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

Have you ever stopped to really think about what is really driving growth? What inspires you to keep doing what you do? Do you know your agency's purpose?  Are you driven by something more than just profit? Research shows businesses with a purpose often fair better than those that don't. 

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to determine your agency's purpose. 
  • The value of authenticity. 
  • 2 tips to become a trusted partner.

Today I talked with Brian Powell, managing partner at Matchfire, a brand design and digital agency. Matchfire focuses on purpose-driven marketing and helping brands embrace who they are. Brian's here today to discuss why all agencies should have a purpose and how your agency can find its own. 

How to Determine Your Agency's Purpose

Open up a book or turn on the TV and chances are, you'll find something about purpose. There's a growing movement to do everything with intention and create with meaning. From an agency standpoint, having a purpose doesn't just help your clients understand who you are, it helps you and your team be better at what you do. When you understand the why, it's easier to come up with the how. 

For me, my purpose to create a resource I wish I had when I was running an agency. If you don't know your agency's purpose, consider these questions:

  • Why do you want to make money?
  • Why do you want to create your product or provide your service?
  • What makes you different? 
  • What kind of void would there be if your product didn't exist?

Talk to your partners and stakeholders and really dig deep. Why do you do what you do? When you can answer this, a whole new world will open up.

The Value of Authenticity

For some, the word authentic may come across as hippy-dippy as the word purpose. But trust me, consumers can spot phony a mile away. When you choose your agency's purpose, it has to be authentic. Authentic, purpose-driven marketing can drive business and social impact. 

Along the lines of authenticity, it's important to know what you're good at. When you know your areas of strength, you can specialize and be the best at one thing. Specializing doesn't have to mean exclusivity but allows you the ability to say no. You can't be all things to all people

When you take a step back and say, "This isn't where I excel," or "Let me recommend you to someone who can help," referrals, goodwill, and word of mouth will come back to you tenfold. Don't try to pretend you're something you're not just to win over a client. When you're honest, you'll earn the client's trust and they'll be more likely to call you when something else comes up.

2 Tips to Become a Trusted Partner

As an agency, the worst thing you can be is an order taker. You don't want to be treated like a commodity. The ultimate goal is for clients to view you as a trusted authority and an expert in your field. Purpose and authenticity will take you a long way in earning a client's trust, but there are two things to really focus on if you want to be a go-to resource:

  1. Have an opinion: There's a misconception that marketing is the business of ideas. When in fact, what we do is give people our opinions. Clients want to hear what they should do and why they should do it based on your experience and market knowledge. 
  2. Ask questions: What is your client's purpose? Why do they do what they do? From the very beginning you need to ask your client questions like: what do you want to do, what do you want to accomplish, and what are the challenges getting in the way? Finally, end with: how can I help you get there?

What is it that separates you from everyone else? Why should clients see you as more than just a "me too" agency? Answer these questions and be true to who you are and both you and your clients will reap the benefits. 

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

Are you looking for an efficient way to attract more leads? Do you want to get to a place where you can pick and choose your clients? Content is a great way to generate leads with your ideal clients. When you generate the right content you will find the perfect prospects seek you out.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • #1 way to increase organic traffic.
  • How to get over your content creation fears.
  • How to create more content right now.

Today I sat down for a really fun chat with Jason Sirotin, co-founder of Brain Bytes Creative, a digital marketing agency. Jason spends a lot of his time creating fun, highly-opinionated content. He's here to discuss the value of content for digital agencies and how you can use content to see results right away.

#1 Way to Increase Organic Traffic

As agency owners, we all hope to get to a point where we can pick and choose who we work with. Work becomes more enjoyable when you do what you love for the people and brands you actually want to work with. But often, we limit ourselves to take on projects and clients that aren't necessarily a good fit because we need to make payroll or pay rent. What if you had more options?

