Category Archives for "Podcast"

How to Generate Leads from Your Website

how to generate leads from your website

Let me ask you a question: What is your website for? 

Is it just ‘brochureware’ (a place to learn more about your business) or are you aiming for it to be something more, such as a way of generating a consistent pipeline of new leads?

The answer is that it should be the latter.

So in this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast,I share my thoughts around some of the fundamental do’s and don't about getting your website to work more effectively for you and also some key strategies to consistently generate leads from it.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:09] 

Why you should make sure your website isn’t full of ‘we’!!

[2:01] 

The importance of quickly building empathy with your readers

[2:46] 

What is the anatomy of a successful website, what does a great website look like?

[5:03] 

Tips on how to drive traffic to your website

[8:58] 

How to convert leads

[9:23] 

Four stages to drive traffic to your website

[10:51] 

Tips in creating your ‘killer content’

[11:46] 

Killer content Myth #1: ‘I need lots of gated content on my website’

[12:14] 

Killer content Myth #2: ‘It needs to be long to deliver value.’

Quotations

“..remember that your ultimate goal with your website is to generate leads. The way you're going to generate leads is by getting people to sign up to your email list, and then you're going to nurture them through the buyer's journey.” - Rob Da Costa

“..drive traffic from all your different channels, where your target audience hangs out, to your website and then, once they are there, get them to take action, which means them giving you their email address (in return for your killer content).” - Rob Da Costa

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“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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

Let me start this episode of the podcast by asking you a question and that question is: ‘What is your website for? Is it just brochure-ware, so somewhere or someone can learn more about your business or you’re aiming it to be something more, such as a lead generation machine?’ 

Well, firstly, it definitely should be that something more. But there are some fundamental do’s and don't about getting your website right and also some key strategies to making it generate leads for you. So that's what I am going to cover in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. 

Now, this is a super action-packed episode, and I'm going to be covering a lot of bases. So go and grab yourself a pen and paper. Or, if you're like me, you're remarkable to take notes so that you can leave with an action plan from this episode. But without further ado, let's get on with today's show. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob da Costa. 

So the first thing I want to talk about is making sure that your website isn't full of wee. Yes, you heard me, right. Making sure your website isn't full of wee. What I mean by that is so many websites start off by saying we do this and we do that. As we were founded in 1974 wherein we have these amazing, great clients, this is what we've done for them, and this is what they say about us. But fundamentally, when your reader arrives at your website, they just don't care about that. You haven't built any no, like and trust yet. 

Then, your first job is to start building empathy with your reader, and you're not going to do that. If you start off by telling them all about you. What you need to do is show them that you understand them and you understand some of the challenges they have, so that you immediately starting building some rapport and empathy because then the reader sits there and thinks ‘this is interesting, tell me more,’ and that tells me more translates into the action of them scrolling down the page or clicking on some links and digging deeper into your website. And as they dig deeper, that's when they're going to be interested to learn more about you.

So that homepage, that starting point when someone arrives at your site has to be about them, you have to show them very, very quickly that you understand them and the challenges they face day in and day out. Now bear in mind, someone might have found your website via Google, and therefore they would have found thousands of other websites as well. They'll be quickly scrolling in, and you've got to stop them from scrolling on to the next search option and stay with you. Then, you're going to do that by showing them that you understand them.

Let's just spend a few minutes talking about the anatomy of a great website, and it starts by getting the above the fold part right now. What I mean by above the fold, if you're not clear about that terminology is everything that they see before they scroll down. You need to be mindful about what they'll see on a mobile device as much as a desktop device. In that above the fold real estate, you have a matter of seconds to get someone's attention, so show them you understand them and build start building empathy and then also in the above the fold section, you need to offer them some value. You want to be really clear about what action you want them to take, and I'll talk more about that in a moment. 

So, the first part of the website needs to identify the challenges and pains that they have, and then you can offer them some value to start to solve that pain or challenge. Then as they scroll further down, you want some social proof. This is who you've worked with so that they want to align themselves with some of these great names that you've already worked with.

If you have some names that will be recognisable to your potential reader, then list them, put their logos on and so on. Then a bit further down the page, you're going to start to detail more about yourself and also more about the services that you offer. Lastly, at the bottom of the page, you're going to have the next action steps that you want them to take. 

Of course, you're going to have other pages, such as an about us page, the services you offer, how they can contact you and so on. But let me just kind of contradict myself a bit here. Because if you have an about us page, well, guess what it's all about you. It's not about them. So rather than having about us, I often say to people, why don't you list something like how we can help you as the reader. Again, you're making about them. Then, you're gonna have those typical pages and I'm not going to dive into them too much today. 

What I really want to focus on is how you're going to generate leads from your website. If you get that initial homepage design right, then it's gonna make your website sticky, wherein someone's going to want to learn more, read on and click on the other links as well. So those are the key kind of anatomies that you want to focus on on your home page. 

The next thing you need to think about is how you are going to drive traffic to your website because it actually doesn't matter whether you have an amazing website or a terrible website. If you're not driving traffic there. No one's going to see it anyway, so having a great website is one part of the journey. But of course, the other part is driving your ideal target customers to your website, and obviously, you want to make sure that you have optimised it for all the search terms that your ideal target customer will type into Google. You might invest in some SEO services so that you are driving that traffic, and I would highly recommend people at least have an SEO specialist look at your website to make sure it's optimised, even if you're not working with them on an ongoing basis. 

You may also choose to run some ads, will that be Facebook or Google or YouTube Ads to drive traffic to your website. You're going to use social media, so when you're posting on your social media platforms, make sure that you are driving traffic back to your website because you want people to take action. 

A really important point here that I've talked about many times is to remember that your ultimate goal with your website is to generate leads. The way you're going to generate leads is by getting people to sign up to your email list, and then you're going to nurture them through your list.

And one of the key reasons for doing this is because you own all of those names on your list. Whereas if you're just relying on social media to generate leads and drive traffic to your website, you need to remember that you don't own those social media contacts, you're renting them if you like, and they can be taken away from you at any time. 

I've told the story before about a client who had I don't know what it was. 10,000 followers on Instagram and then their account got hacked. So Instagram's policy was to shut them down and say, create a new account. Then, of course, recently Donald Trump had I think about 90 million followers on Twitter, then he had his account closed down, and he immediately lost those 90 million followers. Now, if we'd been smart enough to try and encourage them to join his mailing list, then he'd have been in control of that list. 

So social media is a fantastic platform. You want to drive traffic from all your different channels where your target audience hangs out, drive them to your website, get them to take action when they get to your website, which will mean giving you their email address so you can then continue to nurture them through your email list.

Now, another way to drive traffic back to your website is through partnerships. So it could be that you are a guest on a podcast like this. Or it could be that you writing a guest blog for someone. Or it could be that you've got some kind of agreed freebie swap with somebody. But if you have partners that are targeting the same audience as you but with a different offer, then that is your ideal partner. If that partner happens to have a much bigger audience than you, then they're even more of an ideal partner. If you can get them to put you in front of their audience by offering their audience and value, such as being a great guest on the podcast and actually teaching something of value. Then that's how you will drive traffic back to your website and when they get to your website of course because you've got the design of it right. You're going to be really clear about what next step you want them to take. 

