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What is the life cycle of a video marketing agency? How can you transition from accidental agency owner to something else in order to fulfill your goals? What does life look like after you sell your video marketing agency? Today’s guest hadn’t seriously considered selling until he stepped back to realize the bigger picture. He remembered his original goals and realized there were other projects he wanted to focus on. This guest shares the way he started and grew his agency into something a team member actually wanted to buy. He also shares how he created a smooth transition for the buyer and decided what is next in his entrepreneurial journey.

Doug Dibert is the founder and creator of Magnfi, a video software platform, and also the founder of Crossing River, the video marketing agency he recently sold. Like most agency owners, he fell into the business by accident when he started making wedding videos and soon turned that into a business. However, as Doug grew his agency he started thinking about selling and pursuing his filmmaking passion.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • How to differentiate your video marketing agency.
  • Knowing how and when to sell your agency.
  • Finding the right buyer for your agency might be easier than you think.

Sponsors and Resources

E2M Solutions: Today's episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass is sponsored by E2M Solutions, a web design and development agency that has provided white label services for the past 10 years to agencies all over the world. Check out e2msolutions.com/smartagency and get 10% off for the first three months of service.

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Starting a Video Marketing Agency

Doug went to film school and actually started using the school’s equipment to do paid jobs. He mostly worked filming weddings and got inspiration from a class on documentaries to try to apply those techniques to his wedding videos. So he took the material he filmed at one of those weddings and made a small trailer video. He posted it to social media and went to sleep. The next morning, he had thousands of views, shares, and messages from brides asking if he could do the same for their wedding. After a while, he also started getting requests from businesses that wanted to invest in video marketing.

This is how the agency was born. They produced videos for businesses all over the world and focused on small to medium-sized businesses. Then the '08 recession hit and the agency lost all its marketing clients. Thankfully, the wedding video business stayed strong so the agency stayed afloat and also started to do videos for social media.

Video is such an important tool and every company should utilize it. Back then, Doug had a hard time standing out among big video production companies. He thought about how to differentiate himself and concluded that instead of being a video production company they would focus on video marketing strategy. Their services went beyond creating video content. It included helping clients optimize their YouTube channels and animate their logos. They especially focused on creating content around the client’s strategic goals. The word got out and they became the go-to video marketing agency for businesses.

Creating a Platform to Systematize Video Content Creation

Back in 2015, Doug rejected a few clients who wanted to film videos on their phones and send them to the agency to be turned into professional-looking video content. He didn’t see the potential at the time. Later Doug realized 90% of his clients wanted videos shot and edited the same way. He got the idea to create a platform to systematize video content creation.

Simple videos like testimonials, “about me” videos and expert tips are the core of what every business needs to see some real growth. With this in mind, Doug set out to create this platform for low-cost video content creation. His goal was to satisfy 90% of clients' needs and, in case they wanted something more personalized, they would pay an extra fee for those services.

Online Training for Digital Agencies

Seeing the Bigger Picture and Deciding to Sell Your Agency

Doug’s big goal when he started was to make movies. The opportunities to create videos for companies came by chance and the agency started to grow. He had people willing to invest in him as an entrepreneur who wanted to see if he was able to grow a business, so he focused on that.

The shift in his mentality came from having a business coach who helped him see the bigger picture. He learned you have to continuously open your mind to new possibilities or you will remain stagnant. When his coach realized he wanted to make movies, she asked “why not next year?” He had been thinking about growing the agency more and delaying selling a bit longer. However, thanks to his coach he started thinking --  “why not next year?”

Back then he was stuck being the hands-on agency owner who wanted to do everything. This shift encouraged him to start hiring people to replace himself and focus on what he did really well. He hired amazing talent, built a great team, and started to focus on the business aspect of the agency instead of the creative aspect.

Finding the Right Buyer Might Be Easier Than You Think

In his case, Doug had no strategic team or advisors come in and help him prepare to sell. It was actually one of his editors who expressed interest in buying the agency. After looking into the agency’s recurring revenue, clients, assets, etc, the editor decided to buy. They also paid cash, so there was no finance clause or several payments over a period of time. In the end, the entire process from the conversation to selling the agency took about 3 months.

Doug also mentioned he was building a video editing platform and agreed to refer video production clients to the agency. In the end, he ended up staying at the agency for another year. He presented the new owner as his new partner so he could start building relationships with the clients.

Continuing his work at the agency and having other projects also helped Doug find purpose and fulfillment. Overall, the transition after selling your agency can be hard. You may expect to feel euphoric and end up thinking “what do I do now?” This is why you should always dedicate time to think about your life after the sale. Do you want to travel and rest? Maybe start another business? Or just focus on other projects? Whatever it is, knowing that there’s something else will help you avoid the emotional fallout that comes right after selling your agency.

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