How_One_Agency_Increased_Revenue_by_4X_in_2_Years.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am MDT