So that's just a few ideas in a really quick nutshell to give you some thoughts around how you can drive traffic to your website. Of course, you want to be doing all of these things, and you want to be doing them on a continual basis. Everything I talk about that every solid marketing platform takes time, and you have to be committed to doing it on a regular basis. If you want to see results. As there are very few kinds of getting rich quick schemes where you just do a little bit of marketing and suddenly you want to get loads of these. It just doesn't work like that, despite what some people might try and lead you to believe. 

Now, in Episode 79 of the podcast just a few episodes ago, I talked about how to create a lead magnet to generate new subscribers to your list, then I'm not going to go into that in too much detail because you can go back and listen to that episode. But obviously one of the key ways that you are going to convert website visitors into leads and then convert those leads into prospects and clients is by having a piece of killer content a lead magnet, which I'll talk more about in a moment that you can offer your audience on your website in return for them giving you their email address, which then goes into your email automation system and you nurture them through that.

So there are four stages you want to focus on with your website, first of all, driving traffic to your website. Second of all, once they're there, build empathy with your readers so that they want to stay on your website and learn more. Then number three, you're going to offer them a piece of killer content, a lead magnet that they are going to download, and then that puts them in your email list. And the fourth stage is to nurture them through your email list so that you can convert them into a prospect and then a client.

Now, talking about understanding the conversion process for you, I have a really good talk all the time about conversion tools. I'm going to put a link in the show notes, and you can grab a copy of this, and this will basically help you analyse how long it takes a lead to come into your world. I someone who's just found about you, visited your website, downloaded something, and you nurture them to the point of them becoming a client. ‘What is that time to conversion?’ And you'll often be surprised at how long it takes.

I've done this work for myself, and it takes on average, about 12 months for someone learning about me to buying from me. It's really useful to know what that time to conversion is for you so that you can make sure that you have to nurture content to help move people along that buyer’s journey. With that, I'm going to put a link in the show notes to a time to conversion tool that you can download and do some analysis and work out what that length of time is for you so you can make sure you have a really good marketing content that will nurture people along with the sales funnel.

So let's just focus on the third point I mentioned in that four-step process, which is producing a piece of killer content. Now, if you really know your audience and you've done your work on defining your customer avatar your customer persona again, I'm going to put a link to my e-book on that. So you haven't done that. Go grab a copy of it and go and create your customer avatar, because it will be really helpful, and you will understand the pains that they suffer from the challenges they have. That piece of killer content that lead magnet you're going to create and you're going to promote it on the above the fold part of your website is going to address one of the core pain points that they have. And so you're going to create this e-book, this guide, this cheat sheet. There's top tips, this video training, whatever is something that your audience is going to digest and something that you feel comfortable creating. That's your piece of killer content. 

Now let me dispel two myths at this stage. First of all, you only need one piece of great killer content. When I created my website, I created loads and loads of pieces of killer content, ebooks and guides that you can download. In fact, if you go on my website, you'll see there are probably 20 different things that you can download, but you don't need 20 things. You need one piece of content, so that's myth number one. Like I said, if you understand your audience, then this piece of content will address one of their core pain points. 

While the second myth I want to dispel is that it doesn't have to be long. I think what puts a lot of people off is that they think it needs to be the best thing since sliced bread and needs to be 20 pages long or 40 pages long because people would judge me based on how big this thing is. Actually, the opposite is true because most of our target customers, i.e. people like you for me are time-poor, so they don't have time to read a 20-page thing, and they won't be judging how good it is based on the length they'll be judging it on the quality of it. Does it help them solve one of their core pain points? And that's the second myth. It doesn't have to be long. In fact, it could just be one page. It could be top tips on optimising your website or top 10 tips on how to implement your own SEO or top tips of what a journalist is looking for in a good press release. So doesn't have to be long. It just has to be good and address some of their killer points 

Now, kind of a bonus thing here is that you probably think I need to create something that's truly original. Yes, of course, you should definitely not played your eyes. And if you can create something that hasn't been done before, then brilliant. But the chances of the thing that you're going to create, not existing in some form or another on the Internet already is very remote. 

So your goal is to package it up in a way that your ideal target customer will find really easy to digest. Those are the two myths I just wanted to spell about your killer content, so you're going to create this piece of content. You can make it look pretty by outsourcing it to a designer or designing it yourself and then you're going to embed it on your website now. The key here is that they have to give you their email address in order to get it's like this transaction. I'm going to pay for this thing with my email address, and I'm going to tick a box that confirms I'm happy to receive emails from you in the future so that your GDP is compliant. And in return, I'm going to give you this piece of great content.

Then, that's the deal that you are making with your reader. Now, once they have given your email address, it's going to go into your email automation system. I've talked about email before Episode 55 so you can go back and listen to that so I'm not going to go into picking an email automation system. But a really key point here, really good tip is to make sure that you deliver your killer content to your lead magnet via the first email that you send the subscriber. Don't deliver it on your website. The reason for that is because if you deliver on your website, I could just put any old bad email address in. I still get access to it, whereas if you deliver it via the first email, then the reader has to give you a good email address, and you want to make it clear that in your form that they fill in that you want to ask them to give you their best email address, so you will deliver the lead magnet via an email. 

So that's a tip that's worth noting and something that I see a lot of people get wrong where they just embed the fact file of the ebook onto their website. Don't do that, deliver it via your email system. Then, once you've got them in your email, you're going to create a sequence of nurturing emails that dig into the guide a bit more or talk about some other things, and your goal is to get them to take the next step on the buyer's journey. But again, I don't want to go into that into much detail today. I've got other episodes about that because today the focus is on making your website work for you and how to generate leads from your website. That's the purpose. 

Anyway, create the content, deliver it by your email system and nurture your reader through your email system. You will start moving them from cold lead to warm lead to prospect to customer to raving fan, which is obviously your goal. If you've done your time to conversion, you know how long that journey takes typically, you'll be then thinking about well if it takes me 12 months. ‘What kind of content can I use to nurture people, keep building that no like and trust with them to the point that I'm still in their face when they're ready to buy because humans are kind of like sieves’. If we don't constantly stay in front of mind with them, they'll forget about us and they'll buy from someone else. 

This all starts with your website. I always view my website as the centre of my universe, and I want to drive traffic through all the different means that I've talked about today to my website, then when I get my reader to my website. I want to quickly build empathy with them by showing I understand them and then get them to take action. 

Now, this takes action needs to be on that top of above the folding stuff. You can't afford to have it buried somewhere deep in your website on the assumption that your reader will actually ever get to that page. Because, remember, as I said earlier, they might just be searching on Google. You might be one of the thousands of results they've come up with, they quickly visiting your website, then you have literally a few seconds to grab their attention, and it's not clear what you want them to do next. Then they will probably leave and remember that to do the next action is to get them to download your lead magnet or your killer content, and that has to evidently very quickly demonstrate that it has some value to them.