Content is a quick and easy way to increase organic traffic and generate more leads. Plus it helps establish you as a thought leader and trusted authority. It doesn't matter what type of content you create. You can write blog posts, start a podcast, or create videos on YouTube. The number one thing you need to do is let go of your fear of failure. Sometimes your content will resonate, sometimes it won't. The key is to just produce.

How to Get Over Your Content Creation Fears

One of the reasons people hesitate to put out content is their fear of judgment by the audience. But Jason says you need to forget about the haters. In fact, he relishes in the negative comments because they promote more conversation. Think of it this way, each comment counts as fresh content. This keeps your page relevant which is good for SEO. So don't turn off the comments and don't be afraid to put your opinion out there. Your words and wisdom will resonate with the right clients.

How to Create More Right Now

Sure, there is such a thing as bad content. But we all have to start somewhere. The more you put out there, the better you will get. The number one goal is progress.

Jason says, right now, it's all about speed. You have to be reactive. If there is a current trend or a popular news topic, get your content out there and provide guidance or an opinion. So what if someone doesn't agree with what you have to say, maybe they'll learn something new or see things from a different perspective.

When you create agency content, don't forget about SEO, but more importantly, don't forget to think (and write) like a human. Google is designed to give users the best results for their queries. You can help users (i.e. your potential prospects) make a decision by showing them you're an expert in what you do. And when you find the keyword that resonates with your audience, you'll see the leads come flooding in.

There is no way to overstate the importance of content, especially in today's climate. The more you put out there, the more your audience will have the opportunity to view you as an authority. Let down your guard, brush aside the fear, and start creating.

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

Looking for a creative way to rapidly grow your agency? Wondering how to structure an agency acquisition without getting screwed on the other side? Whether you want to grow your agency through acquisition or are considering selling to lessen your risk liability, acquisition is one of the best strategies. And that’s exactly how one agency soared to $15 Million in under one year.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • 3 myths about agency acquisition.
  • What motivates an agency owner to sell?
  • 7 criteria of a good agency acquisition.
  • How to avoid getting burned on an earnout.
  • How to structure the best agency acquisition.

On today’s show, you’ll get to hear from one of my business partners, Thomas LeMaguer CEO of Republics which is the agency we started about 10 months ago. The goal of the agency is to be the leading platform for growth as a service. In that short time, we’ve worked to rapidly grow the agency to $15 million through acquisition. He’s here to talk about how you can grow your agency through acquisitions, or set yourself up for a fair and profitable sale of your own agency.

3 Myths About Agency Acquisitions

1. You Need a Ton of Cash to Buy Another Agency

Nope! Thomas says you don’t need money in order to buy another business, you just need some creativity. Also, banks are more willing to loan money to agencies that are in the $1 Million to $5 Million EBITDA range. Bigger agencies with higher EBITDA are a riskier investment for them because often those businesses are too reliant on their owner.

2. Small Agencies Cannot Afford to Buy a Bigger Agency

Not true! As Thomas put it, a minnow can swallow the whale. The whale is easier because it’s stronger. Again, this is where creativity comes into play. The smaller agency is actually more nimble and can adapt to the processes and systems of the bigger one.

3. The Best Acquisition is a Failing Agency That You Can Turn Around

Wrong again! You don’t need (nor should you want) to buy a failing business and try to fix it. That usually turns into way more work and headaches. The way we grew our agency was by acquiring profitable agencies with monthly recurring revenue, solid profit, and strong leadership.

What Motivates an Agency Owner to Sell?

Usually, the owners of solid, profitable agencies want to sell for one of two reasons. Either they no longer enjoy what they’re doing and feel like their only way to eliminate what they hate is by getting out of the business entirely. Or, they want to reduce their personal risk and feel like a more secure, stable “job” is better than the liability of ownership.

Thomas says in either case, true wealth is built by a series of transactions. An acquisition can alleviate agency owner risk and help them get back to just doing what they love.

