Rob Da Costa
Author Archives: Rob Da Costa

Interview with Lee Jackson discussing trends in 2021

We made it to Episode 50!

In this episode of ‘The Agency Accelerator’ podcast, I am joined by the extremely talented and savvy Lee Jackson.

Lee is our first-ever repeat guest, and today he will be sharing with us his insights to what he sees coming down the road in 2021.

The last time we spoke, Lee joined us in Episode 10 of the podcast, where we were talking about growth and transformation.

If you haven’t listened to that episode, Lee helps web agencies fall back in love with their businesses, he runs ‘Agency Transformation Live’, is the co-founder of Events Engine, and if that wasn’t enough he is also the host of the ‘Agency Trailblazer’ podcast.

Time Stamp

02:00 What are the typical trends you’ve seen happening this year with agencies?

02:07 Most agencies have been surprised that they have been able to continue throughout 2020!

02:45 For most agencies, their clients reached out for help

03:07 Agencies helped clients move from the physical to the digital space

03:56 Some agencies thought they could hibernate and tread water, and some agencies were afraid to sell their services because they thought it was in bad taste!

04:38 Small businesses struggling to sell things online

05:32 A digital renaissance - businesses are realising that being online is imperative

06:05 Two aspects: technology and marketing

07:58 Using social media to build a new audience of consumers

08:34 People working out how to pivot

10:00 Lee’s clients are events organisers - they have embraced online and created incredible digital experiences

14:32 If you can really understand what your clients what to achieve, you should be getting out there and helping them

15:25 Lee tells us more about the 2021 ‘Digital Renaissance’

16:26 Businesses will start focussing on what’s important

16:40 One of Lee’s agencies is going full virtual now

17:10 Lee is still concerned about the high street and thinks they might still struggle in 2021, but he thinks the high street will also change and more service-based businesses will appear

18:30 Many entrepreneurs get seduced by starting projects and not finishing them. How will agencies figure out what is important?

19:13 To start a business you need to work out your identity, then your values, the message and output. If you look at 2020, think about what your strengths, missions and passions are. Who are you helping and what are you solving?

21:37 The importance of niching

25:00 Not everyone can start an agency, there’s a lot of fake competition tarnishing the industry

25:55 Marked increase in the low cost of entry in the industry

27:18 Lee, if you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be? 

 

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

Rob

Rob’s Learning From 2020

In today’s episode, I share with you the lessons that I learned and the key changes I made to my business in 2020. Hopefully, you can take some things away and apply them to your agency as well.

In Episode 39 I spoke with Jim James about virtualising your agency. Before that interview, I held the strong opinion that you cannot build your agency using freelancers or virtual staff because it’s like building an agency on quicksand.

To an extent, I do still believe that; however, both Jim James and John Ashton (who will be making an appearance in an upcoming episode) both talk about how you can build an agency using staff who are spread all over the world - some virtual, and some freelance.

After talking to them I have definitely become more open to the idea, and have realised that it is not necessarily so black and white. Using virtual or freelance staff allows you to be more nimble and adapt to changes as your agency grows.

I truly hope that this podcast has helped to change your thinking in some way too. Whether from something I or one of my guests has said. If that’s the case, then I am definitely achieving my goals for recording these podcasts.

So without further ado...

Time Stamp

4:10 The 5 Key Lessons I Learned From 2020:

5:53 The pandemic differentiated three types of agency:

  • Those who panicked and cut costs
  • Those who did nothing as they thought it would just be a short-term challenge
  • Those who were nimble and thought about how they needed to change  and adapt

6:16 Pivoting doesn’t mean drastically changing what you do; but rather, tilting your axis to adapt to your climate. 

7:26 In order to pivot you need to really listen to your audience. Don’t just make assumptions. 

8:16 DON’T cut your prices!

9:09 2020 taught us that you need a plan, and that plan needs to be dynamic.


10:58 The 5 Good Habits I Put In Place In 2020: 

11:06 I learned to delegate more.

11:34 I learned to automate more.

12:39 Got more focussed - doing more of what works, and less of what doesn’t work.

13:13 I did more of what I enjoy, and less of what I don’t enjoy.

14:00 Paid more attention to my mailing list.


14:45 My 5 Bad Habits of 2020: 

15:00 I didn’t have good boundaries during the pandemic. 

