How to Grow a Digital Marketing Agency: Podcasting For Advertising Agencies

If you’re looking for information on how to grow a digital marketing agency, you’re in the business of relationships. Relationships = partnerships, (and therefore sales). The more conversations you have with the right people, the better your business will be for it. If we disagree on this, you may not derive much from this article… If we agree, however, read on! Imagine if you had a way to get a meeting with anyone you wanted to, and build a genuine value-driven relationship with them? At scale. A Tier 1 potential client. A great referral partner. An influencer who could promote you to their audience. What would that do for your agency? In this post, I’m going to detail the exact process for building those relationships at scale, in a very short amount of time, by using a channel that is massively under-utilized by agencies – podcasting for advertising agencies. Podcasting can be the key to how to grow a digital marketing agency. Podcasting For Growing a Digital Marketing Agency It won’t go into detail of how to properly launch a podcast – that’s another post entirely (or you can see this free video workshop here). So with that, let’s get into it. But first, to dispel some myths: Don’t I need to build an audience over 6-12 months before I see results from podcasting? Short answer: no. When most people think of the benefits of podcasting, they think of the primary content marketing benefit. Build an audience of listeners, provide valuable content, give away free education and build trust in the eyes (or ears) of your listeners. Eventually you will get leads, and those leads will be great leads, because they feel like they already [...]

The Secret Way to Grow Your Agency Fast

I don’t run an agency, but I do work with agencies to develop a sales process custom-suited for generating repeatable new business opportunities. In the next 5 minutes you spend reading this post, I’m going to share the exact method you could start experimenting with to double the productivity of your agency’s outbound business development. In short, I’m going to share the secret way to grow your agency fast. Really Fast. Fair warning – I am going to talk about the two tools I’ve founded (SellHack and Replify) throughout this article. There are certainly other tools out there that do the same type of work and I’ve mentioned a few throughout the piece. Even if you choose to do all of this manually, it will still work. It’s just a matter of how much time versus money do you want to spend. How to Grow Your Agency Really Fast Step 1 in the process of how to grow your agency really fast relies very much on the word “experiment.” This is a word carefully chosen to describe the mindset your business development team must embrace when hunting for new clients. Some of you are reading this thinking, “Yeah, but most of my business comes from referrals.” Okay, great. Keep asking for referrals. But if you’re serious about how to grow your agency really fast, forget referrals and do what I suggest. Consider a New Channel for Developing Leads Moving away from relying solely on referrals is smart business. So I’m suggesting you consider a new channel for developing leads: An outbound channel. More specifically, I’m talking about automating your prospect list-building, sending cold emails and follow-ups. You can do this manually or you can use [...]

How to Position Your Agency for Success

Every day across the globe, agencies are working hard to differentiate their clients and help drive their clients’ growth. These agencies use the art and science of positioning to help their clients stand out from competition in an important and authentic manner. Sadly, most of the agencies doing this fine work have not worked the same positioning magic for themselves, in spite of the fact that they compete with dozens—if not hundreds—of other agencies on a daily basis. There is an abundance of talented and effective agencies who have failed to differentiate themselves. As a result, they are missing out on the significant (and very profitable) growth opportunities triggered by a compelling brand position. So, how to position your agency for success? Let’s talk about it. The Challenges of Agency Growth As you no doubt know, there are numerous challenges when it comes to growing an agency today. These challenges include: • More competition • Greater complexity • Difficulty expressing the uniqueness of your agency • A more educated and informed buyer who does his/her agency research without your knowledge Most agencies face these challenges. There is, however, an opportunity to address these challenges by positioning your agency in a truly unique, compelling and differentiated fashion. In this paper we will share the learning we have regarding how to create such a differentiated position for any agency by leveraging best practices that we have learned from our 28 years of agency related consulting. The Great Agencies of Old Most agencies today face the challenge of how to effectively position their firm and how to present their agency in a compelling, client-centric manner. It was not always like this! The great agencies of old stood for [...]