So those are my tips about making sure that your website is generating leads for you, making sure that it's not full of we, i.e. it's not just about you, but it's about your reader. Then as they dig into your website and they're thinking, tell me more. That's where you start talking about you, who you are, what you do, how long you've been around, who you've done it for sharing some testimonial sharing, some case studies and so on. But that needs to be further into your website once your reader has got some connection with you, so I hope those tips are useful.

As I said, this is a bit of an action-packed episode. I hope you've taken some notes. I hope that gives you an action plan of things that you might want to review your website or get changed. Or maybe some ideas on creating that lead magnet, that killer content for your website and also perhaps working out exactly who your ideal target customer is if you're not clear about that.

I hope that was useful as ever. Please make sure you've hit the subscribe button. I would love you to leave a review on Apple podcasts because, as you know, that helps the algorithms show me to more agency owners just like you. But other than that, I hope you have a fantastic rest of your week, and I will see you next Thursday for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast

The Risks of Relying on One Big Client

The risks of relying on one big client

What happens when you win a big client that makes up a significant proportion of your monthly revenue, and consequently demands a disproportionate amount of your time?

Well, excitement can quickly turn to long hours, and that, in turn, can detract your attention away from your other paying clients. 

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I share some of my thoughts about the pros and the cons of winning and relying on a large client for your agency. 

If you are in this situation (and many have been) then I will also explore how to mitigate your risks.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:06] 

The excitement of winning a big client

[1:26] 

How to avoid over-servicing your clients

[2:11] 

Importance of getting your team clear about service levels

[2:33] 

Tips in handling big clients

[3:28] 

How to win new clients (so you are not just dependent on 1 or 2 big clients)

[4:13] 

What is the biggest challenge in running an agency?

[5:12] 

Importance of identifying the risk as early as possible

[5:40] 

How to anticipate famine on your agency

[7:39] 

The importance of having your business development and plan in place

[9:12] 

Why you should not focus on one big client

Quotations

“..my advice to anybody that is thinking about putting all their client eggs into one basket because they've won one really big client is you need to spread your risk one way or another. And I would ask you to ask yourself what would be the impact to my agency on my business if I lost this one big client..” - Rob Da Costa

“Something else to bear in mind is that larger clients can often be worse payers and can have a significant impact on your revenue and your cash flow. Just make sure that you are getting really clear around payment terms.” - Rob Da Costa

“Just remember that having the lion's share of your business tied to another company also means your fortunes are tied to theirs if their business flounders, if they change tact or they decide to move supplier, you could find yourself out in the cold through no fault of your own without sufficient alternative sources of revenue.” - Rob Da Costa

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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: 

 Full Episode Transcription

What happens when you win a big client that makes up a significant proportion of your monthly revenue, and consequently it will demand a lot of your time?

Well, excitement can quickly turn to long hours, and that, in turn, can detract your attention away from your other paying clients. 

So, what are the pros and the cons and the risks of winning a large client? That's what we're going to be covering in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach Rob DaCosta.

We had some interesting conversations in The Self-Running Agency Group call recently, where we were discussing the pros, the cons and the risks of winning a big client that ends up accounting for a large percentage of your revenue. 

I'm sure you can relate to this because it's probably happened to you, too. So I thought I'd record a podcast episode to share some of the thoughts that we shared in the group with you today. 

It's super exciting when you win that really big client, and that excitement quickly turns to well, now we've got to service them. ‘How are we going to cope?’ And this can lead you to hire new team members juggling things around and, of course, making sure that you deliver what you promised this new client. 

But one thing to be mindful of is if you win a big client that might be 2 to 3 times the size of your next biggest client. Then there's a tendency in the agency to give that new client carte blanche access to you and your team. After all, you want to do a great job, and you are super happy that they selected you over perhaps bigger agencies. But if you're not careful, this can really quickly lead to over-servicing, working long hours and getting lots of stress in the agency or to keep this new client happy. 

So even if their fear equates to a lot more of your team's time, we still need to be really mindful about putting clear boundaries in place and making sure that we don't end up over-servicing that particular new big client. 

You also need to make sure that your team understands this, and that means that there's a clear scope of work that they're working on. That you've broken that down into time allocation. Everybody's self managing their time. And obviously, everyone in the team knows what they need to focus on, but also that they don't take other clients for granted as well. 

Now winning this big client might be one step on your agency's journey of growth. So know that when you've won this big client, you've got two choices. You either use it as an opportunity to take the next step in your agency, hire more people, set more systems and processes in place and then work super hard to win more clients of a similar size. Or you recognise the risk that this large client brings because you are putting all your eggs into one basket, and therefore you work super hard to spread that risk by winning more slightly smaller clients.

Now without being the bearer of bad news, history says that at some point, probably through no fault of your own, you're going to lose this client even if they're a retainer for you and you're doing a great job. That's going to happen. 

So let me quickly tell you a story about when I ran my agency. We grew over time. As you know, we had 25 staff in the end. But maybe about three or four years into the agency, we won our first super big client. This client was probably three times the size of our next client. Then very quickly, we won our second big client. As I've already said, we worked super hard to do a great job for them. We were kind of punching above our way in terms of the size of agency that we were versus the size of agencies they've been used to working with in the past. That made us want to work even harder to prove that they've made the right choice. We kept these clients for quite a long time. But within about a space of six months between the two, each of our clients got bought out. One of them got bought by IBM and the other one got bought by Adobe. 

And guess what? We really had the rug pulled from our feet because we didn't really get a chance to re-pitch, because obviously IBM and Adobe had their preferred agencies and they just wanted to roll all of their marketing services into them.

Therefore we didn't even get a look in and our client contacts were really sorry, but that we were let go. So with a space, we kept these clients for maybe five or six years. But then, within a space of six months, we lost both of them. 

Now, fortunately, during that time, we had put some of the advice I'm giving you today into practice, and we started mitigating our risk, and we started increasing the average order value of most of our clients. 

So whilst they weren't as high as the two clients we lost, they were much closer. This meant that when we lost these two clients, it wasn't the end of the world, and we didn't have to make some bad decisions, which I'll talk about in a moment. 

So my advice to anybody that is thinking about putting all their client eggs into one basket because they've won this really big client is you need to spread your risk one way or another. And I would ask you to ask yourself what would be the impact to my agency on my business if I lost this one big client, and often the answer is fairly significant. Then start focusing on spreading your risks so that if you do lose your large client, it won't be catastrophic and you won't have to make some really difficult decisions as you lurch into that space of famine, such as being desperate to win some business to replace that revenue, which often means discounting. Or it could well mean taking on the wrong kind of client or even worse than that, it could be letting staff go. You need to anticipate all of this and plan for it. So, as I said, the question to ask yourself is ‘What would be the impact on my agency if I lost this client?’ and then start planning as though that's going to happen.

