Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies
Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies
Jason Swenk
Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.
Using Data-Driven Algorithms To Find Your Agency's Sweet Spot
Do you know how using AI and data-driven algorithms could help you save money on inefficient positioning? Anne Cheng is an entrepreneur that started her business with an idea in mind: what if she could get inside the heads of people and understand what information they required to make decisions? Supercharge Lab is a cognitive artificial intelligence company that uses AI and data to try to understand what goes on inside customers' heads, or rather listen to the voice in their head. In this episode, Anne sat down with Jason to explain how this AI technology works, why business owners should embrace that it is the future and use this innovation to their benefit, and how agency owners could use it to create specific targeting and sales and marketing content that resonates with its audiences and find their sweet spot in the market. 3 Golden Nuggets Getting inside people’s heads. How can we really understand what goes on inside someone’s head? Anne explains that what really gives us away is how we write, instead of what we write. The tones, the structure, the number of emojis, and the type of words we use are giveaways that offer a glimpse into things like our emotional state, personality style, social styles of interaction, and conflict management. Her company uses this data to build algorithms that help them put people in categories of psychological profiles or cognitive styles. “After we applied it to sales and marketing, we've seen a significant lift in our customer ROI,” she says. How the industry will change. Will AI replace what agencies are doing for clients? This technology is becoming quickly democratized. A few years ago artificial intelligence was all about building training models and putting in huge massive slices of data. Today it costs $16 and 39 cents to run a learning model. It can be really quick and easy to train a model with a high level of accuracy. Is the technology strong enough to completely replace a human? “I think not at this point,” Anne told us. There is still a long way to go before that, but it is the future. For now, it’s all about not wasting money on inefficient positioning. “Data-driven algorithms are not the enemy,” she adds. Advantages for agencies. We should always use new technologies and innovations to our benefit, and to benefit our clients. We all know that agency owners struggle with their own marketing and have a hard time treating themselves like their own clients. Anne believes this struggle comes from not really knowing where your sweet spot is and that using these technologies could help you experiment. Using algorithms can help you determine the accuracy of your targeting. For example, if you would like to go after medium-sized businesses with revenues between 10 to 50 million, you can test your response rates. Algorithms are great ways to experiment. It's cheap, it's fast, and you're not wasting time. Sponsors and Resources Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Stop Wasting Resources and Use Data-Driven Algorithms to Find Your Sweet Spot in The Market Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here, and we've got another great episode coming to you. And we're going to talk around AI and what you can do with really kind of targeting the right audience, as well as having the AI tool, write the copy for you to convert faster. So I'm excited to get into this episode. Uh, so let's jump in. Hey, Anne. Welcome to the show. Anne: [00:00:31] Thanks for having me, Jason. Jason: [00:00:32] Yeah. So tell us who you are and what do you guys do? Anne: [00:00:36] Well, my name is Anne and I'm the founder and CEO of Supercharge Lab. Supercharge Lab is a cognitive artificial intelligence company, which means we take AI and a lot of data and we attempt to understand what goes on inside your head, or rather listen to the voice in your head. And we do that for the purpose of applying it to sales and marketing. We try to improve the ROI as far as our clients. And so far it's been quite a ride. Jason: [00:01:04] Cool. And so how did you… how'd you, how'd you all come up with developing this? Anne: [00:01:11] Well, I guess it started with the idea that we said, what if we could get inside the heads of people and understand what information they required to make decisions? Uh, and that way we could make decision-making more predictable, uh, less noise and biased. And, well, improve results across all kinds of positions that are being made. Whether it's medical decisions or diagnosis, whether it's sales and marketing, uh, purchase behavior. Um, so, well we decided to try to figure out how people, what information people take in, in order to make decisions. And we came up with an algorithm that profiles, the information, uh, that people take in the site, the cognitive style of people, what we call or the psychological profile. And, uh, well the rest is history. After we applied it to sales and marketing, we've seen significant lift in our customer ROI. Um, we have had customers who literally renew their campaigns with us so often that they tell us they cannot see a day without, uh, using our solution. Jason: [00:02:20] Awesome. And tell us kind of, how does… How did you guys really kind of write the algorithm in order to get inside our heads? I mean, how does all that work? That's always fascinating. Anne: [00:02:34] So I think that's a great question, Jason. So a lot of people look at what we write because when we, when we write, um, whenever we write the contents of what we write is driven by who audiences is what we want to say. Uh, but a lot of people fail to realize that what, what really gives us away is how we write. The tones, the structure, the number of emojis or bullet points, or the kind of words that we use. That actually is the voice inside our head. That's the tone of the voice inside our head to tell gifts, clues into things like, you know, your emotional state, your, your personality style, your social styles of interaction. Or even your style of conflict management. Um, by understanding how it be right to be basically we're able to take these language models, parse it into an algorithm. And well, uh, we have been able to put everybody in some categories of psychological profiles or what we call cognitive styles, um, and hopefully using rules based and data-driven, uh, algorithms, were able to cut out a lot of the noise that actually, you know, gifts written comes from manual advertising and marketing. Jason: [00:03:57] I feel, I feel dirty. You're profiling me. Anne: [00:04:02] No, I don’t do that. Jason: [00:04:04] Um, so. How would someone… As an agency, you know, they, and I'm talking more about not for their clients, but really for themselves, right? So we just got done as we're recording this, this week, our digital agency experience, where we have, you know, 28 of the best agency owners come out, um, to my house in Colorado, when we brainstorm on strategies and what's working. And the common theme, and this is among most digital agency owners. And if… If, uh, if you don't admit this you're supporting terrorism. But we, they struggle with doing their own marketing and creating themselves as their own clients. Um, and a lot of them struggle with just identifying who their audience… Cause they try to go after everybody. So how could, you know, AI really helped them out in order to reach more of the audience? Because they may not know who they're targeting yet. Anne: [00:05:08] Yeah. So I think one of the biggest struggles as a… well a marketing organization is actually understanding where your sweet spot is. And, uh, you know, using algorithms, you can actually do a lot of experimentation. Uh, one of the biggest things that, um, AI does, is that it gives you a score of how much you are able to resonate, how accurate, you know, your targeting is. So if, for example, you think you would like to go after, you know, a medium-sized business with revenues between 10 to 50 million, and you don't really know whether this is really the sweet spot for you. You can actually test, um, the, the targeting and you can test things like, you know, what we call your, your outbound messages as well as your response rates. And if you see that your response rates are lower than another particular industry, you know…  It's possibly time to change and don't throw good money after, you know, a bad result all the time. And so that's what Einstein says is stupidity, you know, expecting a different result by doing the same thing, all, all the time is insanity. So what I would do is use algorithms, use artificial intelligence, or what may be called big data, uh, to understand what your audience is and test the vigor at which they will respond. Now, I've done that a lot with myself, with my own audience. Um, and I've noticed that, you know, we try to grow, uh, our customers by, you know, going after bigger companies. Well, it doesn't work. Um, we, we realized that we were not getting any conversions. We were not getting any customers inquiring. So we said, you know, maybe we should go back to, uh, the smaller businesses. And at the same time, we change up the different industry. So algorithms are great ways to experiment and it's cheap. It's fast. It, it takes me three days to identify whether, you know, this is the right market. You're not wasting time. So yeah. Jason: [00:07:28] Taking care of your employees has never been more important than right now. And while paydays are great, running payroll is a major pain, calculating taxes, deductions, compliance. None of it's easy. Unless of course, you have Gusto. Gusto is a simple online payroll and benefits built for your small business. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Plus, with Gustos help, you can offer benefits like 401k's health insurance, workers' comp, and a lot more. And because you're a smart agency masterclass listener, you're going to get three months free once you run your first payroll. Go to That's for three free months. Very cool. So will AI… Will AI replace what agencies are doing for clients? Like I look at it as, and I've been telling agencies like this for a long time. And if you think about kind of the car industry, you know, many, you know, many, a hundred years ago, I guess, you know, the car industry created dealers or the manufacturer created dealers, and they were the middlemen selling to the public because you can't go to the dealer. Um, and forever, it was that way. And then, you know, Tesla came out and you, you don't go through a dealer… You buy it right from the manufacturer. And I kind of see a lot of this starting to happen with agencies that are just doing a particular service where, you know, Facebook and Google would always promote agencies. But I kind of see them starting to kind of pull back from agencies a little bit because now people can go directly to them and not use the middlemen. Anne: [00:09:33] Yeah, for sure. I think, uh, one of the things about technology is that is becoming very quickly democratized. Artificial intelligence just a few years ago, was all about, you know, building training models, you know, putting in a lot of data, huge massive slices of data. Today it costs me $16 and 39 cents to run a learning model. Uh, it takes maybe about an hour to, to train a model. And you know, it, it can be really, really quick and easy, um, with a high level of accuracy to train a, uh, artificial intelligence model. Is, um, the technology strong enough to completely replace a human? I think not at this point. I think that is still a way to go, uh, where, you know, copy is not going to sound like it's artificially written. Uh, so that's, that's something which I think is going to, uh, have to develop a little bit more. But to understand your audience, to predict the audience with a level of, um, certainty, it’s starting to become quite democratized. So I think, yes, logic-based artificial intelligence is going to upend the advertising industry. But that being said, artificial intelligence to going to upend almost every industry, if you let it. Jason: [00:11:01] Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s, you know… That's what innovation is. It should always challenge the status quo and make us better. And you know, the one thing I always tell agencies is use the new technology, the new innovations to your benefit, and to benefit your clients, you know, going forward. Um, this has all been great, Anne. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Anne: [00:11:24] Yeah, I think, you know, the biggest question that we have as marketing organizations is how can we use that wastage? Um, today up to 26% of ad spend… It's wasted on inefficient, uh, positioning and efficient messaging. And I think a lot of us have to try to learn that, you know, data-driven algorithms and rules-based algorithms can… are not the enemy. Our enemy is embracing… um, the, the innovation that is coming. So I think our enemy is truly ourselves. If we get over ourselves, we can definitely grow the business, um, in a massive, in a major way. Jason: [00:12:09] Awesome. What's the website people can go and check you guys out? Anne: [00:12:14] Well, it's Remember as supercharged lab without an S at the end dot com. Jason: [00:12:20] Awesome. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show, Anne. You did great lots of great insights. And if you guys enjoyed this episode, make sure you guys subscribe, make sure you comment. And if you guys want to be around the best agency owners out there and really tap into their heads, because maybe you haven't tapped into the AI yet, um, I want to invite all of you to go to and apply. And, uh, if we feel that you're right and the group's right for you, we'll have a chat and… So good at And until next time, have a Swenk day.
Nov 24
13 min
How Relationship Equity Establishes Your Agency as a Category of One
Do you know how relationship equity could help you grow your business and establish yourself as a category of one? Michael Stamatinos has always thought of himself as a connector. His love for building bridges and connections led him to the business development, marketing, and sales world. He founded Omorfi, an agency that empowers individuals to take a leadership role in their community and he focused on his passion for the healthcare sector, the role of leadership in communities, and helping people make connections. In this episode, he sat down with Jason to talk about how relationship equity became the core of all his interactions with the people in his life, how agency owners could use this concept to improve their relationships with clients and peers, and how being passionate about your business can really help you establish yourself as a category of one. 3 Golden Nuggets Relationship equity. Michael considers himself to be a connector. He loves creating connections between people and really believes in the concept of relationship equity. To him, relationships are like a bank account, you have to make sure to make a deposit and you have enough money before making a withdrawal or a purchase. “There are folks that are very quick to make massive withdrawals and they haven't substantiated,” he explains. People will sometimes try to get something from a person without first establishing a true connection with them and building trust. How can you do that? By taking that relationship and multiplying it by time and by value. That is what truly builds relationship equity. How can agency owners use it? Relationship equity is all about connections and being bridge builders. Agency owners can really benefit from this approach when they focus on really understanding who it is that you're trying to serve and know what it is that's going on in their environment and in their world. Understand it so well that they think, this person really gets me and my business. But this is something that you can also take to your relationship with peers. “It's amazing what doors can be opened when you try to approach the world from a place of abundance,” Michael assures. Be in a category of one. Having that connection and understanding of your client’s business and needs will happen especially when you find a niche you’re really passionate about. When there's a connection that allows you the opportunity to start building and cultivating that relationship and building that bridge, this is the start of establishing yourself as a category of one in your industry. This way, you can empathize with and what they're going through and ask how can I help? Who can I connect you to? Sponsors and Resources Sharpspring: Today's episode is sponsored by Sharpspring, an all-in-one revenue growth platform that provides all of the marketing automation, CRM, & sales features you need to support your entire customer lifecycle. Partner with an affordable marketing automation provider that you can trust. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Investing in Relationship Equity and Establishing Yourself as a Category of One Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Excited to have another amazing episode. We're going to talk about relationship equity, and you're going to want to really hear what we're going to talk about and I got an amazing guest. So let's go ahead and get into the show. Hey, Michael. Welcome to the show. Michael: [00:00:22] Hey, it's good to be here. Jason: [00:00:23] Yeah. So tell us who you are and what do you do? Michael: [00:00:27] Uh, so Michael Stamatinos. Managing partner of Omorfi and we work with clients that are focused on growth. We work on strategic growth initiatives with some execution services. So it really boils down to one word: access, access to the right people, access to the right strategic partners, and in some cases, access to the right growth capital. So we really view ourselves as bridge builders and connectors at heart. I am a connector and that's really what we're focused on. So come from a pretty humble background. Parents are both immigrants, so grew up working in restaurants, being Greek, and just love working with people to the point where I wanted to be a clinical psychologist. And after my training, I realized that I didn't want to be in living receptacle to people's stuff. I still wanted to help people. So gravitate it into the world of business development, marketing, and sales, and been there ever since. Jason: [00:01:18] So I'm dying to ask you and you. And you probably get asked this a lot just based on how you did the intro about your family being Greek and in the restaurant business. Is your family like the Big Fat Greek Wedding? Michael: [00:01:29] 100% Yes. Jason: [00:01:33] How many cousins do you have? Michael: [00:01:35] We have several cousins named Nick and Peter and Costa, and it's very family-oriented. And my dad is quite a character, you know. When he talks to people, he's very animated, loves to tell stories. My mom's a little bit more of sort of the, just a homemaker, very peaceful, very calm. So sort of the ying and yang there. But my dad was a really hard worker and just grinded for a long time and stayed consistent. I think if there's anything that I've taken from him, it's that. Staying consistent and having discipline. Jason: [00:02:07] Awesome. Well, let's talk about relationship equity. How do you view this? Michael: [00:02:13] So I have an interesting story of how that kind of came about. So as I mentioned earlier, yeah, I'm a connector. I've always been a connector my whole entire life. I get a lot of joy out of putting people together, regardless of whether something's in it for me or not. And I was in a meeting one day with a client… And I don't know if you've ever had, if this has ever happened to you, but I got a stream of thoughts that were so clear that I had to excuse myself from the meeting. And I call it, I got a memo from that office, if you know what I'm saying. And that hadn't happened to me up until that point in my life. So I left that meeting. I always carry a little notebook with me. So I jotted down three sort of overlapping circles with a circle in the middle that intersects all the other circles. And I called it relationship equity, and really relationships are very similar to a bank account. When you initially start a bank account, you deposit some money. Well, if you want to go out and purchase something after you've started your bank account, you would draw some money. The reality is that if you continue to withdraw and you want to make a big purchase and you don't have enough money in there deposited, it's going to say insufficient funds. And that's really how I'm seeing the world now is that there are folks that are very quick to make massive withdrawals and they haven't substantiated. They'll do withdrawals by putting in deposits into that account. And sort of the three circles within relationship equity, that makeup relationship equity rather is trust. How do you build trust with people? Well, you have to have some level of authenticity and I'm not here trying to be someone that I'm not. I'm a real person, normal person. And there has to be some sort of a connection. In our case, it was through, you know, one of your members, Pete, Pete Cunningham. And that's how we really kind of transferred that relationship equity. And so there's that trust that. And then how do you build that relationship? Well, you take that trust and you multiply it over time. And it doesn't necessarily have to be long stretches of time. It could be short, such as it's on there's some folks that have gotten really close to in short amount of time. And then how do you build equity within that relationship? Well, you take that relationship and you multiply it by value. And the way that I define value for me is helping someone for the sake of helping them not having a hidden agenda. And when you do all those things, you build relationship equity. So when people ask me, what game am I in? I'm in the game of building relationship equity all the time. Whether it be with my wife, with my kids, with my friends and family and with clients and prospects. That's what I'm doing. And that's look, that's what got me here today. I didn't reach out to you and ask you to be on your show. It was through a series of activities of trying to add value and trying to be helpful and building relationship equity, which inevitably was transferred to this particular moment here. So this is something that I'm going to be doing until I'm not here anymore, regardless. Jason: [00:05:10] Yeah. I love the term and I've always told people, you know, especially cause they're like, hey, let me, uh, you got the audience I want. I'll give you this amount of money. I'm like, no, it just doesn't work that way. I'm like, you got to make deposits before you're withdrawing. I mean, a great example… It's always been, since I've been a kid, my grandfather worked on the long island railroad and I've always wanted to ride in front of the steam engine. And I met this one guy, Greg, that a mutual friend introduced us because he usually takes off a lot of time. We go play. And so we