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

Are you effectively communicating your brand? Are you understanding your prospects and choosing quality over quantity? Do you speak in their terms to reach them? Do you have a deep understanding of their needs and challenges? Today’s guest is a branding expert who knows how to speak to audiences and get a message across. She sees agencies making many mistakes by not understanding that you have to earn your brand, not buy it. Tune in for valuable insights and tips for agency owners to create memorable and effective brands.

Jaci Russo is the co-founder and CEO of Brand Russo, a strategic branding agency that aims to change the conversation and motivate consumer behavior through the use of our experience, resources, talent, and process. Jaci discusses branding strategies for agencies and some misconceptions and mistakes agencies make when it comes to branding.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • To win prospects over, answer the question "What can you do for ME?"
  • Understanding your clients' personality type.
  • How to earn your brand.
  • Focus on quality over quantity in proposals.


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Going from Agency Employee to Freelancer to Agency Owner

After college in Louisiana, Jaci moved to Los Angeles and worked at Creative Artists Agency, where she got to be a part of the rebranding of Ticketmaster and USA Networks. Years later she moved home and worked in-house at an agency and then in-house for a client while starting a family.

Things were going well, but Jaci knew she’d never get ahead being a W2 worker. The need for a more flexible schedule moved her to make a change to be a freelance media buyer. However, with clients coming in fast and being married to a graphic designer and copywriter, they had more clients than a small agency. They decided to make it official and dedicate themselves to the agency full-time. Eventually, they bought a building to expand their growing operations and 23 years later they have 20 employees serving clients across the country.

Answering the Unasked Question “What Can You Do for Me?”

Understanding your target audience is crucial for effective branding. Sadly, many agencies make the mistake of using industry terminology that excludes their target audience. It both fails to get the message across and makes the agency appear pretentious and out of touch.

To create a successful brand that resonates with your target audience, you’ll need a deep understanding of their needs, wants, and challenges. If you do this, you’ll easily get in touch with how they talk. “SEO is great,” Jaci says “but when I see companies optimizing for their in-house terminology and the people they’re trying to reach use a completely different set of terms. It’s such an obvious disconnect!”

Furthermore, many companies spend a lot of time talking about features and what they do. In reality, the question “What do you do?” is an opportunity to answer the unasked question “What can you do for me?” Focusing on this question allows you to answer not by talking about the company but about the solutions you provide. This approach will completely change your messaging and content. Now you’ll be writing about something people care about; you’ll be writing about them.

It requires thorough market research, gathering insights, and analyzing data to gain valuable insights into the target audience's preferences and behaviors and use them effectively in your branding efforts.

Understanding Your Clients and Communicate Accordingly

Jaci believes in the power of understanding personality types of advertising. It helps her know what kind of results they need to deliver depending on the client. “When we're creating something that's targeting engineers or attorneys,” she says, “people are going to read all the details, we have to give them a lot of details”. If the client is an illustration type, they’ll love pretty pictures and awards. For them, she finds ways to convey how the agency has been rewarded for great work, like clients sticking around for twelve years. On the other hand, logotypes look to their peers for endorsement of their choices, so they need case studies and testimonials.

She knows one size doesn't fit all and it’s all about building an emotional connection. However, at her agency, they use that knowledge of the target audience to craft something that'll connect with them.

Strong Brands Aren't Bought, They're Earned

You can spend a lot of money on advertising and buy attention, but Jaci believes strong brands must be earned. Agencies should be investing in research and understanding their target audience better than they know themselves. You have to understand why your audience is choosing who they’re choosing.

To create a memorable brand that people refer to, agencies need to ask questions and delve into why their audience is choosing their current solution or competitor. What’s their disappointment with their current solution? By understanding their frustrations with their current provider, agencies can identify opportunities to offer a better solution.

Changing habits is hard, so agencies need to give their audience a compelling reason to switch. This requires being better than the hassle of switching and providing a seamless and easy transition. Speed and convenience are important factors for customers when considering switching vendors.

When it Comes to Proposals it's Quality Over Quantity

Jaci often receives proposals from digital agencies and her advice for agency owners is “look at what you’re sending out.” From where she’s standing, they all sound alike and do not take into account her specific challenges and needs.

In these cases, focus on quality over quantity. Take the time on each prospect. Jaci advises having fewer prospects that you know better to connect with them. They’ll be more likely to say yes. Try changing the conversation with clients by offering a clarity call instead of just sending a proposal. This way, you’ll get to know the client and their needs in a more personal and meaningful way.

By taking these steps, you can win more deals faster and easier. Moreover, you can also eliminate prospects who may not be a good fit or who are simply wasting your time. It’s a few baby steps to get to the big price instead of rushing and losing the opportunity to work with this person.

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

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