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How to train your clients

Account management

OK so that sounds like a weird title for this blog but trust me it’s not, so please read on. I want to share with you some of the client management mistakes I made when I ran my agency, and my key learnings over the years (so you don’t make the same mistakes!).

So there are 3 key reasons why we want to manage our clients effectively

  1. To retain them for the long term and be as profitable as possible;
  2. To earn additional revenues by selling additional services;
  3. Create a strong happy relationship between us and the client

Fundamentally this means we need to be great at managing their expectations.  We all know its way cheaper to retain and grow existing clients than it is to find new ones.  Yet sometimes our best efforts to keep a client happy leads them to be dissatisfied and leave us.  Read on to find out why.

To effectively manage client expectations, we need to have clearly understood service levels that are well understood both internally, with the team delivering the client work and with our customer.

To achieve this, we need to get our service levels right from day one.  How often do you feel: “I need to do an amazing job to impress this new client, so they stick with me for the long term”.  This tends to translate to:

  1. Doing whatever the clients asks so they ‘love’ me
  2. Creating a rod for your own back since we have set the benchmark high and need to keep delivering at this level – even though we are over servicing!
  3. The client keeps asking for more but without wanting to pay additional fees for it

Sound familiar?

I remember when my agency (CIT PR) won its first few clients.  We were super excited and since we had the capacity, we did whatever we could to keep them happy (i.e. always say YES and over service them).

Ironically, we actually achieved the reverse of what we were hoping for.  By continually saying YES to the client, they didn’t really respect our time or what we were doing for them and this led them to not always being happy with our levels of service – they had completely forgotten what we had agreed at the outset and how much they were paying us.  This also made it really hard to raise our fees with them and guess what, as we won more clients and got busier, we started to resent these early clients because they were our lowest fee payers but took up more of our time in order to keep them happy!  Something had to change……

So here are 5 tips I learned (and share with my clients)

  1. Create a clearly understood, documented and agreed scope of work with the client and ensure all team members understand what is and isn’t included
  2. Be willing to over service plus or minus 10%
  3. As soon as the client asks for something outside the scope (or +10%) then have discussions with them about additional costs OR dropping something that has previously been agreed in the scope
  4. Talk VALUE and OUTCOMES with the client rather than TIME (download my free eBook on value pricing and selling to learn more)
  5. Report and communicate regularly (ideally monthly) with the client about progress against agreed scope of work (and discuss any deviations)

And a bonus 6thtip…..

  1. Don’t bury your head in the sand if something isn’t going well – address it as soon as possible and work with your client to find a solution

This is a big topic and I am super excited to be launching a new mastermind course on client & account management in February.  This is a hybrid online course, delivered over 4 weeks and gives access to me via an exclusive closed members group. If you would like to be the first the hear more about the course, and how it can help you and your team then enter your details below and be the first to hear about the launch of the course and exclusive offers.

Is your sand timer running out?

Time Management and CEO coaching in Brighton

The fundamental flaw with many company’s new business strategies is that they do an intensive burst of communications to create some engagement and interest with their target customer, and hope that is enough to generate sales. Sadly they will be disappointed. It’s not how marketing works.

Think right now of your top 3 favourite brands of car or perfume. It’s no doubt easy to think of 3 but may be harder to think of 4, 5 or 6.  So the question is, are you one of your target audience’s top 3 brands?  If not, they won’t remember you (and therefore won’t buy from you).

So what do we need to do to stay at ‘front of mind’ with our potential customers?  Here are 5 things to consider:

It’s not just about saying the right things to the right audience

It’s about saying the right things to the right audience AT THE RIGHT TIME.  You have to be present for them at the right time – when they have an issue, challenge or problem that your product or service can solve.

Your contacts will forget you

Think of it this way – every time you communicate with your target audience, you refill the sand timer – and from that moment on, it begins to empty. If you haven’t communicated again with your client; reminding them who you are and how you can help them BEFORE the sand timer runs out, then when they need your services, they will have forgotten you.