started kind of a couple of weeks ago, epic Fridays. So we just go out, climb mountains, do some really cool stuff. And I was telling him, you know, we were talking about like bucket list items and stuff like that. And I was like, man, you know, I've always wanted a ride in a steam engine. He's like, I know the owner of the Durango Silverton Railroad. Let me call them up for you. He surprised me. And so in the next couple of days, I'm going to get to ride, hit the whistle and everything. So just, just from relationships, like I didn't ask for that. So… Michael: [00:06:17] It's amazing. It's amazing what doors can be opened when you try to approach the world from a place of abundance and not to sound all woo or anything. But when you really try to add value and try to really help people for the sake of helping people, not only are you advancing society at large, but I dunno, it just, there's more opportunities that have come across my desk that I could ever take advantage of. It's just trying to be, be that way. So I think I'm going to keep doing that. Jason: [00:06:41] Yeah. I mean, there's so many examples. I, you know, I think of, you know, in our mastermind, you know, some members like Dunkin or Ian or Jeremy. They provide so much value to the membership, but they get so much business back and that's not their whole intent. Like they don't go in it saying like you were saying, well, what can I get from this? It's like, I'm going to give, but then whenever they need anything, like people are like, I'll give you the shirt off my back. What do you need? And they're just people that recognize that you really start scaling… You know, I was very minded, many years of my career, like, oh, you're in this business, I'm going to take you down. And then I'm like, no, no, no, you can build relationships and work with people. And even if you never get anything back from it, you feel good by doing it. Michael: [00:07:30] Yeah. The currency that I play with is relationship equity. And I get, as I mentioned earlier, like I view myself as a bridge builder. And what better way to live life than to continue to build bridges, show people how to build bridges. In other instances, you're doing the bridge building for them. But then you're also building tools to show people how to build bridges. I mean, I didn't go to a fancy school. I don't have any of these fancy degree. I didn't go in and I didn't do any of that stuff. And somehow I pinch myself sometimes when I find myself in some of these meetings with people, quite frankly, that sometimes I'm like, wow, how did I get here? Oh my gosh. And I did. And it has a lot to do with knowing how to get access to just scale. And it's all about building relationship equity. Jason: [00:08:18] Yeah. So the agency owners listening in, is there any steps or there's no trickery here, but if they're thinking, well, man, I would like to build more relationships and I'm thinking back, you know, a couple of years ago for me, I was crappy at building relationships. Like it's very hard to get in with me. Once you're in, you're in, you know, I was always closed minded and that kind of stuff. So how can agency owners benefit from this? Michael: [00:08:47] The way that agency owners can benefit from it is as follows is, understand who it is that you're trying to serve and know what it is that's going on in their environment and in their world and know it's so well to the point where they're like, wow, this person really understands me. That's how you connect with people. You having been a former agency owner and knowing the growing pains, the ins and outs you'd been there before. And when you're trying to serve a specific niche or market and you understand problems that are very… And I'm not talking about just surface level deep, I'm talking about going four or 5, 6, 7 levels down. That's when there's a connection that allows you the opportunity to start building and cultivating that relationship and building that bridge. So it starts there. And then the other thing that you really are trying to do is you really are going to have to position yourself as being, you know, that category of one. That truly understands that market. I mean, you have quite a niche and I'm assuming it wasn't, it was, it didn't happen by chance. This was done by design. And it had a lot to do with how you position yourself and how you understood the pain points that agency owners were going through. Jason: [00:10:00] Is your agency struggling to deliver real revenue growth results to your clients? You know, agency marketers can consolidate data and align marketing and sales teams goals to achieve real results for your agency and clients using revenue growth platforms. Sharpspring is an all-in-one platform built for agencies like yours to optimize digital marketing strategies with simple, powerful automation. Manage your entire funnel all in Sharpspring. Now, for a limited time my smart agency listeners will receive your first month free and half off onboarding with SharpSpring. Just visit to schedule your demo and grab this offer. That's Yeah, I always tell everybody I'm like, you have to know your audience you're going after and understand what they're feeling. Not their problem, but yes, you have to understand their problem, but how does that problem actually make them feel? And then empathize with them. You know, there's many people that do what I do that has no empathy and they just, they just kind of go shouting down from their fake mountain going, hey, I can help you, you know, look at what all the shit I've done. Versus like, I've been what you're going through. I totally get it. How can I help? Who can I connect you to? You know, one of the things I always tell people after I, I meet with them, like, is there any back connect you with? Because I do believe, like you were saying, you're a connector, you know, I've seen that, like the people that go, hey, you need to meet this person. And then whenever they're like, man, that relationship was amazing. Thanks so much, Jason. You know, and then just keep building on that. So I totally agree with all this. It's so easy. It's not like rocket science. I think you have to be aware in order to do it and kind of almost, you're almost kind of changing yourself a little bit because I think early on, I think we're all takers versus givers and when you give yeah, you get more. Michael: [00:12:10] And there's a great book called The Go-Giver and it's, I'm looking at something that I've described to as a kid, that there's something that when you shift from everyone defines success differently, by the way. For me, it's about being able to have the time and money to do what it is that I want to do and do it with the people that I want to do with and having great relationships with those people. I mean, at the end of the day, I'm not a slave to money. Don't get me wrong. It's, it's an important aspect of things that it's not the end all be all. And when you really place your identity outside of that, you start to make this shift from being successful to then being significant. So the shift from being successful to significant is it's a long journey and it takes a lot of work. And I can't say that it was a smooth ride for me, and it's not, I'm not done. I'm not done by any stretch, just so have a lot of growing to do. And the best is yet to come. Jason: [00:13:03] Yeah. And I think when you make that shift to significance, I remember when I sold the first agency, I was depressed and it was because I didn't have that significance. And then when I was able to create the community that we've created and really connect all these amazing agency owners together. You know, then I was like, oh man, I feel like I'm on top of the world. Versus before I felt like I was on the top of the world by myself. And that sucked a lot of people look at it from the outside and they're like, oh, that's awesome. I'm like, no, man. Like I enjoyed the journey. I enjoyed the climb. And now I feel like when you're connecting all these other people, you can be on their journey as well. And that's really pretty cool. Michael: [00:13:46] It's like, you know, like, a Sherpa. Jason: [00:13:49] Yeah, exactly. But I just, I can't climb as much. I can't climb as fast as, as those guys. That's amazing. Whenever you watch any of those Sherpas on Everest, I'm like, how are they doing this? And why would they want to do it? Michael: [00:14:06] It's crazy to see that happen. But I think it's metaphoric too. The hardest clients usually have the best views does. But sometimes those climbs might not necessarily be successful. I mean, I have to tell you that, you know, part of my growth story , and I'd be remiss if I didn't say this, came through a failed startup. I had placed everything into this, everything, you know, some people spend money to go do their MBA. I dropped every single thing that I had saved into this thing. And it didn't go well. And my identity was wrapped up into that. So having visions of grandeur, you know, making it and had, I knew just kind of looking back now because you know, you get kind of depressed when you lose everything. It's, it's not a fun place. You learn a lot about yourself. Jason: [00:14:56] But it makes you appreciate everything so much more as you're moving forward, because I was hiking the mountain yesterday and I was going through this thick brush and it just kept getting thicker and thicker. I couldn't get through it. So I had to backtrack. I had to go back down. And then find another route up. And that's, that's everything. We do everything in business, in life, everything it's never a straight path. It's always the zigzags and knowing when to turn back, I mean, I could have probably made it through, but I would have been bloodied and banged up. I was like, kinda like walking. So, awesome. Well, this has all been amazing. Michael, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Michael: [00:15:42] I think just to, just around knowing and taking that niche that you feel like you can be the best in the world. I mean, I didn't say this, but you know, we have a really big presence in the digital health space. And it's sort of done by design in that aspect. And we've really positioned ourselves and placed ourselves to being in a category of one and pick something that you believe that you can be in a category of one and name it, name it, and tame it and proclaim it is the reality is that there's a lot of digital agencies that are out there and it's hard to differentiate. So do your damn best to be able to do that and pick your claim and work it and work it and work it and work it and stay consistent over time. Consistency over time wins. I'm telling you that there's, you know, people may think that we're pretty successful at what we do, but I got a lot of scars on my back to showcase that it's been a long journey and we stayed consistent throughout the whole entire time. Jason: [00:16:49] I love it. Yeah. You know, and you have to be passionate and whatever you pick don't choose it based on money. Like we were talking in the pre-show, why you chose healthcare and why you started working with other industries, like in plastic that you were like, oh, that's healthcare as well. Cause you're passionate about it. And the more passionate about it, the more you're going to do, and it's going to resonate with your audience that you're going after. Versus just kind of getting a stupid course out there that says here's the most profitable niches for agencies and pick one. Michael: [00:17:20] Um, I care about two things that I'm very passionate about, you know, relationship equity kind of really factors into this notion of access. And the way that I view access is around customers, partners, etcetera, but on a broader scale access around access to care, access to things like food. I mean, there's 50 plus million Americans now that don't know where their next meal is going to come from. That's an access  Golproblem, access to, you know, so access is something I care very, very deeply about when I see people that can't get access or maybe someone that wants to try to get into a job and necessarily can't get in and, um, you know, that's an access problem. And then the second thing that I believe that things hinge on is leadership. And there are leaders right now that are coming into some very influential roles that they're not necessarily tech savvy, they're tech dependent. They grew up with an iPhone. They grew up with a smartphone. And they view innovation as, as a differentiator, the view innovation as a way to generate more revenue. And when you're working with a digital agency and aspect of what they do is innovation. And the way I define innovation is providing value to many. Then you can do that incrementally over time. So those things kind of combined, you know, really hinge on whether or not people are going to be accepting of adoption of some of these innovations that come through. And that's exciting to me because you interact with people that you just problems that they're solving can inevitably make a pretty big radical shift and be part of that journey is an absolute privilege. Jason: [00:19:00] Yeah, exactly. Awesome. What's the website people go and check you out if they want to reach out to you? Michael: [00:19:06] Well, I'm on LinkedIn, so people can check me out on LinkedIn, Michael Stamatinos, and they can go to our website, and they can hear from us there. Jason: [00:19:15] Awesome. Okay, everyone, go check that out. Michael, thanks so much for coming on the show. And if you guys want to build relations that equity and be around them, amazing agency owners all over the world that are sharing what's working. Having a lot of fun, passing a ton of business back and forth. I really never talked about that, but just really elevating each other along the way over the years. I’d love for all of you to go check out This is our exclusive mastermind for agency owners that want to grow and scale faster and just be transparent and have a lot of fun. So go to and until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 21
20 min
How To Find The Right Formula For Quick Agency Growth
Are you looking for the right formula for quick agency growth? When Ellen Jantsch was working as a head of growth in a small tech startup, she felt there was space for an agency focused on testing and executing strategies into long-term sustainable growth. She held on to that idea while she worked as a freelancer and when she started Tuff, a remote growth team for hire. They work with teams in nearly every industry to deliver actionable strategies to attract and keep more engaged customers. Today she joins the podcast to talk about how she found the right formula for quick growth for her agency, her strategic move to grow the agency's most valuable asset, and the moment she started thinking of a more repeatable formula to generate new business. 3 Golden Nuggets Test to find the right formula. When discussing how to find the right formula to grow your business, Ellen recalls that, more than anything, what helped her find the right fit for her agency was finding what didn’t work for them. “Testing and experimentation was a much quicker route to finding what was going to work,” she assures. The agency relied a lot on word of mouth at one point and at one point they started to try different approaches, from outbound sales to putting on workshops and events. Finally, they focused on an SEO strategy that now brings 75 leads per month to their door. The foundation to grow your most valuable asset. In an unusual move, for her second hire, Ellen searched for an HR person. “If you’re serious about building a remote team and a small team,” she assures, “you have to put a lot of foundation in place.” So, she worked with this person to set a career framework and think about the hiring processes. They decided on details like how to set up benefits and compensation and how to create an inclusive hiring process. It took a lot of time, but your agency team is your most valuable asset, after all. By the time she figured out what direction she wanted for the agency and the type of roles she needed to hire, there was already a solid hiring process in place. A predictable pipeline is everything. One of the things that became very clear for Ellen when she thought about what she could do to continue to grow her agency was that she would need to figure out how to create a more repeatable formula for generating new business. A more predictable look at revenue and growth would allow making strategic hiring decisions early, versus hiring someone when the pressure is up due to so much work. The only way to get ahead of that is to predict what the next six months are going to look like. Sponsors and Resources Wix: Today's episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out to learn more and become a member of the community for free. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Finding the Right Formula For Quick Agency Growth and Generating New Business Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here. And on today's episode, we have an amazing guest, uh, fellow Coloradan, if that's a word, I don't know. I just moved here so I don't know. But we're going to talk about how she's grown her agency so quickly. And, uh, go over some of the strategies that have worked for her and some of the things that might not have worked, so it helps you avoid them. So let's go ahead and get into the episode. Hey, Ellen. Welcome to the show. Ellen: [00:00:33] Glad to be here. Thanks for having me. Jason: [00:00:36] Yeah. Excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do? Ellen: [00:00:39] I run a business called Tuff. We’re a small, fully remote growth marketing agency partnering primarily with startups, scale-ups, helping them get traffic and grow their revenue. We focus on tactics like Google ads, technical SEO, content, creative, Facebook ad, CRO, and email. Really trying to figure out how to test quickly and then operationalize small wins into long-term sustainable growth. Jason: [00:01:04] Awesome. And so how did you get started creating your agency? Ellen: [00:01:09] Primarily through freelancing. I think that's probably a common story, but I had done in my career prior to freelancing corporate marketing worked at an ad tech startup worked at like a really small startup as a head of growth. And I knew… Felt like there was an opportunity to, to start an agency like Tuff. But wanted to hone in on my own kind of experiences, primarily from an executional standpoint. So I freelanced for about a year and a half. Some consulting to strategy work, but a lot of executional work running Google ads, running Facebook ads, writing email copy. Trying to just kind of hone in on the services that Tuff was going to provide initially. And then got to a crossroads where it felt like I had enough money in the bank. I knew I didn't want to ever take capital as I started Tuff. And so I, I pretty much planned to have enough, enough money to pay myself a salary as well as two other people for six months, even if we didn't sign a single client. And at that point about three years ago, decided to start Tuff and put the freelancing work to the side. Jason: [00:02:11] Awesome, and so what were the roles of the two people that you hired first and why? Ellen: [00:02:16] Yeah, two people. Um, the first one was a PPC strategist, somebody to take over a lot of the day-to-day executional work I was doing for clients, Google ads, Bing ads, YouTube ads, that type of work. It allowed me to take off one hat and pass it to somebody else. The second hire was crazy to think about now, a non-revenue generating employee. Somebody to help us with people ops. I do think that if you're serious about building a remote team and a small team, you have to put a lot of foundation in place. We worked on a career framework. We thought about hiring processes. How do you set up benefits? How do you think about compensation? What's equitable? How do you create an inclusive hiring process? Just spend a lot of time getting that in place before we started actually thinking about building a team. Jason: [00:03:00] That's great. No, that's really great. That's first time I've heard someone bring on like an HR-type person as their second role. I thought you would say like project manager. And everyone always thinks they're not billable. Like, they're billable. I don't know why no one thinks that, but I usually tell people around the 10 person mark to get the HR and people usually are shocked. They're like, I thought you had to do that much later on. But I think a lot of people think they're just doing paperwork. And they're not doing all the other things to make sure you get the right people. Because the people in agency are the most valuable asset. Ellen: [00:03:36] Especially in a service-based agency, you know, I think it's people work with Tuff because they like the experience of the team members here. And if you don't get that right, then you have a lot of employee turnover. The cost of hiring the wrong employees is astronomical, if you ask me. And so I'd rather get it right the first time around. Jason: [00:03:54] Yeah. Well, do you guys feel that you've got it right on the first couple of hires? I know. Man, I hired so many of the wrong people. I got rid of a lot of the right people too. Many, many years. Cause I didn't have that person. Ellen: [00:04:06] Yeah, we really struggled in the beginning, mostly because we had a strong process for hiring, I feel, but didn't really know what we wanted. And I think that goes back to as well as being the kind of first-time founder never working on an agency before. We hadn't really established our playing field. So we were kind of like saying yes to every opportunity. We were doing any type of service that we could offer. We were just trying to generate revenue. And I didn't have a clear enough picture around what we actually need out of team members and what kind of like the long-term vision and who the right client is for Tuff. And we've kind of paralleled those. And as it became more clear around where we get the right results and the types of clients we want to work with, it becomes a lot easier to hire because you know exactly what you're looking for. But in the beginning it was a cluster. I was just shocked anybody wanted to work with us, to be honest. Jason: [00:04:50] Yeah, I think everyone has to go through the cluster. It's like that Vegas buffet, you're trying out everything. What was the pivotal moment where you got that clarity? Ellen: [00:05:00] Yeah, I think it probably happened about 18 months ago. And two things became really clear if I was going to continue to have any chance of growing Tuff, we had to figure out how to hire talent that's adaptable, autonomous more senior in position. So not people that we'd have to train extensively in the beginning who had experience working on small teams. So really honing in on characteristics versus job responsibilities, and that's been really helpful. Um, the second thing would be how do you create a more repeatable formula for generating new business? I think when you have a more predictable look at revenue and growth, it becomes a lot easier to then make strategic