So that means making sure that your time isn't being sucked up into this new client and you actually still have time to focus on business development to win more clients. Obviously, you need to make sure that you are putting the right structures and infrastructure in place to support this new client and giving yourself the capacity to support more similar clients or making sure you're winning more small clients. 

As I said, this was a conversation in our group coaching call this week that someone asked, and a lot of people could relate to that particular challenge. The member of the group has just one, this large client, and they're already thinking about this. They're already worried about the impact on their agency, both from a positive sense in terms of growth, but also a risk as well. So I just wanted to share with you my thoughts on that today. 

Something else to bear in mind is that larger clients can often be worse payers and can have a significant impact on your revenue and your cash flow. Just make sure that you are getting really clear around payment terms. And if their payment terms are not favourable to you, then you want to really think carefully about whether you want to take them on. In fact, one strategy might well be in your agency to deliberately not win a big client because of the risk it puts and the strain it will put on your agency. 

Of course, another risk is that you get so consumed with servicing this client that you have no bandwidth in your own time or your agency's time to focus on business development. And it really can cause you to lurch from feast to famine. Because, as I said, if you lose that client, you just don't have anything in the wings to replace it. 

So this is something else that you want to think about, and when you're working on your vision and your plan for your agency, think about the size of clients that you want to win. ‘What should the average order value be? How does that increase over time?’ And, yes, winning a big client may well catapult and speed up the delivery of your plan. But you also need to be cognizant of the risk that it presents as well and not just get flattered by having an ego stroke that someone wants to pay that much money but actually say, ‘Does this fit in the strategy of our growth? What is the risk to the agency?’ And, of course, ‘What's the fit for them as a client? And do we think we can do a great job?’ 

Just remember that having the lion's share of your business tied to another company also means your fortunes are tied to theirs if their business flounders so much yours, if they change tact or they decide to move supplier, you could find yourself out in the cold through no fault of your own without sufficient alternative sources of revenue.

And that is a really risky place to be. Okay, a short and sweet episode today. But I just wanted to share my thoughts with you because, as I said, I've been in this place before, winning a large client and being very excited by it, and I'm sure you have as well. But you need to look beyond that. You also need to be thinking about how this aligns with our vision and be planning accordingly and planning for what happens when you lose that client at some point in the future.

If you do that, then you will be able to win these clients. You’ll be able to service them really well, but you also have the time to focus on backfilling with more clients in the future so that you are not just relying on one client and putting all your eggs in one client basket. So food for thought.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with this, so please do feel free to send me an email. My email address is in the show notes, but other than that, I hope this was thought-provoking. Have a fantastic weekend and I'll see you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

How to Achieve Flexibility and Freedom in Your Agency, Without Losing Control

Let's face it, many of us started our own business because we're control freaks - we want to be in control! 

We may have worked for a business before where we didn't like the way they ran things or thought we could do it better. And that's often the catalyst to start our own business. 

But what happens when control comes at the expense of the flexibility and freedom that we hoped we would get when we started out on our own? 

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I share my thoughts about achieving flexibility, freedom AND control, why creating a plan is so important and some of my own personal successes and failures in my entrepreneurial journey.

Also, I talk about the importance of efficiency in how you use your time, my future aspirations to work a 4-day work week, and how I am achieving this by hiring the right team.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:56] 

Early struggles and challenges in my marketing career

[2:37] 

How to be in control of your own destiny

[3:01] 

What’s my belief about success and failure? 

[3:55] 

Tips in achieving flexibility, control, and freedom as an agency owner

[4:43] 

The importance of creating a plan

[5:11] 

Why you should start hiring (the right) people

[6:19] 

Three (3) ways on how you can spend your time

[7:25] 

The importance of having solid foundations in place

[8:01] 

How to focus on your marketing strategy

[8:34] 

Why I believe creating a succession plan is important

[9:59] 

What are my future aspirations

[12:26] 

How to work a 4-day quality work 

[13:21] 

How the pandemic removes roadblocks from our plans and stories

[14:05] 

Importance of delegation and having the right team

[15:15] 

Why you should always keep going back to the reason you started your business

Quotations

“I still believe that my successes are my successes, and my failures are my failures, and that's one of the reasons why I love running my own business.” - Rob Da Costa

“..If you're very intentional about your direction, you have much more chance of retaining control but also getting the flexibility and freedom in place as well.” - Rob Da Costa

“You have to put the infrastructure of the foundations in place to grow to the next level and then put the next set of foundations to grow to the next level again.” - Rob Da Costa

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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

Let's face it, many of us started our own business because we're control freaks. We want to be in control. We may have worked for a business before where we didn't like the way they ran things or thought we could do it better. And that's often the catalyst to start our own business. 

But what happens when we start losing all the flexibility and freedom that we hoped we would get when we start our own business? Because we wanted to retain control? 

That's the topic of today's podcast. So another action-packed episode and let's get on with the show.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa.

Before we jump into the phase episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled ‘How to easily fill yourselves pipeline with high-quality leads in the next 90 days.’ 

Now, this is a 60-minute training, where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about the niche in that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product, service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacostacoaching.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show. 

I remember in my early twenties when I was the marketing manager for a small software company and we really struggled to find a good PR agency that understood the tech that we sold, and therefore I found myself rewriting most of what they did and felt like they were just a glorified admin resource. 

So that was a kind of catalyst for me to leave and start my own agency, and that's what I did. I thought I could do it better, and I had young arrogance, naivety on my side because little did I know what the next 11 years were going to bring for me.

One of my thought was that I can do it better and I can be in control of my own destiny because if I'm honest, the company I was working for was kind of going nowhere but downhill and I had little ability to infect that direction. 

So leaving and starting my own agency, I thought, are being controlled. My successes are my successes, and my failures are my failures, and I can do it better than what's out there now. There is a lot of arrogant youth in that thinking.

But actually, I still believe today my successes are my successes, and my failures are my failures, and that's one of the reasons why I love running my own business. 

If we are not careful, we can end up working for a much tougher boss than the one we've just left because we are so demanding on ourselves and we may lose sight really quickly that the reasons we started our business are yes, to be in control, but also to have more flexibility and freedom. So flexibility in what we work on, how many hours we work, the kind of prices we charge and freedom to maybe have some time to focus on other things and certainly get good work, life boundaries. But of course, we all know that that can really quickly go out the window. 

So it's kind of the premise of what I teach my paying clients these days is how to retain flexibility and freedom without losing control. It's kind of the premise of what most people aspire to but really struggled to achieve. 

One of the first things that we need to have in place is a sense of travel. You can call that what you like a plan or a vision or mission statement, but it just needs to say Where are you headed?

And I always like in this to a journey. Do I want to go to the south of France or do I want to go to Scotland? Because of the way I am going to get there, the strategy and then the detail of how I'm going to get there, which is the plan. Look very different, depending on where I want to be heading. So you just need a sense of travel about where you want your business to be over, say, the next five years. And then you want to break that down into a three-year plan, a one year plan and then turned that plan into a strategy.