It’s about doing a few things well – all the time

Many businesses have peaks (and therefore troughs) in their marketing communications activities (for instance, a new product launch) and then things tail off.  It’s great to have a burst but you need to continue it consistently.  Remember the sand timer?  Well, this burst approach will ensure it runs out before your next big push and that means the client has forgotten you.

Don’t get blinded by shiny new objects

This is a tough one.  There are lots and lots of channels you could be using to engage with your clients but my advice is to find the few (that your clients use) that you can use well and consistently – and focus on them, rather than getting sidetracked by the latest marketing tool, new piece of software or channel.

Less is more and keep it simple are 2 thoughts that spring to mind here.

Plan ahead

If you want to keep the sand timer filled then plan ahead.  This is why a marketing strategy and a marketing plan (and a content plan) is crucial – it tells you the best ways to reach your target audience and how & what you are going to say to them, and when.  This ensures you are consistent with your audience communications, and you create messages that resonate with them (not just sales messages but genuinely adding value).

Most of my target audience knows this (after all it’s what they do for a lot of their clients) but it doesn’t mean they do it!  Often my job is to hold a mirror up to the client and remind them what they already know!  I often say, I am not teaching you anything new, just reminding you what you already know and holding you to account to do it!

Use email marketing to keep your sand timer filled

Regularly sending value-added emails to your audience is a fantastic way of keeping the sand timer filled and it should be part of your marketing strategy.    If you want to know more about how to build your list and what you should be sending then sign up for my FREE masterclass.  Click here or on the pic below.

Email marketing

How Much Is Bad Client Management Costing You?

client management

Scope creep: when you just can’t say no.  

The answer to today’s question about client management should come as no surprise to you if you’ve been in this agency space for any length of time:

It’s costing you a lot.

Of course, your understanding of “good” and “bad” client management could be very different to mine, or that of my clients. But in my experience – both as an agency owner for over 11 years, and now as a coach to 350+ agencies – I’ve seen the same few errors being made by businesses all across the world.   

These errors aren’t always huge, obvious mistakes that are easy to fix. Sometimes they’re hard to spot – like a culture of just trying to please a customer at all costs.. And sometimes you think things are going just fine (despite all evidence to the contrary).

The most common trap I see agency owners & staff falling into – time and again – is thinking that you have to supplicate to clients in order for them to be satisfied. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth… and in this article, we’re going to unravel this insidious lie and expose it for what it is: a limiting paradigm that holds your agency back from being all it can be.

When Saying “Yes” Now Means Saying “No” Later On

One of the most commonly trotted-out business cliches is “the customer is always right”. We’ve heard this a thousand times from a thousand people, all repeating what they believe to be true: in order to make your clients happy, you have to give them whatever they ask for.

While that kind of mentality might fly in the retail or hospitality industries, it doesn’t apply to your agency. In fact, thinking that it does will leave you stressed out, underpaid, and even starting to resent the work you’re doing – all because you lack the ability to say “no” when it really matters.

In my work as a business coach, I’ve often found that there’s a disconnect between the vision of the owners/managers and the actions of their client-facing staff. For some reason, managers just assume that their account teams will know how to deal with clients properly, and so don’t offer them any substantial training on this subject (the kind that they need if you want your agency to flourish).

The basics of customer service are easy to pick up. They’re beaten into every call centre rep, retail employee and waiter/waitress in the country. But what about something more advanced? Something more appropriate for a high-value business like yours? It’s harder to come by.

Specifically, I’ve seen this disconnect between top-level vision and bottom-level implementation play out in the way employees handle client requests. Without being explicitly told how they should deal with a given situation, your employees will often defer to doing what they feel is best – abiding by the rule that “the customer is always right” and giving them whatever they want.

So when that client rings up and needs a particular piece of work completed on a short deadline, your employees agree to it, thinking that they have to say yes. They don’t think about whether this request is included in previously agreed fees, the fact they’re over-servicing this client, or that they’re creating unrealistic expectations moving forward. They just say yes because they were taught that the customer is always right – and no one told them any different.