hiring decisions early. Versus waiting to kind of like feel the pinch in the stress of like, oh gosh, we've got a lot of work. We've got to hire somebody else. Or this whole thing is going to collapse. You can get to a point where you slowly get out of that and get ahead of it with hiring and you can't do that unless you can predict what the next six months is going to look like. Jason: [00:06:03] When you're an agency partner with Wix, you unlock an entire digital ecosystem for creating, managing, and growing your agency. Get the full coding and design freedom to create anything your clients need, along with the tools to manage and collaborate with your team seamlessly from anywhere. And when it comes to growing your agency, you can get matched with new leads every day and earn revenue share for every website you guys create. They're backed by the Wix industry leading security and cyber performance. You'll also have a dedicated account manager on standby 24/7 so you can reach your goals and start setting new ones. See for yourself, head over to and re-imagine what your agency can accomplish. Yeah. Building a predictable pipeline is everything, right? Like if your business is built on word of mouth, which I always joke around saying that's just not scalable. And you're relying on other people, then you're going to take on work that you probably shouldn't be. Because there's no such thing as a bad agency client and only a bad prospect or a bad process. And, and so when you can build that predictable pipeline, it makes things a lot easier where you're picking and choosing. So let's transition to that. What's worked for you for building a more full pipeline? Ellen: [00:07:25] I think more than anything, what hasn't worked. I have found at least with Tuff, testing and experimentation was a much quicker route to finding, finding what was going to work. And I think in the early days we relied a lot on word of mouth. Um, larger agencies. We tried to kind of like create partnerships for any clients they didn't want. Jason: [00:07:43] That doesn’t work. Ellen: [00:07:45] No. Let's see, I put on workshops, I went to events. I would like get in touch with people that had been connected with LinkedIn. We tried outbound sales, um, saw some success there, but definitely not like a natural skillset for me. So a bit of a stretch. So we tried a whole bunch of different things for about a year. Um, got exhausted. And finally realized how do we generate more inbound leads then have, have healthier conversations and get people knocking on our door and getting curious about working with top and wanting to work with us. And so we started getting really specific with an SEO strategy. So that took, you know, that's a slow burn. It's not a, it's not like paid acquisition. It's not like referrals. It takes a long time to build it was a schlep. But now when you go into Google and type growth marketing agency, you're going to see Tuff in the number one spot. If you type content, strategy, agency, technical SEO agency, YouTube ads agency, we're going to be in the top three. And now we're lucky and humbled enough to have 75 leads knock on our door a month. And we maybe take on one or two. And I couldn't have predicted that level of scale ever, but the organic acquisition has really been important for us. Jason: [00:08:52] Very cool. Yeah. You know, I always tell everybody, it's kind of like, as you're building and growing the business, you got to experiment with what's not working. And then kind of go back to kind of the basics and really build on that foundation. And what we found too cause a lot of times. In the very beginning, when we were growing our agency, we grew it from being in the search engines and people coming to us. Then when we started getting, wanting to get to the next level, we started realizing, man, we need this outbound channel. Man, we need this strategic partnership channel. You know, Google changes one thing, we're toast. And then we're laying off a lot of people. So it's always… always a work in progress. Ellen: [00:09:37] Yeah. I couldn't agree enough. And I think we kind of, you know, like we partner with clients every day to think about growing revenue and acquiring new customers or users for them. And we try to apply the same process for Tuff. So we do quarterly growth marketing strategies. We stay pretty committed to it, but I would say we're like in that moment right now, Jason, where 75% of our leads come from organic traffic. And when you think about having all of your eggs in one basket, it's terrifying. And so we're starting to get to this point where we're capturing a lot of existing demand, how do we start to create a little bit more demand? And how does that look like for us long-term? Jason: [00:10:12] Yeah. I almost even look at it too of like, when I hear 75 leads a month, I'm like, okay, good. How can I make them even better? Or how could I even convert them more? Like I was talking to Darby or skill specialist. I'm like, well, out of the conversations that you set up, how could we have the ones we want… How do we increase that conversion rate? Just a little bit. That's always those little fine tweaks that work. I'm going to ask you something I've never really asked anybody that I'm gonna start doing the show. What's the thing that you've regretted that you haven't done in the agency yet? Ellen: [00:10:47] For the agency. Hmm. That's such a great question. I think, um, this is very tactical, but I apologize. It's top of mind. We didn't add on our creative team until recently. And in the growth game, we're really metrics driven data driven, thinking about tactics and the strategies behind those. But if you don't have really good creative, you're not going to get very far. And for so long we outsourced that. Not really trusting in our processes, not really understanding what that would look like in house. And we didn't bring it in house until about three months ago. And now I'm like, oh shit, we need to triple that team tomorrow. And so I think I would've just looked a little bit more holistically at our services and figure out… Again, it just goes back to how do you exchange the most value? And where can you team be the strongest? And I was slow to, I was slow to pick up on that. Jason: [00:11:34] Awesome. Well, Ellen, this has all been amazing. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Ellen: [00:11:40] No, I think you've covered it. Jason: [00:11:42] All right. Perfect. Uh, what's the website people go and check out the agency? Ellen: [00:11:46] Jason: [00:11:48] Awesome. Very easy. Everyone go check it out. And if you liked this episode, make sure you guys subscribe. Make sure you hit the like button, comment. And uh, if you guys want to be around amazing agency owners on a consistent basis. Where you can grow your agency faster because you can get their opinions and then they can share what's working for them. So you can scale and grow faster. I'd like to invite all of you to the This is our exclusive mastermind where the agency owners are growing very, very quickly and having a fun time doing it. So make sure you go to And until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 17
12 min
Why Becoming the Agency CEO is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Are you looking to start your transition to the role of agency CEO? David Anderson started living the entrepreneurial dream more than twenty years ago when he started Off Madison Ave, a full-service marketing agency he founded with his partner after getting fired from his agency job. After two decades as a business owner, David has experienced success and failure. Having learned from many successes and the hard knocks of business and life. In his conversation with Jason, he talks about the many challenges and mistakes that helped him learn, why taking a step back from day-to-day operations is a marathon, not a sprint, the importance of building your leadership team and letting them make their own mistakes, and what he has learned after many agency acquisitions. 3 Golden Nuggets Taking a step back is a process. After many years in the business and finally being able to take a step back to being his agency’s CEO, David admits that he made many mistakes along the way. The first time, he recalls, he hired someone from the outside and did not have a solid onboarding process for that person. That fell apart quickly and they even ended up losing clients. Later, he had a leadership team implement EOS, which he highly recommends, but he chose not to be the innovator and integrator. It fell apart and he had to step in to fix the situation. Finally, he brought somebody up through the ranks, worked on a transition plan, clearly defined authority, and is holding that person accountable. “It’s a process,” he says, “and you will have your failures in it.” Allow leaders to learn from mistakes. David has figured out a leadership team system that works for his agency. There were mistakes along the way, however. One of them was tying the head of the team’s financial bonus to their financial income. He later changed that and now their bonuses are tied to the overall performance of the agency, not of an individual. Also, what business owners need to do is let go as they bring on those senior people. You don't hire senior people and micromanage. They don’t want to be told what to do. With that, you also have to accept that there will be failures and things that don’t work. If you want to grow your team, you need to let them make mistakes. On mergers and acquisitions. With 24 years in the business, our guest has seen his fair share of acquisitions. So, what does he look for in a potential purchase? In their case, as a full-service agency, they look for businesses that can complement their services. So they’ve purchased agencies that allow them to gain a deeper focus on some aspect of the business. On the financial side, they are definitely looking at the EBITDA. He’s also made some mistakes on this front, and his advice is that, when it comes to people who will help you evaluate a potential acquisitions organization, they need to understand the industry. The person selling won’t mind if you’re uneducated, but you will surely overpay. Sponsors and Resources Sharpspring: Today's episode is sponsored by Sharpspring, an all-in-one revenue growth platform that provides all of the marketing automation, CRM, & sales features you need to support your entire customer lifecycle. Partner with an affordable marketing automation provider that you can trust. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Building Your Leadership Team & Letting Go of Day-to-Day Operations is a Marathon, Not a Sprint Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here with another amazing episode and amazing guest. We're going to talk to an eight-figure agency owner who's going to talk about how he really kind of transitioned out of really doing everything and transitioned more to a leadership role where he doesn't have to make all the decisions, which I think a lot of us like. We're also going to talk about M&A, growth, getting bigger, so sit back and let's get into the episode. Hey, David. Welcome to the show. David: [00:00:35] Hey, Jason. Thank you for having me. Looking forward to it. Jason: [00:00:38] Yeah. Excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do? David: [00:00:42] All right. So Dave Anderson, I live here in sunny Arizona, where it's still a hundred plus degrees here, today when we're recording this anyway. I am in Arizona. I have been an agency owner for about 23, 24 years now and worked at another agency for a good three years before that. The name of the agency is Off Madison Ave. We are a full service, kind of going back to the old terms, full-service agency that does everything from creative media, public relations, social media, digital. All of the kind of stuff that we've had. We're about 35 full-time people but our business model is really evolved to where we're with a plethora of great talent out there now of how we're using a real combination of full-time people and people with specific skill sets to do our diverse client work every day. Jason: [00:01:41] And so tell me kind of how did you guys get started or why did you start? David: [00:01:45] Ah, that's a great question. So I have one business partner. Roger Hernie, a great friend of mine. So we were both working… Jason: [00:01:52] Still, still business partner? David: [00:01:53] Still business partners, 23, 24 years in October years later, still business partners. And I can, I can give some insights if you like, why I think that has worked overtime. But we were both working at the same agency. And to be honest with you, I got fired one day. First time I'd ever been fired in my life from a job. Um, my wife and I were one month pregnant with our first child on the way. I still remember going and telling her and picking her up at work. And she said, how'd the day go? And I said, well, they got fired today. That'll stress out your wife in any situation. Jason: [00:02:26] Was it Friday? David: [00:02:27] Uh, it was Monday. I started the week off the right way for her. So… Jason: [00:02:33] I've always been fired on Fridays. David: [00:02:35] Yeah, no, this was a Monday. And it's a story that needs to be told over alcohol. The agency kind of turned into, um, the culture was bad and the CEO asked me one day why it was bad. And I told him my honest opinion and I didn't last long after that. So I come from the PR side of things. Background in politics, PR. My business partner worked for McCann Erickson, he is the creative guy. And we just working together, saw the value… Again, I'm an old guy way back then were PR and creative, but didn't really work well together, they were more siloed. And we really wanted to bring that together to bring a total marketing picture. So yeah, 23 years later, we've done three small acquisitions over the years to help us grow. And like every one of you, we've had our best of days on our absolutely worst of days. Um, I'm a lot grayer now, but you know, we've survived. Jason: [00:03:32] Very cool. And, um, tell me what's been the process…? How long did it take you? Or if you kind of remember some of the key elements or key things that happen to get to a point where you don't have to be in the day-to-day operations anymore. David: [00:03:50] Yeah. It's a great question. And I'm going to be honest with you. I severely messed it up two times before I got it right. And it's a thing that I work with kind of both other business owners now, and agency owners. The process of working on the business every day, not in the business. And then ultimately be able to move where I am now today, where I don't really have any day-to-day role in the company. I'm still involved from a financial side. If we do an acquisition, like we did last November, I'm very involved. Um, but I work directly with our GM. So the first time I messed it up, I hired a person from the outside who supposedly had a lot of agency experience, bigger agency actually. And after going through the process, what I did horribly wrong was I didn't have a solid onboarding process for the new person that was coming on. Honestly, I kind of said, this person's hired, he starts on Monday. And by Monday afternoon I was like, good luck! You know? And within six months, we've lost clients. Most hurtful was I lost, I think, three of our top-five leadership team members because of that person's leadership style, how they were doing. Just a bad, bad time. So I had to come back in and fix that. The second time, I had a leadership team and we implemented EOS to be honest with you, which I'm a big fan of. But I chose not to be the visionary or the integrator and I left it to our executive team and the partners that were involved in the business. And that went really bad too, because when you kind of pick the integrator to lead, the other people didn't agree. There was no solid decision-making. There was not clear definition on when to bring it to the owners or me as the owner of decisions. And, again, it completely fell apart and I stepped back into fix it again. Now this time, I think I have finally gotten it right where we brought somebody up through the ranks, worked on a transition plan, clearly defined authority. I am holding that person accountable. The biggest thing where I failed was lack of accountability as I kind of turned the day-to-day operations over to others. Now there's a level of accountability. I still am very involved at times on the EOS part of it on our rocks and making sure where we are. And we are more than a year into it now and the person who runs the bay, they, her name is Sasha has done a fantastic job. The agency is growing. Our clients are happy. Our culture has improved. So what I would say is it's a process. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and you will have your failures in it. Jason: [00:06:47] Is your agency struggling to deliver real revenue growth results to your clients? You know, agency marketers can consolidate data and align marketing and sales teams goals to achieve real results for your agency and clients using revenue growth platforms. SharpSpring is an all-in-one platform built for agencies like yours to optimize digital marketing strategies with simple, powerful automation. Manage your entire funnel all in SharpSpring. Now for a limited time, my smart agency listeners will receive your first month free and half off onboarding with SharpSpring. Just visit to schedule your demo and grab this offer. That's Now I've seen it all kinds of different ways where… There's two ways I've seen it work out well. One is to bring in… One of the first guests actually brought in someone as a consultant to work with the team and to really kind of get to know them. And then eventually they hired that person as the CEO and it was kind of like, oh, well, you're part of us. You've been working with us for six months. That kind of stuff. I've seen that work. And it's a good test. And then I've also seen kind of going through the ranks. But a lot of times what people struggle with is if you don't have people through the ranks, what do you do? And that's why I wanted to kind of give you option number one, that I've seen work. I've also seen it not work where they brought in someone temporarily, and then it doesn't work, but that's fine. They're not the CEO yet. You're testing out the waters and then you can kind of go… Let's talk about a lot of times when agency owners get over the couple of million mark, right? Like you can get to the million mark by accident, I feel. And then you can kind of get to the 2 million mark by accident and a lot of luck. But then to really kind of take it up from there, you have to build out a really good leadership team. So let's talk about how did you build out your leadership team? Like not particular names, but what were their roles? What did you learn from that? Like, what did you… what didn't work? David: [00:09:05] Yeah, so great question. And again, I feel we're in a good spot now, but lots of mistakes along the way. So how we do it, we call them group heads in our organization and we put people at the lead of like our account service team, our creative team, our PR team, and our media team and creative team. So we put a person at the head of all of them, and then I made them the leadership team that they were the ones to work collectively. Um, you know, we're not big enough to, and never have been. And I, quite frankly, I don't think I agree with having people that are just managers and not… So they're working directors is what we call them. They were directors that head of their group, group heads. But they were the ones who were responsible for making sure we weren't siloed and the workflow and functioning like that. And that has worked very well with us. But as agency owners know, actually any CEO leadership knows… The challenge there is managing the personalities, the issues, the finances. You know, one of the biggest mistakes I made was tying my group head’s compensation to the financial bonus to their financial income. And then it was a question of how much money do I get? Because I get to put more in my pocket on that. And so what I did was their, and still is, their compensation of bonuses and stuff like that is based on the overall performance of the agency, not of an individual. Otherwise, you'll always have people looking out for their own personal wellbeing that they go through. So it's really that… Now also as a business owner, agency owner, what you need to do, two things is one is you need to let go as you bring on those senior people. You don't hire senior people and micromanage. They don't want to come in and be told what to do, but you as an owner have to relinquish that. And with that, you have to accept, there's going to be failure. There's going to be things that don't work. These are how people learn. And we as owners, when the first time something goes wrong, we jump back in to save the day and tell everybody else what they did wrong. And believe me, I, you know, if you can see me, I've lots of gray hair. This is how I got to that point. But I think, and I've seen, you know, in entrepreneurs, business people as general, we hate to fail we're as competitive. But I believe if you really want to grow your team and you have to let them fail, just like our kids, you know, you have to learn lessons the hard way. So I hope that's helpful. Jason: [00:11:39] Yep. What was your first leadership role that you hired and second and third? David: [00:11:44] I still remember that when it was Roger and I. Well, the first full leadership role that I hired was in our media group because it was the area that we were most knowledgeable in. Roger being a creative guy, me being a PR person. So we brought that media expertise and was one of the very first things. Jason: [00:12:06] Gotcha. And why the media role if you guys had expertise in it? David: [00:12:11] Well, we really didn't. We were faking it. We were using a lot of outsiders to do the work for us. And when we got to a certain point in billings of media, we realized that we needed that expertise of not only just for placing and all of that, but the analytics behind it. And that's where we really needed the expertise. That's why we started there. Jason: [00:12:35] Gotcha. I always like to see when, uh, when people are like, well, so many people hire based on things that they don't know. And I'm like, I think the best thing is, is like hiring on the things, you know. Cause then you can actually, you know, are they full of shit or not, you know? Going there. Kind of switching focus a little bit… This focuses on growth, mergers and acquisitions and buying agencies. You know, with our agency Republics, that's how we've been able to grow, we've done 10 acquisitions so far in the past year and a half, and just had tremendous growth. So, and you've said you've done some MNA as well. So what do you look for? What's worked what hasn't worked when you bought agencies? David: [00:13:21] Yeah, that's a great question. Our philosophy right now is to find things that complement the services. We aren't necessarily looking for another full-service agency. That's going to come in