Sally gives some brilliant tips and advice so if you run a marketing agency (no matter what niche is), make sure you tune in as you will take away a lot from this episode! Show notes below.
[0:58] Sally discusses Ambleglow’s background. Ambleglow’s main focus in education was always within recruitment marketing. You may be aware that there is a huge teacher shortage here in the UK, meaning it’s more important than ever for schools to get their recruitment marketing right. However, with the rise of employment-related search engines such as Indeed, a lot of schools now decide to simply recruit new staff themselves, without the need for agencies. Ambleglow have therefore broadened out their niche to include additional services for their education audience where there is still a big demand.
[5:40] I talk about the value of being a niched agency and why Ambleglow were right to broaden out their services whilst still remaining within their niche. Sally discusses all of the core services Ambleglow now offer and how they go about actually selling their business to potential clients.
[9:30] Many businesses might be great at what they do but so many of them are still poor at marketing themselves. Ambleglow were aware of this and so made a great decision when they decided to invest in bringing in a marketer to work on their outbound marketing with them. Sally shares some more tips that have helped their company remain a successful player, even in these challenging times.
[11:31] Sally discusses the mistakes they made within Ambleglow’s marketing and the key learnings they took away from these.
[13:45] What does the future hold for Ambleglow?
[15:06] Sally discusses some of the outbound marketing strategies that work well for Ambleglow, including LinkedIn and creating more value-added content to build more awareness and trust. Remember, when your audience KNOW, LIKE and TRUST you, they will be much more likely to buy from you.
[19:00] Sally gives her final bits of advice to give to other marketing agencies to help them grow.
[20:45] I ask Sally, “if you could give your old self some advice what would it be?”
[22:15] Let’s look at the 5-key takeaways from this episode.
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Did you know that email marketing is one of the most effective, if not the most effective way of delivering new sales for your agency? So, if you don’t have a list, this should be the top of your marketing priorities in 2020.
Email marketing has been around for a while, it’s not some trendy marketing fad that will come and go. And it promises to continue growing even further in the future. If you happen not to have tapped into its wealth of possibilities already, then let me give you a few reasons why you should do so in 2020.
Setting up the systems and running your own email marketing campaign certainly is an investment, so should you bother?
You can find plenty of other fascinating stats like this, but the points listed above should give you a solid idea of why email marketing is worth considering as a key sales & marketing strategy in 2020.
With that said, doesn’t all this sound too good to be true?
The catch with all the figures above is that such results do not come overnight. A successful email marketing campaign requires financial investment, plenty of time, and a clear plan, not to mention that you have to deal with a couple of challenges.
Firstly you need to choose an email marketing platform to work with. While not the most difficult step, choosing the right automation platform is key to having a successful email marketing campaign since it alleviates many of its challenges. If you are not clear about what Email automation is you can learn more here from this excellent guide from Campaign Monitor.
Then you also need to be mindful of privacy protection laws like the GDPR in the EU or the CAN-SPAM in the US. Such legal acts actually require that email marketing be permission-based – that is, your subscribers need to grant you explicit permission for sending emails.
Thirdly, you have to actually build a list of emails to send promotional emails to. You can find online sellers offering email lists for what seems like a good price, but these often come from questionable sources and with very low return on investment/engagement since they didn’t sign up to your list (so they will feel they are being spammed). So I don’t recommend this approach but instead, recognise that the best email list is the email list that you’ve built with your own efforts.
A crucial point that many beginner email marketers do not realise is that you cannot successfully promote your blog, services, products, or whatever you want to promote with just occasional emails. Those business owners who claim that email marketing doesn’t work most likely haven’t had a systematic approach toward their email marketing campaign.
So to be successful you need to be consistent and systematic in your approach. It’s safe to say that the lack of consistency is the main reason why people fail to build a list of engaged and enthused ‘fans’.
Your email list is one of the most valuable internal assets so you should invest time in building it and engaging with it.
And the key here is consistency.
Think of the sales funnel of your email marketing campaign as a KNOW – LIKE – TRUST process. Simply put, you need to create awareness first (KNOW) and then need to get your audience to LIKE and TRUST you before expecting to make a sale. It’s highly unlikely that someone will buy from you immediately upon appearing on your email list and receiving one email!
If you send an email once a year or once a quarter, your sales funnel will not work. As I said earlier, the lack of consistency is the main reason why people fail with email marketing. The three-step funnel works only if you regularly send educational, value-add and helpful emails to your subscribers. So you need a content plan and a calendar of value-added content that you know will engage your audience.
Aside from building trust, you should be sending emails regularly because your audience’s needs change over time and only a tiny percentage of your audience will have a need for your service when you mail them.
To highlight this point, let’s say you have 1,000 subscribers. If you send them all 1 email you will be fortunate if 5 of your leads happen to need your services when they receive the email. So you could expect to eventually win 5 sales. The remaining 995 subscribers will be indifferent to your email because they don’t need your services now (i.e. they are not suffering from the ‘pain’ right now that your services can solve for them). So, what are you doing to stay engaged with the other 995?
Now because you are building a TARGETED list of your ideal clients in your email list (read all about defining your customer avatars here) the other 995 will undoubtedly need your services in at some point in the future. This means that you have to be in front of your target customers when they have ‘pain’ that you can solve! I liken this to a ’sand timer’: every time you communicate with your audience you refill the sand timer yet if you haven’t communicated with them before the sand timer runs out then they will forget about you.
So if you are consistent and send out emails regularly, then you will hit 5 other people, and then 5 more. Furthermore, your older customers who have purchased from you already will become repeat customers and advocates.
This is what the power and challenge of email marketing are about. Email marketing isn’t merely about winning one-time clients – it is about building trust, nurturing your customers until they are ready to buy from you, and establishing long-term connections that are much more valuable than one-time interactions.