And saying yes to this client’s demands mean that you can’t say yes when it really matters – when better opportunities come along, or when your dream client walks through the door. Instead, your answer is a no by default because you are already at full capacity with underpaying projects.

That’s what bad client management is costing you: the chance to build a better business, to serve your ideal clients, and to scale your agency into something that works for you (instead of the other way around).

And if you’re a one-person-agency, you’re not excluded from this discussion. As a solopreneur, you’re responsible for both directing your business with a big-picture vision… and for actually doing the hard work required to service your clients. The disconnect between how you want to handle your clients and how you actually treat them can often leave you stuck in a place you don’t want to be: working too long, for too little pay, with too much stress involved.

These same lessons apply whether you’re a solopreneur, leading a small team, or running a large agency – unless you learn to handle clients effectively, you’re going to limit your business and make life much harder than it needs to be.

Of course, over-servicing isn’t a big deal if it only happens once… but in my experience, these things don’t happen just once. Clients can get used to having work done on demand, so they start to send in similar requests more often. Gradually, their respect for your processes, your business and your time start to erode.

After a while, you’re not two partners working together on a mutually beneficial project anymore. Instead, you’ve been forced into a supplier/customer relationship, where you have much less power than your client.

While supplier/customer relationships work in certain industries (i.e. if your local supermarket only allowed you to shop by appointment, you’d soon find a new one), they’re bad news for your agency.

The work you do is valuable. It takes time, and you have many different clients to service. You can’t afford to let one client dominate your business – unless they’re big enough to warrant this attention, of course (although the dangers of ‘putting all your eggs’ in one basket is a topic for another blog post).

Instead of merely being seen as a supplier, you want to be seen as a partner: a trusted, professional expert that delivers valuable work from a place of equal respect. If you can successfully establish this position for yourself, then you’ll be able to get paid what you’re worth, waste less time racking up unbillable hours, and stop stressing out about the mounting obligations you never should have agreed to in the first place. The scales will be balanced, both sides perfectly equal to one another.

Establishing this position is easier said than done, however. There’s a number of different moving parts you need to consider.

  • And (most importantly) you need to make sure that your team are on the same page. If you position yourself as a respected, professional agency, but your staff constantly supplicate to clients, giving them whatever they want with no respect for their own time… what does that tell your clients?

It tells them you don’t deserve respect. That you’re not worth a premium price, and that you’re there to work for them – not with them, as equals.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this basic mistake cause problems for agencies aspiring to achieve more. Driven, ambitious top-level managers are a powerful asset – but without staff that are properly equipped with effective client management practices, they’re worth far less.

This is such a big topic and common conversation that I am excited to offer you some free on-demand training entitled The Client Management Masterclass. Based on my experience in the agency space (first as the owner of a 7-figure agency, then later as a coach and mentor to 350+ agencies across multiple sectors). I’ll reveal my Three Pillar Approach to effective client management, teaching you how to get paid what you’re worth, manage client expectations upfront (to avoid conflict and negative situations), and boost retention rates to supercharge your profitability. So if you would like to watch the free training, you can register here.

I’ve accumulated these client management best practices over the past 30 years, based on my observations of what creates the most impact for my coaching clients. Anything you learn here is proven to work across a variety of industries, and will likely be of benefit to your business too.

The top priority for growing your profits

client retention

If you make an effort to keep up-to-date with useful research in the area of business theory, there’s a good chance you’ve come across “Blue Ocean Strategy”. In their 2005 book Blue Ocean Strategy, researchers W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne argued that markets can be split into two distinct categories: blue oceans and red oceans.

Simply put, a blue ocean is a market that is emerging, profitable, and not yet packed with competitors that turn survival into an all-out dogfight. In contrast, a red ocean is an existing market where established competitors struggle to eke out a reasonable market share, and new entrants have a slim chance of succeeding. The red colour of the ocean alludes to the kind of waters sharks feed in – a grim analogy for business competition, but fairly accurate!