with creative teams, PR teams, all of that. Like the acquisition we did, um, in November of last year was a PR agency based out of San Francisco. And we wanted to really bolster our PR capabilities. It was also a step in over 20 something years and probably something I would do different, maybe do different is… We've always been more of a generalist agency. We've had some core areas of focus and we really want to move to a much deeper focus in two areas specifically. And this was a great way to bring in a book of clients that fit into that area where we want to be more specific. So I would say is, you know, an M&A there's two types: financial, which you're just adding revenue dollars, and they're strategic. And we're looking more strategic with the one we just did. The one before that allowed us to get deeper into technology. How do we use technology more in our marketing? As a result of that, we've also started another startup, um, a SAS-based product in the marketing space that we've also done that. And if I go way back to the early two-thousands, we were a very traditional agency and we didn't have the digital capabilities that the whole marketing world was going to. And we made an acquisition to get us really deep into that space also. So they've almost all been very strategic for us. Jason: [00:15:05] Awesome. And when you're looking at buying an agency or when you bought these agencies, is it a roll up? Is it cash? How are you evaluating them? David: [00:15:18] Yeah. You know, we do the typical valuations stuff that we have. And I'm sure you've seen more than once or twice that people in their minds have a much greater valuation for their agency than what the numbers… I can tell by your face you've seen that a couple of times. And I've had, you know, while we've done four acquisitions, I've probably had 20 where we got to a serious conversation that we do. So we really look at the numbers. I'm actually a finance major coming out of school. But then you also have to take the intangibles into it. So it's always, usually a combination of some upfront money earn out that, you know, goes with it from there. Jason: [00:16:01] How do you evaluate how much they're worth? Is it on EBITDA? Is it on top line? What are some of the factors that you put in there? David: [00:16:08] More EBITDA. More is EBITDA. And then, you know, you play the whole add back game of what to, you know, really kind of goes to… From my country club membership, to my Ferrari, to my vacation home in there to get to where, it's a game. I mean, you know, as well as I do, it's a game. What I would tell… and I'm sure you've had similar experiences use people who can help evaluate a potential acquisitions organization who understands our industry. One of the big mistakes I made on the first acquisition that we did is I used my regular attorney who knew nothing about the marketing industry. I overpaid without a doubt because of that, the, you know, you know what you're doing. Because it does, it does become a game with add backs and you know… How owners are willing to structure their compensation. Jason: [00:17:04] Well, if you're selling you don't mind, if the person buying you is uneducated. Make sure you tell us that lawyer so all the sellers can use that versus David: [00:17:14] Yeah, I totally agree with you. The other thing, I had this happen once as we went through a whole valuation. We were moving forward and then it came back and I had this owner. It was a PR agency said… I think the valuation of their company came back and like 1.5 million, something like that. You know, pretty small agency. And the agency said, well, just our contacts are worth a million dollars alone. Who we know in the media is worth just a million dollars alone. So I would never sell for less than $4 million. And I was like, well, I guess we won't be moving forward. Jason: [00:17:47] Yeah. I always like to tell that person I'm like, well, you can wish in one hand and crap in the other, it gets filled up first. David: [00:17:53] I love that. I'm going to steal that if that's okay. Cause that’s very well said. Jason: [00:17:58] Yeah, Well, I stole that from cousin Eddie on Vegas Vacation. David: [00:18:04] Love it. Absolutely love it. Jason: [00:18:06] Well, this has all been great, David, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? David: [00:18:11] No. Well, a couple things. One is, you know, as agency owners and entrepreneurs, make sure you have a great network around you of advisers is what I would say. Find like-minded… I'm a member of EO Entrepreneurs Organization. It's, you know, provides the CEO forum. Vistage. I was part of Vistage. Get people around you who know more than you, have more experiences that you, that you can experience share. Because that's how we learn and grow. And that's what we do best. I would also say, do whatever you have to do to work on the business every day, not in the business. And I fully understand when you're a smaller agency crossing that first million-dollar mark, $2 million mark, and you're finally making good money. And then the thought of hiring a six-digit leader, a six-figure income. Oh my gosh, that's going to set me back again. That's how you grow, you know, and it's just what you need to do um… If you want a growth the company. If you want a lifestyle company then, you know, that's perfect. And neither one is right or wrong. It's just, you have to marry it up with what you want to do. And the whole process I went through of getting out of the day-to-day, it's absolutely a marathon. It's not a sprint. I would say you need at least 18 months to plan properly for that. That's just my experience to do it in the right way. Jason: [00:19:36] Awesome. And, uh, what's uh, the agency website people go and check you guys out? David: [00:19:40] Uh, Off Madison Ave. A V E, not avenue. So Jason: [00:19:46] Awesome. Well, thanks so much, David, for coming on the show. It was awesome. And I totally agree with you on surrounding yourself with amazing people that are further ahead, so they can actually help you and see the things… And kind of setting me up for that, that was perfect. I want to invite all of you to go to This is our exclusive mastermind just for experienced agency owners. So I understand that there's other groups out there that have all kinds of different industries. But if you want to be surrounded by amazing agency owners on a consistent basis, I want all of you to go to And until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 14
20 min
Why Adapting to Change Is the Secret to Longevity in Agency Life
Forbes has called Nancy A. Shenker a “bad girl” because she selectively breaks rules and takes calculated risks to help companies innovate and grow. Nancy had worked as a CMO for big brands like MasterCard and Citibank when she ventured to start her own business, TheONswitch. That was more than 18 years ago and she credits her client side work for providing the insight needed when she first started. Those experiences are what contributed to her still being in the agency world today. In her conversation with Jason, they talked about how staying in business through the years has meant adapting to different challenges. They also touched on some of the lessons learned in more than 18 years of owning her business, and why people shouldn't underestimate experience and the wisdom that can come from it. 3 Golden Nuggets On adapting to changes. Nancy actually credits the hard times of the 2008 recession for preparing her for the pandemic. “When the economy takes a downturn, you're sort of stuck throwing all of this stuff overboard,” she recalls. When it came time for everyone to welcome the new digital and minimalistic model, she had already adapted to it years ago. “I've been co-working and managing a virtual team for the last decade, so I was good.” In her opinion, the pivoters were the ones surviving and thriving. It was a time to do market research, to find out how customers were behaving, but many went into a state of inertia. Lessons learned over the years. After 18 years in the business, lesson number one for Nancy has been to always trust her gut. She doesn’t have a lot of regrets, but she always regrets moving forward with projects where she felt like something didn’t seem quite right. Another important lesson is to always watch your P&L. Hope is great but money in the bank is better. Always make sure to have that cushion because you never know when things can go south. Also, remember that a good profit margin for your business should be an average of 30%. And finally, invest in things that will bring you long-term value. Don’t underestimate experience. Nancy is very passionate about calling out ageism in business. “I now bring to the table wisdom that I didn't have even 18 years ago,” she says. She calls for people not to assume that an older person cannot understand technology. She even challenges anyone a social media strategy contest, since she’s been in the social media and digital media realm since the late nineties and feels that, at 65, she can offer a unique perspective. Sponsors and Resources Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Lessons Learned After 18 Years in the Business & Why We Shouldn't Underestimate Experience Jason: [00:00:00] All right. What's up, agency owners? Today I have an amazing guest who has been in business for over 18 years. Actually, today is their 18th birthday. We're going to talk about the lessons learned about growing their agency. And let's go ahead and jump into the show. Hey, Nancy. Welcome to the show and happy birthday to the business. Nancy: [00:00:25] Thank you. How are you doing? Jason: [00:00:28] So, uh, tell us who you are and what do you do? Nancy: [00:00:32] Sure. My name is Nancy A. Shenker. And as you just said, today is the 18th birthday, so it's fortuitous timing, um, of my consulting company slash agency called TheOnswitch. Um, I was an early-stage entrepreneur. I left corporate life and started my own business long before it became popular to do that. Um, and previously I was a CMO at a company called Reed Exhibitions, the producers of Comicon. And then before that I was at MasterCard and Citibank. So the first part of my career was on the client-side. So when I got ready to start my own consultancy, I sort of knew what things look like from the other side of the desk, which gave me tremendous insight and probably contributed to my still being around 18 years later. Jason: [00:01:26] Yeah. What were… Going back to when you were the CMO and working with a lot of different agencies over the years, what were some things that really pissed you off? Nancy: [00:01:39] Um, I think that, um, account people who had never really worked in or on the business, um… Always seemed sort of whimsical to me. Like if you couldn't tell me specifically what was going on with a project or why I should be spending my money on direct rather than conventional print… Then you were really just like a host or a hostess. So that was like number one, that stuck in my craw that I didn't really need somebody to take me out to lunch or invite me to parties. I needed a person who was going to give me creative ideas to grow the business. Jason: [00:02:22] A strategist. Nancy: [00:02:22] Um, yeah. Yeah. The other thing, um, was, um, paying for people who weren't actually working on my account and the recession was a tipping point for me when I really had to take a long, long, hard look at my overhead as a business and to say, whoa, whoa, like my clients are paying for my equipment. They're paying for my toilet paper. They're paying for, you know, all of this stuff. And when the economy takes a downturn, you're sort of stuck throwing all of this stuff overboard that you just bought in the previous 10 years. So I was actually really in great shape to handle the pandemic. Because I went with this minimalistic virtual model back in 2008, which suddenly became popular in 2020. And I'm like, whoa, I've been doing this for 10-15 years. I'm all good. I don't have any stuff to throw overboard at this point. I'd been co-working for the last decade. I have been managing a virtual team for the last decade. So I was, I was good. I mean, no one was really good in the pandemic, but I was better than most. Jason: [00:03:47] Yeah. I saw a lot of agencies growing actually in the pandemic, just because, you know, there were so many businesses that… Traditional, their traditional way of getting business they couldn't get anymore. And they really needed, you know, that digital, um, expertise in order to reach their customers and really kind of make, get, get them through because you know, the, the loans of the government only goes so far. Nancy: [00:04:15] Yeah. I mean, I would say probably, you know, 20% of clients said... Oh my goodness, the world is changing. Human behavior is changing and my customer's changing and I'm going to get first-mover advantage by dealing with that. And then there was a whole other swath of the population that went into this like inertia state. So the nimble, the strong, the… I hate the word pivot, but the pivoters are surviving and thriving. And those people who sort of… pause. I mean, I just saw this statistic that was shocking that two-thirds of companies, you're talking about major companies, postponed or canceled market research during the pandemic. And I would argue that that was the time to really be all over how are my customers behaving? What are they buying? What are they clicking on? How are they shopping? Because if you understood that, like, if you really understood, basic human behavior, which shifted largely to digital... Um, you were way ahead of the game if you were on top of that. Which is what taught us this lesson that, you know, I've learned starting in, when I first started my career in the 1970s. You know, our tagline as a business is bright and timeless marketing. I've seen media change radically. Um, but, um… What has stayed the same is your understanding of basic human behavior. Um, that's timeless, whether it's B2B or B2C, if you really are inside the head and heart and wallet of your customer, you'll never be wrong. Jason: [00:06:08] Yeah. What were, what were some of the things that you've learned over the years of running your business? Nancy: [00:06:15] Um, well, my lesson number one for today, I'm doing a series of nine lessons learned over 18 years. And lesson number one, which is live on my LinkedIn profile today is trust your gut. You know, and I think that it's very easy when you're a business owner to be swayed by clients, by your team members… But at the end of the day, you know, if you're a successful business owner, your intuition is usually pretty good. So if you have the heebie-jeebies, as I say, about a client or about a prospective employee or a current team member. You know, the chances are probably better than even that your gut is right. So, um, you know, the biggest mistakes I've made or learning moments I've had in the last 18 years have been when something didn't feel right to me and I moved forward with it anyway. Jason: [00:07:14] Yeah, exactly. Cool. And what are, what are some of the other nine? Obviously we, we don't have time to go over all nine. Um, and I'm not gonna put you on the spot for that, but look, give us a hint for some other ones. Nancy: [00:07:26] Um, always watch your P&L. You know, especially if you're a creative, um, and a storyteller, it's pretty easy to delude yourself and say, well, things will turn around tomorrow. Or, you know, I'm, I'm spending $10,000 on this because I think it's a good, calculated risk. But, you know, that's one of the big lessons I learned from the recession is that, um… Hope is great, but money in the bank is better. Like always have that cushion. Also because you never know when things could go south and you don't want to be too leveraged when that happens. So, you know, as I like to say, especially for women, business owners, PNL does not stand for purses and lipstick. Um, when you're in a service business and your biggest expense is people, um, you really have to spend very, very wisely. Jason: [00:08:34] Taking care of your employees has never been more important than right now. And while paydays are great, running payroll is a major pain. Calculating taxes, deductions, compliance, none of it's easy. Unless of course you have Gusto. Gusto is a simple online payroll and benefits built for your small business. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Plus, with Gusto’s help you can offer benefits like 401k's health insurance, workers' comp, and a lot more. And because you're a smart agency masterclass listener, you're going to get three months free once you run your first payroll. Go to  That's for three free months. Yeah, I always, when I work with agencies, I'm always surprised about how low their profit margins are. And they think in the agency business that 10% is good or 15%. I'm like the average is over 30%. And then they kind of get shocked a little bit and I'm like, that's the average. I was like, you can go over. And they're like, but when you get bigger, it goes down. I'm like, no, it doesn't. Only if you're, if you get dumber. Nancy: [00:10:02] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. And, um, you know, when I first started my business, I think I was more into the creator comforts. Um, you know, I'd mentioned to you that I just moved to Arizona about three, four years ago. And I was kind of shocked at how many agencies have big spaces and their names on the door and big staffs. A lot of them did have to do some serious bloodletting when the pandemic started, you know. And you're right, there are some who didn't miss a beat and whose clients really needed them. And there are others that just could not sustain their expense base when things took a turn for the worse. So I'm a, I'm a minimalist both personally and professionally these days. Jason: [00:10:52] Yeah. I, I would always invest in anything that would be for the long-term that they would generate. And then personally, I would only invest in things, um, that were related to experiences. I would never buy a $50,000 watch, but I would buy a $50,000 experience. Nancy: [00:11:14] Oh yeah. I mean, you're talking to a woman who spent an insane amount of money on a 12th-row seats to see the rolling stones when they came through, um, a few years ago, pre-pandemic. And I will never, ever regret that expense. So, yeah. Memories, travel, experiences… And talent, you know, if you find people… I'm working with a couple of women now who I've known for years who are worth every penny, I pay them and then some. Because they are helping me scale the business and deliver great quality work and enabling me to sleep better at night, which at this stage of my life is super important. Jason: [00:11:58] Yeah, exactly. Uh, give us two other tips that you've learned over the years. Nancy: [00:12:04] Um, build a really… Another people tab is build a really strong inner circle. And that inner circle can change or evolve over time, but you really have to have people in your life who will tell you the truth, who aren’t just bobbleheads. Um, operations is really key. You know, you could be doing the best creative in the world, but if stuff isn't happening on time and on budget, you're screwed. Um, and then, you know, this isn't one of my nine tips, but it's my, you know, one mini regret, in terms of how I started and scaled the business… I think having product, having tangible product is super important. Because being exclusively in a service business, no matter how much you productize your service, it's still a service. So, I mean, I'm not done yet. I have another 18 years at least ahead of me. And I have a few product concepts that I hope to launch over the next five to 10 years. Including, you know, I, I'm a writer and I have a bunch of books on Amazon and I have, um, some courses I’m developing. So yeah, I'm really into passive revenue these days. Jason: [00:13:24] Well, let me, let me tell you, the grass is not always greener on the other side. It's greener on the side you water. When I sold my agency, I thought just like you, I was like, ah, I've been in the service business for 12 years. Let me go develop a product. And I developed an iPhone app and I hated it. I literally wanted to… I put a gun to it and just blew it up behind the shed. And… Nancy: [00:13:46] Yeah, and that's one of the reasons why I haven't launched my… I have one product idea that's actually a physical, tangible product, a household product. And when I started delving into manufacturing and trademarking and distribution, I'm like, nah, I'm not, I'm not doing that. So I think that there is an opportunity and I think you've actually done it really well. You know, and I'm not just being, you know, a sycophant here. But like developing products that people in your industry truly need, you know, it's productizing your service, which is also a form of a product. I think smart, digital marketers are doing more and more of that these days. So kudos to you on that. Jason: [00:14:32] Thank you. Well, uh, is there anything Nancy, I did not ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Nancy: [00:14:39] Um, yeah, I mean, something that I think a lot about these days is, I turned 65 last February. Um, I have been very often told that I don't look 65, but what I say is this is the new 65. I would like to see the agency world and the marketing world become more age diverse. Um, it's something that I'm passionate about and you know, I now bring to the table wisdom that I didn't have even 18 years ago. So when you see that person who's old enough to be your mother or your grandmother, don't assume that they don't understand technology. Because I challenge any millennial to a social media strategy contest because I've been in the social media and digital media realm since the late nineties, early two thousands. I helped build the first website for MasterCard. I was on Twitter day one of the Twitter launch. And it’s funny cause I recently said to one of our associates I've been using social media since 2005. And she said, oh my God, I was only six years old then. So yeah, don't assume that because somebody is older doesn't mean that they can't understand new tricks. So that's my final bit of anti-ageism bad-ass wisdom. Jason: [00:16:15] Awesome. And what's the URL. People can go and check the business out? Nancy: [00:16:20], T H E O N S W I T C just like a light switch, but not. Um, my daughter actually helped me name the company and, um, feel free to follow me on LinkedIn because I'm, as I said, I'm a storyteller and that's where a lot of my content goes. Jason: [00:16:39] Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Nancy, for coming on the show. And if you guys want to really be around an amazing inner circle, kind of like Nancy mentioned, where they're all digital agency owners and we're all wanting to grow and scale up faster. I'd love to invite all of you to go to Go and check that out and apply. And if we think it's right for you and vice versa, we'll have a conversation. So go to And until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 10
17 min
Which Levers Do You Need to Pull to Scale Your Agency Faster?
