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

Offering a unique customer service experience is a sure way to stand out from all the competition out there. With people focusing so heavily on technology and automation, customers are many times left to fend for themselves when a problem arises. When it comes to urgent matters, they crave having a human to reach out to and have experienced guidance to solve their problem. Today's guest realized this need and has worked to build an agency with a 'Yes' mentality. For him, being a service company comes first and is one of the top reasons why clients choose his agency. Tune in to learn why his vision was to offer that yes mentality and customer-centric approach.

Jeff Hastedt is the managing director and co-founder of Brkthru, a service company that helps companies harness the selling power of digital advertising. They focus on providing immediate assistance and handling media execution for brands and agencies. Most notably, they believe in “starting with a yes" and accommodating any size campaign, last-minute needs, fixed budgets, unique audiences, and tough challenges.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • Building a service company with a yes mentality.
  • The importance of centering relationships in sales.
  • How his staff training became an important element of company culture.



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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 getting a new perspective to the show.


Finding the Right Combination to Succeed in Digital Advertising

Jeff’s digital experience and expertise date back all the way to 2000, working at companies like CBS, Clear Channel, and Powerheads assisting brands and leading international digital campaigns.

He and his co-founder were colleagues at a previous organization and shared a dream of starting a business. Jeff’s previous attempts at entrepreneurship did not go as planned. However, he now sees he didn’t have enough experience at the time. Years later, he and his co-founder’s combined experiences and knowledge in the media and advertising industry, particularly in digital advertising, were the right combination to succeed with Brkthru.

Is There a Right Time to Start Building your Agency Management Team?

Six years after starting his business, the mission remains pretty much the same; being the preeminent service company in digital media and having no minimums. In fact, the latter is still one of the top reasons why clients continue to pick them.

Even though Jeff fully believed in their mission, their growth has been greater than expected. In 2017, when he and his co-founder agreed to let the market decide, they couldn’t have imagined the level of growth they’d seen. But Jeff mostly attributes this success to an amazing management team that was willing to take a risk working with a startup.

At the time, he wasn’t thinking about a management team. His business was barely two years old and technically he couldn’t afford one yet. However, he was presented with a wonderful opportunity to add his current COO. He decided to take the chance. Sometimes opportunities like this one will come up before you think you’re ready. It won’t always happen at “the right time”. However, if it’s worth the risk, it may be something you’re very glad you took on when you had the chance.

Benefits of being a Digital Agency with a ‘Yes’ Mentality

In an industry enamoured with technology, Jeff's agency Brkthru defiantly declares itself service-first. He knows automation leaves clients craving human connection when challenges strike. So he staffed support with savvy experts, not chatbots. Real people solve real problems in real time.

Jeff built Brkthru around "yes" - embracing each client's unique needs and budgets. While other agencies balk at last-minute requests or limited funds, they are willing to work with clients regardless of the size of their campaign or budget. They understand businesses may have unique needs and are willing to take on last-minute needs, work with fixed budgets, target unique audiences, and tackle tough challenges head-on.

Being flexible and adaptable has allowed them to offer the necessary support and solutions to overcome obstacles. This is why it’s so important for Jeff to center his entire business model on the service element.

The Customer-Centric Approach to Building Successful Relationships in Sales

Before starting his business, Jeff was laid off in 2009 during the economic crisis. He had to take on different jobs while trying to keep his entrepreneurial dream alive, including a job as a violin salesman, an unusual turn for someone who’d never played this instrument. Despite this, he became the number 1 salesperson in that industry. His formula for success? It all starts with relationships.

Jeff knows genuine connections precede sales, even in transactional roles. Too many reps see clients as data points, prioritizing efficiency over empathy. But leads longing to be heard offer precious clues when we listen first. Many people miss the opportunity to understand clients’ needs, interests, and backgrounds and just go straight to pitch mode.

It can be hard to convince some people of the importance of the human element, especially with so much talk about technology replacing everyone. However, taking the time to understand client’s needs and interests can greatly contribute to building successful relationships in sales. Even if it takes more than one call to build a rapport, it’ll be worth it. In the end, if clients don’t trust you, you’re doomed.

An In-Person Staff Training for a Remote Agency 

In their beginnings, Jeff and his co-founder were on every client call and email. As they grew though, it was time to create a glossary for new hires to follow to break through to clients. This is how their training program Brkthru U was born and it’s since evolved into an online and offline training program for staff. People usually attend thinking they're going to gain a lot of product knowledge. “There’s a time and place for that,” Jeff says. But this training is solely about being better communicators.

It’s a week-long training that Jeff chooses to do mostly in person, even if they are a remote company. For Jeff, it’s about going beyond work-related discussions and activities. They encourage employees to have dinner with their colleagues and engage in conversations about various topics, whether it be sports, stocks, or pop culture. This time spent together in a non-work setting allows colleagues to get to know each other better and strengthens their relationships.

Culture Is Built On Traditions

Other than Brkthru U, other traditions with a significant impact on their company are Pizza Friday and Coffee Break Trivia.

Pizza Friday started as a simple idea to bring employees together and create excitement around a shared experience. Many employees were posting pictures of their pizzas on Instagram, which showed how much they enjoyed this tradition. Over time, it became ingrained in the company's culture and is now one of its longest-standing traditions.

Similarly, Coffee Break Trivia was introduced during the pandemic as a way to check in on employees' well-being. Initially, it was going to be discontinued at the end of 2020, but employees were adamant that they should keep it going.

These traditions may not solve all the company culture problems, but they play a significant role in fostering a positive work environment. Focusing on what employees like to do and creating opportunities for them to engage in non-work-related activities is a simple way to build a good culture.

Do You Want to Transform Your Agency from a Liability to an Asset?

If you want to be around amazing agency owners who can see what you may not be able to see and help you grow your agency, go to Agency Mastery 360.  Our agency growth program helps you take a 360-degree view of your agency and gain mastery of the 3 pillar systems (attract, convert, scale) so you can create predictability, wealth, and freedom.