In this article, we’re not going to focus on discussing the differences between blue oceans and red oceans, and how you can apply this knowledge in your business (that’s a topic for another day). Instead, we’re going to look at one particular factor that will influence your ability to survive in a tough, crowded market.

The global market

The reality is that business is getting more and more competitive with every passing year. Waves of globalisation have spurred on increasing interconnectivity between countries around the world. This creates a situation where you’re not just competing with a handful of companies in your local area – or even in your country – anymore. Instead, you’re trying to keep up with competitors on a global scale.

And this reality of increased competition from all sides is prevalent in the agency space. Depending on the kind of service you provide, you might be insulated from this to a certain extent (e.g. local recruitment agencies have little to fear from foreign competitors – although they have their own challenges, such as competing with online agencies like Monster). However, there’s other sectors that are very prone to disruption from the wider environment: think design, marketing, or business consultancy services. The kind of work these agencies focus on is easy to do in a “remote” (i.e. online) capacity, leaving the door wide open to potential competitors.

Sometimes these competing agencies are located in lower-cost regions of the world, where they can afford to charge much lower prices than you can. Maybe they offer a novel approach to delivering the same results to your clients. Maybe they can even deliver better ones with their methods. The water is getting redder by the day. Without a proper strategy in place, you could be in for a nasty surprise in the near future.

When you’re operating in this kind of environment, how do you compete? How do you stand out among this competition, and create a business that’s sustainable in the long-term?

The answer is simple…

You need to focus on building great customer relationships. And by this, I mean that you should focus on increasing customer retention rates, and growing the service you provide to your existing clients.

Of course, customer relationships are just one half of the equation. The other half is knowing exactly what niche of the market your services are perfect for. But we’ll leave that topic for another day, and instead zone in on the value of effective client management.

Being able to retain & grow your existing clients is a powerful skillset, one that you must develop if you hope to build your agency. It can make the difference between swimming alone in shark-infested waters, and having an ally pull you onto their boat, stopping the beasts from sinking their teeth into you.

But developing this skillset isn’t easy. If you’re the head of a large agency, the leader of a client-facing team (or even if you’re a one-man band), it’s quite possible that you haven’t taken the time to really work on client management best practices for your staff or yourself. With everything else you have on your plate, giving your staff training you feel might be a bit redundant seems like a huge waste of time.

And if it was the case that your staff already possessed these skills, I’d agree with you – it would be a waste to give them specific training in this area. But the skills of effective client management aren’t exactly common knowledge. Maybe you’ve seen this first-hand in your own business. Maybe you’ve experienced this first-hand  (e.g. that time when you weren’t sure how to handle a client that asked for too much while giving too little in return).

Don’t make the same mistakes!

In my coaching practice, I’ve seen the same issues playing out time and again in agencies around the world. The fundamental approach many of them take to client management is flawed, setting them up to do unprofitable work, work too long for too little pay, and to stress constantly over keeping their clients happy.

To bring things back around to our idea of a “red ocean”… these kinds of agencies are floundering in blood-red waters, hoping that their indifferent allies (clients) will paddle over and rescue them – but they can’t be certain what’s going to happen.

It’s the same in your business. If you’re not confident that you can retain a client, you’ll do one of two things:

  1. You’ll bend over backwards to keep these clients happy. This leads to them expecting more and more from you over the long-term, creating unrealistic expectations for your work moving forward… and eventually, creating enormous dissatisfaction when you can’t live up to these flawed standards.
  2. You won’t commit your resources to producing the kind of great work you need to do as an agency. Why would you waste time and energy on a client that might leave you in the next month or two?

Both of these scenarios lead to the same conclusion – your clients move onto another agency if your output doesn’t quite meet their standards. That’s not to say that your work is bad in this scenario. It’s a case of their expectations being too unrealistic, or that you’re stretched too thin trying to over-service countless clients to deliver truly great work.  