So this is how we're going to get to the south of France. We're going to take a ferry. Then we're gonna take a train, and we're going to hire a car, and then you need your monthly plan, which is specific. ‘What do I need to do? Which ferry do I need to catch? Where are we staying overnight? Where do I buy the ticket for the train journey? And which car company are we going to rent?’ That's still the plan. That's your monthly plan. And if you have this and you're very intentional about that sense of direction, you have much more chance of retaining control but also getting the flexibility and freedom in place as well.

The next thing you need to do is start hiring great people. One of the common issues I see with so many growing agencies is that they have an amazing leader and then a big gap between them and the next tier of staff. This is often because the only people who can afford to hire when you start out are more junior people. And if you're not careful, you end up having a big gap, and that means you, the owner, is totally entrenched in all the client work. All the clients want you on their account. Everybody's looking at you to solve problems. And again, if you're not careful, you can end up being tied to the business more than ever. 

If that rings true for you, well, you're certainly not alone. And a lot of people come to me because they're frustrated that they're sort of stuck on what I call the client service hamster wheel of doom and that they wish people would step up. But they don't know how to. 

So one of the things you need to do is make sure you're hiring the most senior people you can, and when you're able to hire people that are better at doing delivery work than you because that will free you up to do the thing that you the owner can do best, and that is working on the strategy for your business.

So let's just take a step back here, and I've spoken about this many times before, but there are three ways you can spend your time. There are three pots that anyone can spend their time in. You can spend it on revenue. This is doing client work and revenue is simply defined as money this month. So it's all projects that you have on the books you are currently delivering. Then you can spend time in strategy and strategy is simply how we are earning money in the future. This is marketing. This is sales. This is business development, and this is planning. So that's creating that plan to the south of France. 

Also, you are the best person to do that. If you don't do it, nobody else is going to be doing it. So you need to make sure you have enough time to spend in that second part, which is strategy, and then the third part is admin, and this is everything you do to run your business, and it's usually a cost to your business. These things like HR and finance and systems and processes and things that give you that infrastructure on that platform to grow your business. That might be really boring as the agency owner but are nevertheless vital just to use another analogy. 

If you want to build an extension to your house, you have to put solid foundations in place. First of all, otherwise, that extension will fall over, and the same is true for your business as well. You have to put the infrastructure of the foundations in place to grow to the next level and then put the next set of foundations to grow to the next level again. 

If you think of a typical diagram that you'll see about a growing business, they'll show you a curve. But the reality is that any business grows in a stepped way where the horizontal part is the infrastructure, and then the vertical part is growth. 

So you need to be hiring a team to delegate as much of the revenue and the admin to as possible, freeing you up to focus on strategy. And if you're not able to spend at least 20 to 35% of your time in that strategy space, then, ‘Hey, guys, there's a big iceberg up ahead and you're not seeing it. And your business is just going to kind of go round in circles at best or hit that iceberg at worst.’

Again if you want to put succession planning in place or if you want to work on side projects, you have to be really intentional about this, about putting the plans in place and putting in the people in place to deliver that. 

I just wanted to share with you a little bit about what I'm doing myself, because I need to make sure, of course, that I practise what I preach, that I'm not just telling you and my clients a bunch of theories that I actually don't implement myself, or I don't even know if it works.

So I'm 56 years old, yet I know I don't sound anything like 56 but I'm 56 years old and I want to work into my early sixties, I'm starting to think about a succession plan now. One of the things that I always tell my clients who want to have a succession plan. Whether that be, sell their agency or have a management buyout or just be less involved in the day to day is that they need to know what they are doing next.

For me, my goal is to next year work four days a week, and I think I can be just as productive and do just as much work, if not even more work in four really focused days, then I perhaps can do in five where sometimes I'm not so focused.

With that, I'm planning to stop working on a Friday. But of course, in order to make that happen, I need to have an interest because otherwise, I can really see myself just kind of thinking, Well, I haven't got much to do and what as well work. Certainly, I had that mindset during the pandemic and I ended up working long hours and weekends because there was nothing else to do and I realised that that just isn't healthy for so many reasons, and I'm sure some of you can relate to that.

We recently bought a camper van, and whilst this has been something that we've been talking about doing for a number of years. The whole decision was expedited because we were so frustrated at the number of foreign holidays that we couldn't go on and waiting and waiting and waiting to see if and when we'll be able to travel and even when other countries will let us in. So we decided to bite the bullet and buy the camper van. 

Now, a second reason for me personally doing this is because I've always dreamt about becoming more of a digital nomad and some of you know who follow me that when I've been allowed every year from mid-January to mid-February. I've spent a month abroad, usually in Cape Town, because it's the middle of their summer and I love it out there and I've been able to do my vacation but then also work just as efficiently as I can back home. It's sort of dabbled my toe in becoming a digital nomad.

Then, we've got the camper van. We've been able to put WiFi into the van and on a number of occasions already. I've been able to work from the van and be based wherever, so it's sort of proving that concept.

And now, on my Fridays off, I am planning to share my story with a whole new audience of camper van campus and motorhome enthusiasts. I know that sounds a bit nerdy, but, hey, there's a whole world. But I've discovered and I want to share my story with them. So we are creating a new website. We're also launching a new channel. It's going to be called ‘On The Road Again,’ and I am going to be documenting our journey of choosing the van, of buying the van, of getting the van, of going to sites, and working as a digital nomad and hopefully sharing our stories as we go around Europe as well. So that's what I'm gonna be using my Fridays for.

Actually, I can plan what videos to shoot, blogs that I want to write on that Friday, By having that day filled with these activities of interest that I'm really passionate about, then I know that I will make sure I focus my four days on delivering my coaching business and having the Friday free to focus on ‘The Camper Van Project’ whilst not feeling like I've forgotten to do something in my coaching business.

Now, don't worry. I've got no plans to stop doing my coaching. I really want to focus on the two key things that I do, which is my private one-on-one coaching and my group coaching programme, The Self-Running Agency. 

So there will be lots more new content coming out on that. But as I say, I really convinced that I can deliver the same amount of quality work in four days. Then I am currently doing in five days without working longer hours in those four days and certainly without working weekends. And by having this knowledge of what I'm going to do with that fifth day, then I'm pretty sure that it's going to happen.

It's funny. Having the camper van is a fairly small thing, but it just reminds you that there are many adventures to be had now, and it also reminds you about living in the present a lot more rather than constantly planning for the future. 

Our goal, we hope, is to still go do foreign vacations is to go on one big trip a year in the winter, but also to be able to take the van into Europe as much as we are allowed to or when we're allowed to. And as I said, I've managed to get WiFi in there I've actually done a few calls from there already, and I know that I can work from there just as efficiently as I can from my desk in my office.

I guess it's funny in a way that the pandemic has kind of removed some roadblocks to expediting some of our plans and actually removed some roadblocks into the stories. We tell ourselves that stop us from doing these things because I guess, if anything, the pandemic has also taught us that we never know what's around the corner. 

There's a number of morals in this story. It's not just about me trying to sort of tell you my story or brag about what I'm doing, which is not my intent at all but is to say it's so important to have a plan so that you can retain the reasons why you started your agency and you can have that flexibility and freedom if that's what you wish.