The Principle of Dual Minds—the Secret to Business Success

I’m really enjoying billionaire investor Ray Dalio’s book, Principles. Dalio writes very candidly about his journey in life and work, and the principles he has developed that guide him. Chapter 3 in Part II of the book is titled ‘Be Radically Open-Minded.’ Though the title suggests our need to be humble enough to listen, it is also about the value of allowing other people in your life to help you overcome the barriers (e.g. your ego and blind spots) that are standing in the way of what you want, challenge your thinking through thoughtful disagreement, and of listening to ‘believable’ people (his term). The Principle of Dual Minds Dalio also discusses the importance of having people in your life who will thoughtfully disagree with you. This idea resonated with me so deeply that I decided to give it a name: the principle of dual minds. Put into consistent practice, the principle of dual minds can be a powerful tool to amp up the success of your personal and business ventures. In fact, this principle of dual minds trumps most people’s ability to operate on their own. This chapter spoke to me about the value of partners in business, whether legal or operational. However, Dalio isn’t just talking about any legal partner—he is talking about a partner that you are humble enough to listen to and who is courageous enough to disagree with you—you guessed it, that’s “the principle of dual minds.” But it’s not always easy to accomplish. Truly, it takes work and practice to get to a place where you can argue well with your partner and reach a conclusion that two limited people could not have reached on their own. Dalio points out [...]

How To Level Up Your Agency And Gear Up For Growth

Doubling your agency’s size from roughly 35 employees to 65 employees serves as the leveling-up stage where you take on bigger and better clients (and often better employees to serve them). As an owner, you’re no longer in the weeds like you might have been with 12 to 35 employees. Instead, your main focuses are business development and finance. In my experience, business development is about making the C-level connections that drive business. It might occasionally require “roughing it” on the golf course or riding waves with an eclectic client, but keep an eye on the big picture: According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses created two-thirds of the jobs added in the last five years. You’re doing important work out there on the ninth hole. Sharing The Leadership Load When your agency reaches the 35-to-65-person stage, owners must be OK with being removed from the day-to-day decision-making loop. Your former department heads will probably become vice presidents to make room for more skilled and senior employees underneath them. While client satisfaction and retention remain important, a variety of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) will move into the spotlight. A team with diverse backgrounds and expertise will be especially driven by numbers, and you’ll often see incentive pay (likely in the form of a bonus program) directly tied to KPIs. Along with more rigid compensation structures, scaling up to the 35-to-65 stage requires structured responsibilities, and the agency becomes almost like a factory in terms of how jobs are brought in and where they’re assigned to from there. This doesn’t mean saying goodbye to creativity; it means, instead, that onboarding work and accomplishing it on time (and on budget) must now become [...]

Six Ways To Dramatically Improve Your Agency’s Content

During a recent podcast, my guest, C.C. Chapman, made a rather blunt statement about agency content creation. His assertion? Every day, agencies violate the “speak human” mantra. Instead of treating potential and current clients respectfully, they throw out acronyms and gibberish, making readers scratch their heads and ultimately turn away. And we have the audacity to wonder why clients are tuning us out. To be sure, Chapman is the no-nonsense, straight-shooting author of books such as Content Rules and Amazing Things Will Happen. In this case, he's also brutally correct. If agencies want their content to have punch and traction, they need to stop writing for each other and begin writing for people who aren’t enmeshed in agency jargon. In other words, it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start creating content your clients can actually appreciate. Differentiate, for goodness’ sake. What separates one agency from another? It’s not all the bold logos or shiny websites — every agency has those. Instead, it’s the culture and brand, the community of individuals who make up the agency. To truly distinguish itself, agencies have to define their uniqueness. Are they playful? Outdoorsy? Musically inclined? These are the differentiators that matter. When a prospect has to choose between three relatively similar agencies, chemistry counts. Where does content come into this picture? Most clients do their homework online by examining digital footprints. According to Demand Gen Report, roughly half of all clients will read no fewer than three content pieces before contacting a prospective agency. Besides, marketers recognize and respect smart content. According to a survey by LinkedIn, nearly three-quarters of marketers have a content strategy for their businesses, allocating as much as 46% of their budget to content marketing. If an agency’s web presence [...]