We both know that retaining and growing your best clients is the path to business success. Even think of something as fundamental as your customer acquisition cost. That’s a sunk cost you have to incur every time you go out and hunt for new business. Based on that alone, getting more money from your existing customers will be more profitable than finding new ones.

You can’t afford to paddle around unprotected in the red ocean of a fiercely competitive market. It’s better to have a stable, safe location to survey that waters from, allowing you to dive in when you need to (but protecting you when you don’t).

Rather than having a large pool of potential rescuers (who may or may or not pull through for you when you need them), wouldn’t you rather know you could rely on help from a handful of bigger boats – and be sure they’d be there for you?

That’s what it means to retain clients and grow your existing accounts.

You don’t worry about constantly acquiring new business to replace those customers that walk out the door and never come back.

You don’t have to worry about satisfying those demanding clients that barely move the needle when it comes to your bottom line.

And you won’t have to worry about losing your best clients – because you possess the skills required to keep them truly happy with your work.

We’ve already talked about how over-servicing is a fools game, one that we all get caught up in at some stage. However, there’s a difference between knowing something and being able to put that knowledge into practice.

That’s why I created the FREE Client Management Masterclass. Based on my experience in the agency space (first as the owner of a 7-figure agency, then later as a coach and mentor to 200+ agencies across multiple sectors), I’ve produced a free 30-minute video training session that can be used to take your client management skills (and those of your employees) to the next level.

The Client Management Masterclass went live on Monday 18th March, and streams directly to your computer, tablet or phone. In the Masterclass, I reveal my Three Pillar Approach to effective client management, teaching you how to get paid what you’re worth, manage client expectations up front (to avoid conflict and negative situations), and boost retention rates to supercharge your profitability.

I’ve accumulated these client management best practices over the past 25 years, based on my observations of what creates the most impact for my coaching clients. Anything you learn here is proven to work across a variety of industries, and will likely be of benefit to your business too.

Additionally, all attendees of this Masterclass will be given the chance to sign up for my brand new Client & Account Management Mastery Course, featuring exclusive video training, in-depth tricks of the trade, and access to a private mastermind group, where you’ll get the chance to ask me your questions on a weekly live Q & A. This is like hiring me to coach you in-person (which typically costs £2000+, depending on your needs). Further details of that will follow at the end of the Masterclass.

The Client Management Masterclass is available for viewing now. If you’re interested in learning more about it, please go here. If you register in the next week, you’ll be eligible an additional FREE bonus (more details at the end of the Masterclass).

Should Your Agency Launch a New Product or Service?

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I dive into everything you need to know when considering developing and launching a new product or service. From knowing your market to research and product validation, I share all the tools needed to launch a successful product.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[01:33] Launching a new product or service

Before diving into launching a new product/service it’s important to recognise your reason for doing so. If it’s just to increase revenues, chances are this product will not meet your expectations and you should double down on your existing core services.

[02:36] Two steps to follow when launching a new product:

1.    Make sure you are clear about your core product. It is crucial that you must be seen as an expert with your current product before releasing a second one.

2.    Make sure you know your market wants it! There’s a big difference between knowing that your market wants something versus thinking they need it. Expanding on your product portfolio directly correlates to meeting market demands.

[05:37] Talking to your marketplace

The only way to understand what your market needs is by researching and speaking with people. A good note to keep in mind is to record all conversations so you can utilise the language being used and identify key pain points that your product can solve.

[08:02] Outlining your minimum viable product/offer

Pre-selling a product before you formally launching is a sure way to discover if people are truly interested, before investing time and effort in developing and launching the full product.

[11:38] Doing your research; two steps

1.    Form focus groups to get feedback. From there you can refine the proposition.

2.    After the proposition is refined, the 2nd step is to introduce this to your second audience.

[13:02] After going through the research and validations phase:

1.    Get the product service ready. After you’ve done your research and have validated, now is the time to fully develop the product or service.

