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

How do you make decisions when there are multiple agency partners? Can you truly grow without second-guessing the big decisions? How do you grow an agency with multiple partners? Should you build from within or use acquisition as a growth strategy? When there are many decision-makers at an agency it can be a challenge to agree on the best way to grow. But with mutual respect and a yin-yang of strengths, it can work.

In today’s episode, we’ll cover:

  • Can things really work with multiple agency partners?
  • Using acquisition as an agency growth strategy.
  • Deciding on when and which agency to acquire.
  • How to get through an economic recession.

I chatted with Peter Bishop, Partner and Director at ZGM Marketing Partners in Canada. He has been in digital marketing for over 20+ years and, as it turns out, we share a ton of old-school experience on the evolution of design software. But, now as a partner at ZGM, he is on the show to share what he’s learned about sharing partnership with four others as well as how they use acquisition as a growth strategy.

Can Things Really Work with Multiple Agency Partners?

Having one owner can be great or it can be awful. We all have biases but when it comes to agencies, they are led by creative souls and that is usually the backbone of an agency. As Peter points out, creatives aren’t usually awesome at finance or other business skills. Having a partnership that balances each other out is usually beneficial.

Peter’s agency partnerships include a creative person, financial person, an accounts person... so everyone brings something different to the table. There are rarely problems among them, but when there is a problem it’s a big problem.

How To Get Through Partner Disagreements

Peter says the agency partnership is like any relationship. When there’s mutual respect you can get through anything. Although ZGM has five partners, there is one partner who has stepped away from day-to-day involvement and is more like a silent investor.

The partners involve him in the bigger decisions and Peter says, he’s become like the wise grandfather figure. He is more objective and also calls bullshit on them when necessary. Every partnership needs this type of unbiased person, board of advisors, or even a mastermind who is looking out for the best interest of the agency.

We can’t do it all by ourselves, so having others helping and guiding is the best way to build and grow. Holding things close to your chest is no longer the way to do business. When we all share, we all develop and grow. Providing advice to others can also provide clarity for yourself.

Using Acquisition as an Agency Growth Strategy

ZGM has used acquisition as a growth strategy and Peter attributes much of their growth to this decision. They've acquired three agencies so far, and each time there’s an acquisition he feels significant growth in clients and staff, as well as in top-line revenue.

Culture is key and it’s one of the first things ZGM looks at before considering an acquisition. It sounds cliche it’s true - culture is everything. Agencies can’t pay top dollar for talent but culture is where they compete. Top talent can be drawn to the right culture. And, your agency co-workers usually become like a second family. So a culture that fits is key in making sure the family functions. So when merging or acquiring another agency, culture fit is one of the most important aspects.

How to Decide When and What Agency to Acquire

ZGM has been very strategic about its acquisitions. They have found that when they want to go into a new direction -- more product-based accounts, for example -- doing it organically isn’t realistic. So their growth strategy has been focused on acquisitions that can help them break barriers that afford them growth in new areas.

Getting Through the Current Economic Recession

Now more than ever, our clients are leaning on us to be creative and solve their business problems. Peter and partners have told their team, instead of looking for bigger spends or more money, ask how can you help clients get through this crisis. We need to help clients figure out ways to pivot their business and survive the economic recession.

Bottom line, money isn’t everything. Now is the time to be human.

Direct download: How_Do_5_Partners_Lead_a_Successful_Digital_Agency_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Are you struggling to find your purpose in the marketing agency world? Do you find yourself doing all the work, taking all the risks, and feeling like you should have all of the early rewards as well? Are the clients you're taking on reflecting the vision you have for your agency? There is a lot of joy to be found in owning your own marketing agency, and it is most often found when values are aligned.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why being prepared and reinvesting are important.
  • Identifying your marketing agency's purpose.
  • Three ways to find joy in your agency again.

I talked to Sean DallasKidd, Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Demonstrate, a boutique agency that provides public relations and creative content. At just over one-year-old, Demonstrate has two offices and close to 20 people on its team. Sean talks about the ways he was able to find such quick success with his agency while continuing to enjoy the work and the atmosphere he has created.