15:25 I worked WAY too much. 

15:40 I headed towards burnout at the end of the year.

16:26 I said ‘yes’ to everything - need to learn how to say ‘no’.

17:10 Seduced by shiny new products that are irrelevant to my goals and audience. 


18:51 Finally, I’d like to talk about my goals and hopes for this year. Not necessarily ‘new year’s resolutions’, but at least some targets to strive towards in 2021. 

19:05 Delegate more. 

19:28 Use data to help me make better decisions. 

20:08 Focus on building my Facebook community - you can join here!

20:38 Focus on doing less, but doing it better.

21:50 Improve my work-life balance.


22:52 I think it’s a great idea to have a record of all of this. At least I can always go back to this podcast and see where I am at in regards to my goals, and how this year is different from the last. 

22:16 I hope that me sharing my experiences of 2020 will help you to approach this new year in a positive light, and encourage you to take control of your own destiny in 2021. Touch wood this year will be focussed, rewarding and provide us with a great work-life balance.

 

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

Rob

Planning for a successful 2021

Planning for a successful 2021

As this challenging year draws to a close we are all starting to put our plans in place for 2021 and no doubt those plans are going to be more positive and ambitious than this year.

It finally feels like we have some control again!

Of course, your 2021 plan needs to be much more than a finance and staffing plan. You need to be looking at all areas of your agency including:

  • Culture
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • New business/sales
  • People
  • Clients
  • Market
  • Product
  • Systems & processes

The list goes on!

Here are my 5 tips for creating a living plan that gets delivered:

  1. Get your senior team (if you have one) to support you in the development and delivery of this plan (if you don’t have a team, my advice is to get some help so you are not creating and delivering this plan alone)
  2. Break down the plan from 1-year objectives to quarterly goals to a monthly detailed plan
  3. Each part of the plan (year, quarter, month) should have no more than 7 goals or projects (7 or less is the magic number)
  4. Set yourself the challenge of never carrying a task from one period to the next. So always be asking yourself “where will I be by the end of this period with this particular task?” and that becomes your objective (and of course make them SMART)
  5. Review your plan at least once a month and amend it based on what you know today that you didn’t know yesterday. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that our plans must be dynamic and never cast in stone

Links mentioned in the episode

Join my FREE business development Masterclass. Register here.

If you want more ideas and details on growing your scaleable agency then download my FREE ebook "Creating A Scalable & Sustainable Agency"

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.


Rob

Turning Customers Into Advocates – Interview with Remeny Armitage Royle

Remeny Armitage Royle

I am pleased to have Remeny Armitage from Brilliant and Human with me on the podcast today.

Remeny's business interviews your clients to enable you to build stronger relationships and create client advocates.

In this episode we talk about the process, the benefits and what you should start doing now (if you are not already).

Time Stamp

1:45 How Remeny helps her clients

2:10 Insights into how you can better serve your clients

2:55 What are the typical themes you hear when you are getting feedback from your client’s clients. The 3 recurring themes

4:00 What is the impact you have on your clients by talking with their clients/

5.38 It’s amazing what people will tell a stranger with no agenda. Clients are always happy to have the opportunity to give objective feedback that they know will be listened to

6:50 Example of a digital marketing agency that listened to their client feedback and made changes that resulted in a 40% increase in profits

7.27 What is the typical pain that an agency has when they reach out to you? Usually, client retention but what else?

9.05 Avoid adopting the utilities or mobile phone business model!

9.33 Understanding your niche and ideal target client: talk to clients to understand why they purchased from you – you might be surprised at their responses!

11:10 Ensure you understand why your clients stay with you and what they value from you. Also, understand what the bottlenecks are (e.g., is the owner the issue?)

12:00 How often should an agency get 360 feedback from their clients? Putting a client advocacy process in place

13:00 The risks of not seeking feedback from your clients regularly

14:00 When you win a new client it’s a great time to interview and understand and find out why they have bought from us

15:38 Learning about why you lost a pitch

18:40 Are you willing to hear and action the honest feedback you get from your clients?

19:40 Have you seen any changes between client and customer interaction during the strange year?

