As agency owners and leaders — we live in a pressure cooker. There’s always an endless list of To Dos. Deadlines constantly loom. Someone is always in our doorway, needing five minutes that quickly turns to twenty. Clients call with emergencies, employees have personal issues and we seem to be the focal point where all of these demands gather. Truth be told, most of us like the controlled chaos. We thrive on the challenge, the pace, and energy that comes from our daily demands. Until we don’t. I’m a high energy person as a general rule. I juggle multiple companies, work long hours, produce a significant amount of new content, and am constantly working to create something new and valuable — be it a course, writing a book, launching a conference or guiding a client through a thorny issue. So when the holidays wrapped up, I planned on jumping right back into the fray, going at 110 mph and getting back into my usual routine. But I couldn’t. This past fall and early winter were packed with some colossal challenges and demands in both my personal and professional life. The specifics don’t matter but suffice it to say, I have not been stretched that thin in many years. I was emotionally, physically and mentally spent. I went on a trip that I had been looking forward to all year. I thought that it was what I needed to re-charge my battery. But instead, it just exasperated the issue. I am not an apathetic person. In fact, I am sort of the opposite. I care about everything. But, when we got back from our trip, I was pretty much apathetic about everything. I didn’t care about [...]
If you're a busy agency owner like myself, you know that systems are so important, but likely the last thing on the never-ending to-do list. My secret sauce? Standard Operating Procedures (living, breathing documents) so that at any point in time, your team can hand over the SOP to someone else on the team and they can jump into the role no problem. But, where to start? Here are some of my top tips to get started on building systems your team will love, and actually use: Sharpen up your client onboarding system. How do you hand over a new client from sales to client manager? If you're shaking your head, I'd recommend peeking at what your workflow looks like. Of course, there will be clients that need to have specialized onboarding, but for most, it's the same! What are the assets you need? The briefing docs? The email templates? Workflow that into your systems so it's not stressful to onboard a new client. And bonus— it'll allow your team to scale quicker because you have your team confident and waiting on the other side of that sales call. Get a copy of our Client Onboarding Checklist here. Who's responsible for what? This is a super important element to any agency, and it's really important in understanding the roles within your team! This is key to getting buy-in from your team so they’ll actually want to use these systems! Who's responsible for sending the client onboarding package? Who's sending reports? The definition of each team members' role should be identified in an org chart or job description so it's super clear. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Documents. When you create these documents, share them with each [...]
When we think back on those first few years of owning an agency, somehow the tough parts get muted. We remember the late-night pizza strategy sessions and the euphoria of signing that first big deal. But somehow we forget being one mistake or choice away from having to call it quits. That period of discomfort — though some of it was genuinely painful — helped us transform a mere idea into a real, living thing that served real, living people. Yes, we made mistakes in those early days, but we also took creative leaps into the dark, solved problems every day, and instilled happiness in others. In doing so, we changed the world just a little bit. That is the power of discomfort. We took those leaps of faith because we had everything to lose if we played it safe. The risk seemed like the least risky choice of all. I wrote about the need to get comfortable with discomfort for Smart Insights. What are you doing to stay uncomfortable? How do you help your team get comfortable with the discomfort? I’d love to hear your thoughts. This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter. To subscribe, click here.
Creative provides the largest opportunity for marketers today. But with limitless creative decisions... How can you be sure you’re nailing every choice you make? The rules for digital marketing can sometimes feel too fast-paced. Our world is full of ever-changing targeting and privacy restrictions, especially due to the updates ushered in by iOS14 and Google’s phasing out of third party cookies. Investing in creativity is the ultimate way to serve your customers, no matter what changes we encounter in the future. Embracing creative thinkers and optimizing their work with machine learning is the ultimate way to ensure your customers’ campaigns provide the impact they need. How Can Marketers Keep Up? When trying to learn how to create the best content, we often research best practices. Facebook itself has a slew of best practices, tips, and creative standards to follow in order to get brands their biggest reach. Still though, both Facebook and consumers want creative diversity. Following best practices can take you places, but it won’t get you as far as one novel, well-executed idea. In a study of Pattern89’s 11 years of historic digital marketing data, we found that top performing creative goes stale after just 10.4 days. In practice though, creative life cycles are much longer, sometimes lasting months. The most feasible way to update all your creative in a timely manner is to tap into new technologies. For example, machine learning can make optimizations and predict what content adjustments will perform for your audiences and goals. Let’s take a look at how machine learning can offer the perfect support for creative teams. Understanding the Algorithm Obviously, the greatest creative accomplishments came from people. Only human minds-- such as William Shakespeare, Frida Khalo [...]
Content creation is hard. It’s a vital part of modern marketing, it feeds SEO, and nearly every customer I talk to—SMB, digital agency, publisher, you name it, they all struggle. For digital agencies especially, multiply “this is hard” by a list of demanding clients and flakey freelancers, and you’ve got a recipe for something not delicious. My company, Verblio, creates content for 500 agencies every month. As a result, I talk to a lot of digital agencies and I hear the same complaints over and over: good writers are hard to find. Quality content is expensive and difficult to produce. Did you know that only 25% of digital agencies consider their content programs “successful?” We surveyed 115 agencies and compiled the results and takeaways in Verblio’s 2020 Digital Agency Survey. The 5 biggest content trends should not surprise you—most savvy agencies are doing this stuff. What may surprise you is how hard it is to execute these strategies at scale and to price for success. Trend #1: Content is getting longer The data says: 57 percent of agencies are producing longer content than they were two years ago. Longer content = better results. 29% of agencies said their content length hasn’t changed in 2 years Only 14% of respondents said their content is getting shorter. 43% of agencies said their average blog post today is longer than 1,000 words For any agency steeped in SEO, those numbers are no surprise. The average length of a top-ten Google search result has now topped 2,000 words. Search engines prioritize in-depth pieces that provide significant value to audiences, especially when they also happen to naturally cover related keywords and phrases. Agencies looking to provide tangible SEO value to [...]
Almost every agency owner I know wishes they didn’t have to do sales and wants to hire it out to an employee. I hear this every day because what we do is hard to sell. 99 out of 100 salespeople that an agency hires will not sell more than their initial salary and are usually fired within the first year. To be a successful agency salesperson, you have to understand not the WHAT of our work but the WHY of our work. How do we really add value, increase sales etc. You also need to have super high level business conversations and most people can’t do that unless they have been a CMO, business owner, etc. If you don’t have the real life experience, it’s tough to know how to start or carry the conversation. People default to the “what keeps you up at night” BS because they can’t actually dig in and talk the talk. That level of business acumen is not easy to come by. The few successful salespeople inside agencies have at least 2-3 of these factors: The agency is a wonder bread factory (they have a very narrow focus of deliverables AND clientele so it’s easy to learn the nuances, because there aren’t that many) The agency has a narrow niche/niches so the sales person does not have to understand too many industries or verticals The agency is truly creating thought leadership content on a consistent basis so they can claim an authority position on their niche/niches. The sales person has already sold a high ticket ($25K and above) item/services to the same industry (has contacts and context) The sales person was a very successful account executive within your agency who [...]