Why Being Prepared and Reinvesting Are Important

While Sean and his partners only started Demonstrate a year ago, they were hardly newcomers to the agency industry. Sean worked for a number of agencies and in the marketing departments of large companies before taking on the endeavor. "We got lucky by being prepared, willing to invest in the business, and not letting greed get in the way." He adds that other components he and his partners brought to Demonstrate were a strong network, good momentum,

Often, new agency owners find themselves doing the bulk of the work and making the bulk of the investment. So, it is not uncommon for an owner to decide he or she should keep all of the early rewards. This is often a mistake, as it gets in the way of investments that should be made in order to help the business grow. Further, if the single focus of the business is to make money, it prevents an agency owner from building the team and attracting the clients that will help your agency succeed and grow.

Identifying Your Marketing Agency's Purpose

Sean and his partners spend a lot of time helping their clients identify the purpose of their brand. In order to do this effectively, the team at Demonstrate had to identify its own brand purpose. Sean says, in order to do this, they started by asking themselves two questions:

  1. What would you like to do every day?
  2. What do you never want to do?

"On your slowest week," Sean says, "You're going to be focused on your work at least five-sevenths of the time. If you don't like your work, you won't enjoy your life."

Three Ways to Find Joy in Your Agency Again

How do you make your agency something you enjoy, rather than something that merely pays the bills? Sean offers the following tips.

  1. Is your team on board? Use the same filter when choosing team members as you do when choosing clients. For Demonstrate, that filter is whether the individual or company's beliefs and desires align well with the vision they have for the agency.
  2. Who is in control? Sean says there is a decision to make: You can choose to define your agency by selecting the type of work you want to do and the clients you want to work for. Or, you can let your clients define what type of agency you are. Staying in control of who and what you're willing to take on is an important part of enjoying the work you do.
  3. Don't get stagnant. Losing passion for your work is a quick way to lose your grip on the agency culture you're trying to create. Sean believes that continuing to grow, learn, and develop relationships with your team and clients is the way to create a more dynamic business.

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

Do you have the right systems and processes the will allow you to work only with your ideal agency clients? Have you identified your ideal agency clients and niched down enough for them? Are you concerned about turning away clients that aren't the right fit? Being the best in the business requires discipline, but it also helps you determine whether a client is right for you.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Why determining your niche helps you land ideal clients.
  • How discipline is crucial to your agency's success.
  • Why it's important to put people over profit.

I talked to Lindsey Groepper, President of Blast Media, a B2B SaaS PR agency she and her two business partners started 15 years ago. Lindsey and partners decided the agency's goal is enriching people's lives. From there, they set out to determine a niche to achieve that goal. Lindsey is here to talk about the discipline needed to grow a successful niche agency. She also shares how your niche can be used as a tool to develop a well-rounded and resilient client list.

Why Determining Your Niche Helps You Find Better Clients

While many agencies struggle to determine their niche, Lindsey says that Blast Media knew early that they wanted to provide PR for tech companies. However, over the fifteen years in business, Blast Media has distilled its client offerings down to just one specialty. This began five years ago when they realized offering a little bit of everything was not as successful a path as providing one service extremely well. 

Refining their focus required some tough decisions. It meant the partners had to say goodbye to some clients they enjoyed working with, as well as the revenue from the clients that no longer fit their model. On the other hand, though, it led to the creation of a 30-day onboarding process all

Blast Media's clients are required to undergo. During this process, the client learns about how the agency works and the entire team learns all about the company before they begin doing work.

The theory, Lindsey says, is "you come to us with a goal and we can tell you how to get there. But the client can't do both. If you want to tell us how then you will have to have a different goal." Clients who can't stick to the process are not the right clients.

Why Processes and Discipline Are Crucial to Success

The client onboarding process is required for all clients, with no exceptions. The result of that process helped the agency find and land ideal agency clients. It also helped that agency retain amazing team members. Last year, Blast Media had zero turnover. Team retention "really goes back to staying disciplined with the clients you're bringing on," Lindsey says. "If your main goal is profit, then your culture suffers because you're too busy scaling to champion the culture that brought your team to you in the first place."

Discipline means not making decisions based on short-term situations. Your policy for determining which clients to work with should not have any exceptions. If you're worried about losing a client, remember what Lindsey tells her team: "Every client will someday no longer be a client. That is the life of an agency. As long as they didn't leave because of a failure on our part, we are OK because we have a pipeline of clients to bring in to replace them."