21:35 The importance of relationships and working in partnership with your clients

22:45 Final tips on retaining clients and making them into advocates

24:30 If you could go back in time and give your younger business self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Useful links:

You can contact Remeny:

Brilliant and human website

Remeny's Linkedin profile


Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

My yearly review of the best tools & apps to run your agency

rob da costa

Welcome to The Agency Accelerator’s annual wrap-up of my favourite tools of 2020.

In this episode, I discuss the importance of making each and every hour as productive as possible by utilising a range of brilliant tools and apps that will save you HOURS each week.

Remember – Ditch it, Delegate it, Defer it, Do it, or…..automate it! We are talking all things productivity in this podcast.

So I am going to cover 20 or so of my favourite tools. In case you want to skip forward, here is a handy timestamped guide for each tool. Also don’t forget to download my handy cheatsheet (listed at the end).

3:51 Kartra

4:31 Groove pages

7:08 Zoom

7:27 Loom

8:33 Livewebinar

10:42 Vimeo

11:50 Canva

12:17 Designrr

12:51 Thrive Architect

14:05 ConvertKit

15:38 LinkedHelper

16:30 RocketReach

16:59 Dictation

18:25 Xero

18:40 ReceiptBank

19:32 Google Drive

20:22 Amazing Marvin

21:27 Toby

If you want a detailed outline of all the tools I reviewed in this podcast then grab a copy of my free cheatsheet which outlines each tool in detail together with pricing and website info.

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

CRM & Automation – Interview with Lindsey Pickles

Lindsey Pickles

In today’s episode of the podcast we are talking all things CRM and marketing automation.

I am excited to have Lindsey Pickles from Bright Dials on the podcast. Bright Dials helps companies get to grips with their customer data by implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation tools as well as the processes to support their successful use.

Time stamp

1.03 Who is Bright Dials?

1.35 Definition and difference of a CRM and marketing automation system

2.34 Why is it so important for companies to implement CRM and Marketing automation? 

3.10 What would you say to someone who doesn’t have a CRM in place and doesn’t have customer data stored in one place?

5.27 How do you start untangling where they are at right now and what they need?

8.40 What does volume costs mean?

9.35 At what stage should an agency start investing in CRM and automation?

10.24 Efficiency gains from using these tools    

11:55 Understanding your numbers and data  

13:00 How do you select the best tools

14:14 What is your view on one tool that can do it all rather than using individual tools and integrating them together?

16:36 Example tools you can use  

18:49 If you are new, what should you do next?   

20:10 Customer journey mapping

22:45 Closing the leaky bucket

23:00 If you could go back in time and give your younger self, just starting out in business, one piece of advice, what would it be?

Useful links:

You can contact Lindsey:

LinkedIn

Website: www.brightdials.com

Terminology guide

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

Business Development Strategies (part 3)- why you can’t rely on referrals

Rod Da Costa Business Development

In today’s episode, we wrap up this mini-series on business development. 

Today my focus on is why you shouldn’t rely on referrals and word of mouth for new business – especially in the current environment. I explore how to build proactive campaigns that engage with your target audience and move them through the sales process until they become a client.

Timestamp

1:10 Why doesn’t word of mouth referrals work as your major form of business development

1:35 The impact of remote working

2:00 The risk of relying on one form of new business

3:00 Most business development strategies have a medium to long term impact

3:30 One short term business development strategies strategy

4:00 The key is consistency and persistence

4:44 The importance of focus

5:00 My own experience with this podcast

5:50 The importance of niche and defining your ideal target customer

6:00 Meeting your audience where they are at

8:00 Addressing your ideal target customer’s “pains and gains”

8:25 Nurturing content

8:50 The 3 stages of your sales funnel

9:14 Don’t expect results in the short term but you need to start today!

10:08 Should you outsource business development?

11:15 Nurturing referrals and word of mouth 

Useful links:

eBook: Defining You Ideal Target Customer

eBook: Finding Your Niche

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on AppleSpotify, or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

Business development strategies (part 2) – Interview with Darryl Sparey

Darryl Sparey

In part 2 of the business development interviews, we chat about what is working and what isn't working in this new predominantly online world of doing business.

We explore some mistakes that agencies are making and how to avoid them.