Do you know which levers you can pull in order to scale your agency faster? Greg Bond believes his purpose in life is to add value to other people's lives. He is the head of revenue at SharpSpring, a company that aims to help businesses better understand their customers so they can maximize their value proposition. Greg oversees the sales function and works really close with the marketing team. He understands what it is agencies, and end-users, are really trying to do with that platform. Greg discussed the levers agencies need to pull to scale faster, some of the challenges agencies face, and what works for showing ROI and continuing to grow. 3 Golden Nuggets Levers you can pull to scale faster. One of the biggest challenges for agency owners is when they need to hire new employees and must raise their prices to be able to afford that. Will their clients pay that? Well, that depends. Do they know how much value they are delivering to their clients? Sharpspring focuses on ROI and being able to report specifically on this piece of revenue. With the consolidation of tools and bringing data into one place, you’ll have a centralized data repository that drives your automation engine and behavioral tracking, making your message more relevant. This is what gets you extra conversion rates and will help you grow your revenue. Why are agencies bad at their own marketing? You probably recognize this. The cobbler’s shoes. Agencies spend a lot of time and effort working with their customers and they don't do a great job of marketing for themselves. Agencies spend all their time trying to blow their clients away to get more clients through word of mouth. That’s great, of course. It’s the first requisite to start scaling. However, you can’t raise your prices when you’re built on referrals. About this, Jason asks, what if you hire a hunter? That way, con can stop self-sabotaging, you’ll continue to scale, and you can finally raise your prices. What works for showing ROI. For Greg, it’s all about showing value at the end of the funnel. Agencies bought into the lead marketing approach, he says. But with new customers these days there are multiple interactions before they actually make a purchasing decision. So the idea is being able to track all the different interactions across the entire funnel. Having all that data in one place and being able to map it to a singular campaign and then show when this deal actually does close enables agencies to tell what contributed to a sale and report on it in a way with confidence. YOUTUBE AUDIO LINK Levers You Can Pull To Scale Your Agency Faster and Why Agencies Are Bad at Their Own Marketing Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk and I have another amazing episode with my friends at SharpSpring. We're going to talk about what are the levers you need to pull in order to give your clients better results to scale your agency even faster. We all want to know this, so let's go ahead and get into the episode. Hey, Greg. Welcome to the show. Greg: [00:00:25] Hey! Thanks, Jason. Happy to be here, man. Jason: [00:00:28] Yeah. Excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do? Greg: [00:00:32] Yeah, so my name is Greg Bond and I'm the head of revenue over at SharpSpring, which very recently we were acquired by Constant Contact. So, um, a lot of really cool integration stuff going on there between those two companies. And yeah, I just kind of oversee our entire kind of sales function and work really close with our marketing team. I actually, I've been with the company a while and I came from VP of customer success. So very close to our customer base and really understanding what it is that our agencies and even our end users are really trying to do at the platform and kind of what their pain points are and what they're struggling with. And I've been able to bring a lot of that into the revenue focus of the company. So… Jason: [00:01:13] Awesome. Let's get into it. Let's talk about some of the levers that agencies can pull in order to kind of scale their agency faster and get better results for their clients. Greg: [00:01:25] Yeah. And I, I think, you know, when we talk about this, especially in the context of SharpSpring, I think what a lot of it focuses in on for us is tool consolidation. I think is one of the main things. Over the years, the technology revolution of the past 10 years, you know, the past decade. Um, has brought a lot of different point solutions to market that are fantastic tools. But the problem with them is that you end up with siloed databases and all this information that, that sits in each individual tool. And you almost have to have a whole team of operational wizards to connect these things and pull all that data together. You've got all this different reporting that's ended up end up in silos. And you can't really work to unify that customer experience and report on where exactly what attribution is the attribution that you should be pointing towards for your clients that you're working with to say, hey, this is where that sale came from. And at Sharpspring what we really focus our customers in on is ROI and being able to report specifically on this piece of revenue, where did it come from? We talk a lot about being a full-funnel marketer, and I think that's really the space where we want to play and where we think agencies can leverage to improve their own results. Jason: [00:02:45] So ROI has always been very important. And I think a lot of… You know, when I talk to agencies, one of their biggest challenges that they have is well, I can't afford to hire someone right now. I'm like, well, why don't you charge more? They're like, well, I don't know if they’d pay that. Um, and then my next question to them is, well, how much value do you deliver your clients? And a lot of them go, I don't know. And which is really freaking scary. So depending on your industry, sometimes it's hard to show an ROI. How have you found... Or what are some of the things that have worked for agencies for showing ROI in order for them to, you know, have the client stay with them longer, as well as to charge more? Greg: [00:03:29] It really is about showing that value at the bottom of the funnel. I think agencies in the past and marketers, just digital marketers period, they… They bought into this inbound marketing approach where you have the lead magnet. Somebody fills out a form and that form gives you somebody's email address in a really nice tidy bow of, hey, this is where this person came from. But the new customers, these days, there's multiple interactions before they actually make a purchasing decision. And so you have all of this noise in the system. So being able to track all the different interactions across the entire funnel, sometimes people move into the middle of the funnel and then back up to the top and then back down. And, you know, they may not necessarily be ready yet when they talk to your sales team. And to be able to kind of… Keep all of that data in one place and be able to map it to a singular campaign and then show when this deal actually does close. That's the place where I can now track all of those interactions back and say, whether I want to look at first touch or last touch or any different number of touches and attribution. I can tell you what contributed to that, that sale and be able to report on it in a way with confidence, right? Like being able to go to your client with confidence and say I am 100% sure that our marketing efforts drove this sale. As well as your sales team, right? Like, I don't want to take the sales team out of it. The sales team has a role to play as well. But marketing runs alongside the sales team and helps enable them to be able to close those deals. And you need a singular system that can track all of those interactions without some sort of XL ninjitsu happening there in the middle of it. Yeah. Jason: [00:05:14] You know, Dean Jackson always talks about out of a hundred percent of the pie. Like he always draws like this square and then he basically draws a line down the square and says 50% will never buy from you. And that out of the other 50%, they'll eventually buy from you, but maybe like 10% are ready to buy now. Then the other 40% is over time, right? And so it's really important to really kind of think about it in that way, because a lot of people just go after the 10% and they forget about the 40%. Like, when I look at our data and the different things… There's a lot of times people don't engage with us or, well, jump into the mastermind or buy a, our framework for like two or three years. Which I'm like, that's awesome. Like we held their attention that long, but you know, some people. Yeah. Greg: [00:06:07] And I talk a lot about it with our teams. I talk a lot about the buyer's journey. And there are plenty of people who fall into the bottom of your funnel, who are ready to buy right now. It's the first time you ever talked to them, right? But that's where they are in their buyer's journey. And they just happened to find you at that time. I think so many people look for that, you know, zero moment of truth, that, that place where, you know, that's all marketing is like targeting that person. But there are so many other people, like you said, there's a, the vast majority of the people who will buy from you in the future are not at that point yet. And how do you nurture them to get there? And how do you drop them in at the top of your funnel? Where at the top of your funnel, it's damn near impossible to keep them accurately it attributed to the right campaign over a long period of time. But you still have to fill that top of the funnel and help nurture them down. But with a unified database and behavioral tracking and a tool like SharpSpring, you now have that ability to get all those different touch points in and have them all in the system so that when two years from now three years from now, they actually do convert into a sale, you know exactly how to attribute that marketing spend. Jason: [00:07:19] You've been working with agencies for a long time. Why are agencies so bad at their own marketing? Greg: [00:07:25] That's a great question. I mean, I think one of it is, it's, you know, the cobbler shoes. They've spent a lot more time and effort working with their customers and in collaboration with their, their clients. So they don't do a great job of marketing for themselves. And I, and I think the other one is the number one way that agencies get businesses through word of mouth. Word of mouth is about delivering results, right? If you deliver results above and beyond the expectations of your clients, that's where you get that word of mouth from. And so they spend all their time and I believe rightly so, they should spend all their time trying to blow their clients away and just deliver those results. Again, being able to point back to the ROI and say, hey, this marketing spend this effort that we drove, drove these results. And if you do that over and over again, you'll get word of mouth. And so it'd be great if you could also fill the top of your funnel with a bunch more content, but if it comes at, at the risk of losing the results for your clients, then I don't think it's worth either. Jason: [00:08:28] Yeah, I see that, you know, I, I just had, um, as we're recording this. A week ago, we had 28 of the best agencies over at the house for a three-day experience. And we all talked about like, where were the biggest challenges? Some of them were, you know, we're not doing our own marketing. And they thought, well, in order to scale my agency, the lever I need to pull is the sales. And I need to find a hunter. I, I started asking more questions as well, why? I was like, well, what about the business coming to you? And they said exactly what you're saying, most of their businesses generated by word of mouth. I said, well, congratulations, you're doing a great job. That's prerequisite one for scaling an agency. Right? Like, because there's a lot of people that take a stupid Facebook course and go, I'm a Facebook ads agency. They can't deliver shit. And then it screws it up for all the legit people out there. But what I told them, I said, what if you actually hired a hunter in order to scale? They're like, what about the leads? I'm like, well, that's the other thing, you pull the marketing lever, you can start generating and building your pipeline. Because what I found was there's a lot of owners that the better they do in marketing, the more meetings they have. Soon they get overwhelmed and then they start self-sabotaging themselves. And a lot of you listening right now, you're doing this shit right now. I can promise you. You're self-sabotaging yourself, but if you hired a hunter, then they can start closing that business. They're not going to sabotage you. They want to do well. And then you can scale. Then you can raise your damn prices because when you're built on referrals, you can't raise your prices because they're like, oh, I paid 10,000 a month. You can't charge a hundred thousand to a guy that just referred you 10,000. It's just a different playing field. Greg: [00:10:16] And I think agencies, it's such a unique business because it is a professional service. And, in professional services businesses, it's the expertise that people are buying, right? And the agency owner and the principal is that main source of vision and creativity. So you have to have them involved in the sale. And you also want them involved in every client engagement. That's what the clients purchased, right? So it becomes a scalability issue for your agency, right? Like there's only a certain amount that you can scale yourself. And so you have to hire people who have that ability to cast a vision and be that sort of thought leader as well alongside of you. And you need to be able to share the spotlight a little bit with them. Or at least have, like you said, that hunter that goes out and brings people in front of you and does it in a way that doesn't require a ton of your time so that you can spend the time delighting your customers with incredible results. Jason: [00:11:09] Yeah, exactly. And, and I look at it to have going, you know, as your business scales and you scale the agency, you better damn well start putting the people in place for this, right? Like you should have someone like the director of happiness, making sure you're delivering the results, right? That's what we have. So I don't have to. Like, my attention to detail is probably like everybody else's, that's why I was telling you, like our shows use like 10 to 15 minutes. Like we're all like attention to detail, like bird, where's the bird? So… Well, this has all been amazing, Greg. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think our audience needs to know about? Greg: [00:11:47] I don't think so. I mean, I think we kinda covered all the, all the main topics that I think are worth really focusing on. But I think one thing that I want to make sure is clear here is when we talk about tool consolidation… And I think everyone hears cost savings, right? They hear that, oh, I can make my life a little simpler, have fewer log-ins and things like that. And that's not really what we're saying. What we're saying is the consolidation of tools and bringing all that data into one place and being able… For that CRM, that centralized data repository to be the thing that drives your automation engine and all that behavioral tracking, being able to make your message more relevant. The right person, the right message. The right person, the right time. That is what gets you those extra conversion rates. That is what helps you grow your revenue. And it's not just, oh, you get to save some money. Yeah. Okay. That's cool. Yeah. That's another benefit. But the real benefit here is... It's actually the right way to build a customer experience that people will go nuts for. Jason: [00:12:52] Awesome. I love it. Now, Greg, you guys have a special offer for our audience for a short time. So tell us about. Greg: [00:12:59] We do. We want to offer anyone that that's a listener of your podcast series a half off their onboarding and their first month free. So big offer here for, for you guys, um, especially for, for this podcast and your audience, Jason. Jason: [00:13:13] Sweet. Thank you very much. Where can they get this? Cause now they're, you know, if you want to get… right? Like, we need to tell them. So where's the call to action, so you can give me attribution for it? Greg: [00:13:24] So head over to, and you can schedule a demo right there and that will help us secure that offer for you. Jason: [00:13:35] Awesome. And you'll be able to schedule with one of their cool strategists that can walk you through everything and set you up. So I highly recommend SharpSpring, go check it out and get your half month or the full month and a half off the onboarding. That's a tongue twister. Greg: [00:13:52] It is a tongue twister. You know, it's about a $1,600 value right there. Jason: [00:13:55] Ooh, go get it, guys. Go get it while it's hot. But, uh, thanks so much for coming on the show and uh, until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 7
14 min
How Relationships & Collaborative Culture Help Agencies Scale Faster
Do you know the importance of building relationships to help your agency scale faster? Brian Cosgrove was doing well at a big agency but felt it kept him from doing what he really wanted to do, which was starting his own business and bringing innovation to the way the services are provided. Once he founded BrainDo, they started scaling and, within a year, had already grown from two to eight employees. In this conversation with Jason, he talked about the important role that building relationships & collaborative culture played in getting his agency off the ground, why he was always confident that they could run a big program, and what bringing value to his clients really means for him and why it is one of the guiding principles for everyone working at his agency. 3 Golden Nuggets What contributed to their growth. Once he and his partner hired their first employee, figuring out how to get benefits for their staff, how to do payroll, and making everything official with the agency made it a lot easier. They ended up going after a big contract, and that led to them getting at least 8 more workers, which allowed them to build out a lot of different services. What contributed to their faster growth? Brian credits the importance he places on maintaining good relationships with past clients, team members, and employers. He left his position at a big agency in good terms and, thanks to this, they still wanted to contract him afterward. Also, they were always confident that they could run a big program and positioned themselves to be ready for it. Building relationships & collaborative culture. Other agencies started reaching out to partner with them because their expertise. This helped them start to build relationships with local agencies that could refer clients. Also, former clients that were working at different companies started calling them. So Brian highlights the importance of these connections to get his agency off the ground. The importance of building the type of network where everyone is willing to help one another and believe they can all rise together. Of course, good work is a big part of it. “Because of that relationship, I don't want to leave the client in a worse place,” he says, “I refuse to do it.” The chain of value. After signing a contract, the agency will usually deal with the company's manager on a day-to-day basis. One of the guiding principles at Brian’s agency is to make sure that that manager is benefitted from this relationship with them. They want to see that person get promoted and fully engaged. They should love what they're doing and help break down barriers within the organization to provide value. “The way I see it,” Brian says, “is I need everybody on my team to say everything that we do has provided value.” The principle is to make sure that what they do brings value to the customer, but also helps them help their team, their whole company and organization. And make sure all of that ends up helping their end customer. Sponsors and Resources Wix: Today's episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out to learn more and become a member of the community for free. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Building Relationships that Will Help You Scale & The Guiding Principle of Providing Value Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swank here and I have another amazing guest for the podcast so you can grow your agency faster. We're going to talk about building relationships and creating a collaborative culture within your agency so you can scale faster. So let's go ahead and get into the show. Hey Brian, welcome to the show. Brian: [00:00:25] Hey, how are you? Jason: [00:00:26] I'm excited to have you on. So this is your first podcast. I'm honored you picked me to be your first podcast. But, uh, for the people that have not heard of you yet, tell us who you are and what do you do? Brian: [00:00:39] Yes. I’m Brian Cosgrove. I’m the owner of BrainDo Interactive Consulting, and we do a lot of work across the board, uh, focusing in analytics development and different areas of digital marketing. Jason: [00:00:53] Great. And so how did you get started? Brian: [00:00:55] Interesting story. I was in aerospace engineering and I was looking for as some side money during the holiday season and I applied for warehouse job. And found out I wasn't the best at doing packing boxes, but I was a bit overqualified. And the owner of the company asked if I could help out with some things related to their SEO program. So I read a bunch of like white papers. I read a bunch of like academic papers on people that were actually developing these engines. I tried to figure out, okay, who's the talent? Like how they did it? And then figure out what we should do and came up with a plan. And implemented it and started ranking top. In my other career I was like, okay, I can see where I'm going to be at in 10 years. And that's cool. But this is like amazing growth and I'm able to have a huge impact and I'm still in my early twenties. So I got into that and that kinda got me to crossover into this digital marketing thing. Worked in that space for a little while, went to my first agency Razorfish and started off in SEO. And then I had to fix analytics. Was there for about three years and then went into another company another comp company to help them build out their digital practice when they were doing all kind of like direct mail TV, pretty much all traditional marketing. I went there with some, you know, one of my colleagues from Razorfish. And then that went really well and kind of grew that. And then struck out with a good friend of mine on our own in 2013. Jason: [00:02:38] What made you want to leave? Since the one agency was going really well and you were leading that. What was that itch? Brian: [00:02:44] I already knew, like, I kinda knew since I was young, that I wanted to kinda like start my own thing or make my own thing. I always kind of had a sense of, you know, we could do things a little bit differently. We could innovate a bit in how these services are provided or culture. So for me, it was kind of like I liked doing what I was doing. But it was almost like a trap because it was keeping me away from what I really wanted to do, which was kind of start something fresh. Jason: [00:03:10] Gotcha. Awesome. And when you started the agency, how long did it take you to really kind of start bringing on and building a team? Brian: [00:03:20] So it was just myself and my partner for, I guess, February to November. And then we hired our first employee in November. And at that point we figured out how to get benefits for them. We figured out how to do payroll. We figured it out, we made everything official and we got all that squared away and that made it a lot easier. And then we went after a kind of big contract to kind of do all many different digital channels in, you know, a year two and ended up hiring eight more people that year. That kind of allowed us to build out a lot of different services that we needed someone to run point on. So I'd say within a year and a half, we were at 10 from, you know, two. Jason: [00:04:05] That's great. So what do you think contributed to that growth? Like how did you have that fast growth? Because a lot of people for a couple years, they're just kinda, it's kinda them, their business partner, maybe a couple of contractors. Brian: [00:04:18] It's an interesting thing. So while I was still working, before I even started, I really cared about the relationships with my clients, with my colleagues, with my management, with team members, with vendors. So I had a pretty big network at that point. And it was… You know, there's an interesting thing that happens when you kind of let people know like, okay, I'm going out to do this on my own, you know. People that you've built relationships with that care about you they kind of want to figure out how to work with you. So it helped out tremendously just to kind of lean into that. As soon as we left the place that we were working on asked if we could do some contracting with them. And I was like, we can, but you know, it's gotta be at our contracting rate. You know, it will give you somewhat of a discount for a period of time, but this is how we have to work for our business. And we were able to end up converting our former employer into our client, which was based on the fact that it maintained good relationships. We also took a lot of care in transitional work. Backfilled our roles sort of before we left. We left them in a good place to be like, okay, they’re good. All of our big retainers are renewed. Our team they're fully staffed. They can run without us. And then they still wanted to contract with us afterward. Other agencies reached out, they wanted to partner with us because they knew that just individually, myself and my business partner had some expertise in certain areas. And they said, hey, we need help there. Can you guys help us out? So we ended up building relationships with other agencies that were in the area, you know. And then it was like someone who was a former client, you know, went to another agency, brought us in. I'd say a lot of it was kind of just relationships that got us off the ground. I think a big thing for us is we're kind of confident we could run a big program, like an enterprise program. And so, while we took on some smaller clients, we kind of just always positioned ourselves to be ready for that. Like we always kind of really played that role that we're ready to do enterprise work at a moment's notice. And we knew that that would get us a six-figure contract or something like that from a client, which again is sort of like a game-changer when it comes to hiring employees and say, I already kind of have your salary on contract. Like I can afford to pay you in the future without worrying about that. Jason: [00:06:37] Yeah, I think so many lessons in there that I want to make sure people don't skip over. It's you know, the one is you gotta be really good at what you do. Like a lot of people are like, how do you, how do you create a successful agency that’s growing? And I'm like, well, you have to know how to do something better than most. And to actually get people results. That's rule number one. But I also liked that you talked about building relationships and really not just going, you know, what's in it for me, you know, like a lot of our mastermind members, they do this amazing… where they're like, look, I don't have any problem today, I just wanted to show up and help. Like help other members, right? And then when they do need help, everyone will… Here, here's the shirt off my back. Here it is. And it's not like I'll do this for you, if you do this. Like we get, you know, all those slimy emails that you get? Like, oh, you have my audience, can you just blast this out? Brian: [00:07:43] Yeah, there's a lot of that going on. Honestly, it's, it's building a tighter circle with people that you don't have to… You know, there's no fakeness to it. There's a lot less agenda. It's sort of like let's all rise together, to me has always been important. Jason: [00:07:59] Yeah, iron sharpens iron, right? Brian: [00:08:04] And I also really care about doing good work. So that point, and so I think that was another thing was that we were kind of committed to making sure we did great work no matter what. It wasn't like, uh, maybe we'll do well, maybe we won't. It was like, we're going to do great work no matter what, because of that relationship. I don't want to leave the client in a worse place. I refuse to do that. And that, and that was just sort of a… an important lesson, I think Jason: [00:08:34] When you're an agency partner with Wix you unlock an entire digital ecosystem for creating, managing, and growing your agency. Get the full coding and design freedom to create anything your clients need, along with the tools to manage and collaborate with your team seamlessly from anywhere. And when it comes to growing your agency, you can get matched with new leads every day and earn revenue share for every website you guys create. They're backed by the Wix industry-leading security and site performance. You'll also have a dedicated account manager on standby 24/7 so you can reach your goals and start setting new ones. See for yourself, head over to and re-imagine what your agency can accomplish. And I think a lot of people forget that, you know, we kind of ring the bell. Or the gong, you know, ring the gong when you sell a deal and you're like, yeah, that's good for you. But you know, the client is already thinking, like having buyer's remorse, like you should be thinking about… Like, I was chatting with Darby, our agency scale specialist yesterday, and he's been bringing on a lot of really amazing members. And he's like, look, I'm so invested because I want them to have the best experience because it's, it's my word of what they went on. And I'm like, that's why we get along so well, we will do anything to move people along rather than like yeah. You gave us money. Yeah. Good luck. Brian: [00:10:10] Yeah, exactly. I mean, the way that I've seen it. So usually when we take on a contract, there's occasionally if it's smaller company, we might be dealing with the owner or upper executives. But usually when it comes to day-to-day, we're dealing with the manager that they have on their end. That's managing the relationship with us. And I've always told my team and, and this is kind of been a guiding principle… I want to see that person be in a position to get promoted. Just for working with us, they're doing so well, but they're now getting promoted. They're fully engaged. They love what they're doing and they're helping break down barriers within the organization to provide value. On top of that, the way that I see it, especially in the bigger organizations is I need everybody on my team to say everything that we do has provided value. Obviously, like it provides value to the brand that we're doing this work for… We're, we're billing for it. And that works out and ultimately it should be contributing to our culture. But after that, the client, that first person, that first line of contact or the person on the front lines, make sure that we're doing everything we can to help them. Make sure that what we're doing not only helps them, but helps them help their team. Make sure what we're doing not only helps them and helps their team, but helps their whole company and organization. And make sure all of that ends up helping their end customer. Because like, if you can follow that, that thread all the way through, and there's no conflict anywhere along the way, let's proceed. Let's move forward with this project and give it everything you've got. If there's a conflict on the way, maybe that's project we don't want to take on. Maybe there's a different reason that we, you know, maybe we want to propose something else. But if you can't follow that all the way along the way, then you can't have confidence that what you're doing is going to provide value. Another thing, I think that was important for us is... And this came up after working in other agencies was, you know, I remember a gentleman said to me said, look, I want to be able to be proud of who I see when I look in the mirror. I want to be able to be proud to tell my kids, the clients and the projects that I work on. And so another thing that we took on very early on was like to be picky. And so it's picky not just on the clients and the projects we work on. We want to do things that provide value to the world, but we also care about kind of like… Are we providing value to that organization? And so the how is just as important as like specifically what we're doing. And I would say, I want to add too, that team members put a lot more energy into it. Jason: [00:12:26] Oh, yeah. I think a big part of why you've gotten to grown so fast too, is you have belief in your team and you. And you said that we knew right away we could take on enterprise clients, right? There's so many of us that didn't start that way, right? We didn't start with at a big agency, like a Razorfish or go to... Like me, I was accidental. I remember I joke with people. I'm like, my first client asked me for an invoice. I didn’t even know what an invoice was. I didn't know all these terminologies. And so for many years I had kind of that, um, imposter syndrome. That I could do a website, but I can't do anything else. And I see a lot of people that way. So I just want everybody listening, even if you have that… Look, I even feel like the imposter syndrome too. And I've been in the agency space since 98. And so you got to kind of go look, I'm really good at this and I can dominate this part and go do it. And build relationships like Brian has talked about… Correct me if I'm wrong, if you make all your managers and all those people rockstars, they get promoted and where do they go? Other companies, and then they bring you along. Don't they? Brian: [00:13:43] Yes, exactly. And so, in fact, I just received an MSA for a sneaker brand I'm super into, you know, like huge brands that I liked already loved are now like our client base. And I feel like… This morning, just from work, doing, working hard with some people while they worked in other companies before that. And so the way that I say it is just, that should almost be the end goal. That should be the expectation. Like we're all kind of in our careers together. We are all sort of like at certain points in certain stages. Our clients should be going to other companies, and when they do, they should want to come into work with us. And we should be sort of a secret tool that they bring to the table. Is that it bring that success along with them. Jason: [00:14:26] Exactly. Yeah. Cool. Awesome. Well, this has all been amazing. Brian, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience listening in? Brian: [00:14:34] I just want to touch briefly on the collaboration part. One thing that helped out was that a lot of our brainstorming sessions early on, and what helped us grow is that we, you know, this person was a graphic designer. This person is doing SEO. This person is an analytics and that person's doing paid media. We would do a lot of like collaborative work early on to say, you know, kind of all hands on deck. Like how do we solve this client's paid search need? And get ideas from a lot of different people and made sure that everybody on our team knew Google analytics, knew kind of some of the mechanics of how the other channels worked. And that went a long way to them building relationships, them doing sort of cross-channel collaboration. And then being able to offer solutions to clients that were kind of like a bit more thought through. A bit more holistic or integrated, and a bit more defensible, maybe from different angles. So I would just say like, if you have a few different disciplines, like make sure to figure out how those two go together to be better than if you only worked on just one discipline alone. Jason: [00:15:38] I love it. I love it. What's the website people go and check your agency out? Brian: [00:15:43] Uh, Jason: [00:15:44] Awesome. Well, everyone go check that out. Thanks so much, Brian, for coming on the show. Lots of amazing stuff. And if you guys want to be around amazing agency owners and you believe that iron sharpens iron, where other agencies are sharing the strategies that are working for them, and they're able to see the things you might not be able to see. I want to personally invite you all to go to This is our exclusive mastermind just for experienced agency owners. We only take a few every couple of months. So go there now, fill out an application and maybe we'll chat if we feel it's right for you. So go to and until next time have a Swenk day.