Why It's Important to Put People Over Profit

Knowing when to say no to a prospect doesn't mean you can help in other ways. Lindsey says Blast Media regularly refers prospective clients to other agencies who are better able to meet their specific needs. The ability to place people over profit helps build relationships. It helps another agency and a client to find each other. That good karma always comes back around. By developing a relationship with other agencies, you will find they will reciprocate.

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

Does owning your agency give you a sense of significance? Do you ever wonder or worry about what an acquisition might feel like? Will you know when it's the right time to sell your agency? The marketing agency industry is always evolving. Selling your digital agency doesn't mean your journey is over; it might just be another step in a longer journey.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Leveraging your strengths in an agency acquisition.
  • Are you learning and growing with your agency?
  • One major key to working with contractors.

I talked to Adam Weil, Partner and Creative Director for White Rabbit Group, based out of Seattle. Adam started his own agency several years ago. He eventually sold it to White Rabbit. Adam is here to discuss the communication and mindset necessary to deal with dramatic changes that often occur by having your agency acquired, obtaining a new partner, or deciding when to outsource work to a third party.

Leveraging Your Strengths When You Sell Your Agency

Adam started an agency focused on designing websites and mobile sites for clients. It was very much an opportunity he grew into, as he journeyed from simply wanting to own his own online business to knocking on the doors of potential clients and learning new ways to connect with them. Over the course of several years, he surrounded himself with people who were smarter in various aspects of the business than he was and learning as much as he can about the industry.

When it came time for Adam's agency to be acquired by White Rabbit, a development agency that was servicing a number of creative agencies and bringing their designs to life, he brought those years of experience and learning to the table. "One important lesson I learned is that you really have to play to your strengths," he said. He realized what he is good at and likes to do was intersecting with the opportunity to grow something much bigger than himself.

Adam knew the acquisition was the right opportunity for growth because it would take the agency he started to the next level. As he began to deal with the emotional aspect of no longer having his own agency, Adam avoided letting those emotions derail the deal. Rather than looking at his agency's acquisition as the end, "I just kept thinking about future opportunities," he says. "I viewed it as the next step in my career."

Are You Learning and Growing With Your Agency?

One crucial piece of agency growth is liking what you do. If you enjoy the work, you will look for ways to improve your skills and continually improve your service offerings. Liking what you do offers a second benefit, as well: The ability to learn from those around you.

"Agencies are unique because they are such good vessels of growth. You get to try so many new things, and you will never know it all. You have to connect with people who are way ahead of you and smarter than you," Adam says. "There is so much competition and such an opportunity of growth that you have to stay on the cutting edge."

One Major Key to Working With Contractors

Even if you aren't planning a merger or acquisition, the marketing agency industry is one that never stops evolving. While this evolution is the key to future opportunities, it is also the catalyst that requires many agencies to outsource work. Working with contractors is also a step forward in the progression of an agency, Adam explains, and one that should be entered just as cautiously.

Check at least three references for any contractors you are considering working with, and also check their work. "Don't just take their word for it," Adam warns. "Make sure you actually look at their portfolio and make sure it's pixel perfect." He stresses it is also important to be sure the contractor you're considering is strong in the area of communication and they have the tools necessary to do the work.

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

Do you ever wonder what the big guys with over 100 agency employees are doing to be successful? Wonder what it takes to truly be a full-service agency? In order to have a successful agency, do you have to live in a large city like New York or LA? Careful planning and an understanding of your clients' needs is vital to building an agency and a large team able to provide a variety of different services.

In this episode, we'll cover:

  • Having a long-term plan for your agency.
  • Mentoring your agency team.
  • Why technology is more important than physical location.

I talked to Reid Carr, the CEO of Red Door Interactive, a full-service agency headquartered in San Diego that works with a number of well-known clients. Eighteen years ago, Reid decided he hadn't found a place where he wanted to be, so he created one. Since then, he learned a thing or two about growing a successful agency of 100 employees. Here are some steps he learned from the experience of providing full-service in an age of rapidly evolving technology.