Time stamp

1.05 Introduction to this week’s guest, Darrly Sparey from Hardnumbers

2.21 What changes have you seen in the business development landscape in 2020?

3.20 Why you should not be embarrassed to sell    

4.00 Don’t make it about you!

5.08 Earning the right to sell to your audience

6.14 Applying a similar right approach to your website    

8.10 Where does your website fit in the sales process

9.10 How you present yourself to a prospective client

9.42 Your point of difference

11:25 The Ideal Customer Profile

12:25 Should I be selling in this challenging time?  

14:45 Why you should not be cutting your marketing budget right now! 

15.39 As an agency owner, what should you focus your money and time on?

16:18 Create a list of your dream clients

17:00 Don’t just focus on existing clients

17:43 What does building relationships look like in this new ‘online’ world?

18:45 Using communities to build relationships

19:44 What is working and what isn’t working right now?

20:20 We are not working from home we are living at work

21:20 Be an enabler for networking for your clients & prospects

23:10 The benefits of being in a group/community

23:36 How do you cut through the online noise?

25:46 What is the one thing you would not recommend agencies doing right now

26:45 Consistency and persistence is key

28:45 Make your business development time non-negotiable

29:25 Revenue, strategy and admin

30:00 The importance of a CRM system

31:00 What advice would you give your younger self?

32:30 What is your notional hourly rate?

Useful links:

You can contact Darryl via Twitter @darryls and @hardnumbers

eBook: Defining You Ideal Target Customer

eBook: Finding Your Niche

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

My Top 17 Productivity Tools & Apps

do more

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again to do a round-up of my favourite tools and it’s been quite a change for me!

I am a big believer in using software tools and apps to help us become more efficient. Simply, by automating as many of those recurring mundane tasks as possible, to allow us to be more organised and productive.

To that and I tell my clients they need to do one of the four Ds:

and I’ve added a fifth element to this:

So in this blog, I want to share with you some of the tools that I have experimented with and spotlight the ones that have made an impact for me.  This is all about becoming more efficient and automating tasks rather than getting distracted by shiny new objects. Trust me, for everyone one tool I mention here, I tried at least 5 others! That lead me to want to share my experience and advice with you. I wasted loads of time trying tools that promised a lot and delivered little and I don't want you to make the same mistake!

Listed below are the key categories I think every business needs to look at and then the tools I have personally used.

Stuck for time?

Download this blog as a PDF short cheatsheet to read & share it at your leisure

All-in-One Integrated Tools

But before I jump into a review of my favourite tools I want to share the big change that I made this year.

I decided to try and consolidate a plethora of tools I use (many of which are listed below) to run my business, with as few tools as possible. That meant consolidating my email automation, my online content delivery, video hosting and many others, into ideally one platform.  Let me explain the rationale behind this:

Integration

This was my primary driver in that I became frustrated at getting the various tools I used to communicate with each other.  I often ended up using Zapier (and yet another cost) to try ‘tape together’ one tool feeding into another.  This was frustrating and never quite did what I needed it to do. 

Also using a set of disparate tools meant I had less analytical data to act upon. For example, if someone watched 20% video then do ACTION A but if they watched 100% of the video then do ACTION B.  With a set of disparate tools, this kind of analysis and behaviour is not easily possible.

Cost

A secondary driver was cost.  When you add up the cost of all of the annual subscriptions of about 10 different tools I use, it amounted to several thousand pounds a year.  So was there a more cost-effective way of getting the functionality I needed in fewer tools?

Based on these 2 drivers, I started exploring the options and it came down to 3 platforms:

  • Kartra ($1 for a 14-day trial and then from $99/month)
  • Kajabi (free 14-day trial and then from $119/month currently)
  • Builderall ($1 for a 30-day trial and then from $99.90/month)
 

1

Kartra 

Kartra Home Page

$1 for a 14-day trial and then from $99/month

In the end, I chose Kartra, it seemed robust, could do most of what I needed it to do and was cost-effective.

Now, I don’t want to do a full review of Kartra in this blog because there are plenty on the Internet already but let me tell you the tools I was able to consolidate and stop paying an annual fee for once I moved to Kartra:

  • ConvertKit (email marketing)
  • Teachable (online courses)
  • Calendly (scheduling)
  • Thrive Architect (website design)
  • Vimeo (video hosting)

So collectively these add up to more than my monthly fee for Kartra.  But, more importantly, because I am using the same tools on one integrated platform, each tool talks with each other in a seamless way. This makes my customer's experience a smoother one, and provides me with more analytical data.