2.    Think about how you will market and sell. Strategise by going to your existing clients and letting them know this product exists, explain what it does and how it can help you solve any of their pain points. Even if the client is not ready to buy at the moment, email nurturing is a great way to keep in touch with people until they are ready to buy the product. 

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Links mentioned in this episode:

·     Blog: Pain killers vs Vitamin pills

·     Validation Guide

How to avoid unhappy clients!

value pricing

One of my private coaching clients is currently working with a copywriter to create some of their blogs and web copy.  They asked the copywriter to create a more in-depth piece of copy for a guide. The copywriter quoted a price of 3 days of their time to complete the work and the client accepted (mistake #1). 

The writer was given a detailed brief including who the guide is aimed at.

The first draft was less than stellar, and the client was disappointed.  It was too waffly, missing key points and too long.

Meanwhile, the copywriter explained that she had spent 3.5 days working on the project but wasn’t going to charge them for the extra 1/2 day.  She clearly felt she was going the extra mile.  She then sent in her invoice.

Now here’s the problem:

The quality of the copy was poor, and the brief hadn’t been met but because everyone was focused on time (mistake #2), the writer felt they were in their rights to send the invoice and indeed felt like they were doing the client a favour because they hadn’t charged them for the extra half day! 

Was this the writer’s fault? 

Well yes and no!

After all, the writer had quoted three days to do the work, charged a daily rate and the client had signed off on this.

Yet the client was frustrated because the piece needed extensive rewrites and it sounds like the writer wants to charge extra time to do that.  All a bit of a mess!

Can you see how everyone was focused on completely the wrong thing (mistake #3)?

Now, this is a pretty simple (but real) example to highlight what happens when we (and the client) don’t focus on the right thing (the thing the client really cares about).

So, what should we be focusing on?

The outcome the client is looking for.…in this case, a piece of copy that meets the brief and is written in a way that appeals to the target audience.

This is what value pricing is all about.

This is the classic example of the copywriter selling an INPUT (time) and OUTPUT (the copy) and not focusing on the OUTCOME the client was looking for (a quality guide that will appeal to the audience).

As I say, this is a simple example but highlights the reasons why we should never sell time and more importantly, we must recognise the client is never buying time (after all if you gave me a great guide I don’t care if it took you 3 hours or 3 weeks!).

Now I don’t know how this story ends (because it’s still ongoing) but the client has got to have an awkward conversation with the copywriter and one that potentially damages their relationship, puts the invoice in dispute and could well result in the client having to rewrite the copy and find a new copywriter!

This is a value-selling and pricing conversation.  If you want to read more about how you can implement this in your agency then download a copy of my free eBook on value-pricing and selling (just click here, no need to re-enter any details, and I will send it right over).  It explains the traditional ways agencies price and things to consider if you want to move towards selling and pricing based on the outcomes rather than outputs.

Value Selling

Download your FREE "Do you sell on VALUE or Time?" ebook

Enter your details below to get instant access to my 10-step value pricing and selling system eBook for agencies

Interview with Brent Weaver from uGurus

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by the CEO and co-founder of uGurus, Brent Weaver.

Brent and I had similar beginnings in the agency world. In this episode, Brent shares his journey and we look at how your agency can adapt and grow in 2021.

[03:55] Adaptability, Specialisation, and Authority

In times of global challenge, the only way for agencies to thrive and grow is by adapting (and listening to your clients), specialising, and building authority.  Specialise by finding your niche – the more specific, the better, then broaden out over time. To build authority and awareness you should focus on growing your list of subscribers – so when clients are ready to buy, they reach out because you have stayed in touch and continued to provide value.

[07:41] The fear of going niche

Niching is the best way of separating yourself from the crowd and winning more business. Generalised agencies tend to differentiate by pricing (being cheaper than the competition) and overpromising. This is not a sustainable strategy.