Step One: Have a Long-Term Plan

According to Reid, the most important thing he did for Red Door happened before the business even began. He took a business plan writing class and developed a business plan workbook. And the plan wasn't just what he was going to do in the time immediately after starting the business. It was a 10-year plan, and while it did address revenue and how many team members he planned to have, it focused on other aspects of the business:

  • Ensuring that the team members who were hired to work for the agency were properly trained and given the freedom to excel in the service area where they were hired. Also ensuring resiliency in each service team by cross-training.  This makes recovering from a team member leaving easier for those who remain.
  • Creating value for clients by integrating services and hiring experts in each service area. This broadens out the overall strategy for each unique client through an emphasis on communication between the service teams.
  • Develop a portfolio of work to show prospective clients. Reid said this is often difficult for an agency just starting out because they have to get jobs to show work. In the early years, Red Door did a lot of pro-bono work for non-profit organizations as a way to develop a portfolio of work.

Step Two: Mentor Your Team

"I love having a bigger team," says Reid. "Foundationally, with a bigger team, there are a lot of people helping each other out, as long as that is the culture you have developed."

Reid says developing a culture of teamwork and success is a matter of hiring smart people and giving them reasons to want to stay, as well as helping them to progress to each new structural level. A lot of individuals who work in the marketing agency industry tend to be young and often show great leadership skills but little managerial experience. "So you're working with managers," he says. "And you're managing managers and you're managing managers who are managing people." 

So what is the secret? "The relationship you have with your managers is the relationship you have with your company," says Reid.

Step Three: Technology Matters More Than Location

There's an old adage in the real estate industry: Location, location, location. That adage is often heard in the marketing agency industry, as well. Reid believes many clients are hesitant to work with agencies located in other markets. Small town agencies are particularly at a disadvantage. Likewise, there are many agency owners who believe they can't offer all services or attract large clients because they're not in a big market. 

"Location doesn't make you more valuable," Reid says. "It doesn't offer any value other than exposure and access to certain things. Specializing and being the best is what makes you valuable." There is also a lot of value in people living and working where they feel most comfortable. The technological evolution provides the opportunity to offer more services, as well as the opportunity to be successful from anywhere. This means you can hire amazing remote talent to work from anywhere and service clients from all around the world.

Want to Scale Your Agency's Media Buying?

Our sponsor, BuyerTool is a new tool agencies use to manage more ad accounts and clients. BuyerTool automatically builds your dashboard! It allows you to manage all of your ad accounts, team members, and clients from a single UI. Your team can do in minutes what used to take experts hours to accomplish.

If you want to drastically streamline your media buying operations visit BuyerTool.io/Swenk and get a free 2-week trial just for Smart Agency podcast listeners.

Direct download: Three_Steps_to_Building_a_Successful_Agency_of_100_Employees.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Should you start an agency or buy an existing one? Do you have the right skill set for owning a successful agency? This isn't really a clear path on the right way to start an agency. Sometimes you just have to do what today's guest did and jump right in.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Leveraging your skillset when you acquire a marketing agency.
  • 3 ways to invest in your agency's talent.
  • Why agencies must educate clients on value.

Today I had a really interesting conversation with Joycelyn David, owner of AV Communication, a multicultural digital agency based out of Toronto. Joycelyn recently purchased a 7-figure agency after spending over 10 years as that agency's client. She is sharing what's worked, what didn't, and why she decided to take the leap to acquire an agency instead of starting from scratch.

Leveraging Your Skill Set for a Successful Agency

Joycelyn, like many of us, didn't plan to own an agency, she just kind of fell into it. But when she was presented with the opportunity to acquire one, she decided to dive in. And, like most of us, she says, if she could do it all again, she'd do it in a heartbeat.  So what gave her the confidence to know she had what it takes? An understanding of her basic skill sets.

Running an agency is very much skills-based. And it's using those skills to produce results for clients. Before you think "I don't have enough experience to run my own agency," take some time to look at the skills you already have. For Joycelyn, she had spent over a decade on the client-side of the agency space and built solid relationships. She also had a degree in multicultural communications which ultimately helps her understand the needs of her clients better.

Recognize what you have to offer. Surround yourself with a team that believes in your vision. When you do, you'll find owning an agency isn't as overwhelming as it seems.