Now before we move on, I need to give an honourable mention to GroovePages.  This is a product created by one of the founders of Kartra and is something that I have invested in, in the hope that I may be able to move everything from Kartra to GroovePages in the future (because it adds even more functionality such as live broadcasts and webinars). However, it is still in beta development so I don’t feel it is reliable enough yet to move my whole business on to this platform.  If you are interested in exploring it, whilst it’s still in beta, you can get FREE lifetime access to it.

OK so that is my rationale for consolidating a number of tools into one platform. The list below outlines individual tools and they may well be better suited to your specific business needs. I have put them into categories to help with reading.

OK on with the other tools.

Broadcasting tools

As well as recording content for my online courses, I have been running webinars and live broadcasts.  So here are the tools that have helped me get more slick, speedy and professional.

 

2

Zoom 
https://www.zoom.com/

FREE for a personal plan or from £119.90/year for teams & business plans

This doesn’t need much of an introduction since I’m sure most readers will know about Zoom.  I use it for my private coaching clients and also for my group coaching calls as part of The Self-Running Agency Programme (screen from last week's call below):

The Self-Running Agency
 
 

3

Loom
https://www.loom.com/

FREE up to 100 x 5 min videos

I still love Loom because it saves me so much time.


On a daily basis, I have clients asking me questions or asking me to review documents (I never want my clients to be stuck so encourage this).  Before using Loom I would spend ages crafting an email response.


Now I simply open their email or document, turn on Loom and review their document in real-time on camera and send them the Loom video in response. I estimate this is making me around 50% more efficient when it comes to responding to the client's emails.


Now let me tell you a secret here: often when I get prospects emailing me, rather than sending them an email back I will use Loom to shoot a short video which is personalised to them.  This is a great way of impressing them and building empathy that you can't achieve through a one-dimensional email.

 

4

LiveWebinar 
https://www.livewebinar.com/

FREE for up to 5 attendees or from £9.60/month for larger groups

I talked about LiveWebinar last year and I'm still using this for the time being for marketing webinars that I run.  However, I will be moving to GroovePages when they launch their webinar technology.


I also want to give an honourable mention Be.live - a great tool if you do Facebook lives.

 
 
 

5

Vimeo (and YouTube)
https://vimeo.com/

£192/year

As I've mentioned, I have moved my video hosting to Kartra but I'm still currently using Vimeo until my licence runs out. It is still a great platform!


I use Vimeo for short promotional videos that I may not want in the public domain. The advantage Vimeo has (over YouTube) is how you can control what the user sees and embed calls to actions etc. Vimeo also offers higher quality video.  


It enables you to remove all their branding and offers more features and customisation opportunities (such as password protection and analytics).

Design and layout tools

We all need to make sure our output is professional yet we don't want to be spending tons of money using designers all the time.  

Here are a few of my favourite tools to solve this problem.


 
 
 

6

Canva

https://www.canva.com

FREE for single-use or from £107.88/year for multiple users & additional functionality

This is great for creating social media images, eBook covers and other graphics. It is really simple to use and saves me a ton of time, especially if I start with one of their predesigned templates or image sizes. 


This year I switched to a paid version of Canva. It adds additional functionality such as resizing, removing backgrounds and animation. 

 
 
 

7

Designrr
https://designrr.io/

I use a lifetime Pro version (no reoccurring fees) that costs £90

If you create a lot of PDFs and e-books then this is a really useful tool (although you can also use Canva to perhaps more easily create some of this content).


Another useful function is that you could take a blog post and import the contents and automatically create an e-book from it.


Web development

 
 
 

8

If you have a WordPress website then this is my favourite tool to use to easily create engaging websites using lots of beautifully designed templates (however if you've read this far you will know that I have moved from WordPress from my website to Kartra).


It's a WYSIWYG builder that sits on top of WordPress and makes it super easy to create new landing pages.  It's easy to connect to your email marketing system and do other clever things such as A/B headline testing, creating demand and scarcity by using countdown timers, writing quizzes and so much more.


This is one of the more affordable tools in this category. I am a ThriveThemes member and I pay about £175 a year for all the tools and support and all upgrades. This is a fraction of the cost compared with other website building software.