Finally, one serious mistake email marketers often make is pushing too hard on sales-oriented emails. Needless to say, your goal IS to make sales, but you will put people off if you make your emails too sales oriented. Think about the person who sends you a connection request on LinkedIn and immediately you have accepted you get a sales email from them. I don’t know about you, but I would never buy from this person and I usually remove them as a connection. The same applies to email marketing. Nurture first and build trust before trying to sell.
Instead of pushing your products, tell your customers personal stories and share case studies. Give them useful tools, tips and approaches. Encourage them to chat and share their challenges with you. Trust me, if you build customer relationships this way, you will be at the top of your subscribers’ mind when they need a solution to their problems.
It’s a challenge to manage an email list with thousands of people and regularly deliver educational or promotional emails to them.
This is where email marketing automation platforms come into play. In part 2 of this blog, I am going to share with you some of the best tools to consider and provide you with a few tips on how you could organise your email marketing campaigns. I am also going to offer you’re a great freebie so look out for the 2nd part in 2 week's time.
Mindset is not just some wishy-washy trend that comes and goes like a lot of the health and wellness fads these days because I guarantee you, behind every successful business is an entrepreneur with a winning positive mindset.
I’ll be discussing exactly what mindset is and how your thoughts directly influence your actions and behaviours.
I will also be teaching you 8 amazing strategies to grow your business with a positive mindset.
So tune in, because you’re going to come away from this episode with a lot of incredibly important tools and tips to implement into your own growth and development.
[02:15] Thoughts lead to feelings that lead to actions or behaviours. This is known as the cognitive triangle. If you want to change your behaviour, you have to change your thoughts.
[03:28] The law of attraction isn’t just as simple as sticking a picture of your dream car on your fridge and it magically appearing. However, positive thoughts really do influence positive behaviours that in turn, attract positive outcomes (and vice versa). The law of attraction is very real!
[4:53] Mindset and growth - You must learn to stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone in order to grow. There are three areas of your comfort zone (comfort zone, fear zone and learning zone). If you can learn to step outside of your comfort zone and into your learning zone, this is where you will start to acquire new skills and deal with challenges head on.
[6:44] Play small, stay small – If you think you’re not good enough to get better clients, you won’t.
[8:30] Mindset in your marketplace – Why confidence in yourself and the service you offer is key.
[9:54] Mindset and pricing – If you have the right mindset, you will learn how to confidently charge what you know you’re really worth.
[11:30] Mindset and teams – A leader with a strong, positive mindset is not threatened by recruiting the very best staff that they can afford.
[12:33] Mindset and learning – Having a positive mindset will enable you to quickly react to changes in the market and efficiently deal with any curveballs that are thrown your way.
[14:15] 8 strategies to grow your business with a positive mindset
[14:20] 1. Keep learning and learn from your mistakes
[17:22] 2. Get someone to coach you who has “been there, done that”
[18:16] 3. See failure as an opportunity to learn
[20:13] 4. Ensure you maintain a good work/life balance.
[21:41] 5. Start and end your day in a consistent manner
[22:57] 6. Learn to listen to your instincts
[24:29] 7. Keep reinventing and evolving yourself
[25:10] 8. Keep revisiting your vision to stay connected to it
Finally, make sure you download these great resources to help you achieve the winning mindset:
If you enjoyed this podcast, please share it and consider leaving a review.
In a couple of week's time I am off to spend a month in South Africa (don't worry, I am still working whilst there and contactable through the normal channels).
This is the 2nd time I have done this and last time I write a blog on my reflections from my time there. I just reread the blog and thought it was worth sharing since it contains some good life lessons that are worth reminding ourselves of. So have a read and consider if any of these app/y to you!
I have just returned from a month in Cape Town, South Africa. It was a bit of an experiment to see what it was like to live and work from there (with the longer term aim of spending more time there). I learned several key lessons that I wanted to share since I think they are so relevant to our business and how we conduct our lives.
South Africa needs rebranding. The number of UK people who asked me ‘…. Yes but is it safe there?’. The reality is that you take the same precautions as you do in any big city but by and large, I felt as safe in Cape Town as I do in London or Brighton. So South Africa needs to shake off it’s past reputation and paint a more positive image of the Mother City.
It reminds me that in business, branding is so important and once someone knows you as one thing, it’s hard to shake that perception off. So how much work are we all doing on our brand, and are we clear how others perceive us? I know I need to do some work in this area.
One great thing about being in the warmth, getting structure in my week and travelling at the weekends, was that I was much more present than I normally am. I was more acutely aware of my senses – appreciating the sun and blue sky, feeling the heat on my skin, and listening to the sights and sounds. This all contributes to the feeling of being much more present and living in the moment. Yet when I am home and in more of a routine, I find myself living in my head more and being less present. Not good! I suspect we are all guilty of this. Something I need to change.
Leading on from the ‘being present’ theme, one sure thing is that time keeps moving forward so we don’t need to wish it away! So on a Monday be sure to not be wishing the week away by wanting it to be Friday! My month in Cape Town, felt like the opposite (at times I would rather have put the pause button on and stopped time moving forward!) and the month flew by – reminding me that no matter what we do, time keeps moving forward.
Some people have told me how lucky I am to be able to spend this time away from the chilly winter in the UK but it’s nothing to do with luck. Yes I am fortunate to be able to do this but it’s all in the planning. We started planning this trip a year ago. I sowed the seed with my clients – some agreed to do SKYPE sessions and others I will catch up with now I am home.
Many of us constrain ourselves by ‘telling ourselves stories’ that we believe as facts and keep us in our comfort zone and stop us taking any type of calculated risks. Yet outside of our comfort zone (in our ‘learning zone’) is where the best experiences are to be found! If you say ‘yes but…’ that stops you taking risks or experiencing new things then challenge yourself and test whether they are stories you are telling yourself or facts?