3 Ways to Invest in Your Agency's Talent

Joycelyn says the most important part of her agency is the people who work there. But soon after she acquired AV Communications, she realized there were legacy employees who had been there since the beginning and then a revolving door of new employees. So what did she do? She spent time developing a better culture for the agency. Her tips:

  1. Invest your time: Joycelyn says she spends 45-60 minutes with each team member every week to check in and work on employee development. She has observed that something that may come natural or seem obvious to her may actually be a challenge for a newer member of the team.
  2. Mentorship: One of the great things about investing in your team is providing them with the skills and the confidence to pass on to junior team members. When you create this culture from the top, learning becomes organic.
  3. Formal skills development: This includes guest speakers, hands-on workshops, and even travel opportunities. There are some skill sets that can come only from engaging with other clients and getting out in the field.

Why Agencies Must Educate Clients on Value

AV Communications works with a very unique niche. They work with brands to understand and connect with multicultural audiences. So what does it mean to fight for your niche? You have to understand your value. For Joycelyn, this means helping companies understand one out of every three Canadians has a multicultural background. By ignoring this, they are missing out on a big share of the market. What unique value does your agency bring to the table?

Start with a question. Do you want to grow your market? Do you want to miss out on this opportunity? When you start with a question, you turn the focus on your client and make it about them, instead of you.

Your job, as an agency, is to offer a solution to your client. And at the end of the day, it all comes down to using your specific skills and your team to deliver. Invest in the basics and surround yourself with like-minded people. When you do this, the rest becomes so much 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: Should_You_Start_Your_Own_Digital_Agency_or_Acquire_an_Agency_.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

Have you struggled to find the best way to find and hire new agency employees? Are you overwhelmed by the thought of growing your team? Do you want to make sure the people you work with are devoted to the success of your agency? It can be really hard to find the right fit for your agency. But when you take the time to make thoroughly vet new hires and streamline processes, you'll set everyone up for success.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • 2 tips to help your agency perform strong from the start.
  • Why streamlined processes helps your team succeed.
  • The 5-step process for hiring the right agency employees.

Today I sat down with Ray Sinlao, founder of Standard Conversions, a conversion rate optimization agency. Thanks to his background as a developer, Ray was able to develop in-house processes and even his own software, Buyer Tool, to help his agency surpass the six-figure mark in less than one year. He's here to talk about the innovative hiring process that helped his agency grow to 7-figures.

2 Tips to Help Your Agency Perform Strong From the Start

It's not unheard of to reach the 1-million mark in under a year as an agency — but it's not exactly an everyday occurrence. So what tips does Ray have to help you find similar success?

  1. Performance-based pricing: Ray says performance-based deals helped him scale his agency at a rapid rate from the get-go. But it wasn't without a few hiccups. The key, he says, is always working with clients you trust. If there is even 1% hesitation, walk away.
  2. Hire a team early on: In the beginning, Ray was working 16-hour days and was quickly burning out. But then he realized the whole reason he started his agency was to be able to spend more time with his family and have more control over his life. When you bring in the right people to support you, you'll find you have more time to devote to the things that matter the most.

How Streamlined Processes Can Help Your Team Succeed

It's one thing to be able to scale an ad account. It's even better if you can scale a team to scale the ad accounts for you. But as agency owners, there's often a reluctance to give up some of the control. This is normal, but it can easily hinder growth. Once Ray decided to grow his team, he set himself up early to make sure he was bringing on the right people and that they had the tools to succeed.

As a former developer, Ray started documenting processes from the beginning. This way, everything is repeatable. When a new person joins the team, they have a playbook filled with processes and a knowledge bank to help them deliver results. The more you can document what your agency does and why then the easier it will be for your new hires (and existing team) to deliver the results you expect.

5 Steps Process for Hiring the Right Agency Employees

It's not unusual for agencies to experience a high level of turnover. Early on, Ray developed a process that helped him turn inexperienced media buyers into devoted, long-term employees.

  1. Selection: Ray says about 10% of people who apply to work at his agency actually make it through the end. And most of them drop out at the first step. Why? The initial application requires applicants to read a 200+ page book and write a 2,000-word copy. While Ray says the actual assignment doesn't really apply that much, it lets him know how much work someone is willing to do to get the job.
  2. Observation: Here the potential new hire gets teamed up with an experienced media buyer. They're not ready to do any work on their own, but they get to see what it takes to do the job day in and day out.
  3. Hands-on experience: Ray considers this a minimal risk step. Here the potential employee gets to do some work (uploading projects), but they don't have any account management responsibility.
  4. More independence: At this point, the new employee essentially has the job. They are given more freedom and can manage one campaign under an account manager's supervision.
  5. Full immersion: Here, the new hire finally gets to do the job they initially applied for. While some people may think this process is a little much, Ray says the people who make it to the end are the ones that stick around long-term.