External communications

 
 

9

I am still a fan of ConvertKit even though I have now moved my email marketing to Kartra.


I have used a range of email marketing automation tools over the years including MailChimp, MadMimi and ActiveCampaign but in the end, settled upon ConvertKit because its functionality met with my needs.  It is also more cost-effective and it’s easy to set up automations, (think sales funnels).  It plays well with other systems such as ThriveArchitect, Teachable and so on.

10

LinkedHelper

https://lh2.linkedhelper.com/

Free to try, then $99 / year

I am all about time-saving. In fact whilst this blog is about my favourite tools, it's all about using timesaving and efficiency tools and none are better than saving you time than LinkedHelper.


LinkedHelper is an app that enables you to automate some aspects of LinkedIn engagement (think of it as a sales funnel for LinkedIn).


So for example, you can send personalised connection requests to a targeted audience or you can send more detailed personalised messages to 1st connections.  I typically use it to find new ideal connections and also to let my audience know when I have some interesting things happening such as this blog being published or a new webinar.

Talking of LinkedIn, I also upgraded to Sales Navigator because I can drill down my search in more detail and create lists and 'tag' contacts.


Now a word of caution here: LinkedIn doesn't like these automation tools so use it carefully and don't use it to spam your contacts!

When you find a contact in LinkedIn but there is no email or phone number in that contact's profile then RocketReach is the tool to use.  

It is free and will find someone's email address if that is at all possible.

Select from dozens of search criteria to narrow your search, and then lookup personal emails, professional emails and direct-dial phone numbers for your matches.


 

12

Dictation

FREE

Here is a tip if you're a Mac user: if you press the function key twice it brings up the microphone and you can dictate voice to text (this is how I'm writing this blog).  


This massively speeds up my content creation.  But don't worry, if you're not a Mac user you can also click on the dictation microphone in Word or Google Docs etc.


This has two big advantages:

  1. Firstly, it speeds up the creation of content because it's much faster to dictate than it is to type.
  2. Secondly, it also ensures that I capture my tone of voice in my written content. This is important because I want my users to have a consistent experience whether they are reading something, listening to my podcast or meeting me in person.  Voice to text ensures that I maintain that consistency.

Finance

 

13

Xero

https://www.xero.com/uk/

FREE for 1 month, then from £10 / month

I started using Xero, which is an online finance app, some years ago to streamline my bookkeeping.

 

The thing I like about Xero is it speaks to you in plain non-accounting terms and it connects to your bank account making reconciliation very simple.


It also connects directly with my accountants, which means they can rescue me when I make a mistake and submitting my end of year accounts is much simpler than it used to be.

 

14

ReceiptBank

https://www.receipt-bank.com/uk/

FREE 14-day trial then £120 / year

Receipt bank is a sister tool that works well with Xero.


I don't know about you, but in the past I have been terrible at submitting all my receipts. ReceiptBank removes this issue by making it very easy to simply take a photograph of a receipt, which it then digitises.  


You can then submit these receipts directly to Xero -  making the process very straightforward.  This one saves me a ton of time and a ton of money!

Planning and organisation tools

15

Google Drive
https://www.google.com/drive/

FREE for 15GB storage, from £1.59/month for more

I love Google Drive and have slowly moved all my client work from my drive to Google.


This has the huge advantage of easily being able to share docs.  You can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want–no email attachment needed. It ensures that both you and your clients are collaborating on the same version of the document. 


You can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos, and more. You can access these docs anywhere, so wherever you go, your files follow.


It also protects you against a hard disk drive dying (which happened to me this year) and losing all your data.


16

I am a big proponent of getting super organised and if you have read any of my previous content, you’ll know that I am a fan of "morning and evening rituals" (thanks to Michael Hyatt’s Free to Focus book).


In the process of trying to be super organised, I've tried several tools to help me manage my to-do lists.  Last year I  started using another tool (with a stupid name but a good product) called Amazing Marvin. 


I had a free trial and now have upgraded to an annual license. Amazing Marvin is a task and to-do list manager.  It integrates with my calendar and enables me to create daily and weekly to-do list.  I can cross tasks off as I get them completed (and you know the importance of seeing items ticked off and crossed out as you complete them).  