My last lesson from this trip is to be efficient with your time. We took a serviced office whilst in Cape Town and worked everyday from 8-2pm then explored the area in the afternoons. I had 2 major goals whilst here (as well as doing normal client work). They were to complete my reading and developing some new IP (tick) and to write and shoot my next online training course on Account & Client Management (tick). By being really focused in the 6 hours a day I worked, I got all this done and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.
The lesson here is to be focused and remove distractions. In my home office I can often achieve the same things but taking twice as long! I now plan to get a serviced office and try and maintain this focus.
I am writing this blog post not because I want to brag about my month away but because some of my lessons are valuable lessons for us all, and I hope you may take something from this.
I certainly plan to reread this from time to time and maintain the focus and ‘being present’ in my everyday life in the UK.
Welcome to The Agency Accelerator’s second episode, hosted by business coach and online educator, Rob Da Costa.
In this podcast, 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 focusing on the automation part in this podcast. We are talking all things productivity.
So I am going to cover 20 of my favourite tools. In case you want to skip forward, here is a handy timestamped guide for each tool:
If you would like a hardcopy of this podcast, you can grab a copy of my top 15 tools cheatsheet which includes more details and links to all the tools mentioned. Grab your copy by visiting https://www.dacostacoaching.co.uk/download-1
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I have some super exciting & value-added episodes in the pipeline so if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes/Apple Podcasts.
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes/Apple Podcasts too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favourite part of the podcast is. Thank you!
We are all striving to get more efficient and maximise our most valuable asset: our time. To achieve this we need to be as productive as possible whilst focusing on the things that will move our business forward and automating or delegating the other tasks
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 (!!) and that lead me to want to share this with you. I wasted loads of time trying tools that promised a lot and delivered little - don't make the same mistake!
Stuck for time?
Download this blog as an short cheat sheet to read & share it at your leisure
As well as recording content for my online courses, I have been running more and more webinars and live broadcasts, so here are the tools that have helped me get more slick, speedy and professional.
I have spent ages trying different live broadcast/webinar tools and settled upon using live webinar partly because of its cost but also because of its ever-growing functionality. Today it is my toll of choice for both doing one-to-one coaching sessions over the web as well as group coaching and webinars. You can do both live webinars as well as pre-recorded evergreen webinars. I also want to give an honourable mention Be.live - a great tool if you do Facebook lives.
I love Loom because it saves me so much time. On a daily basis I have clients asking me questions or ask me to review documents (I never want my clients to be stuck so encourage this) and prior to 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 client's emails.
I use Vimeo for all my private videos for my courses and YouTube for my public videos. The advantage Vimeo has for me 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).
Investment of £200
I've tried various methods for recording videos including me just rambling and then spending a great deal of time editing the videos. I have tried using prompts to keep me on track and most recently I invested in buying an autocue from Amazon for about £160 in conjunction with a free app on my iPad (telepromter). Let me tell you that this has revolutionised the way I shoot videos because now I can record them much more rapidly and spend way less time in the editing process.
If you are going to shoot videos (which I think is a great way of engaging with your audience), you need to remove as many barriers as possible that stop you getting started, so I want to tell you that you don't need an expensive camera nor an expensive microphone. I simply use a tripod with my iPhone, attached to a RODE microphone (about £45). To ensure decent video quality I use a backdrop and two lights (purchased from Amazon for about £100 in total).
We all need to make sure our output is professional yet we don't want to be spending tons or money using designers all the time.
Here are a few of my favourite tools to solve this problem.
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 when I start with one of their predesigned templates and image sizes. It is easy to change images and save docs as templates to reuse in the future.
This is a really neat tool that expedites the creation of eBooks. Let me explain by sharing with you what I do each month. Each month I write 2 long blog posts on one topic. I then use Designrr to create an e-book from the two blog posts so that readers can download and read the blog as an e-book, at their leisure. Designrr makes it really easy to do this - you simply type in the URL of the blogs, pick a template and import the blogs into that template which creates a rough design that you then can edit to finesse.
This makes the process of creating an e-book really rapid and very simple, and you don't need any design skills to create a professional-looking e-book in probably half an hour.
This is my favourite tool and I really should get commission for this since I recommend it all the time. If your website is built on WordPress and you want to be able to easily make changes to your site as well as creating a site that is focused on lead generation (as all websites should be) then ThriveArchitect is the tool for you!
It's a WYSIWYG builder that sits on top of WordPress and makes it super easy to create new landing pages, easy to connect to your email marketing system and do other clever things such as A/B testing headlines, creating demand and scarcity by using countdown timers, creating quizzes and so much more. This is definitely one of the more affordable tools in this category. I am a Thrive Themes 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.
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 meets with my needs, it is more cost effective and it’s easy to set up automations (think sales funnels) and it integrates well with other systems I use such as ThriveArchitect, Teachable and so on.
So I am all about time-saving. In fact whilst this blog is about my favourite tools, it's really all about using timesaving and efficiency tools and none are better than saving you time than DuxSoup (stupid name, good tool).
DuxSoup is a chrome extension that enables you to automate some aspects of LinkedIn engagement. So for example, you can send personalised connection requests to a targeted audience or you can send more detailed personalised messages to 1st connections. So 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. I think that DuxSoup saves me probably 4 hours of admin work per week.
Talking of LinkedIn, I also use the upgrade to Sales navigator because I can drill down my search in more detail and create lists and 'tag' 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. Searching for the right lead doesn't have to feel like rocket science. RocketReach Advanced Search makes it easy to find the right people. 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.
Continuing the theme of trying to find a contact's email address, my next 'Go To' tool is Hunter.io. You can waste a ton of time trying to find contact details but instead Hunter.io should be your first port of call.