Your success as an agency largely comes down to the groundwork you lay at the beginning. If you take time to develop processes and carefully vet your team, your agency is more likely to find long-term success.

Want to Scale Your Agency's Media Buying?

If you really want to scale your agency's media buying power, check out BuyerTool. This is a new tool agencies use to manage more ad accounts and clients. BuyerTool automatically builds your dashboard! It allows you to manage all of your ad accounts, team members, and clients from a single UI. Your team can do in minutes what used to take experts hours to accomplish.

If you want to drastically streamline your media buying operations visit BuyerTool.io/Swenk and get a free 2-week trial just for Smart Agency podcast listeners.

Direct download: The_5-Step_Hiring_Process_That_Helped_an_Agency_Grow_to_7-Figures.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:00am EST

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

Are you making the right hires for your agency team? Do you feel like your best agency employees don't stick around long enough? Most of your agency's success comes down to the people you surround yourself with. Hiring a team that supports your vision and grows with the agency is the key to success.

In today's episode, we'll cover:

  • Does your agency foster career growth?
  • 3 strategies to help your agency succeed early.
  • How to find the right team members that will stick around.

Today I sat down with Tom Yawney, director of business development at The Influence Agency, a digital marketing, and creative agency. After realizing there was no longer room for growth in his previous agency, Tom and his partners decided to start an agency of their own. He's here to talk about why he left his previous agency, what he's doing differently, and key strategies he has learned along the way.

Does Your Agency Foster Career Growth?

Have you ever spent time and money building a team, only to watch them one by one walk away? Are you struggling to understand why your top-performing team members don't seem to stick around? Tom says he never dreamed of being an agency owner, but he reached a point where there was no longer room for growth.

As an agency owner, you need to provide opportunities for your team to bring new ideas and value to the agency. Your team should never feel like they are, as Tom felt, "stuck in a dead-end job."

Too many agency owners have this hierarchy where they feel they know everything and just assign tasks. If you have ever uttered the phrase, "This is how we've always done it," it's probably time to make a change. Good employees get bored if they aren't given opportunities to challenge their evolving skills. If you hire the right people, it's your job to make sure you don't demotivate them.

3 Strategies to Help Your Agency Succeed Early

Starting an agency is hard and those who don't know what they are doing can quickly fail. Tom says his agency's success is part strategic, part circumstantial. So what went right?

  1. Knowledge in sales: Obviously sales are important to agency growth. At The Influence Agency, all four founders had a background in sales. It is possible to succeed without a background in sales, however, and most of the time an owner's passion is enough to create the sales hustle necessary for success.
  2. Complementary skills: Tom and his partners quickly learned they had skills that would complement each other. This meant they could take care of a lot of the work themselves instead of contracting out. This allowed the agency to save money and start some financial momentum.
  3. The right team: Your first few hires are one of the most important decisions you will make when you are first starting out. It's easy to get enamored by unique skills or an impressive resume, but Tom says you should hire for culture first. Is the person supportive? Do they bring good energy? Are they the right fit? When you bring on the right people, they can help take some of the pressure off your shoulders.

How to Find the Right People for Your Team

So how do you know if someone is a good fit? The most important thing to look at is character. This can be a little tricky, especially at the interview stage where the goal is to impress. At this stage, you want to look at thought-process, mindset, and attitude. Ask questions that will give you insight into someone's character:

  • Tell me about a manager you enjoyed working for; what worked?
  • How would you handle certain situations?
  • What do you like to do for fun? (I like to start with this one because it helps the person feel more relaxed).

It's important to find a fit that is good for the agency and for the employee. This means you need to be transparent about the position the person will be entering as well.

Culture and growth can have a big impact on the happiness of your team and your agency's success. When your team members feel valued and are given opportunities, they'll be more motivated to help your agency grow.

Want to Scale Your Agency's Media Buying?

Our sponsor, BuyerTool is a new tool agencies use to manage more ad accounts and clients. BuyerTool automatically builds your dashboard! It allows you to manage all of your ad accounts, team members, and clients from a single UI. Your team can do in minutes what used to take experts hours to accomplish.

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

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