Nov 3
16 min
How to Build Better Client-Agency Relationships to Scale Faster
Do you know how you can improve client-agency relationships to scale faster? Joe Koufman has worked in the agency world for over 20 years. He was actually a guest on the podcast during its first year. In 2014, he decided to use his experience in marketing, business development, and management to create Setup, a company that works to connect brands and marketing agencies by helping companies find the right agency to meet their needs at a given time. Today he returned to the podcast to discuss what clients look for in an agency, how does a successful client-agency relationship looks like, why you shouldn't be afraid to challenge your clients, and more. 3 Golden Nuggets What do clients look for in an agency? Setup has set out to really understand client-agency relationships and asked several companies what are some of the things that matter to them in their agency partner. They found that most clients really don't care about things like proximity, size of the agency, or awards. Clients were mostly looking for chemistry, transparency, good communication, and creativity. As to the things they wished agencies knew, they wanted agencies to be more strategic partners. They also wished agencies had a better understanding of their business and that they understood that not all ideas could be executed. Building better agency-client relationships. It was curious that, when asked about what they wished to improve in the client-agency relationship, both parties seemed to ask for the same things. The reality is that, in order to have a good client-agency relationship, they need to have shared goals, sharing common KPIs. And, of course, there must also be a high level of transparency between client and agency, even some vulnerability in terms of what they are sharing. A big frustration for clients was when agencies claimed to be good at something that they are not. Agencies have to set clear expectations and be completely transparent and candid about what they do well and what they don't do well. Don’t be afraid of tension. “You’re not looking for harmony,” Joe says, “you’re looking for tension in the relationship.” Don’t strive to be your client’s buddy. You can be buddies with your sales rep, but never buy anything from them. The idea is that you push the client and bring them an insight that's not obvious to them. Get them to agree that there’s an issue in their organization and then present your solution and the best option. Remember that usually, clients don’t hire an agency because they want order takers. They hire an agency because there’s an unmet need. “The byproduct of being a real challenger,” Joe assures, “is relationship.” Sponsors and Resources Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM The Byproduct of Being a Real Challenger is Better Client-Agency Relationships Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Got another exciting show for you. One of my good friends from Atlanta that was actually back on the podcast the first year we've done this. And we're going to talk about building client relations so you can scale your agency faster. So let's go ahead and get into the show. Hey, Joe. Welcome back to the show. Joe: [00:00:27] Hey! Thank you. It's been a long time since I've been on this show. Jason: [00:00:31] Yeah, I mean… seven years? And that back with the intro in the, in the video with the cup. I was like, oh, I'm here. Joe: [00:00:42] We, uh, we haven't aged a bit in seven years. Jason: [00:00:45] No, I've, I've just gotten a lot more gray in my beard. Um, a lot more gray. Yeah. No, you've always been kind of peppered. I think… Joe: [00:00:56] Yeah. Just more so. Jason: [00:00:57] Exactly. Well, um, tell everybody who you are and tell them a little bit about your, uh, your background of working with the agencies. Joe: [00:01:05] Sure. So I'm Joe Kaufman, I'm the founder and CEO of Setup and we are marketing matchmakers, meaning that we connect brands and marketing agencies together. So from an agency perspective, um, what that usually means is that we connect agencies with potential clients. From a client perspective, they look at us as a search consultant or a, an augment of their team to help them find agencies that can fill gaps in either capacity. Like they don't have enough arms and legs to do the work they need to do. Or capability, they're missing some capability that an agency could fill. Jason: [00:01:43] Very cool. Awesome. Well, let's, let's kinda talk about what people are listening in for is like building better relationships and, you know, and re-engaging. You know their client year after year, you know, because you, you've worked for, you know, many agencies in the past before doing the matchmaking service. We've had a lot of those guests on from Hill Meyer. It's, uh, you know, uh, Sims and those guys. So I guess let's, let's get into that. How can agencies build better relationships to scale better? Joe: [00:02:15] We, we think a lot about that agency-client relationship. And to that point, we actually do an annual marketing relationship survey. Um, Ad Age actually picked it up, uh, earlier this year, which was pretty cool. But basically what we wanted to do is understand what the reasons are that clients look for agencies. Why do they hire agencies? What do they expect out of their agency relationships? And, um, and we also actually did an event earlier this year, where we were calling it group therapy for the agency-client relationship. And we add a bunch of agency people and a bunch of clients on a Zoom call and we talked through that relationship. Um, you know, as I mentioned before, the clients often look for agency support because of an issue with capacity or an issue with a key capability that they're missing. And, um… That survey that we do annually to understand that relationship, we ask clients, what are some of the things that matter to you in your agency partner? When you're looking for a new agency partner. And the things we didn't hear, the things that came up really low on the list were things like proximity. You know, I don't care if my agency is down the street. Particularly in the days of a pandemic I really don't care where my agency's located physically. I don't care so much about the size of my agency. Smaller agencies can do amazing work for larger clients. Um, I don't care so much about what awards they’ve won. Just agencies often… Yeah. Agencies often think awards are important. And for some clients, they really do care, but most don't care about… Jason: [00:04:00] Well, those clients are idiots. Did I ever tell you that…? Did I ever tell you the story of, um, we were pitching Mellow Mushroom and, uh, they… If you've ever been to their office, it's like in the middle of nowhere and they were joking around about oh, here's a map to find her office. And like, I want you to show you how, how, how I want you to show me how creative you are. So I showed up at their office in full camping gear. Like they thought I was a homeless person. And like I had like the portfolio in this bag… like, and they were like, we loved it, but we're going with… You mentioned in the pre-show. I won't, I won't bash them now. Um, so I won't bash them on the show. But they were like, we're going with so-and-so because they won a ton of Addy awards and we want to win an Addy award. And I tell them, I go, I'm never eating your pizza ever again. Joe: [00:04:56] You don't want to sell pizza. You just want to win awards. Jason: [00:04:59] Yeah, I've never eaten your pizza. Joe: [00:05:01] That's right. You, you reminded me of a time that I wore an entire cowstume to the Chick-fil-A headquarters. Um, and my goal was to not smile the entire time. I was just going to be deadpan serious. Everybody would cut off pointing at me when I was walking through the lobby and walking through the… The women that check you in at the front desk did not think I was funny. Uh, and in fact, the client told me two or three times during the meeting to please keep my utters underneath the table. He said he found them a little bit disturbing. Jason: [00:05:33] What you should have done is started messing with your utter… utters. Joe: [00:05:38] I, I may or may not have done that. Maybe that was the reason he said that. But, um, I did think it would have been really fun to get some camelbacks or something and have like chocolate milk come out of one and strawberry milk and vanilla and whatever. But… Jason: [00:05:53] And then could be like just tap me. Joe: [00:05:57] Right. But it was an innovative idea for a client. I mean, dispensing cow milk dispensing cow on site. Uh, but anyway, so, uh, we, we found through the survey that, you know, those, those things are less important to clients. The awards, location, size, et cetera. What they really care more about is some of the soft and intangible things that the client can do well. Like… I'm sorry that the agency can do well. Like, um, they're looking for chemistry and relationship and transparency and, and good communication. And they're looking for, um, you know, creativity, uh, th, there are not… Many of those things are things that are within an agency's control. Um, and you know, we did, I mentioned, we did an event where we asked the questions, what things… What do you wish agencies knew? You know, we ask clients, what do you wish agencies knew? And they said things like we wish they were more strategic partners for us. We wish that our agency would help us navigate some of the bureaucratic red tape within our organization. Um, we want them to act as an extension of our team. We want them to I understand that not all ideas can be executed. Sometimes agencies come with these big glossy, creative ideas, but there's just not realistic for, for this client. And they wished that the agency would just understand their business better. Um, we built a series of resources for clients, um, in our resources section of our site. And, you know, there's a complete guide to finding a marketing agency in there. There's a scorecard in there that... There's two versions of the scorecard. One version is if the client is trying to decide between three or four different agencies, how do you choose in a pitch kind of situation? But the other scorecard is made for agency or for clients to evaluate their agency on an ongoing basis to see if they still are feeling the love. Jason: [00:08:05] Yeah. And what are some of those…? What are some of those questions that the clients are actually looking at? Joe: [00:08:12] Yeah. I mean, how, how creative is agency? How, how innovative are they in terms of, you know, finding new ways of doing things? How good is their, their, their communication? How good is their project management, their service? Um, you know, uh, uh, how are, how tech savvy are they? Even if they're not a technology agency, or, you know, a CRM agency or something like that. You still want to know that they're leveraging the best tools and that kind of thing. Um, and you know, we do it like a scorecard. I mean, they can rate each category and section and then decide is this agency is still the right one for me in the future? Um, the flip side of that conversation that we had about what, uh, you know, clients wish agencies knew. We asked the agency people what they wish clients knew. And I'm sure some of your listeners will, you know, feel some of these things. They, they wish that the clients would be patient and answer also, but also answer all the questions that you ask. When, when an agency asks a lot of questions, it's usually to uncover some insights so that they can deliver value for the client. They wish that the client would lean on the agencies for their expertise in a bigger way. They wished that the client would provide all of the crucial information upfront. I think sometimes there's a hesitancy for a client to open the kimono and give you everything as an agency. But if you truly want your agency to be a partner and not a vendor, then you gotta be really. You know, up front about all of the, the, um, information that might be useful. Jason: [00:10:00] Taking care of your employees has never been more important than right now. And while paydays are great, running payroll is a major pain, calculating taxes, deductions, compliance. None of it's easy, unless of course you have Gusto. Gusto is a simple online payroll and benefits built for your small business. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Plus, with Gustos help, you can offer benefits like 401k's health insurance, workers' comp, and a lot more. And because you're a smart agency masterclass listener, you're going to get three months free once you run your first payroll. Go to That's for three free months. Well, you, you, you know what, like… I'm glad you're going over this part. Because if I had one of my agency clients go to me going, and I wished they could do this, I'm like, well, hey, dumb ass, they could. You're taking on the wrong prospect. Um, you know, I, I did a video, I think back around when you were back on the show, and I remember it was the worst background. I looked like Oompa Loompa in it. And the title of it was like, there's no such thing as a bad agency client, there's only a bad prospect or a bad process. And if you don't have the right, if you don't have the right qualification to check, if that prospect is legit or going to be a nightmare client, or it was going to be good. Because like, you've been on so many pitches, like I have, right? Including the cow utter or, or the campaign… Joe: [00:11:54] That, that was planning for cow appreciation day. So it was very appropriate to wear a cowstume. Jason: [00:12:00] Of course, of course. I mean, right? So we've been on all these pitches and like, if you can look back at when the guy was offended by your utters, right? It'd be like, you're probably not going to be a really good client for us. I don't care if your Chick-Fil-A. Uh, like, I need to pick. And then the other point, I think that you mentioned, you know, like kind of like to sum it up is that the end of the day, the agency needs to be the advisor. You can be a really good advisor if you really get laser focused at what you're going after. And having a niche or a specialization rather than a generalist and going after all the big brands. Like when we did that, it was just challenging. But when we started going after automotive, I could talk to Porsche, I could talk to Lotus, talk to Maserati. Like I was like, hey, I speak your language, guys. I race cars too. Like, I'm one of you. So… Joe: [00:12:53] Yeah. Super cool. Yeah, we, it is interesting that, um, they both sides of the equation were talking similar language though in terms of what they were looking for when it came to strategy. And I thought that was interesting that clients were saying, I wish my agency were more strategic. And then the agency people were saying things like, I wish my client would let me be more strategic. So, you know, we, we started that conversation like the old book from the, I guess it was the 80s or something. Men are from Venus & Women are from Mars or whatever it was. And that was sort of like the agencies and clients. But the reality is the best agency-client relationships have shared goals. You know, do you have shared and common KPIs, your key performance indicators that you're trying to achieve. And, you know, sometimes clients will give their agencies skin in the game and, and tie their compensation to, you know, some metric that is important to the larger business. But at the end of the day, those best agency, client relationships, you know, there's no surprises. There's a high level of transparency between client and agency. There's some vulnerability there in terms of sharing, more than you maybe should on purpose. Um, and then just being super clear with expectations about, you know, and that goes on both sides. I mean, the agencies setting clear expectations and being completely transparent and candid about what they do well and what they don't do well. Uh, a big frustration for a lot of clients that we talk to is, you know, my agency says they're good at everything. And I know that they’re not. Jason: [00:14:35] Yeah. Yeah. They're full of shit. Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, it's even if you have the client that like when… Going back to I wish I could be more strategic and I wish you were more strategic… Well, it sounds like, you know, if you find the right client, like it's about the communication or the process in order to show them that, rather than going, you should go do this, but then you can't back it up. I'm like… Joe: [00:14:57] Yeah. There's a, there's a book that I've always loved since I first read it. And I recommend it to a lot of people in The Challenger Sale. And I think you've probably read it. But the concept of The Challenger Sale, the biggest concept to me is you're looking for tension in the relationship. You're not looking for harmony in the relationship. Or relationship… people think they want to hire a relationship builder as a sales guy or saleswoman. The reality is a relationship builder. You can be buddies with your sales rep, but never buy anything from them. But those that really challenged… So the idea of the challenger sale in the book is you push the client, you bring them an insight that's not obvious to them. You get them to nod their head that, yes, that same issue happens within my organization. And then it only, then that they've nodded their head and said, yes, this happens within my organization, you can present your solution as the best. Or maybe the only way to solve that specific challenge or problem. And, um, and I had always been that way with clients where I was constantly, you know, pushing them and looking for tension. And there's a fun byproduct of being a real challenger and the by-product is relationship. Um, because I think that the clients will appreciate... I don't think clients hire an agency because they want order takers, usually. They hire a client, they hire an agency because there's some unmet need. You know, we talked about capacity or capability need, and they feel that the agency could not only solve that problem, but help them think through the future and, and overcome challenges that they haven't even anticipated yet. Jason: [00:16:48] Yeah. We, we were talking about this in our mastermind. We were helping a member out. Um, and they just, their close rate just kept going down and down. And everyone, a lot of people were starting to focus on the end. Like what, how are you asking for the close? We're like, let's start at the very beginning and let's, how are you setting up the meeting? Like, how are you starting the meeting? Are you letting them know…? Like whenever I would do a sales call, I'd be like, hey guys, I'm like, I'm going to build rapport really quick, but I'm not going to be their friend. The friend can come later on, but if they look at me as a friend, they're never going to buy from their friend, they have to, I have to position as an advisor. And then right after I do that, I'm like, hey, I have this quick little framework I'm going to go through to make sure we stay on time and make sure I can really figure out what your biggest issue is so we can fix that out. Can we, can we stay on track? And like, if you audit your process, like start from the very beginning a lot of times people get off track there. And then what do we have happen? The prospect just won't shut up for 40 minutes. They tell you this crap story that you don't need right now. Um, I'm being nice. Uh, but among … Joe: [00:18:00] Yeah. Well, or even go back further. I mean, you know, and to you, you kind of made this point earlier a little bit, which is, are you prospecting the right kind of opportunity? You know, before you even get to the meeting or the conversation, is it the right person? Uh, back when I was at a small digital shop, when I began, you know, my, my mark, my agency career, I had four criteria to determine if I wanted to pursue an opportunity. One was, do we want their logo on our logo slide? You know, is it a brand that we just really need, we really want? Number two was, is it a hundred thousand dollars in revenue and profitable for us as an agency in terms of opportunity? Third was does it teach us a new skill that we need to have? We just don't have today. And then fourth was, are there hungry mouths to feed within the agency? And we just, we'll take it even if it doesn't meet those three criteria because the thing that they need is the exact thing that we have some capacity on right now? Over time, we became part, we were acquired and became part of a kind of medium-size full service agency. We went from 50 people to 250 people. And that number, that second criteria, which was a hundred thousand dollars, became 200 became 500,000, became a million. And by the time we sold to a massive holding company in 2013. Um, I was… if I didn't see a million dollars in revenue in year one, they were too small. And it wasn't just size, but it was just the commitment of does this client…? Are they committed to marketing and working with us on a larger scale than just, we want to give you a little project here? And that doesn't mean we would never take on a project if it was a foot in the door that meant, you know… We would get in and get an opportunity to earn the larger piece of business. But we were really careful about that. We wanted to know that there was a path to a million dollars in revenue in year one. Um, and, and I think, you know, setting those parameters upfront, you know, if you're talking about an agency business development standpoint… You need to have your criteria. I have, an agency we work with that, um, that also has a PITA criteria. Do we think that the client is going to be a pain in the ass? And if the answer is yes, I don't care how many… you know. There are some red flags that sometimes occur upfront. To your point, when you're first having the conversation that the money looks attractive, but maybe you should run away. Jason: [00:20:43] Yeah. Trust your gut, your gut never lies. Joe: [00:20:46] And I'll give you one other piece that you probably experienced in your days running an agency. But nothing is motivational to the team in a positive way, in a very positive way than you firing a pita client. Um, you know, if a client truly is abusive or, you know, doesn't treat the agency like a strategic partner and treats the agency like a vendor or something like that, um, it's not worth the revenue. It's just not. And, and nothing, nothing helps your team be more supportive of the overall mission of the agency than when you say, look, we won't tolerate… You know, a client that's not supportive, not, not, uh, that that's abusive or… Jason: [00:21:36] Yeah, we. Yeah, I can't agree with you more on that. I mean, we literally, there was a… There was a member in the mastermind, not too long ago, that was doing stuff that we didn't agree that we asked to leave. Um, and then it just rallies the other, the other people. They were like, oh wow, they're not just, just taking for the money. They'll defend me. Um, and, uh, yeah, I think it says a lot about your company and character in that. So… Well, this has all been amazing, Joe. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Joe: [00:22:13] Um, I would just say that if there's an agency that's interested in growth, um, there are certainly… We can offer some services that help growth. Um, the four primary services can be found at And I can send you a link to that. But essentially the services are around how do you help the agency position itself for growth? How do you, um, really uncover insights about the agency, that'll help you do that. And then we actually do help agencies grow through business development services on our sustainable pipeline. So we do have some pretty strict criteria about the kinds of agencies that we'll take on to work with. So we're not working with really small agencies. If they've got fewer than say 50 full-time employees, we probably won't we'll work with them on an ongoing… You know, sustainable pipeline basis. But happy to have the conversation with, with anyone that might be interested. Jason: [00:23:14] Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Joe, for coming on the show and everybody go check out their website. If you have more than 50 employees and you need help, go check them out. And if you want to be around amazing agency owners on a consistent basis where they can see the gaps that you're not able to see. Help you climb that mountain a lot faster, prevent those falls from crashing in the crevasses. Uh, I want you guys to go to a This is our exclusive mastermind for experienced agency owners. And until next time have a Swenk day.