Hunter lets you find email addresses in seconds and connect with the people that matter for your business. You simply enter a domain name (e.g. www.dacostacoaching.co.uk) and it will identify all the contacts who work for that organisation. Hunter claims to have 200+ million email addresses indexed, so there is a good chance you will find what you are looking for.
With the free version of Hunter you get 50 searches per month.
I love Google Drive and have slowly moved all my client work from my own 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.) and ensure 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. A and of course you can access these docs anywhere, so wherever you go, your files follow.
You get 15gb of storage for free.
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 a number of tools to help me manage my to-do lists and most recently I have started using another tool with a stupid name but a good product called Amazing Marvin. I've got a year’s free trial via the AppSumo website (more on that later). 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 and 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 own way of managing their time but give this tool a go!
This one is a game-changer for me. I don't know if you're like me but during the day I open more and more windows and tabs in my browser and then I really 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 new chrome browser extension called Toby (another rather stupid name!). This enables me to create a library of all of the tabs that I use frequently and put them into various categories so when I open my chrome browser the first thing I see is the library of tabs frequently visited pages. As I said this is a game-changer for me.
Be careful with this one because there is a danger of shiny new object syndrome coming into play as you browse through all the enticing apps for sale at a significant discount in this online store. Having said that AppSumo is a great site to find really good deals on software tools and apps (I bought LiveWebinar and Be.Live from there). Be careful because not all of the tools are as cheap as they seem because they give you a starting price but you need to buy several 'stacks' of it to get the full functionality that you want - so research carefully and read the reviews.
I spent (wasted!) a lot of time researching and playing with tools and apps and I have shared with you my top 15 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 really work for you 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.
Stuck for time?
Download this blog as an eBook and read & share it at your leisure
In part 1 of this series on mindset we explored how a business can thrive with a positive winning mindset. It can make or break your agency. Having said that, a positive mindset is not something that we all naturally have. It’s something that we have to consciously cultivate over time.
In part 2 of this blog series, I want to share with you my 9 best strategies to ensure you develop and retain that winning mindset and then my best resources to help you implement the ideas outlined.
We exist in a rapidly changing market - with new channels of communications, new technologies and new techniques emerging every day. So it’s vital we keep learning. Agencies around the globe are experiencing sweeping, rapid changes in what they do, why they do it and most importantly how they do it. New technologies demand a new set of skills, talent and diverse modes of working. Business leaders must keep learning new skills. If you maintain a learning mindset and dedicate a little time to continuous learning (both for yourself and your team) then in all likelihood you will outperform your competition.
A growth mindset has a different relationship with how we receive and process criticism and the ability to learn from our mistakes. As opposed to a fixed mindset which will lead you to believe that your learning potential is predetermined by other factors like genes, socioeconomic background, and opportunities at your disposal. You will invite thoughts like “I am not good at it, so I should avoid it.” Today, relevant skills and knowledge have become currency in the workplace.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive and honest network is crucial to maintaining a positive mindset. Add to this a business coach or mentor who can help you by sharing their wisdom on an ongoing basis and in a manner that will have a positive, direct impact on the growth of your agency.
This is the one piece of advice I would give myself if I could back in time 20 years. Finding a coach or mentor who has ‘been there and done it’ - who can honestly share with you the mistakes they made (and ensure you don’t make them) and provide advice and guidance to ensure you maintain a positive mindset and ultimately deliver your vision.
We often experience failure early in life. Not winning tends to have a stigma attached to it and it invites us to consider that we “failed’. Often these external views tend to define your self-worth and through societal policing, you are taught to not be a risk-taker. But failure is not a personality characteristic, it is an external event that happens. Successful entrepreneurs know how to build on failure and use it as a strategic tool to accomplish their goals and ultimately to lead. Fear of failure will limit your possibilities and keeps you in your comfort zone. Instead, see it as an opportunity to learn and gain the experience you need to thrive in an ever-changing business environment.
Mistakes are only stepping stones to your mission, they push you to aspire to greater things. They offer you life lessons on things that work and things that do not. It is imperative to carefully study your mistakes and failures to learn from them.
"The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. Failure can be painful, hence it is likely to receive a lot more personal introspection than success. Objectively review the situation, self-evaluate, and go for a different approach next time.”
The importance of an effective employee (or freelance) recruitment process cannot be understated. If you don’t hire the best talent, your agency simply won’t be able to deliver the quality products or services your customers expect. Before recruiting take into consideration modern workforce expectations. It is important to have a well structured comprehensive recruiting and selection process (read last month’s blog on recruitment & retention to learn more). Employee performance is critical to the overall success of the agency hence business owners need staff who can get the job done. Don’t be scared of hiring that superstar who will be nipping at your heels. And keep them motivated. Good employees are positive, productive and this can be contagious (as can the opposite!). It will also create a positive working environment.
You need to strike the right balance when it comes to work and other aspects of life. Meaningful time spent in other areas of your life (like family, friends and with yourself) is imperative if you want to be successful. Being a workaholic is detrimental to your mental and physical well being. If you find this difficult, make an effort to incorporate some efficient time management techniques into your life. It will make a considerable improvement in your work-life balance.
Work-life balance may translate into different things for different people. But you should have enough time to pursue both personal interests and other social activities you enjoy. If work is using up too much of your time and energy, you will become exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed. Your productivity will drop and your personal relationships will suffer. Above all, find time for yourself. The people around you and the work you love deserve your best. And you can only give that when you are looking after yourself and staying healthy. Join a gym, meditate, walk the dog (or whatever works for you) - build it into your schedule.