Having a plan gives you a sense of direction and also thinking about getting a team around you that you can delegate more work to. I want to give a shout out to my VA Team of Cess because they have been fantastic and they do so much of my work. Like I record obviously this podcast. But I just hand it over to them, to edit, to create show notes, to create the social media, the graphics and so on. And it's been a revelation for me in that it means I can focus on what I'm good at doing or enjoy doing, like recording these podcasts, but I don't have to spend five times longer editing and creating show notes and so on, which isn't so much fun. 

So even though I'm a one-person business, I still have a really good team. I have, like a project manager, and then she manages a number of other specialists who have video editing or audio editing skills or social media skills or graphic design skills and so on. 

And so I really encourage you to do that so that you can delegate down as much as you can, and again that gives you the ability to retain control of what you like doing and what you're good at doing and making sure that you allocate enough time to that strategy. Remember, you want to be spending sort of 20 to 35% of your time in that strategy space. 

So I guess the purpose of today's podcast and recording this topic is perhaps to remind some of you guys to remember why you started your business to make sure you stay connected to that, to get good boundaries in place. So that you are not to start permanently on the client service hamster wheel of doom with no way of getting off of it and with no light at the end of the tunnel. 

Make sure that you are creating a plan. Make sure that you are building a really strong team. Make sure you're training your clients to expect that team to be their main contact and not you. And make sure you're focusing on your superpower, which is usually in that strategy space, focusing on what's next. If you have some thoughts around succession planning and what you want to do in the future, then make sure you know what you're going to do with that one back time. 

So I hope that has been useful for you today. If you're interested to work out how you're spending your time between those three pots between admin strategy and revenue, then connected to this podcast you'll see in the show note links a link to a tool that I use, which helps you analyse how you spend your time in those three pots over a two week period so that you can then say, ‘OK, I'm really stuck in the revenue space. But I know I need to allocate more time to strategy,’ and then you can start to work out how you can move that. 

I think you'll be surprised if you use this tool to work out how you're currently spending your time. Most of the time I use it with my clients. They're always surprised that they thought it was but it turns out to be. So go and grab a copy of that tour. It's really simple to use and, you know, get back in touch with me if you've got some surprises when you've analysed it.

But other than that, I hope that the brilliant week I hope you stay in control and I'll see you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

How Long Does it Take You to Convert a Lead?

How long does it take for a new lead that comes into your agency to be converted into a client? 

This is such an important number to know (yet few do) so in this episode, I'm going to explain why understanding this time to conversion is so important and what you should do once you know this number.

I think that you're going to be really surprised at how long the typical sales cycle is so I'm going to give you a tool to help you work this number out for your agency.

So, in today’s episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I will answer one of the most important questions to know: How long does it take to convert a lead to a loyal customer? And what are the tools, techniques and marketing strategies that you can implement to help move people through your sales funnel?

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:08] 

The most common marketing mistake for agency owners

[3:18] 

Why you need to nurture and educate your leads

[4:01] 

The importance of knowing your time to conversion number

[4:59] 

Using your marketing to stay front of the mind with your target audience 

[6:54] 

Three stages in developing a relationship with your leads

[8:09] 

Why building your email list is important in reducing your time to conversion

[8:57] 

Rob’s advice to his younger self

[9:37] 

What is education-based marketing?

[10:41] 

Tips to focus and add value in your content

[12:29] 

How to come up with ‘killer content’ for your agency

[13:39] 

The real reasons why clients come to you

Quotations

“You need to have a way of consistently being in front of your target customers so that when they have a need, they know that you're the person to talk to because they understand who you are.” - Rob Da Costa

“80% of your content should be all about providing value. And, of course, to do that you need to really understand exactly who your ideal target customer is” - Rob Da Costa

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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

How long does it take for a new lead that comes into your agency to convert into a client? That's the topic of today's conversation, and I'm going to explain to you why understanding this length is so important.  And I also think that you're going to be really surprised how long the typical cell cycle is. I'm going to give you a tool to help you figure this out. 

So that's what we're talking about in today's episode. How long does it take to convert? And what are the tools, techniques and marketing strategies that you can implement to help move people through your sales funnel? So another action-packed episode. Grab your pen and let's get on with today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach Rob DaCosta. 

Before we jump into the phase episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled ‘How to easily fill yourselves pipeline with high-quality leads in the next 90 days.’ 

Now, this is a 60-minute training, where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about the niche in that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacostacoaching.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show. 

One of the mistakes I see so many agencies making when it comes to their marketing is that they focus really hard on building new contacts into the top of their sales funnel, and then they sort of expect those people to convert at some point, and they really don't think about the activities they need to focus on in the middle of the funnel. So let me kind of explain what I mean by that. And then I want to talk about working out how long it takes you to convert your leads, and I'm going to share with you at all that I usually give my paying clients to help you work out what the time conversion is. 

So many agencies are good at doing their own marketing. Well, of course, you'd hope they would be right. But what they tend to be good at is generating new leads. So they're good at their social media. They are good at putting content out there on their blogs, SEO PPC, and all that kind of stuff, and that brings new leads into their business. Then they sort of hope that those new leads will automatically convert themselves. And of course, some of them will, because maybe one in 100 have absolutely the need that you can solve there and then so they will reach out to you. But what you are doing for the other 99 new leads that have come into your business to nurture them. 

As I said, what I think a lot of agencies are good at is generating new leads at the top of their funnel. Then they're good at the bottom part, which is the prospect meeting and the conversions of writing proposals having those initial meetings. But what they're not good at is that middle portion of the sales funnel, which is what I call education-based marketing. And this is where you're building your no like and trust with your audience. You're building credibility with them through providing more detailed marketing support with things like e-books and guides and tools and templates. And then you get them into the prospect meeting or the phone call, which is where you can move them further down the sales funnel. So we really need to get better at doing that middle part. 

Now, one of the ways that I highlight to my customers is the importance of this is to help them work out what is the time to convert. So what I mean by that is when a new contact learns about your agency, how long does it take from that point to them becoming a customer, and I think you will be surprised at how long it takes. Like I've done this analysis for myself, and it can typically take up to 12 months. That's 12 months from someone learning who Rob Da Costa is to them actually becoming a paying customer, either through their private coaching with me or through one of my online coaching programmes. 

So if it's going to take 12 months, I better have some great marketing to stay front of mind with those people during that 12 month period. Because I always feel like every time you engage with a potential contact someone who knows about you but hasn't bought from you, you are refilling the sand timer. And if you don't engage with them again before that sand timer runs out, then they forget about you and they'll end up buying your product or service from somebody else.

So it's super important that you have a bunch of ongoing marketing activities that keep you front of mind with your prospective clients, so this could be through weekly emailing. It could be through the content you post on your blog or social media posts or videos that you post on your YouTube channel or other kinds of outreach. But you need to have a way of consistently being in front of your target customers so that when they have a need, they know that you're the person to talk to because they understand who you are. They know like and trust you. You build empathy and credibility with them, and they also understand what you do. And you're going to achieve that through the middle of the final activities through that education-based marketing. 