 [13:30] Stay Focused

It’s easy to get distracted by new ways to bring in revenue. These ‘shiny new objects’ will be a distraction from your core services, and if you are not careful you will end up losing income.  So get clear on who you are and what you offer and stay focused!

[21:17] The ‘Yes’ Mentality

Just because you can do it does not mean you should do it. Think of your business as a system. This system can only continue to run well if it is not interrupted by adding in new services that don’t fit in your agency and you don’t have a system for. It’s always best to refer these clients elsewhere rather than to make a mistake that may later cost you the client and lost revenue. 

 [29:27] Getting agency owners to let go

We often find agency owners continue to want to have their hand in every project or be in the know of every detail, but this is not possible if you’re going to continue to grow. The only way to let go is by hiring all-star A-players who can do the task better than you!

 [34:05] Trends in 2021

The digital ecosystem is here to stay. Post pandemic companies are looking to shift and adapt, and with everything going digital, those who were resisting it before now have no choice but to evolve and grow ….or fail.

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode”<– If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the podcast. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed and, if you’re not subscribed, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out. Subscribe now!

Useful links mentioned in this episode:


Is your agency an iPad or a reMarkable?

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I share my insights, experiences, and comparison between a reMarkable tablet vs. iPad – specifically what we can learn about their marketing and how it relates to your agency?

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[01:50] Distractions

Like many, I can easily get distracted, so I try to allocate solid chunks of time to focus on specific day-to-day tasks such as working on my group coaching programme content or future strategies.

The problem is when you’re working at your computer, notifications can distract you and there is the temptation to just jump onto the Internet.

[02:26] What is a reMarkable tablet? 

I’m going to do a full review in a future episode (due to lots of people asking me about it!) but basically, it mimics the texture and feeling of writing on a paper without all the distractions of a multi-functional iPad.

[02:40] Reason for Purchase

I had 3 three reasons/goals for purchasing the tablet:

  1. To get more organised
  2. To get rid of paper & become paper-free
  3. To be more efficient

[03:45] reMarkable vs. iPad

I have an iPad and love it. It is a great device – it does many things & does them pretty well. On the other hand, the reMarkable tablet only does one thing & tries to be the best in the market at doing it. It is a replacement for a notebook for taking notes.

[04:27] Generalist Agency vs. Niche Agency

How does this relate to your agency?

Well, the comparison between a reMarkable & iPad is very similar to the age-old debate about a generalist agency vs a niched agency.

The price of a reMarkable is the same as an iPad, so why would you spend the same money on a device that does less? Well just like a niched agency, it does it better than a generalist. The niched agency understands its client’s pain & provides solutions to solve that pain – backed by tons of experience.

[07:12] Thoughts on your Niche

As I outline in my book (link below to grab your free copy).  When you think of your niche, you can cut it in four ways:

  1. By geography
  2. By industry
  3. By deliverable or service
  4. By the problem you solve

[09:13] Using reMarkable

I use the reMarkable to take notes, e.g.

  • When writing a podcast
  • Client notes
  • Working on strategy
  • And to get something out of my head!

[10:04] Translating notes into text

As long as your writing is not like a doctor’s scribble, you are good to go. The reMarkable will translate your handwriting into text.

[11:42] Be like a reMarkable

The reMarkable is a device aimed at people who want to focus on one thing, and it enables you to do that really well. Just as your agency should!

If you are niched and tempted to broaden your services, only do it once you have dived deep on the core product that you already have—unless you bring the skills, systems, and a new area that can be scaled, you will never grow your agency, just dilute your focus.

So be like a reMarkable; focus on one thing, do it well, and be the market leader before you start diversifying!

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I really enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode”<– If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the podcast. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed and, if you’re not subscribed, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out. Subscribe now!

Links mentioned in this episode:


Grab a copy of my book (for free): The Self-Running Agency

Buy the reMarkable:

Listen to more episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Website

Cloudways article: In Conversation with Agency Guru and Coach Rob Da Costa on Sustainable Agency Growth and More


I recently sat down with Cloudways and discussed everything to do with growing a sustainable agency....