The most successful people have daily routines. The idea is simple - to reduce friction in your life so that you can concentrate on what you do best. When you're focused on growing your agency, you will realise time is the most valued commodity. Rituals, routines, and habits ultimately save you time and simplify your life. They may be vastly different for different people. But one thing is universal - the need to reduce interference, distraction and friction as much as you can.
You want to begin and end your day in a consistent manner so that you can easily slip into a rhythm and focus on your work. Your daily rituals also are quite the opposite of boring or a waste of valuable time - they are focusing and calming because they give you control. Make sure you check out the resources section of this post to learn more about this.
There is no denying the fact that our world is data-driven and there is a very recognisable cultural bias toward quantifiable data. In the business world, it seems like number-crunching algorithms are making all the major decisions. But at some point, you must go with the decisions made on the basis of your own instincts. Intuition is perhaps the best business tool at your disposal today. So listen to your instincts even if you have access to troves of empirical data.
Our instincts are our body’s way of signalling a dicey situation or the lack thereof. Recognise the value of your body’s feedback loop and don’t let quantifiable metrics always rule. The consequences of blocking these out can be too great. If you are feeling uneasy about a transaction do not go ahead with it. Use instincts as part of the decision-making process and give yourself time and space to think clearly and make an informed choice.
We are naturally inquisitive and we demand constant mental stimulation (ever heard of shiny new object syndrome?). Lack of learning often brings with it boredom and stagnation. To avoid career stagnation, you need to reinvent yourself constantly. Maintaining a healthy curiosity about new technologies and taking the time out to constantly experiment with things can be a start. A mundane work routine can easily trap you into obsolescence (but dont confuse daily routines with mundane!). Continually expanding your knowledge is one way of staying relevant. It is important to stretch out beyond your comfort zone to do things that are challenging and stimulating.
A process of reinventing yourself will allow you to adapt to setbacks and adversity in more optimal ways. You are not only avoiding boredom but effectively building a better version of yourself and your agency. It’s no secret that effort and practice create expertise and not intelligence. If you want to be successful, you must devote enough time to deliberate practice, combat tasks beyond your current level of comfort and competence, observe results and make adjustments. Be agile enough to incorporate changes. Don’t let your curiosity reach stagnation.
It is very important to stay motivated and focused. You will achieve this by having a clearly documented vision that outlines where you want your business to be at some point in the future based on your goals and aspirations. Visions often fail for 2 reasons:
So ensure you don't fall into these two traps and use your vision, strategy and action plan as a dynamic agile document that you revist every month.
by Michael Hyatt
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Rules for success in a distrated world - learn how to become more focused and thus enhance your productivity
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How to train your brain for growth. Help you become the creative force of your own life.
by Laura Vanderkam
Your ultimate guide to effective time management. In this book, Vanderkam reveals the seven counterintuitive principles the most time-free people have adopted. She teaches mindset shifts to help you feel calm on the busiest days and tools to help you get more done without feeling overwhelmed.
by Carol Dweck
In decades of research on achievement and success, Carol Dweck has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea-the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it's not just our abilities and talent that bring us success-but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset.
Shawn Anchor’s Ted talk that describes how to find happiness and meaning to increase profitability and create positive transformations. He talks about how changing our mindset will change our reality.
The way we understand our intelligence and abilities deeply impacts our success. Eduardo Briceño articulates how mindset, or the understanding of intelligence and abilities, is key.
Successful leaders and entrepreneurs understand that the journey is the destination. You almost never arrive (and just focusing on the destination is a great way to have an unhappy life and business!). To ensure you focus and enjoy the journey starts with your mindset. A winning mindset, like profits and success in business, is not a given or natural. It is in fact, developed. You have to constantly and consistently work at it over time. You cannot sit in complacent inaction and expect to succeed. At some point, you will have to make a move. Why not start by incorporating these 9 steps in your life?
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Behind every successful business is an entrepreneur with a winning positive mindset. The opposite of this is true too. Think you can’t be successful? Think you can’t grow? Think you can’t outperform your nearest competitor? Then I guarantee you won’t!.
I cannot tell you how important this topic is. It isn’t some wishy-washy trendy topic but a core discipline that separates the successful agency owners from those who are stuck or fail. A seemingly small thing that makes a huge difference.
You can have the right marketing strategies, the best products and interested, invested customers, but without the right mindset, none of it matters because you will stay stuck and frustrated.
We tend to have a cognitive bias towards negativity and focus on failure. Negative thoughts limit your possibilities, undervalue achievements and breed more negative feelings. This can pave the way to a serious lack of confidence and underperformance. Change the thoughts and you will change the feelings. Change the feelings and you will change your behaviours.
Entrepreneurs with a positive mindset, however, tend to have a better outlook on life, they keep moving forward and pushing through even when setbacks arise (and they see a setback as a learning opportunity). They have learned the fundamentals and thus developed the correct mental attitude to achieve their goals. The right mindset can help you make the most of a bad situation, and move forward with confidence and clarity. Mindset training is vital when it comes to success.
I am not trying to be too spiritual when I talk about the laws of attraction. It simply asserts that positive thoughts attract positive outcomes while negativity begets negative outcomes. Whilst the ideas have been around for millennia, the laws of attraction have received a lot of attention in recent years with some people swearing by its effectiveness. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it, there are lessons entrepreneurs can learn from its core message. Focus on clear goals can create the kind of positive attitudes that motivates long-lasting business success.
I have seen people who miss colossal opportunities by attracting the wrong things to their agency thanks to their persistent negative thinking. Their companies are now at risk of failing because their leaders have not incorporated the law of attraction into their everyday actions and thoughts. As a leader, you must envision yourself in the place you want to be and then work towards getting there. In practical terms, this is as simple as creating an exciting vision for your agency and hanging onto that vision no matter what curveballs come your way!