Oct 31
23 min
Get Your Agency To the Next Level By Focusing on Who, Not How
Do you know the importance of focusing on the who, rather than the how, to get your agency to the next level? Dallin Cottle had a degree in political science and was heading to law school when he started working at an agency and discovered a knack and passion for advertising. He quickly felt that he couldn't continue to grow at that company and decided to branch out and start his own business, Roar Media. Now, after scaling his agency and getting through the many difficulties that COVID brought for business owners, he sat down with Jason to talk about how he got his first clients, how getting his agency to the next level meant focusing on the who, rather than the how, and how he realized when it was time to start transitioning from his role of agency owner to being a CEO. 3 Golden Nuggets Making the first $100,000 from unqualified leads. Coming from many years in the agency world, Dallin already had some contacts and an idea on how to get his first clients. He reached out to some of his connections in local agencies and asked if they could refer some unqualified leads. “There’s a lot of them and they were just throwing them out like garbage,” he recalls. And that’s how he got the first clients for start building his agency and made his first $100,000 from calling up leads that nobody wanted. Focusing on the who, rather that the how. When building and starting to grow an agency, many people focus on how to get to the next level and start to work more and more. Dallin believes that the more you learn, the more you’ll realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. “This is a pivotal moment for any agency owner,” he says. It is at that point when you have to look around and realize where the business is at and where you are going and you have to surround yourself with the right people that are going to help get you there at that moment. Transitioning to the role of CEO.  Agency owners typically have many capabilities. They can wear a lot of different hats and this can result in a failure to recognize when it’s time to look for experts that can help you scale to the next level, as well as the time to transition to the role of CEO. In his case, our guest understood it was now or never and organized a 6-week vacation. Just the thought of leaving for a long period without answering calls or emails forced him to start delegating tasks he would normally do for his team. At this point, part of your role will be setting the vision for the company and coaching and mentoring the leadership team. Sponsors and Resources Ninja Cat: Today's episode is sponsored by Ninja Cat, a digital marketing performance management platform where you can unify your data, create beautiful, insightful reports and presentations that will help you grow your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Focus on The Who To Get Your Agency To The Next Level And Transition To The Role of CEO Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? I'm excited to have another amazing guest. We're going to talk about the who, not how, which is real important when you're growing and scaling your agency. So let's go ahead and jump into the episode. Hey, Dallin. Welcome to the show. Dallin: [00:00:21] Thank you. Thank you. Excited to be here. Jason: [00:00:24] Yeah, me too. Tell us who you are and what do you do? Dallin: [00:00:27] Yeah, so I'm Dallin Cottle. I own a marketing agency in Salt Lake City, Utah, Roar Media. We specialize in Facebook ads, Google ads for the real estate niche, fitness and personal development spaces primarily. So, yeah, excited to be here. Jason: [00:00:47] Yeah! Tell us, how did you get started? Like why create an agency? Because, you know, as we all know, it's, it's a hard life for a number of different years. Dallin: [00:00:54] Yeah. So my story is actually really, you know, unconventional. I actually got a degree in political science and I thought I was heading straight to law school. And, you know, I got, I graduated and I was looking around and I'm like… Man, I don't really actually see the type of job that I was thinking I was going to have right here at the end of the road here. And looking at a lot of years ahead with law school I'm like, man, I don't know if this is it for me. So I took this job at an agency and, you know, day one, I was like, man, I, I'm home. Like, this is what I love doing. And a lot of parallels from just human psychology and everything I've learned, I learned in political science of how people vote is very similar to how they respond to ads and different things. So it was kind of a, you know, it's definitely a match for me. And from there I, just about a year later, I realized that I had I've reached my destination at that company. I had… making the six figures. I bought the Beamer. I bought the house. Bought the 4runner. I mean, we had a kid, I felt like, wow, this is, this is a great life, but I'm like, man, I'm tapped out in here. I can't continue to grow. And so I decided to jump and to branch out on my own and start, start my own thing. It was the dumbest thing I ever did. No, I'm just kidding. Jason: [00:02:13] Oh no. That was probably the best thing. Yeah. So how did you land your first client? Dallin: [00:02:19] All right. This is a, this is awesome. So my first clients came from… Being at an agency, I realized there's a lot of unqualified leads. And they were just throwing them out like garbage, right? At least the agencies that I was familiar with here locally. And so I was just, I mean, I had made really great connections. Even the, you know, the place I previously worked, like I was, you know, all on good terms and everything else. So I just started reaching out to some of these local agencies and the people that we had partnered with or worked with. And I just said, hey, I'm just kind of doing my own little thing here, freelancing. Would you mind if I just shoot me like 10, like crappy, crappy leads that I could just call and just cut my teeth out on, right? And that's how I made my first a hundred thousand dollars in like six months, right? It was from calling all the leads that nobody wanted to work, right? And just put in some serious time to learn the ropes and started from there. So… Jason: [00:03:14] Did you find that the first couple of clients that you got that made the, you know, the first hundred thousand… Do you still have those clients or did you, did the agency outgrow them? Dallin: [00:03:24] Yeah, that's a great question. So it's really interesting because the first out of my first four clients, the three of them I've had up until this last year, one sold their business. One, unfortunately, had a partner in the business passed away and they actually kind of just shifted gears and decided not to do advertising anymore. And another one, we stopped working together a couple of years ago, right? And I think that for that person, I think that, yes, that one probably was a little bit of a we've, we've kind of outgrew that modelers the expectation at the beginning of, you know, what you're charging and what you're doing. It's hard for that kind of growth. But for the most part, there's kind of a little bit of everything there, right? From the ones that we saw kind of continue with us. And then there's the other set kind of fell, fell off. So... Jason: [00:04:20] Well, let's talk about kind of the who rather than the how. Because a lot of people are always kind of focusing on, well, Jason, how do I get over the million?Or how do I get to the multi-million? Or how do I get to the eight figures? How to get to the next…? And I always tell them, you're kind of focused on the wrong thing. So tell us a little bit about what that means for you. Dallin: [00:04:41] Yeah. Well, when you first start out building an agency, there's so many things that you are learning. And there's so many things that you start to realize there's kind of that unconscious competence at first, where you are like the… where you feel like you're kind of there. And you are, you kind of have that ego in you and you're like, yeah, I can do this. Like, I'm good at this, right? And the more you start to learn, the more you start to realize that, wow, I really have no idea what I'm doing, right? And it's at that point where you realize you actually have no idea what you're doing is, I think, a really pivotal moment for most agency owners. And it's in that moment that I was really grateful that I've had mentors and coaches that, you know, I've spent a lot of money to surround myself with those people. But in those moments, that was the counsel that I was given, right? The council was, hey, perfect, you recognize that you don't have it all figured out. And what you need to do is start looking around at who's done this before. Cause it's not an impossible task. Like I'm not a surgeon, I'm not, you know, working on someone's brain or whatever it is, where I'm going to have, have, have to know the how of all of this. I just have to know someone who's actually done it before, or who's done something similar and go and find that person. And that principle is served me, so, so well, and… I mean over the years and when COVID hit, we've had the seriously change the who. Like we had to change a complete who. I had to let go of 12 employees at one point. And it was like the hardest decision I ever had to make in the business. But, you know, you, you look at where the business is at, where you're going… And you have to surround yourself with the people that are going to help get you there at that moment. Jason: [00:06:28] Yeah. I always tell everybody kind of what got you to the point you're at right now is not going to get you to the next level. Like for example, getting to the million mark, you can get there by referrals and marketing. But then, you know, that's not going to get you to the next level, which you really need kind of a system in place where, you know… All right, I put this amount of money in. I know if I can get this amount of people through this. This is how much we're going to, you know, build in the pipeline. Or even looking at kind of on the sales part, right? A lot of times what got you to a certain point is a person. And that person could be you doing the sales or maybe one salesperson. But you need to build a sales system, a sales team that can operate without just one. And it just goes on and on and a lot of people don't realize that. They go, I've grown really quick to this one point and then they go, well, I'll keep going this way. I'm like, no, no, no, you got to constantly adapt or you're going to reach a level. And then you're going to constantly go up and down. And when you're going through that roller coaster, which gets you through that is luck and determination. Depending on how many times you go through that, you know, that takes away a lot of energy and sometimes it puts you on a downward spiral or you're like, I'm just tired, man. And I, I can't tell you how many people I talked to that just like… Can you just by me? I’m like we don’t buy dying businesses. Dallin: [00:08:01] Exactly, yeah. No, exactly. Well, and then, you know, what's interesting with, with all of that, I mean… Being an agency owner, most of the time, the agency owner started the agency because they're really good at marketing. And if you're really good at marketing, chances are you're really good at a lot of different things, or you can wear a lot of hats. And so you're typically good at sales because you know how to write copy for a great ad to get sales, right? You know how to do a webinar. So you're great at presenting things. And so you help do sales presentations, right? And you can kind of do a little bit of everything. So it's one of those things where if you're, you know, if you're selling real estate or you're doing something else there where you're like building a house, like… You may not know how to do all of the, you know, you may not be a good electrician, there's plumbing. Like there's so many other factors where you're going to have to rely on the who and not, you know, just the how to do all of that. With an agency owner you're kind of in this like really awesome pocket where you have so many capabilities. It's really hard to just be like, you know, I'm not going to do that myself. I'm going to find an expert that can actually help me scale it to the next level. Jason: [00:09:09] Do you feel like you have to come through mountains of data, jumping between multiple platforms to spreadsheets, to slide decks and back again, in order to create performance reports for your clients? It's a constant drain on your agency's time and resources. And that's where our friends at Ninja Cat can help. Ninja Cat is a digital marketing performance management platform that really unifies your marketing data and empowers your agency to automate insightful, beautiful client reports that scale. Now, Ninja Cat keeps your marketing performance and presentation tools in one place, freeing you up from manual data wrangling. And it really gives your team more time to focus on strategy and growing your business. And for a limited time, my smart agency podcast listeners will receive $500 ninja credit. When you go to to claim your offer and schedule a demo that's Yeah, and I find a lot of people get to a point where they're okay at everything. That's what I'll put. And they go, well, Jason, I don't want to become a big agency and a big agency to them might be 40, 50 people. They are like, yeah, I already have 10 or 20, and that means I'm going to have double or triple the amount of pressure on me. Or, and I'm like, no, no, you don't get it. The more people you hire and the more of the right people you hire, the less you have to do. Like one of the things when I'm working with mastermind members or clients, is once they get the right system set up, I tell them, take a month off. And then don't even pick up the phone, don't check, email. And then come back and what you'll find a lot of times is now you're ready to kind of change your position from an owner to a CEO. Because the CEO role is really going to setting the vision for the agency, communicating that to the team, coaching and mentoring and leadership team. And really being the face of the organization and a couple other ones, but that's really it. Then you can have all this free time to do, like we were talking pre-show… We were joking around about I'm researching building a teepee and putting on top of the mountain. And then you talked about buying real estate, all kinds of stuff. So, you know, it's like you have time to do other things. So I want you guys to have time to research teepees and go buy your own teepee. Dallin: [00:11:55] We're going to wait to post this episode, right? So you can get this teepee. Jason: [00:12:00] I'm going to corner the market. I'm going to corner the market because I'm checking out these websites and they do a piss poor job at marketing. So there might be, if you could be the number one agency in the world for going after the teepee niche. Dallin: [00:12:16] That’s right. If you learn one thing from this episode today, it's that. Um, no, but to your point, I, this last summer, we've been an agency, route four and a half years now. And so, you know, it's always, it's been a grind, a huge grind. I haven't done a lot of vacationing, okay? But I told my wife that that's the danger it's like next year, next year, right? In a month or so. And then pretty soon I was like, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to force my hand here. And I said, we are going to go to Hawaii for six weeks this summer. So we left the first part of June and got back the, the end of July, um, this summer. And man, the lessons I learned from that, just exactly what you were saying. It was absolutely insane because the preparation, knowing that you're leaving in a couple of months. Everybody, at least most people that I know. And I've talked to you about this. When you go to leave on vacation, even if it's for a weekend or a week or whatever, the house is clean. All the, you know, the bills that were on the counter are paid. All the things are kind of cleaned up and you kind of leave… You try to package things as nice as you possibly can cause you're leaving. And so that same principle, like when I'm thinking, leaving for two months in my business or six weeks like that. Man, I, all these certain things that I would have just normally done, I started handing off. And I couldn't believe the difference that it made in my business. And then just like you said, just stand back and like put my hands up and be like, Hey, it's on you guys. Like, keep it going, right? I don't want to get that phone call, right? And so that was an awesome experience. And coming back, just like you said, I was able to really shift that direction. It also forced the team to be able to do that. And I think sometimes we don't let the people that are, that could step up and be leaders in the company, we don't really give them an opportunity to step up and be the who. We just focus on them always being the how, right? And so in that moment, we're like, hey, can you do this while I'm gone? Because if I got hit by a car and I was out for six weeks, they totally would've, right? They would've stepped up in a big way to make sure that things continued on they're on that path. So it's, uh, it was a huge lesson for me this year. I'm like, man, should've done that a lot sooner. Just planned it out and did it. Jason: [00:14:31] Yeah, you should never look at like tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. It's like. You know, it's like today living today, don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the future either. I make that mistake. I, I make that mistake all the time. You know, it's like, we've always done it that way. And then I'm like, I quickly slap myself in the face going that's the kiss of death and… Or I'll say, oh, I'll do that tomorrow. And be like, no. I've always been really good at executing if we have an idea… And my team always laughs. They're like, oh, Jason has another idea. When's it going to be done? Probably in like two seconds. Dallin: [00:15:08] That’s right. Jason: [00:15:10] Like buying the teepee. Uh, I think that's what the title is, how you can grow your agency to afford a teepee. That’s right. Dallin: [00:15:18] That's all you need, is the teepee. Jason: [00:15:21] Exactly. Perfect housing, right? That's all you need. Well, this has all been great. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Dallin: [00:15:31] No, I just, I mean, just to kinda summarize that. I think that, you know, you, you look around and like where you want to go, right? Find the people that have that have done it, you know, keep continuing to listen to this podcast and, and see all the, you know, all the different stories and learn from that. And you’ll find the people that are around you. It's so crazy how close those people really are. If you don't mind, I'd love to share one more thing with you. Jason: [00:15:58] Go for it. Dallin: [00:15:59] I recently was watching, um, Undercover Billionaire. I don't know if you've seen that show on the discovery channel. But, uh, man, what an awesome, just like… Jason: [00:16:08] The second season or first season? Dallin: [00:16:10] Both. I watched both of them. But I thought they were both amazing in their own kind of way. But yeah, no spoilers, but Grant Cardone in the second season, you know, agency directions, right? And so looking at kind of that whole approach, there's no fear in, well, I don't have money to hire, I don't have money to find the who. I don't have, like, you know… There's no resources that are like they're building, you know, a million-dollar evaluation business in 90 days... With literally they have no contacts, no resources, no nothing. It's literally just asking people and trying to find out what their passion and their drive is and how they can help contribute to the, you know, a greater vision, right? So you sell that vision and you build the life and the agency that you want. So I highly recommend plugging that in there. No, I wasn't called to plug that in from the Discovery Channel or anything. But it was a pretty cool, um, you know, kind of looking at it from a, just a straight-up business standpoint. But it's good entertainment too. Jason: [00:17:13] It was really good. I, I just think, you know, people are like, I remember watching something, um… A Tony Robbins video and Al gore was in the front row. And I guess that beforehand, he was like, if I had the Senate or Congress, I don't, I don't know the, uh, you know, I would've won the presidency. And Tony was like, no, it's never a lack of resources, it's about a lack of resourcefulness. So I just want to leave everybody with that of going, if you can dream it, you can build it. You just need to figure out the who can actually help you and just build that community, build those relationships and that's really everything. So what's a website people can go and check the agency out? Dallin: [00:17:59] Yeah,, and basically you can find us anywhere on on social media as well. Jason: [00:18:08] Awesome. Well, cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. If you guys enjoyed this episode, make sure you go check out their website. Make sure you subscribe. And if you want to be around amazing agency owners that are constantly challenging you and constantly motivating you to push harder and be more resourceful. I want to invite all of you to go to This is our exclusive community and mastermind for only the experience agency owners that are really wanting to change the game and really take it up a notch and have a lot of fun and share what's working with other amazing people. So go to and until next time have a Swenk day.
