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

Do you struggle with educating clients on relevant messaging? Great messaging addresses the audience's emotional connection with an issue and sometimes that means it's not all about the product. Educating clients on looking beyond their product can be tricky. However, once they understand it they'll see significant growth. Today’s guest increased his client's topline revenue from $35 million to $230 million in just 18 months by understanding who their message was aimed at. For his second podcast appearance, he discusses how he fell in love with helping challenger brands and how he helps them rise above the plateau to success. He also shares 2 mistakes you might be making that are costing you money.

Bill Harper is the founder of WM Harper, a strategic branding agency focused on brands in need of transformation. His team helps companies that have hit a plateau. These are challenger brands that haven’t quite hit their potential goal and need help figuring out how to get to the next level.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • Why clients need to understand it's not always about the product.
  • Building an agency machine that runs itself.
  • 2 Mistakes are a big waste of time and money.


Sponsors and Resources

Wix: Today’s episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out to learn more and become a member of the community for free.


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Podcast Takeover!!

Get to know your Smart Agency Guest Host:  Dr. Jeremy Weisz is the co-founder of Rise25, an agency that helps companies launch and run podcasts profitably. He followed Jason’s podcast and eventually joined the mastermind and has been a guest on the podcast before. Today, he’s helping Jason bring something new to the Smart Agency podcast audience by interviewing a special guest and bringing a new perspective to the show.


Helping Brands Understand Relevant Messaging

Bill has worked with many exciting companies in his career but BMB&B is probably where he learned the most. There, he got to work with big-name brands and got inspired to start his own agency. He has built several businesses from being a consultant to running an agency. However, as he puts it, once you’ve been bitten by the ownership bug it’s practically impossible to go back.

Working with a company like Blockbuster, Bill realized sometimes the agency does not have a lot of influence to change big brands. Typically, this type of company is very focused on maintaining its position in the market. That is what keeps them up at night. However, Bill fell in love with helping brands with billion-dollar potential but stuck in a multimillion-dollar universe.

These brands just need a push to go from an awkward stage to center stage. Most of the time, they have similar strategies to the bigger players but they haven’t figured out how to implement them yet. If the client is willing to embrace a change in the way that they think about relevant messaging, they help them create a path forward that makes sense and helps them scale.

How to Get 3X Top Line Revenue in 18 Months for Your Client

Part of Bill’s journey with clients is getting them to understand what they want is people’s attention. Sometimes is not really about the product, which can be hard for clients to accept. It’s not about listing the new features and talking about the tech. That is what everyone else is doing. When you’re doing research, look for the thing people engage with emotionally.

For instance, his agency once made an ad for Delsey luggage where they removed all the technical details about the product and focused on being lightweight. The emotional connection was in the audience’s frustration with travel. It had changed from being something exciting into being inconvenient. The idea was to address this existing frustration by focusing on how the product leaves the consumer in a better emotional state. Once you find what consumers are either striving toward or moving away from then you have something to play with. Few brands have logged into that insight, but once they do, their growth is significant.

Another great success came when his agency helped the Breast Cancer Index achieve sixfold growth of its top-line revenue. The client originally asked them to increase their top-line revenue from $35 million to $250 million within 3 years. They exceeded expectations mainly by understanding who they needed to address. In the case of this hyper-specific test, the way to get oncologists’ attention was by giving patients the information they need to begin the conversation. With a combined strategy of influencer marketing, digital marketing, trade shows, and event marketing, they were able to reach $230 million in just 18 months.

Building an Agency Machine That Can Run Itself

What Bill recalls from his first few experiences as an agency owner is valuing the work when he should have been thinking about the value of the agency itself. With time, he learned ultimately it is about making sure the owner is NOT involved in every aspect of the business. You need to build an agency machine that can run independently from you. This requires a solid understanding of who you’re working with and a solid process for hiring the right people. That transition, which of course did not happen overnight, made the biggest change.

Learning how other people view the agency’s value was instrumental. Bill realized the most important things to him were not necessarily important to everybody. For instance, in the early stages, he did not realize the importance of not being involved in the business.

When you start an agency, you wear all the hats. And if you do it well, by some point you give them all away. So many leaders feel the need to be involved, as though the agency will go off the rails without them. However, this is indicative of someone who is just trying to protect a lifestyle rather than grow a business.

Online Training for Digital Agencies

Hiring for Values to Build a Great Agency Culture

Bill used to hire almost exclusively based on talent but was struck by how hard it was to create agency culture. Most recently, he shifted to hiring for personal values. Of course, talent is not disregarded, but values are the deciding factor. He no longer expects people to find joy in his dream. He prefers to hire someone who is chasing their own dream, as long the agency fits into it.

Furthermore, he watches out for people who are running from something and looks for the ones who are running toward something. It’s more about their goals than about their history at other companies. He understands if someone wants to use their time at his agency to learn and someday have an agency of their own. Knowing this gives him an understanding of how they value their time there.

Another change he introduced is letting employees write their own development plans for the year. He used to do it himself but this way they get to define the things that excite them the most. In doing that, he finds out what’s important to each employee and what they dislike about their job.

Now that he focuses on bringing in people who value the same things, building a great culture is no longer a hard task, even in these times of virtual workplaces.

2 Common Mistakes That Are a Waste of Money

  1. Buying growth - There is a misconception that you can continuously buy growth. People have become so fixated on buying their way to success but there's no rationale behind it. Trackability gives people a false sense of security, which has manifested in everyone's lack of patience. We all want immediate results. However, trying to AB test your way to success will most likely lead you to unnecessary spending.
  2. Adopting new tech - Entrepreneurs commonly race for the newest thing whether or not it makes sense for your brand. The truth is you don’t have to be on every single social media platform. You just need to be present where your audience congregates most. If you build a following on just two platforms where your audience is, you’re already ahead of the competition!

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the metrics of the company. Once you take the eye off that ball because you’re fixated on the idea of buying more, you may as well be burning your money. Bill’s advice is “don’t be dazzled by the movement, be dazzled by the achievement”.

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