The Secret is a great short read and fundamentally teaches about a positive mindset envisioning how you want the future of your agency (and life) to be. It can be empowering for those of you looking for some encouragement as it guides you to get into a better frame of mind in order to be thoroughly motivated to pursue desired goals. There is, after all, a lot you can do to alter your circumstances even if things seem bleak. You must visualise your goals first in order to attract what you want. Although you may not detect what lies ahead, perseverance and belief in oneself are key.
One of the ways in which you can thrive and grow as an entrepreneur is to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Do you ever have big lofty goals but talk yourself down to something that is more “doable” or “practical” because you are not sure or too fearful to stretch outside your comfort zone? This mindset will keep you safe but will also stop you from achieving what you truly want in life. And there are three zones that we can step into - a comfort zone, a learning zone and a fear zone.
Your comfort zone is an established pattern of thinking. This is where we have a heightened sense of security and control. Many people decide to stay in the comfort zone because they may be fearful of stepping out into the learning zone. But you will not develop if you are too comfortable. Once you leave your comfort zone, it will feel scary but you learn and develop and before you know it, what you feared becomes part of your comfort zone. Once you enter the learning zone i.e. the zone of awareness of the vast opportunities at your disposal, you will learn new skills and be better equipped to deal with whatever challenges come your way. In the end, you will realise the journey was not really about getting out of your comfort zone but expanding it. Between the comfort and the fear zone is space where optimal learning, development and progress take place.
If your mindset is to think small because you are one-man-band and believe your only option is to do all the work yourself then (a) you’ll never grow and keep perpetuating this thinking and (b) in the end you’ll become the bottleneck to your growth. Remember, thoughts lead to feelings lead to behaviours. Change the thought to change the behaviour.
I always tell my clients to think about how much of an hour of their time is worth and then to question whether the task they are doing is at the hourly rate or lower? If it’s lower then they should consider delegating the task. Now delegating doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a member of staff, you could be outsourcing the work by hiring a VA or freelancer.
Just remember that if you “play small you are gonna stay small”! Your mindset needs to be “I want to delegate as much as possible - leaving me to do the things that I can only do - which are the strategic activities that move my agency forward. Everything else needs to be delegated, automated or ditched.”
Confidence in yourself and the service you offer is key. Do not underestimate the value of what you offer. If you do, it is going to be even more challenging to authentically convey the value to potential clients and ultimate sell a service or product that you believe in. If you have the mindset of being a small player in your marketplace or believing you can only target small clients to provide your service to, then that will all you will ever have.
I see this time and again with agency leaders - when they have a narrow mindset, they end up targeting companies that keep them in the comfort zone which translates to small fees, small projects, and bashing your head against the brick wall! If you believe you can provide a fantastic service to the top end of your market, (not necessarily large companies but customers who will value your service) and then have the confidence to target these clients in your sales and marketing efforts, you are going to be taking significant steps towards delivering your vision.
Knowing what to charge and then confidently asking for it can be challenging. But not with the right mindset. I often work with clients who have been undervaluing and therefore underpricing their services. It’s easy to put your head down and never properly consider the impact your product or service creates for your customer. This has, in part to do with the fact that often the agency is selling the wrong thing i.e. time or tasks rather than outcomes and impact.
The more aware you are of the value you deliver your clients (the unique and visible benefits you offer your customers), the greater your ability to charge what you are really worth and attract new ideal clients. If you ever doubt yourself, ask yourself this - “what are the core benefits my clients experience by working with me?” Value-based selling increases, not just the price the purchaser is willing to pay but also the likelihood of the sale in the first place. It assures customers they are making a worthwhile investment of their money.
Value pricing offers a formula for a profitable stress-free agency. If we have a mindset of “I am not worth that much” or a mindset of worrying that “the client will think it’s too much” then, of course, we will undervalue what we do. Yet with a value-based mindset, we will be able to charge higher prices, focus on the value to the client and look that prospect in the eye and say “this is how much I charge because I know I am worth it”.
A great leader with a winning mindset will recruit the best staff. The leader with a positive mindset isn’t threatened by top-notch, fantastic staff but delighted to be able to delegate as much as possible and have them chomping at the bit to take on more. Yet I have seen people hiring the 2nd best candidate just because they will be easy to manage and they feel less threatened by them. You need to hire the best people you can who know how to get the work done, be responsible and accountable, meet deadlines and challenge you with their ideas.
Without a sense of purpose or vision, you wouldn’t be able to communicate a set of cohesive goals for your employees to work toward. Your vision should be exciting and communicated with passion and belief. If you are not 100% confident your staff will pick this up.
Be agile enough to incorporate changing market needs and be open to listen to and act upon suggestions from your team or other trusted partners. You must be able to react quickly to changes and in turn, create a workforce who is willing to do the same. This world increasingly requires searchlight intelligence. Never let curiosity go to waste, always look for new knowledge, thinking patterns, innovative courses of action and skills from you and your team.
Continue developing your mindset - it never ends
As you have seen throughout this article, a positive mindset is vital to your success. Your mental toughness determines whether you can dig deep and work through numerous challenges or simply retreat and admit defeat. That’s what distinguishes a winning mindset from a losing one. Entrepreneurship starts in your head, and the winning mindset wins it all. Having the right entrepreneurial mindset will naturally encourage creativity. And your customers and team members will always trust those who seem to know what they are doing and are confident. Above all, a positive mindset means you are willing to make mistakes (& learn from them), take risks and hang on to your exciting vision, no matter what.
In part 2 of this blog, I am going to share with you 9 strategies to help you develop and sustain a positive mindset.
Want to continue learning about mindset?
It's one of the components of the Agency Accelerator hybrid coaching programme.
Register your interest for the 2020 Programme and get early access when the doors open in May 2020
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this 2-part article. If you’d like to have a permanent copy for easy reference, just click the button below.