I appreciate everyone has their way of managing their time but give this tool a go!

 

17

Toby

Free to use Chrome extension

This one was a game-changer for me.


I don't know if you're like me but during the day I open way too many web browser windows and tabs.  I then struggle to find what I'm looking for so I end up opening yet another tab!


Well thankfully I have found a solution to this and now I am much more in control and have way fewer tabs opened.


And that's all thanks to this chrome browser extension called Toby (another rather stupid name!).  


This enables me to create a frequently used library of tabs and put them into various categories.  Now when I open my chrome browser the first thing I see is the library of tabs.


As I said this is a game-changer for me.

In Summary

My Top 5 Favourite Apps


  • Kartra
  • Loom
  • Voice to Text Dictation
  • Canva
  • Linked Helper
 

In Conclusion

I spent (wasted!) a lot of time researching and playing with tools and apps and I have shared with you my top 17 best productivity and time-saving tools - so you don't have to waste time searching the web and trialling 100s of tools to find the ones that work for you.  


If you have any of your favourites that I did not mention, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and please share this article with your colleagues.

Productivity

Download the Productivity Tools eBook

A quick cheat sheet of my top 17 productivity tools. 


Make sure you check both boxes below otherwise I won't be able to send you the eBook!

5 tips to improve your website

5 tips to improve website

Welcome to today’s episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

It drives me crazy that so many websites fail to truly serve their audience, so much so that I decided to record a episode of the podcast on this topic.

I recently posted on LinkedIn about this and it generated lots of opinion including some conflicting viewpoints to my own which I always love and show that this is an important topic.

If you follow my podcast or regularly read these emails you will know I am a big fan of making your website the “centre of your marketing and business development universe” and that means all of the various biz dev activities, such as email marketing and social media, should drive traffic to your website and then when the reader gets there, it should be really clear about the action you want them to take next. It also means making your website more than just 'brochureware'.

Yet most websites fail to do this.....

Instead, so many marketing agencies pay little attention to their website but rather make it look the same as their competition following the same old designs. For example, they start off by saying how great THEY are & what THEY can do for YOU! 

This is a typical website header (taken from a random agency website I found on Google):

'We’re a creative design consultancy. For fifteen years we’ve been creating and redefining brands, helping our clients stand out and be more successful'

Let's explore what is wrong with this:

1.  Your website should very quickly demonstrate who it is aimed at & show that you understand your audience so that it motivates the viewer to want to read on. So talking about what you do at this stage, is completely wrong! And this headline gives no clue as to who they help.

2.  If your website is full of 'We' then you need to change your language to make it about YOUR CUSTOMER, not YOU (at least at first).

3.  The “above the fold real estate” of your website is super valuable & you want to make it clear what you want your reader to do next. That usually means adding in a button to download something of value (e.g. an eBook, a top tips sheet or a tool) in return for their email address.

Bear in mind in this part of your website you want to show your customer that you really understand their pain points and then show how you can solve them. So for me, I might say on my website “Is your agency taking one step forward and one step back?” or “Are you frustrated that you can’t win a consistent flow of ideal clients?” or “Do you wish your staff would step up?” I know these are some of the key pain points and if a viewer were reading these and they fit my ideal target customer profile, then they would be inspired to read on because they would feel the website was talking directly to them! 

4.  Using a "subscribe to my mailing list/newsletter" or "contact us" link is a waste of time because people who don't know you will rarely jump to this stage of the sales process (and without being a mind-reader, I bet you get few enquiries/leads this way). 

Remember you need to build KNOW-LIKE-TRUST before someone will buy from you.

5.  Be clear what you want your website to be: If it’s just ‘brochureware’ then you're missing out on a great opportunity to use it as a lead generator.

As I said, there seems to be comfort in conformity, in that if you look like every other agency then it’s easy, safe and you are not rocking the boat.

But surely it would be better to buck the trend & look different, and that starts by showing your ideal target customer you really understand them and their pains (that your product or service can solve).

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

Are you subscribed to my podcast yet? If you’re not, please do so to avoid missing out on any episodes!

You can subscribe/follow on Apple, Spotify or directly from my website.

I would be very grateful if you left me a review too as they will help other people to find my podcasts and it's also great to read your comments!

Thanks so much.

Rob

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