7 Criteria of a Good Agency Acquisition

First and foremost, the only way for an acquisition to work is if both agencies are aligned core values. If the foundation is there, then we look at 7 specific criteria:

  1. Does the agency offer complementary services that we can scale?
  2. Are they at $1 Million+ in EBITDA?
  3. Is there a strong leadership team that will remain in place?
  4. Are they physically located in an area we would like to be?
  5. Does the agency have good financial controls?
  6. Is there 60% in monthly recurring revenue?
  7. Are they motivated and ready to sell?

How to Avoid Getting Burned on an Earnout

I used to advise agencies to avoid an earnout as part of their acquisition structure. But, I’ve learned an earnout isn't bad as long as it’s structured in a way benefits both buyer and seller.

Thomas and I agree the best agency acquisition is one where everybody wins. A fair and honest deal beneficial to both parties is the best way to work an acquisition. And, it’s the way we’ve structured five acquisitions in ten months in order to grow from $0 to $15 Million.

Learn from my mistake. When I sold my agency, I got burned on my earnout. It was tied to profitability within a specific time period. When time ran out (and the agency sold a second time) I got screwed out of the earnout. That’s why we don’t like to structure earnouts the same way.

Instead, the earnout is theirs to gain at their own pace. When the agency hits its goals, we both win. The seller with their earnout and us with a more profitable agency. Of course, they’re motivated to earn it sooner rather than later which is great. Win-win!

How to Structure the Best Agency Acquisition Deal

If you’re considering selling -- or considering buying one -- but you feel the agency’s value is going to be greater in the future, you can still sell now without screwing your future self. There’s a smart way to structure your acquisition -- here’s how we’ve been doing it:

The initial payout is half cash upfront and the owner stays on with us. They hold 20-30% of their own stock for future payout. Over the course of time, we grow the business together and they cash out their stock in the future at a 10X return.

For example, if you have a $2 Million agency, you’re getting $1 Million in cash in the present and pull $10 Million in the future. We help each other grow and fulfill the agency’s full potential.

As Thomas quoted an old proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Are You Considering Selling Your Agency?

If you’re interested in learning more about the acquisition process and/or interested in possibly selling your agency check out: JasonSwenk.com/sellagency

Direct download: How_an_Agency_Went_0_to_15_Million_in_Under_One_Year.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you a small agency worried your size might be holding you back? Afraid you might not have what it takes to compete with the big agencies? The more you put yourself out there, the sooner you'll realize it's not the size of your agency that makes a difference, but rather, what you bring to the table.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • #1 reason you should hire people smarter than you. 
  • How to turn your agency's weakness into its strength. 
  • Why agencies need to build authentic relationships.

Today I sat down with Valerie Moizel, executive creative director and co-founder at The Woo, a digital marketing agency. Valerie started her agency almost 23 years ago with a little bit of naivety and a whole lot of drive. Today she's here to discuss key connections she made to make her agency successful and the number one thing her agency has done to see continued growth.

#1 Reason You Should Hire People Smarter Than You

There's a certain level of confidence required to start an agency. A lot of us get into the agency business because we can do something not everyone can. So it can feel kind of counterintuitive to actively seek out people who are smarter than you. But it's one of the best things you can do, especially when you are first starting out. 

It's important to recognize there are some things you are good at, and some things you are not. When Valerie first started out, she had a lot of drive and passion, but not a lot of experience. So her first hire was someone very established within the industry. She says it was the combination of her naiveness and fearlessness and her partner's experience that really propelled the agency forward. Surround yourself with people who are the best at what they do. 

How to Turn Your Agency's Weakness Into Its Strength

As agency owners, we somehow got it in our heads that the bigger the team, the more successful the agency. So it's easy to feel a disadvantage as a smaller agency. But that's not always the case. 

Valerie says time after time, she is able to use her agency's size to their advantage. In fact, her partner would even make the pitch, "Sure, you can hear from all these big agencies, but don't you want to see what a boutique agency can do?" Even if a client didn't choose them as the agency of record, often they would still get the call to work on special projects because clients loved their passion. In most cases, smaller agencies can pivot quicker and be more flexible than the big guys. That's an advantage every client needs!