During one coaching session I talked to an agency owner who lost some top-performing employees within a short time frame. During their exit interviews, these employees assured the owner that it was nothing personal - they were leaving to pursue evolving career goals.
It’s an explanation that people always use when they don’t want to get into the details. How many times have you had to tell a non-performing employee that “It’s not working out?” In this case, they are essentially telling you the same thing.
If you wait until key employees leave to find out why they chose to move on, you’ve lost two golden opportunities:
In this second part of a 2-part series on recruitment and retention, I would like to discuss why employee retention is so important, common reasons why people leave, and how you can make your agency a place where people are eager to build their careers.
Like other agency owners, you need quality talent and stability in a tight economy. Losing a member of staff can be very disruptive and stressful (for those who have to pick up their workload). Another reason why retention should be at the top of your agenda is that the cost of turnover is high: depending on the employee’s position, you could be spending up to 2.5 times their salary to replace them. Given the fact that the average turnover rate in UK agencies is around 20%, costs can quickly become prohibitive.
There are also other costs, like reduced productivity and disengagement among your current workforce, some of whom may ultimately decide to leave too.
The good news is that talent exodus is not inevitable. Although people can and will leave for reasons beyond your control (and which have nothing to do with your agency), there are proven ways to increase retention, and they start after you say, “You’re hired.”
In part 1 of this series, I explained how retention starts during the recruiting process. From reviewing CVs and screening applicants to conducting first and second interviews, you seek candidates who are a good cultural fit and have career goals that mirror what your agency has to offer. This involves:
After weeks (maybe even months) of interviewing, you find the right person. You make the offer, they accept it. Now you can rest easy.
Not so fast. This is when the challenge begins, not when it ends. It can take new employees an average of eight months to get up to speed, and to make the transition as successful as possible, your agency needs a strong induction process.
Starting a new job can be an exciting yet stressful experience for anyone. When you have a process in place that introduces them to colleagues and outlines what their first few weeks will be like (down to the nearest hour), you’ll raise their confidence and set them up for success.
Recommended steps include:
It is important to have realistic expectations. Even the most experienced employees need time and support as they settle into their new roles and understand how your agency operates. Clarify what you want them to focus on and achieve during the probationary period, and keep the momentum going until you know for sure whether or not they’re going to work out. If you take a formalised pragmatic approach to onboarding a new employee then you should never have to extend their probation period.
Your new hire has passed their probationary period and joined your team. Congratulations! Now you need to give yourself the best chance of retaining them for the long-term. Proven retention strategies include:
Keeping an excellent new employee means that you have to be smart. To be more precise, you need to use SMART objectives that establish a definite roadmap for their career progression. Vague and ambiguous goals don’t provide the direction needed to inspire top performers - they need to know what’s expected, when, and how you want them to achieve those objectives. I guarantee that a vague ambiguous objectives will lead to misunderstandings and frustration so take the time to get this right.
Below is an overview on how this acronym (which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and having a set time frame) can apply to performance management at your agency.
The meaning of SMART
Succeeding in your employee retention efforts requires you to think about what matters most to your team. While everyone is different in terms of goals and values, practically all employees want the following:
Think about what retention incentives you can put in place. Successful strategies include:
Sometimes turnover is inevitable. People will leave for personal and professional reasons, but you can minimise the impact on your agency by implementing a succession plan that enables vacancies to turn into growth opportunities for existing staff.
An effective employee retention program should start on a new hire's first day on the job. The training, support, and incentives that you provide from Day One can boost job satisfaction and set the stage for a long tenure at your agency.
As always, I hope that you enjoyed this article. Using the strategies, insights, and tools that I’ve discussed here, I’m confident that you will be able to:
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond.
This is part 1 of a 2 part series on recruitment and retention. This article focuses on the recruitment process and part 2 will focus on retention strategies.
We’re going to cover a lot of ground in this 2-part article. If you’d like to have a permanent copy for easy reference, just click the button below.
I hear this every day in my coaching practice. Agency owners hire new employees who either don’t make it past the probationary period or leave before their one-year anniversary is up. In some cases, an agency goes through hours of interviews without feeling confident enough to extend a job offer.
It’s true that currently it’s super challenging to find good people, especially in an uncertain economy. When overall conditions are bad, everyone clings to their job like a life raft. No one’s going to jump ship when the chances of sinking are too high. When times are good, there are more opportunities for them to choose from.
Many agencies believe that their location is a key barrier but truth be told, it doesn’t matter where you’re located. If you’re in the city, there’s a bigger talent pool but a lot of competition from other employers. In more rural areas, your hiring choices are more limited and, even if you extend your reach, you may not find someone willing to relocate.
Chances are that as an employer, you’ve been through this seemingly endless cycle of job ads, CVs, and job interviews that are soon followed by exit interviews or no hires at all. Not only is it frustrating, but it’s also expensive and can affect morale among staff who have to shoulder extra duties until you bring someone else on board.
How can you fix it? By optimising your recruiting process.
A streamlined and consistent hiring strategy is a vital element in any successful recruiting programme. When you can access the right talent, set up interviews promptly, and extend the job offer soon afterwards, you can realise the benefits outlined below.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, whenever a company replaces an employee, it costs an average of six to nine months’ salary. If you’ve engaged a manager at £40,000 a year, that's up £30,000 in recruiting and training expenses.
The cost of unfilled positions is also significant. A vacant revenue-generating role, such as an account manager, represents money lost. If you have to pay freelancers to do the work in between hirings, you could be facing high costs. Lost productivity and diminished quality of customer or client service can also translate into reduced company earnings.
These are all financial challenges that can be eliminated when you use a more effective recruiting strategy.
When you have access to higher-quality candidates and can present them with a job offer soon after a successful interview process, you can prevent competitors from scooping up the talent that could take your company to the next level.