It's really useful for all of us to know what the typical time to conversion is, and I'm going to share with you at all in the show notes that you can use to simply capture how long it takes and all you need to do is look at your customers, hopefully in your CRM system or in your email marketing system or some other database. You will have a date of when those people first came into your world, and then you need to also put in the date they converted into a customer, and this will automatically work out what the average is over time. So make sure you grab that tool in the show notes and you can start working out your time to conversion. 

I think you will be surprised, as most people are when they do this piece of work, how long it takes. Either they didn't have a clue beforehand or they thought the cell cycle was much shorter than it actually was. As I said, mine can be 11 or 12 months. So that means I need to have great marketing content to nurture these people, to stay front of mind so that the sand timer doesn't run out, and I'm there when they're ready to buy. 

Another way to think about this is that there are three stages that someone can be in when they come into your world when they first get to know about you and your agency further. So the first stage is ‘I didn't know you before, now I know who you are, and I'm interested in what you've got to say.’

The second stage is ‘I know who you are and I'm interested in what you've got to say. and one day I will buy from you, but I'm not ready right now.’ And then the third stage is ‘I know who you are and I like what you say and I'm ready to buy from you now.’ And we need to make sure that we are nurturing our contacts through each of those three stages, and not just assuming that when a new contact comes into a world, they're immediately in that third box of I know who you are and I'm ready to buy.

This is a mistake that I see so many agencies and people generally who do marketing missing out. I would really encourage you to go and look at the time conversion tool that I've put in the show notes. Do some analysis, maybe over the last two years of your clients and work out what your time to conversion is and then start thinking about, “Well, OK, if it's six months or its nine months or it's a year, what marketing can I put in place to nurture these people?”

And of course, this goes hand in hand with building your email list, because email marketing is one of the best ways of staying front of mind with your prospects. 

Now, I've spoken a lot about email marketing in the past, and if you go back to Episode 5, you can learn about the introduction to email, marketing and email automation. And if you go to Episode 79 I talk about how you can use a lead magnet to get new subscribers onto your email list. Then, I don't need to dig too much into email marketing today. But certainly, for me, email marketing is one of the best ways of staying front of mind with my audience. 

I am nurturing them and providing value, and I'm there when they're ready to buy. And I get a lot of my clients through that approach. So everything I teach I do for myself, so I know it works. I'd really encourage you to do the same thing. And it's interesting. Many of you know that when I have a guest on this podcast, I asked them what advice they would give their younger self.

Last week someone turned their tables on me and said, Well, Rob, what advice would you give your younger self just starting out in business?” And although it's very pragmatic, the piece of advice I would say, is Rob start building your mailing list because I probably only really started focusing on a mailing list maybe 7 years ago. But I've been in business for a while. I've been running this business for 15 years, and I've been in business for a lot longer than that since the early nineties. So that's the piece of advice I would give myself, which shows how important I think building your email list is.

So I'm talking about education-based marketing here. But what exactly do I mean? This is the middle of the funnel activity. When someone has decided that they want to be in your world. They found some of the things that you say interesting, and now they're in your email list or in your community. What does education-based marketing mean? Well, it means providing more in-depth value to them, to demonstrate that you're credible and that you can help your potential client or your contact solve some of the problems and pains that keep them awake at night.

This might be a more detailed ebook. It might be some kind of guide. It might be sort of a top 10 tip. It might be some video training or webinar or even some kind of quiz. So there are a whole bunch of things that education marketing can be. But you really need to think about what it is that you can put in place to keep nurturing your contacts through the journey from them, becoming a contact to a hot prospect to a customer and then a loyal repeat customer.

Now a really important balance here is to make sure that when you're creating this content, you're focusing on providing value. So 80% of your content should be all about providing value. And, of course, that means you need to really understand who your ideal target customer is, and I'll put a link into my customer avatar workbook. If you haven't done that already, that guides you through defining exactly who your target customer is, and then 20% needs to be selling. So that balance of 80 value 20 selling is really important. And let's just take a moment to explore why?

Well, if all you ever do is provide value, then people will see you as a fantastic resource, but they will never think about you as someone that they would buy from and of course, if all you did was sell, sell, sell in your outbound calls, then people are gonna get fed up and they are going to leave your community unsubscribed from your list and stop following you. Then, we want to get this balance right of 80% of the time. We're providing value through our education-based marketing and 20% of our time we are selling now.

One thing it's worth saying because I think a lot of my clients suffer from this is that they realise that they need to produce this content. They keep putting it off because they think it needs to be a really detailed 20-30 page document, and they think that they need to produce lots of these pieces. 

So I just want to bust a couple of myths here. First of all, which does not have to be 20 pages. No one is judging this on the quantity. In fact, most of your clients are going to be really busy, and they won't have time to watch it. Then, literally could be a one-page cheat sheet or a one page top 10 tips, or it could be a five-minute video. It does not have to belong, so that's the first myth I want to bust. 

Then the second myth again. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self this because I know better now is you don't need tonnes and tonnes of these education-based marketing tools. In fact, what you need to do is just produce one piece of what I call killer content. Then, what's that one document that's going to be really, really valuable to your target audience? Those contacts in your world who were not yet customers? What's that one thing that is genuinely going to provide some value to them that is going to demonstrate? You know what the hell you're talking about and that you understand your clients and it's going to help them, and that's the piece of content you need to produce. 

Like I say, if you're going to my website, you'll find lots of examples of this content, this education-based marketing which I produced over the years and it's still useful. But if I were starting again, I would just focus on one thing. 

So I hope those two pieces of advice kind of remove some blockages that you might have to produce this content reminder. It doesn't need to belong, and you only need one piece of content to start promoting. And, of course, you need to understand who your ideal target customer is so that you understand the pain points that keep them awake at night so that your killer content addresses some of those pain points. 

Now, if you're thinking well, Rob, if I do this and I give it away for free, aren't I giving away all my value? The answer is “No,” because clients come to you because they want you to solve the problem and they want their hands held through you supporting them, not because they can learn about this somewhere else. 

I mean, let's face it. If you listen to every single one of the last 80 old podcasts I've recorded, you're going to learn a lot about running your agency. But do you really have time to untangle that and then make notes and actually implement it? Or do you want a coach who's supporting you through that?

So I never worry about giving too much value away because I realised the reason people come to me is that they want my support, they want my accountability and they want my experience to support them through the journey that they were on. And so it doesn't matter whether I give away a lot of content. And for me, that's one of the reasons why I do this podcast because I really enjoy recording podcasts, and I know I can provide value to you guys, whether you become a customer of mine or not. But one day you might become a customer, or you might refer me to someone else who has a need that you know I can help with because you've listened to a podcast on that particular topic. 

So let's just summarise the actions from today's podcast because this is an actionable episode, so you need to go into the show notes. You need to click on the file, make a copy of the link that I'm sharing for the time to conversion calculator. You then need to spend maybe an hour filling this in by looking in your CRM system or your database to see when people came into your world and at what point they bought from you and then you will see a hard number that tells you how many months it typically takes.