Whether you're big, small, niche, or full-service, embrace what makes you special. Often what you view as your weakness, your prospects will see as a strength. 

Why Agencies Need to Build Authentic Relationships

Curious about how Valerie named her agency? Valerie says she scoured the dictionary looking for the perfect name for her agency. When she got to the end of the book, she came across the word "woo." Woo means "to seek favor and affection." And at the end of the day, Valerie says that's what our job as marketers is. 

Look at the advertisements you see on TV. Think about the ones you connect with. Today, people don't want companies who beat their chests and say "look at me." They want to support brands with shared passions and values. When you look at your campaign through the lens of the customer and not through the client, that's when you're more likely to build connections. 

If your goal is to create an agency, the only person who can limit you is you. When you surround yourself with the right people, embrace your strengths, and build meaningful relationships, everything else will come easier. 

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

Do you find that no matter how hard you work, you're just not profitable? Are you spending too much time on the wrong things? If you want to be successful, you need to evaluate your priorities and get rid of the stuff that's dragging you down. 

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • 2 Lessons on reinvesting agency profits. 
  • Why investing in the right team is the key to growth.
  • Why your agency must embrace change. 

Today I sat down for a really informative chat with Mark Bower, managing director of Woven, a brand engagement agency. After 20 years in the industry, Mark recently had to close shop on the agency he started. Now, with a new agency, he's here to share what he's learned and what he would have done differently to put his last agency in a better position. 

2 Lessons on Reinvesting Agency Profits

When you're in the thick of building an agency, it's far too easy to become fixated on growth, growth, growth. You get so consumed with getting bigger and more successful you justify putting everything back in the agency to promote even greater growth. But if you're not careful, this approach can land you right where Mark was. He had a few really good clients, but nothing to show for it. So how do you avoid this?

  • Know where your profit is coming from: Sounds simple, right? The mistake Mark made was taking the profit from the larger, more successful clients, and reinvesting it into the ones that weren't doing so well. Watch out for this. Do an audit. If you're losing money because you're spending too much on clients that will never be profitable, know when to let them go. 
  • Give yourself a rainy day fund: Mark says he took everything he earned and put it right back into the agency. When the agency began to fail, he had no way to bail them out. Take some of your profits and put it aside, whether it be in property, equity, or even the bank. And, I often tell my clients to take a line of credit when you don't need it. That way it's available when you do.

Why Investing in the Right Team is the Key to Growth

It's tempting to try to fix something that doesn't work. As humans, we're natural people pleasers. Letting go of a client, or team member can feel like a failure and cause awkward confrontation. But when you invest too much time forcing a relationship that isn't the right fit, you lose more than just money

Mark says a lot of his agency business was project-based. There's nothing wrong with that. However, the team never had enough time to fill the pipeline. When your team devotes most of their time to putting out fires, they're unable to build relationships and generate more business. On the other hand, if you focus on what does work, you can invest in the right people who can help build and grow your agency. 

Why Your Agency Must Embrace Change

Have you ever heard this phrase: "That's just the way we've always done it."? If those words have come out of your mouth, eliminate them from your vocabulary now. 

As an agency owner, it's important to have clarity. But you also have to be willing to change directions. Decide what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Then, be willing to change your strategy completely in order to do so.  

The market is constantly resetting. If you don't reset, your agency might become irrelevant. Embrace opportunities to reinvent yourself and surround yourself with people who will do the same. Not everyone will stick around when things change. And that's okay. Those that leave will be happy somewhere else. 

It's important to put back into your agency, but it's even more important to do it right. When you take the time to focus on what works and what doesn't, you'll find it easier for your agency to grow. 