The delay between interview and job offer is bigger than most employers realise. A survey by the Accounting Principals revealed that over half of the U.S. hiring managers and HR personnel polled said that it took them over a month to complete a typical hire. In the UK, it can take up to three months. When an ideal candidate waits too long to receive a job offer, it gives a poor impression of your agency and increases the likelihood that you will lose top talent to a competitor.
Poor hiring decisions can have legal consequences. If a new hire doesn’t work out, they may accuse you of misleading them into accepting a role that wasn’t a good fit or claim that you dealt with them in bad faith, or the way you exited them was not fair. Since dealing with employment tribunals can cost a UK employer £8500 on average, preventing a wrong hire in the first place can protect your company’s bottom line as well as its reputation and internal staff morale.
These are all reasons why you need an optimised recruitment strategy. Now let me show you how to make it happen.
Be clear on what you want before you start looking. I’m not talking about the job description, which you probably know by heart. I’m referring to the ideal candidate.
Candidate profiles are blueprints that map out your preferred skills and personality traits for the role. Do you want someone who is an independent thinker? Savvy on social media? An outgoing people person? I liken these profiles to the customer personas that sales and marketing professionals use to define the ideal customer for their product or service.
An accurate and appealing job description can attract candidates with the right hard skills, but soft skills are equally important, and a candidate profile can help enhance the quality of your shortlist.
If you’ve ever had to sift through tons of rubbish CVs, you know what a huge time waster the DIY hiring route can be (both in terms of your time and ultimately, money). This is not a time when you want to be cutting corners: working with a recruitment company will save you time and money.
Many of the most successful agencies use recruitment companies to assist them in finding and keeping top talent. Reasons include:
Access to the quality candidates. Recruitment agencies can help you reach both active and passive candidates. Those who are actively looking for a new job tend to register with agencies, who often have access to highly-qualified passive prospects who could be tempted to join your team. In addition, these companies know how to optimise a vacancy advert so that it ranks highly for the appropriate job search.
Shortlisting management. A recruitment agency will sift through all incoming CVs for you, rejecting unsuitable ones and responding to any queries about the role. You won’t have to waste your own time and resources dealing with unproductive hiring duties.
Assistance with speciality occupations. Sometimes you need an employee with a unique or specific skillset. Engaging a recruitment agency that understands your industry can ensure that all shortlisted candidates will be fully qualified ones.
Many recruitment agencies also offer specialty services such as salary benchmarking, which helps ensure that you’re offering a competitive wage, and psychometric tests, which give unique insights into the natural talents and abilities of prospective hires.
Now I acknowledge it can be hard to find a great recruitment agency so make sure you meet several and pick one who ‘gets’ your market space and doesn’t over promise.
When the agency has sent you a list of pre-screened candidates, it’s time to interview them. If you’ve worked with a reputable agency that understands your needs and your industry, you can feel reasonably certain that you’ll be interviewing people who have the necessary education, experience, and qualifications for the position. Now you want to focus on who they are, and why they should want to work for you.
Here are some tips for conducting a strategic interview.
Avoid the standard questions. If possible, avoid typical questions like “Where do you want to be in five years?” or “Tell me about your proudest accomplishment.” Chances are that you’ll get a rehearsed response. When you ask something that they won’t anticipate, you’ll have a good idea of how they deal with the unexpected. Do they freeze and stutter? Or do they think about the question before giving a good response?
Have them expand on their answers. In most cases, the first answer they give you is one that they’ve practiced. Encourage them to expand by remaining silent or asking, “What else?” Unrehearsed answers will give you insights into how they really think, especially under pressure. Silence can be your friend here – if you don’t fill the gap then they will (a tip I learned from my PR days and a tool that journalists use to get the juicy inside gossip!).
Obtain practical information. Scenario-based questions are an excellent way to anticipate how the candidate will react to a variety of job-related challenges. If you say to a prospective manager, “How do you motivate an employee who is underperforming?” you’ll have a better understanding of how they manage people. In addition, questions like “What obstacles did you face on your last project and how did you overcome them?” can give you insights into accomplishments that may not be on their CV. Also don’t be afraid to ask them to do some ‘homework’ and have them present to you (and dig in to understand HOW they went about preparing the presentation)
Screen for cultural fit. Every agency has its own culture, and ideally you want to hire someone who shares the same values as the company. They’ll be more engaged, and studies have shown that an engaged workforce can improve business performance by 30%.
Don’t forget to sell yourself and the agency during the interview too. A key part of your company brand is the benefits that you offer, such as:
Don’t forget the emotional benefits too. Tell the candidate why your employees enjoy working for your agency. Talk about any valued traditions, such as sports teams, volunteer organisations, and employee-driven initiatives. You can even have one of your employees join in at this stage of the interview to share their positive feelings about their job and the company.
If you feel positively about a candidate, don’t wait too long to extend an offer. According to ERE, the highest-quality job applicants are off the market in an average of 10 days. If your company waits too long, you’re going to miss out.
As an employer, you may be wary of making a quick hiring decision, but if your preferred candidate is going to be in high demand because of the value they will add, cut out any unnecessary stages of the recruitment process and be prepared to hire sooner. High performers in the top 5% of a company’s workforce can deliver 26% of its total output.
Finding top talent presents a challenge for employers across the globe. While the right hire can make a huge and positive contribution towards the development of your company, the wrong one will hold it back. By optimising your hiring process, you can source the top performers needed to stand out in the most competitive industries.
I hope you found this article useful. In the next one, I’ll discuss the ways that you can increase employee retention and develop a work culture that increases loyalty and job satisfaction. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please post them below and I’ll be pleased to answer them.
This is part one of a 2-part series on recruitment and retention. In the next installment we are going to focus on strategies to keep your staff for the long term.