5 Overlooked Metrics Your Agency Needs to Measure for a Profitable 2017

Running a business takes everything you have. Entrepreneurs pour their creativity, passion, effort, savings -- their everything -- into their work. And five years after they start, half of them are out of business. A decade later, two-thirds have called it quits. But why? For marketing firms, I believe it comes down to a lack of diligent measurement. Sure, measuring and tracking may not be the sexiest part of running an agency, but it's the only way to ensure you're not throwing money away. Commit to tracking these five things in 2017, and you'll have your most profitable year yet. 5 Metrics Your Agency Should Measure in 2017 1) Adjusted Gross Income per Full-Time Equivalent Employee Determining your number of full-time equivalent employees (FTE) is a convenient way to measure labor. To do this, denominate employees into 40-hour-a-week units. A full-time employee is equal to one FTE. A 20-hour-a-week employee is 0.5 FTE. Your target should be $150,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) for every FTE. That amount should cover salaries, benefits, and overhead while leaving enough profit to reinvest in the business or offer bonuses to high-achieving team members. Years ago, the target AGI for each FTE was $100,000. Inflation accounts for some of the increase, but marketing agencies are also hiring expensive people to fill positions on growing digital teams. In short, the world has changed. It's gotten more expensive. Many marketing agencies haven't adjusted their billing rates to keep up -- and that's a big problem. If you're only earning $100,000 per FTE, your agency likely isn't very profitable. Those thin margins carry extra risk when an unexpected tax bill comes due, equipment breaks down, or you need a retention bonus for [...]

How to Clear the Obstacles that Prevent You from Growing and Scaling Your Business with Karl Sakas

Starting an agency is easy. Growing and scaling your business is anything but. There are lots of obstacles and landmines, not to mention just trying to run the agency, which can get in the way.  My podcast guest Karl Sakas and I chatted about those obstacles and how to move around them.   Some of the specifics we talked about included: the number one question owners must answer in order to understand what type of agency they want to grow ways to delegate work so you can focus on what you love about agency work how agencies can manage their time, stating, “no one will defend your time but you” how to figure out where you want to go and get people to help you so you can get there faster. Karl Sakas served as the #2 man in a couple different digital agencies before he created the Marketing Agencies community at Inbound.org, which has over 1,000 agencies in 48 countries. As president of Sakas and Company, Karl advises agencies worldwide about strategy, operations, and leadership.He has recently published a book entitled, “The In Demand Marketing Agency: How to Use Public Speaking to Become an Agency of Choice.” To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/karl-sakas/) and grab either the itunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.   If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invest in employees, and best of [...]

Managing Business Growth to Create a Sustainable Business with Trent Dyrsmid

There’s no topic that is not more top of mind for an agency owner than growing your agency so it is stronger, more profitable and more sustainable.  In a recent podcast with Trent Dyrsmid, we talked scaling your agency and managing business growth. Trent built, scaled and sold an agency and I wanted him to tell us how. In this podcast, Trent discusses innovative techniques to managing and growing your agency:  Among other things, he covers: picking a niche for your agency giving you power in pricing and increased traction becoming aware of your capacity as an agency - being busy doesn’t mean higher profits why you need social media for lead generation, no matter your agency’s niche finding the right balance in workload for your team how to implement new systems into the agency. Before Trent Dyrsmid started a digital agency called Groove, he founded Dyrand Systems, a managed IT service provider that was recognized twice as one of Canada’s PROFIT Magazine’s 100 fastest growing companies. In addition to overseeing Groove, Trent is also the host of the Bright Ideas podcast, where he regularly publishes interviews with some of today’s brightest entrepreneurs from around the globe. To listen – you can visit the Build A Better Agency site (https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/trent-dyrsmid/) and grab either the itunes or Stitcher files or just listen to it from the web.   If you’d rather just read the conversation, the transcript is below. If you're going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn't you get the benefits too? Welcome to Build a Better Agency where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more [...]