Oct 27
19 min
How the Right Foot in The Door Offer Helps Land Bigger Retainers
Would you like to land big retainers of $50,000 to $100,000? Spencer Brooks is the founder and principal of Brooks Digital, an agency that empowers health nonprofits to build engaging digital platforms that improve the lives of patients. He has worked to create an agency that brings a new perspective to the nonprofit sector, which is very one-time project-focused, and tries to bring a more agile approach to help them adapt to changes in online health information. With this in mind, Spencer has created a system where the agency looks for opportunities for a longer-term relationship with the clients in 12-month retainers. In his conversation with Jason, he talked about choosing a niche, how he goes about offering retainers, and the point at which the working relationship can lead to bigger retainers. 3 Golden Nuggets Choosing a niche. As it tends to happen, this agency stumbled upon its niche after hearing many times that he should choose one. At first, it was just about realizing that 60-70% of their clients were nonprofits and making the move to start focusing on those clients. It was fairly easy because as a niche it was still quite large. Another look at their client roster revealed that most of those nonprofits worked with health issues. The decision to focus on those clients was much harder because it was scary to move into a much smaller niche with about 20,000 nonprofits. However, it was the right move for them and they’ve made it work by bringing a more agile approach to the sector and working with the perspective that their digital presence is a product, not a project. Landing big retainers. Of course, there are agencies that can get six-figure retainers from day one, but in Spencer’s experience, the agency’s biggest retainers have come from a working relationship with a client that matures to that point. It usually starts with a client that has a very specific project or something that they want to do. Spencer will then evaluate whether there’s an opportunity for a retainer with this client. What are their challenges? What are the organization's goals? It usually goes beyond just building a website. He informs the client that there’s an opportunity for a longer-term retainer with their project and makes sure to have a roadmap for the post-launch of the website. Timeline to get a retainer. When working on the initial foot in the door project, Spencer and his team are usually looking for ways to craft a winning strategy. After that, he says, it’s usually either simple and takes just a few weeks  or it’ll take months and months and never come to anything. It’s the ones in the middle, the ones that take up to six months that are more complicated because, in his experience, they are always tied to trying to sell the retainer upfront. The idea is that the client can make that decision in a few weeks or on the spot. Because the foot in the door offering is an opportunity to build trust, as well as for the agency to evaluate that client and decide if it’s worth it to commit to them for the long term. Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners. Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM Choosing a Niche and Creating a System to Land Bigger Retainers Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? I'm excited for another amazing episode. We’re going to talk about how to land bigger retainer. My guest on the masterclass today is going to talk about how he sold 30,000 to 100,000 dollars plus retainers, which all of us want to do. But a lot of times we're doing it the wrong way. And, uh, so let's go ahead and get into the show. Hey, Spencer. Welcome to the show. Spencer: [00:00:32] Hey. What's up, Jason? Glad to be here. Jason: [00:00:34] Yeah, I'm excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do? Spencer: [00:00:39] Sure. So, like you said, my name is Spencer Brooks. I run Brooks Digital. We're a digital agency. We do a lot of strategy, like user experience, as well as design and development for nonprofits. Specifically, those nonprofits that focused on a health condition like cancer, diabetes, something like that. We take the perspective that their digital presence is a product, not a project. Because there's certainly a lot of one-time project-based thinking in the nonprofit sector. So we try to bring a more agile approach to help them adapt to changes in online health information and things like that. Jason: [00:01:15] Awesome. And so how did you get into doing this and how did you wind up picking this niche? Spencer: [00:01:21] Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, I, I stumbled into it to be honest, I think as many people do, or at least other agency owners I talk with. I started as a, as a freelance web developer. And so over the years, I started hearing about, oh, you need to niche down and you need to choose a good position and things like that. I began by just honestly examining the clients that I was working with already. I looked at them and I went well that 60 or 70% happened to be nonprofits. And so for a while, I focused just on the nonprofit niche. And I made a decision, hey, this, this is still quite large. There's like a million, you know, there's a million nonprofits that are seven figures plus in revenue, that's still quite large. So took another look at our client roster and realized we just happened to be doing work with a lot of organizations that focus on health issues. And so that was much scarier to do because that's a, it's, it's a much smaller. You know, you're, you're talking about maybe 50 or 100,000 tops. Uh, you know, more realistically the, the ideal client is somewhere in like that 10,000. There's probably 10, 20,000 organizations and in that space, so it was a little bit scarier to make that decision, but, uh, I went ahead and did it. And so that's, that's sort of how I ended up in this space today. Really, by just sort of looking back at what clients happened to be working with us, what clients happen to uh, you know, the clients have the highest revenue and making those decisions with a whole lot of courage. And, and, you know, some help along the way to, to get to where I am right now. Jason: [00:03:09] Awesome. So let's talk about how are you landing such big retainers? Spencer: [00:03:14] Yeah, that's the mega question, right? I, I think I'll start by saying that the biggest retainers have come, in my experience, from a working relationship with a client that matures to a point of a big retainer. So it's not necessarily from day one that I'm getting a retainer that's six figures. I'm sure that there are agencies out there that have developed a market position and that, that claim to expertise where they could theoretically do that on day one. But I think much more commonly and certainly in my case, that that develops over a period of time. So I'll usually start with smaller projects and that's usually the case with clients is that they come and they have a very specific project or something that they want to do. And I evaluate their organization as a whole and say, okay, this is what you want to do right now. But in my head, I'm sort of thinking, is there an opportunity for a retainer here? Do they have ongoing needs? And so I'll, I'll take that. I might take that small project and do some sort of strategy or examination of, okay, what are your needs? Do a discovery and then pitch them a, a little bit of a larger project. And then telegraph that there's probably a longer term retainer here. And that's just how we work. So it's a progressive process, but I telegraph that that's usually how we work and then I build the client relationship into that place. Jason: [00:04:48] Yeah. I mean, I, I totally agree with that just because I see so many people that they're pitching marriage right off the bat. And I don't think it works for either party because it's a big commitment. Like for example, I remember many years ago, and this happens all the time as well. I had a client that came to me and said, hey, you know, charge $5,000 a month on a retainer. Um, and, uh, it's month to month. I'm like, well, why is it month to month? They're like, well, it's easier to sell. And I was like, well, why wouldn't it be 12 months? And they're like, well, that's big decision and a lot of risk. I said, well, do you want to kind of eliminate that? So I like kind of what you, you probably do the same thing, kind of start with a strategy and really figure out like a, like you said, kind of figure out where they're wanting to go, what their biggest challenges are. And then, you know, we put a high-level plan together and then that probably leads to a project, I presume, or a smaller project? Spencer: [00:05:46] Yeah, exactly. So if… let's say someone, I had a, a lead come in the door and they want to do a website or something like that, right? So I might start to examine, okay, what, like what's the context in which this project happens? It's usually not just a website. That's like a lot of the work that we do ends up being website-related. But talking to them about what are the organizational goals? What, what is this, what are your challenges? What is this solving for? And then laying out a plan for, okay, maybe a website's part of that, but have you considered all these other things that you might want to be doing, right? Have you, you want this website, but have you actually even researched your audience at all? Like the people… You're thinking about it this way, but you know, we take the perspective that your website is a product. So are you thinking about this like a one-time project and it's going to be, is it going to be done? And how are you going to then adapt to that over time, right? And sort of, and take their project and bring our perspective to that. Then that usually… our perspective, of course, being that the website is a product naturally leads into a retainer-based relationship. So then we'll say, okay, we'll build out your, your MVP, you know, this, uh, the, the initial version of the website, and we'll help you do that. But then here's our roadmap for post-launch for this website. So we'll do the build, but then know that after that, here's what we're trying to do. So here's the retainer that's gonna come along with that. And usually, by the time we get done with the website, I don't think a website project has ever been finished without a phase two wishlist at the end. And so it's just very natural to just say, all right, like we’ll, I’ll scope control the project by bundling all of the stuff that comes up during the middle of it into retainers. It just, it flows really nicely just through the course of the project and helps me say yes to a lot of the stuff like strategy-wise or helps the project manager say yes to that during, um, you know, during the build-out. But then say, yeah, well, yeah, phase two, yeah, but this is the retainer. Jason: [00:08:08] Taking care of your employees has never been more important than right now. And while paydays are great, running payroll is a major pain, calculating taxes, deductions, compliance. None of it's easy. Unless of course you have Gusto. Gusto is a simple online payroll and benefits built for your small business. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Plus, with Gusto’s help. You can offer benefits like 401k's health insurance, workers' comp, and a lot more. And because you're a smart agency masterclass listener, you're going to get three months free once you run your first payroll. Go to That's for three free months. Yeah, I, um, I like that you kind of start selling the retainer while you're in the first engagement. I find if there are people where they wait until the project's done, then I think it's sometimes too late. Because they're already kind of like checked out, right? Like, do you see that as well? Spencer: [00:09:33] Yeah, I think it's super hard if you're, if you're acting as if you're just this super project face company agency. And then all of a sudden at the end, you're like, hey, by the way, uh, I am... I'm going to recommend that you spend a hundred thousand dollars a year. They’re like, wh…? You know, it's just like a truck hits them. Uh, and so I do think that telegraphing, that that's the way that, that we work, that you work as an agency, helps them prepare over time. And I, and I phrase it in a way that says, you, you, if you want to continue working with us, then this is how we work. If you, if you, for whatever reason you don't like this, that the product that we put in. If you don't like the experience of working with us, then after the project, like you can take it and you can go and you can find someone else to do it. And so that sort of relieves them of this pressure of committing to the, uh, effectively committing to a retainer at the beginning of our project. But also telegraphing to them that this is the conversation that's going to come after the project's done. And then it just leaves us as the agency in the position to just deliver a great experience. So that, that conversation is easy when the project is done. Jason: [00:10:51] So what is your close rate percentage or have you been tracking that of when people come to you for all this? Spencer: [00:11:00] Yeah, no, that's a, it's a, it's a good question. Um, I don't have like a hard number off the top of my head. So I'll give you my, my ballpark guesstimate. It's very high. Usually, like, frankly, if someone, if I get a sense that a prospect is just interested in a project and there's not even an opportunity of a longer-term relationship there, then I'll probably pass. So I mean that in itself takes my retainer close rate up a notch because I'm not trying to funnel people through that. It's kind of part of my qualifying process. Uh, so like that being said, I I'd say it's at least 50% or 60% uh, that go into a retainer, if not more. And then the folks that don't go into our retainer, they typically stick around, but they're still thinking about the project-based kind of work. So as a fallback with the, with the clients that just say, no, I'm not going to do a retainer. Then I'll probably do the more standard, you know, account management, follow up every couple months and generate some more projects. But typically those kinds of clients, they know that we work on retainer and if we're not available, we're giving priority to our clients that are on retainer. And so that, it's kind of a nice way to you prioritize the people who are on retainer and then the clients that don't end up closing on a retainer, like you can sort of nurture them to fill any gaps that you might have in your pipeline. So that's how I think about it. Jason: [00:12:31] Yeah. I mean, that's huge. Because I see when people are pitching retainer, run off the bat. They're less than 25% because it's a big commitment, right? And now you said 50%, but I want everybody to hear this is 50% to a retainer. So they've already gone through strategy and projects and to the retainer. So the close rate for, you know, what I call the foot in the door or a project is going to be skyrocket much faster. And then also what is typically the timeline for closing, for getting that client to pay you right up, like for the first time? And then also what's the trend, like how long is the timeline to get to the retainer average? Spencer: [00:13:12] Yeah, it's a, it's a great question. So initially, when you're doing like the, I think you mentioned like foot in the door, that initial project. That, that my entire goal with that is like, how, how do I craft a, uh, like some sort of quick wins strategy engagement? And then we're talking like two weeks, right? It's usually very easy. It's either like they're going to probably pay up within two weeks and sign, or I'm going to chase them for months and never hear back. Um, it's only that middle, you know, when you get like that three-month close or six-month close, where... Those are in my experience, usually always tied to these huge, mega, you're trying to sell the retainer upfront. You're trying to sell the six-figure seven-figure project right off the bat. And those, of course that takes months and months to close because that's huge. But it's a much smaller… it, the idea is that they can make that decision in a few weeks or on the spot. Jason: [00:14:05] Exactly. Spencer: [00:14:06] Then we'll typically go through a process that's about three months. If we're going to do a project like a website build or a relaunch I'm shooting for about three months. There are three or four months. And then after that, I'm looking to close a 12 month retainer on the back of it. So really it it's actually fairly accelerated. And usually, once we get past that initial project, that the foot in the door and then ladder it into a larger project. Then by that point, they've gone through two projects with us, essentially. There's a lot of momentum behind the relationship… they’re, they're in a position where they're liking what they see. And so then when you're like, yeah, let's just keep working together. Like we've all these things that we've been talking about, the strategic roadmaps we just need to now do that work. And so it just makes the, the retainer conversation very, very easy. Jason: [00:15:02] Yeah. Well, I mean, you build trust, you made it an easier decision. And then you're building trust as you show them little wins, you show them the plan. You know, one of the things I always told people is people chose us because we made it easy for them to choose us. We explained exactly how our process worked rather than hiding or stra… or secret strategy soft… You know, like all this super-secret shit. And then, you know, we did a little commitment on their end. And we also too, we were evaluating them and we let them know we were evaluating them. Just kind of like you, like, if people are wanting to go right to the retainer. Yes, that's exciting. But it's also should be a red flag. Do you really want to commit to someone for 12 months and be miserable? You know, you gotta, you know, we, uh, and, and I can't tell you how many members in the mastermind I chat with that, uh. You know, in the very beginning when they join… There's so many clients that they need to get rid of because they're not profitable or they're a pain in the ass and it's an easy... And we walk them through our offering ladder and the foot in the door and all of this. And it really solves a lot of their pain. It doesn't solve everything, but it solves a good portion of it. Um, well this has all been amazing, Spencer. Is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would benefit the audience? Spencer: [00:16:29] No. I think that maybe the one comment that I would add to kind of, to flesh out your point, Jason. Then, um, then I think that's, it, is that yeah, the, the... The foot in the door in the larger offering is absolutely, uh, that chance to evaluate a client. And over the years, that's certainly the thing that I've discovered with retainers is that great, okay, you get awesome at closing retainers that… But if you close a client that you don't really like working with it, then you're stuck with them for at least 12 months. And then of course, everyone knows, it's really hard to say bye-bye to revenue. Even if there's so much pain associated with that. And so you really got to think about it from that perspective as well is give someone… Just progressively unlock your services to them so that you have that experience, that opportunity and experience with them to just say, no, thanks. I don't think this is going to work out and save yourself a lot of pain. Jason: [00:17:29] What's the website people can go and check out the agency? Spencer: [00:17:33] So it's, but the fancy new dot it's not new anymore, I guess. But… Jason: [00:17:47] At least you didn’t do like some of my guests going WWW… I'm like, wow. You just aged yourself. Spencer: [00:17:50] HTTPS colon forward slash forward. Jason: [00:17:55] Well, I used to do that for many years and then someone made fun of me and then I'm like, ah, maybe I need to switch that. So, but uh, well, amazing. Uh, thanks so much, Spencer, for coming on the show. Make sure you guys check out his agency’s website. And if you guys want to know more about really crafting your own foot in the door and really how you can start selling bigger, bigger retainers, faster, closing, more, making it easier, getting paid for the proposal. I want you guys to go to This is our exclusive program that I did with my good friend, Ian Garlic aka Sasquatch. He makes a lot of cameo appearances on our videos. Really good friend. And he's been doing the foot in the door framework for many, many years, and perfected it. And he's been really helping out a lot of mastermind members... In the mastermind walk through this and we just launched this program. So go to and until next time have a Swenk day.
Oct 24
19 min
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