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

Is an acquisition in your agency's future but you're not sure how to find a potential buyer? Does your agency have incredible strategic partnerships? Sometimes, the best merger and acquisition deals come out of existing relationships with partners and businesses that offer complementary services. The key is to structure a beneficial and fair deal for both parties while avoiding the biggest acquisition pitfall.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Why agencies need to lead with data.
  • Agency acquisition mistake to avoid.
  • How to structure an agency owner's buyout.

Today I sat down for a discussion with Tim Curtis, President, and CEO of CohereOne, a direct-to-consumer marketing agency. Tim recently sold his agency to a strategic partner and took a little different approach. He's here to discuss what he did and why this option was the best choice for his agency.

Why Agencies Need to Lead with Data

We all have biases. It's human nature. So, of course, you think your agency provides the best solutions and services.  But while it's great to take pride in your work, when you are trying to sell (whether it's to a client or another agency), you want to put the data first.

As a data-driven agency, Tim knows the value of numbers. Numbers don't lie. So, if you want to sell the value of your service or communicate the results your agency can achieve, let the numbers do the talking. Once you provide the data, then you can explain why you're the best. Tim says, if you want to take advantage of opportunities, you have to understand the data, and then the context. In that order.

#1 Mistake in an Agency Acquisition

One mistake many agency owners make when there's a merger or acquisition deal on the table is letting their foot off the gas. They focus on the value of the sale instead of keeping the agency profitable.  Of course, it's more fun to think about the dollar signs, what you want to buy, and how much money you are going to make from a buyout. When this happens, people tend to relax, put in a little less effort, and look at the acquisition as a done deal. This is a mistake.

Regardless of your role in the agency, everyone needs to be all in until the deal is in ink. Continue to hustle, bring on new clients, and build new income. What happens when you start to take the foot off the gas? Best case scenario, you sour the relationship between you and the buyer. Worst case scenario, you lose the deal.

How to Structure an Agency Owner's Buyout

There are many ways to structure an acquisition. You can have more cash upfront and less earnout. Or you can have less cash, but retain a big piece of equity. Tim says, when it came to structuring his acquisition, he went with a hybrid approach.

Generally, when we consider earnout, we look at EBIDTA. Often, this is where sellers get the best deal. But Tim says, instead of EBIDTA, his earnout is based on gross sales. In addition, they've also agreed to guaranteed payments based on this amount. With this approach, there's more incentive for everyone to focus on the growth of the business, rather than bleed it for profits. This way, the agency continues to grow momentum. Tim says, the industry as a whole is beginning to see more of a shift towards smaller percentages upfront. As such, it's important to look for the best way to get the most out of your deal.

Whether making a deal with a strategic partner or putting out feelers to merge with another agency, it all comes down to your approach. When you focus on what makes you valuable and keep your foot on the gas, you won't have to work as hard for a buyer to recognize your agency's value.

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

Are you tired of working for an agency? Do you feel like you could do things better yourself? Are you ready to start your own digital agency but afraid of the unknowns? You can spend all your time worrying about the uncertainty or you can get busy turning your dreams into reality.  

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • 2 things to set your agency up for success. 
  • 3 things to know about landing new agency clients. 
  • Can starting an agency be a side-hustle?

Today I sat down for a fun talk with George Ippolito, President, and Creative Director of IMA, a B2B digital agency. Unlike many agency owners, George didn't become an accident agency owner, he walked away from his job as an employee and made the conscious decision to branch out on his own. He's here to talk about why he made the jump and what he's learned along the way. 

2 Things to Set Your Agency Up for Success

Whether you fell into the agency world or have over 20 years in the business like Greg, starting out can be a challenge. Unless you have an established client base, it can feel like a mad scramble to bring in enough clients to be profitable. For Greg, things were even more challenging because he had a Non-Disclosure Agreement that prevented him from recruiting potential clients. So how do you make sure you get off to a good start?