With more than 30 years of experience working with commercial businesses, it’s safe to say Rob Da Costa knows his way around the marketing game. In 1991, he set up his own  marketing, PR and design agency, which he grew into an award-winning business before selling it to become a coach and mentor in 2007.

Since then, he’s been helping business owners grow and achieve organizational success. And he’s also authored The Self-Running Agency for agency owners looking to balance profitability with sustainable growth and some personal free time.

We’re thrilled to have Rob with us today as he shares his journey with us, talks through what it means to sell customers what they want, and more.

Cloudways: Thanks for joining us, Rob! Can you start by telling us a bit about your journey to become an agency coach?

Rob: Back in 1992, I decided to leave my marketing job and start my own tech PR agency (I had naïve youth on my side!).

Over the next 11 years, I grew the agency into a full service marketing agency with 25 staff, turning over about £1.5 million.

I then got approached by a large US firm to buy the agency so sold up and after a two-year earn-out left to retrain to become a coach.

I started out trying to be a generalist coach working, in theory with large corporates or small start-ups but found it very difficult to be successful. So, I decided to niche my business to focus on supporting SME marketing agencies and over the past 14 years have worked with over 250 agency owners to help them grow in a profitable, sustainable and enjoyable way.

Today I do private coaching as well as running an agency group coaching programme.

Source: dacostacoaching

Cloudways: You’ve talked about the difference between selling customers what they want versus what they need. What do agency owners need to understand about this distinction?

Read the rest of the article here...

How To Get Clients To Pay More For Your Services

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I discuss why, when you're buying a software or a product online, you are offered three price points, with the middle one being highlighted as the most popular one.

I unpack that and help you increase your prices to get your clients to pay what you are truly worth.

Here's a glance at this episode.

[00:48] Frustrations

Many agencies struggle to get their pricing right. They are frustrated that they are not as profitable as they would like to be and are not constantly hitting their margin targets.

[01:31] Three Typical Ways Agencies Charge You

  1. Selling your time. This is where you are exchanging money for your time, usually through charging by the hour or day. The flaw in this approach is that it encourages the client to focus on the wrong thing i.e., how you spent the hour rather than the outcome of the work you are delivering!
  2. Having a fixed project fee. This is where you estimate the project's cost at the beginning based on the scope of work agreed with the client and consequently the number of hours you estimate it will take to deliver the scope of work. You agree to a fixed fee based on these hours. The potential flaw with this approach is that the product's brief and scope can change and evolve. To please the client, you end up over-servicing them - cutting your margins.
  3. The retainer concept. This is where you agree on a set fee for each month and agree on the scope of work included within that fee. The potential challenge is that the client believes they have unlimited access to you because you are on the retainer. 

[8:43] Focusing on the Right Things

I share three pieces of advice when it comes to pricing a project.
Ensure that you understand the ultimate goal and price against the outcomes and impacts and not the bits and bytes you do for your client. 
Use three price points in your proposal. The high price point sets the higher anchor point; the lowest price sets the negative anchor point, which leads to the client buying the middle price point (and that leads you to achieve the price for the service you hope for).

Put a contingency pot in place with your clients when you are setting the project's scope. If you have a £10,000 project, ask the client to put aside an additional 15% as a contingency pot. Then if you are asked to do something outside the agreed scope, you can call upon this money.

[15:30] Having the Right Mindset

Having the right mindset is crucial and can be the most significant battle you have around pricing! If you think this does not work for you, it does. We often tell ourselves stories about how the client will react to a certain price point or price increase and this stops us from changing our pricing. We just need to realise that they are stories and not facts!

Want to learn more about how to

grow a successful agency? Sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I really enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode”<– If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the podcast. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the feed and, if you’re not subscribed, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out. Subscribe now!

Links mentioned in this episode:


Grab a copy of my book (for free): The Self-Running Agency

Download my book on value pricing & selling 

Listen to more episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Website

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