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Do you have a clear understanding of the client acquisition channels needed to grow your agency? Is your agency vulnerable to leadership or a client leaving? Today’s guest built his agency working with venture capitalists and private equity firms and found great success in that area, so much so that he never worried about client acquisition again.

More recently, however, he’s been focusing more on setting up the channels that guarantee his agency’s growth and continued success. Learn more about his unconventional path to agency ownership and his commitment to quality over rushing to ship subpar work.

David Baeza is the founder and CEO of Buttered Toast, an agency that works with the world's leading Venture Capitalists and Private Equity firms. They focus on growth architecture and lead generation, delivering powerful website designs, data-driven whitepapers, compelling ads, and customer testimonial videos. David shares his journey to becoming the founder of his own agency, his unique approach to pricing, and his areas of focus for future improvement.

In this episode, we’ll discuss:

  • Creating multiple acquisition channels.

  • Charging on tangible results.

  • Mastering client acquisition. 


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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 and get 10% off for the first three months of service.

Leaving a CMO Job and Starting an Agency to Serve Clients

Creating an agency was never David's plan. However, his role as CMO at a venture-backed company in Boston demanded extensive daily commuting, especially as he was starting a family.

When he eventually left that position, a VC board member invited him to join as a consultant and help some of their tech companies. With time, the same client asked him to build a company around that consulting gig.

It took a little convincing from friends, but he ended up creating his company and once that first client opened up their VC network and portfolio, the work started to pour in.

With only his prior knowledge in hiring agencies but enough experience building a marketing department, he set out to do just that and built a marketing department that venture-backed companies could reach to as needed.

Embracing the Challenge of Creating Multiple Client Acquisition Channels

Given the specific moment in time when he started his agency, for a long time, David didn’t have to worry about client prospecting. Clients just kept coming.

Even once he started to remove himself from operations and spent the majority of his time in business development, it kept working. This continuous client flow remained the same during the pandemic while many other businesses were struggling. However, after 2022 the economy took a turn, and VC referrals dried up. His agency was left vulnerable and so they started focusing on their client acquisition strategy.

Suddenly, David became very aware of the need to have multiple client acquisition channels in place to ensure a steady flow of clients. Now he has an upcoming book in the hopes of getting future speaking gigs, as well as a podcast, and weekly YouTube videos.

Even though he now understands the importance of having an inbound channel, strategic partnerships, and outbound channels to balance the agency's client acquisition efforts, he wishes he’d started these efforts sooner to safeguard against potential disruptions and maintain a consistent flow of clients.

However, the best time to start developing those channels if you haven’t already is RIGHT NOW, so he knows he’s on the right track.

Charging Based on Delivering Tangible Results

Since the beginning, David had a unique approach to pricing his agency's services, emphasizing charging for outcomes, rather than by the hour. From his background as a growth marketer and CMO closely aligned with the balance sheet, David believes in getting paid for delivering tangible results for his clients, rather than billing for the time spent on a project.

When creating a statement of work for a client, he takes the time to understand their true objectives and desired outcomes. This involves unpacking the client's initial request and getting to the root of their goal. This way, he ensures that the work being done will directly contribute to the desired results.

Charging for outcomes also allows his agency to position themselves as strategic partners rather than just vendors, which to David is only possible given that they’ve been in the client’s shoes. By working closely with clients to achieve their goals and being transparent about what is achievable, David builds trust and long-term relationships with his clients. This approach not only benefits the client by driving real results but also allows Buttered Toast to demonstrate their value and expertise in the industry.

Mastering Client Acquisition: Setting the Stage for Successful Engagements

David likes to start a new client relationship with a discovery call where the client answers ten questions about their business. Among other things, he tries to get a clear idea of how marketing is accountable to the organization. After that call, he has a very good idea of the KPIs the client is looking for and the levers that need to be pulled.

He’ll usually follow that up with an email detailing the client’s answer to every question and an invitation to add any corrections or additional information before moving on to the next stage.

In the future, he’ll start working on setting up the next meeting during that first call. This simple yet crucial step can help streamline the communication process. Setting the next meeting keeps the momentum going and ensures all parties are on the same page. Additionally, it demonstrates professionalism and organization, which leaves a positive impression on the client.

Finally, another crucial aspect of conversion rate optimization is understanding the client's budget. To avoid losing deals, you need to discuss budget expectations, understand the resources available, and align proposals with the client's budget. Even though David’s conversion rate is pretty good, he admits deals lost in the past have probably been due to omitting this simple step.

How to Navigate Leadership Changes

CMOs get replaced all the time at tech companies and for agencies it means there’s a 50% chance that they’ll keep the marketing agency and 50% that they’ll cut it. Navigating leadership changes is a common challenge that many agencies face.

One key strategy for agencies is to establish strong relationships with their clients and be proactive and transparent in their communication. Agencies can build trust and credibility with clients, regardless of leadership changes.

Approach the new CMO right away to understand their goals and priorities and communicate the agency's capabilities and how you can support their vision. Usually, they don’t want to have to manage a team; they want more freedom and support to succeed in their goals. Start by trying to sell them on a foot-in-the-door project instead of trying to commit them to the relationship right away. Present yourself as a valuable ally and do what you have to do to get them excited about starting the relationship, even if it means traveling to meet in person, which they’ll appreciate since few people are willing to do it nowadays.

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Category:general -- posted at: 6:00am MDT