  1. Give yourself a cushio: You're not going to make good decisions if you feel like you are already starting in the hole. Before Greg made the decision to start his agency, he made sure he had 6 months of expenses in the bank. The way he put it, with as much experience as he had, if he couldn't win new clients of his own within that time, he didn't deserve to own his own agency. 
  2. Consider what you have to offer: Because Greg signed an NDA with his last agency, his options were limited when it came to attracting new clients. This meant he had to take a close look at his strengths and how he could position his agency to attract clients.

3 Things to Know About Landing New Agency Clients

Let's be honest, clients are everything. You need clients to have a successful agency. But how do you find these clients if you don't already have established connections?

  1. Create multiple touchpoints: In the beginning, IMA used dimensional mailers, phone calls, emails — pretty much anything to get the prospect's attention. When you create multiple touchpoints, you increase the likelihood your prospects will pay attention to you. That said, it is possible to bug someone so much they never want to work with you. If you don't hear from a cold prospect within 5-6 contacts, it's time to let them go.
  2. Focus on how you can help: Prospects aren't interested in helping you make money; they're looking for someone who can fix their problems. Get your foot in the door and have those open and honest conversations. Listen to what your clients need and communicate a plan on how you can ease their pain points or solve their challenges. 
  3. Know when a client is not a good fit: You may be anxious to sign on as many clients as you can, but you want to make sure they are the right clients. If you can't provide what the client needs or they aren't the right fit for your agency, don't force it. 

Can Starting an Agency be a Side-Hustle?

The short answer is no. It may be tempting to try to start an agency on the side while working your full-time job. The logic here is, you always have a steady income stream while you try to make it on your own. While this might work for some people, 99% of the time it's a bad idea. 

You can't run a business part-time. Your growing marketing agency needs your focus, your ideas, and your time. If you are working two jobs at once, they will both suffer. And then there's you. You'll quickly discover you have no time to just "shut it off." You have to get in the mindset that even a full-time job does not provide job security. It may feel safer to keep your job, but sometimes, the risk is worth the reward. 

Starting an agency is an exciting time, but it comes with a very steep learning curve. The more you prepare and the bigger buffer you give yourself, the happier you'll wind up in the long run. 

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

Do you struggle to get clients to view you as an authority? Do you have a difficult time communicating value to your prospects and clients? Are you concerned about losing work to machine learning or AI? When you position your agency in the context of strategy, you bring value to clients and outlast computer intelligence.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • How to grow your agency team the right way. 
  • 3 ways to set your agency apart from AI.
  • Do your clients view your agency as a trusted advisor?

Today I sat down for an interesting talk with Dan Golden, co-founder and president of BFO, a digital marketing agency with over 60 employees globally. Over the past 10 years, Dan and his partner have grown their agency across the globe and learned what it takes to be successful in today's changing market. He's here to talk about what he's learned about growing a team and evolving his agency with changing technology over the past decade.  

How to Grow Your Agency Team the Right Way

When you're first starting an agency, it's easy to focus on rapid growth. What can I do to get more clients, make more money, and grow my team? It's a natural instinct. We all want to find success and we can be impatient waiting for it to come organically. But if you're not careful, you may find the growth of your team no longer supports the work you bring in. 

So how do you avoid this and make sure you don't have to make some painful cuts?

  • Focus on "right-sizing": As you're building your teams, don't simply be reactive to the work that comes in. Be intentional with the type and size of team you create. 
  • Resist the urge to overbuild management: It may seem like a natural progression to promote your early employees to managers as the agency begins to grow. But just because someone has been there the longest, doesn't mean they should be a manager. Put the right people in the right places and don't create a position you don't need. 

3 Ways to Set Your Agency Apart from AI

If you're not paying attention to AI, you should. AI is changing the industry and forcing many agencies to take a hard look at the way they do things. And the hard truth is, there are many agencies vulnerable to losing business to AI. The trick is to position yourself so you work with AI, not against it. This means:

  • Refocus on where you add value: A machine can compile spreadsheets and discover trends, but what about strategy? You may need to shift how you do business. However, if you restructure some of the engagement to strategy instead of execution, you will still end up with a valuable partnership. 
  • Embrace the change: AI isn't all bad. Automation can make your life easier and add value to your clients. Focus on how you can use this technology and act as a shepherd to guide clients through this new world. 
  • Up your skills: AI can have a steep learning curve. Be the best in class in understanding how to manipulate machine learning algorithms and do something not many other people can.  

Do Your Clients View Your Agency as a Trusted Advisor?

"Most agencies give away their secret sauce and then charge for cooking." As agencies, we tell our clients exactly what we do and why we do it. The problem is, eventually, you'll have clients who think they can do it on their own. But you can prevent this. 

  • Know the value of your services: One of the main reasons clients don't understand the value of strategy is because you don't understand the value of strategy. If you're not charging strategy as a separate line item, do it now. 
  • Be flexible: Things are changing. There are more resources available on the client's side than ever before. Some clients may not need you for everything. And that's okay. 
  • Ask the right questions: The client may think they have a better strategy, but what are they risking? Lay it out to them — How many leads are they getting? What is a lead worth? What type of traffic are they getting from these leads? When faced with hard facts, many clients will see the benefit of working with an expert. 

Now, more than ever, it's important to highlight what you bring to the table. When you position yourself as a trusted advisor instead of an executioner, your clients are going to have a harder time walking away. 

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

Are you thinking about selling your agency, but aren't sure where to start? Are you going through an acquisition and want to make sure you get it right? Selling an agency can seem overwhelming to someone who has never done it, but the more you know, the easier it will be. 

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Why you need to enter an acquisition with a clear vision. 
  • 2 things to include in agency valuation. 
  • #1 reason to take your time during your acquisition.

Today I sat down for an enlightening chat with Jack Burris, CEO of 54 Brands. After over 20 years in the business, Jack recently closed on an acquisition. He's here to talk about what the process looked like and how he made sure the whole process went seamlessly. 

Why You Need to Enter An Acquisition with a Clear Vision

If you're thinking about selling your agency, it's easy to become distracted. Far too often we spend so much time worrying about the money, we forget about why we got in the business in the first place. But when you evaluate your priorities, you're more likely to be satisfied with the end results. 

Jack is less than a year out of his agency acquisition. And so far, he has no regrets. One of the main reasons is he went into the process with a clear vision of what was important to him — the evolution of the agency and the clients. Knowing the new owners were on the same page in both regards, Jack says the acquisition went better than anticipated. 

2 Things to Include in Agency Valuation 

Price is a sticking point during any negotiation. You've put your blood, sweat, and tear into your agency. You want to make sure you get a fair price. But this is more than just a multiple of EBITDA. If you have a non-conventional agency or unique traits that make it special, it's important to make it's included in your valuation. What does this mean?

  • Client relationships: At the time of the acquisition, 54 Brands didn't have a lot of recurring revenue. But one thing they did have was long-term relationships. Some of their clients had been with the agency for more than 15 years. These relationships are important and add value to the agency. 
  • The agency structure: The agency had fewer full-time employees and more contractors. Jack believes their team structure was a big selling point because it allowed for more control over profit. 

#1 Reason to Take Your Time During Your Acquisition

Let's be honest. As entrepreneurs, we can be inpatient. During an acquisition, it's easy to think, "Why is this taking so long?" But Jack explains it's important to take your time. Not rushing the process allows for two things. Not only do you have more time to make sure you get the numbers right, but you also have time to process your emotions. Giving up control of your agency is a big deal. Allow yourself enough time to process the transition so you don't immediately second guess your decision immediately following the acquisition. 

When you're going through an acquisition, it's important to look at the big picture. It's about more than just the money, it's about where you want to see the agency in the future. When you take your time and set clear priorities, you're more likely to be happy with the end result. 

 

 

Would you like to know what your agency is worth if you wanted to sell it today?

Click here for my Agency Valuation Chart

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

1