Then, once you understand that, you then need to think about producing some content that's going to nurture them through your sales funnel and use some education-based marketing to really help build no like and trust to show that you're credible and you understand your audience. Those are your kind of two actions from today's episode. 

And as I said, you need to understand your audience really well in order to do this. So going. Also, grab a copy of my customer persona workbook, which takes you through the steps and gives you a template to fill in so that you can start to find exactly who your ideal target customer is, and the pain points that they have to keep them awake at night.

So I hope that was useful as ever. Please make sure you've hit, subscribe and please share this with your colleagues. And also I really love you to leave a review on Apple Podcast because that helps my podcast to reach more people like you, which means I can help more people. 

But other than that have a great weekend. Go and work out your time to conversion. And I will see you next week on the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

Using Video Testimonials To Win New Business With Adam O’Leary

How powerful are customer video testimonials in helping win new clients?

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. We talked about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

Adam shares some of his experiences and key learnings as he has grown his agencies, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction!

We also talked about video testimonials: how to get video testimonials from your customer, when you should ask your customer and why video testimonials are such a powerful way to quickly build trust and credibility.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[3:38] 

Adam’s journey in the entrepreneurial world

[5:11] 

The importance of testimonials videos in the buyer’s journey

[6:03] 

The difference between written testimonials and video testimonials

[7:19] 

The best time to ask your client for a video testimonial

[8:59] 

Tips on what kind of questions to ask in video testimonials

[10:22] 

How to maximise the use of video testimonials in your marketing

[11:59] 

How to make video testimonials authentic

[13:07] 

How you can use TrustScout software in your agency

[16:23] 

The good and bad of running an agency

[19:29] 

How Adam finds the balance in running two businesses

[22:01] 

The importance of fully automating as much of your business processes as possible

[24:17] 

Tips in running an agency

[27:51] 

Adam O'Leary’s advice to his younger self

Quotations

“ I think what puts people off is they think they have to create highly produced videos. But sometimes the rawer, the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.” - Rob Da Costa

“ There are really only two things in your business that you should focus on:  traffic or sales.” - Adam O'Leary

“..try fast and fail fast” - Adam O'Leary

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 Full Episode Transcription

In today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I'm joined by Adam O'Leary from TrustScout. Now we are talking about both his entrepreneurial journey and also the value of getting video testimonials from existing customers to help you win new customers. 

We talk about some of the experiences that he has had as he has grown his agencies and some of those key learnings, including what he believes every entrepreneur should focus on and how to get rid of all that other stuff that can be just a distraction. 

Then we talk about video testimonials and how to get those video testimonials from your customer when you should ask your customer for that testimonial and why video testimonials can be such a powerful way to build trust and credibility really quickly with that prospect. So another action-packed episode and let's get on with today's show.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DaCosta. 

Before we jump into the phase episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled “How to Easily Fill Your Sales Pipeline With High Quality Leads in The Next 90-Days or Less!” Now, this is a 60-minute training where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about teaching that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacosta.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show. 

So welcome to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to have with me today, Adam O'Leary, who is the co-founder of the software company TrustScout that helps agencies capture video testimonials. And we're going to talk a little bit more about that later on. He is also the founder of his own agency, UpsideBuilders helping SaaS companies convert more leads and it was interesting when I was preparing for this that I saw that you said that SaaS companies typically only convert 5% of their leads. Adams companies helping convert more of that 95% that are, I guess, just being left by the wayside. 

So thanks so much for joining us today, and is there anything else you wanted to add to my garbled introduction? No, that's perfect. I'm really excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on. Fantastic. 

So today we're going to talk about two areas. I was really interested to explore Adams Journey as an entrepreneur and talk about what that road map has looked like. And some of the kind of tips that you can share with our listeners and some of the good, bad and ugly of how you have grown over the years. We're also going to spend some time talking about how important it is to get really good video testimonials for you to help you win and convert more clients. So, why don't you just kick off by telling us a bit about your journey in the entrepreneurial world? 

Yeah, sure thing. So I run an agency for multiple years. I was going ahead and working with different types of software clients and working even with local businesses as well, really, Just trying to go out and figure out where my niche was in the world. And the more that we started working with different clients, we started to realise that as we were writing copy for those clients, that a lot of the time that you had to have, some sort of proof to go along with it in order for us to convert more of that traffic. Unfortunately, most of our clients didn't have a lot of proof, or they would have customers coming in, but they would never actually get anybody to say good things about them in public. So once we started kind of understanding that we started diving really deeply into getting video testimonials to improve for our clients right off the bat like the first time that was the first chance that we could. And once we started doing that, we started saying, Okay, is there a way to actually automate this process for our clients?

So we're not manually going out and chasing down each of these video testimonials one by one. Once we went ahead and we made the kind of that that reach into the video world. We created software that allowed us to do it and completely manage the entire process for our clients on autopilots, which was a fun little experience. Fantastic. 

So while we're talking about the video testimonials tell, why do you think that's so important in the kind of like the buyer's journey for agencies when they're looking at growing their customer base?

Yeah, absolutely. For agencies. I mean, it's really mission-critical, because I think the easiest way to put it is there's 10,000 SEO agencies out there. There are 10,000 design studios or agencies and stuff like that. There's 10,000 of every possible agency that's out there. And when potential clients coming to you and looking and saying is this actually a good fit for me. They're going to compare you normally with 10-20 other agencies to try to figure out who is the best, and it's really creating that trust factor right upfront. That's really critical for agencies to grow in scale. 

How do you compare, say, like a written testimonial versus a video testimonial? That's a good question when it comes to writing. I think one thing that we've seen a lot of in the news and stuff like this is, for example, in Amazon, there were tonnes of cases of fake written testimonials. You see people throw stuff up on websites and you look next to it. It looks like a stock image almost of a person. There's really that lack of trust or that lack of understanding when it comes for, written and then with video, it's almost impossible to fake, you know because you're truly seeing the person there you're seeing. If they're being honest, you see where they're at their location. Are they in even a pizza restaurant, for example? You know, like, what's their background like, And that right there is one of the cool parts when it comes to video. 

It's amazing when I see quotes on people's websites that say, You know, you're fantastic, says leading an SEO of a large financial institution. And you think to yourself There's absolutely no value in that whatsoever. And it's worse almost than not having it there at all. 

Tell me what part of the journey in the relationship with a customer would you ask for a video? Because I think sometimes people are too afraid of asking too soon. So when would you advise clients to actually go to their customers and ask for this testimony? Really? That's a great question. I always recommend the first ah-ha moment. So the first moment that somebody has experienced your product or your service is okay for your agency.

So the first time, if you're going out and you're doing Social Media Post, for example, your social media agency, then the first time that you want to ask that person to give you and like a video testimony or any testimony whatsoever is like literally that first time that they see the social media post, and they see the first results. I always recommend to people in your agency or in any business, really, you need to trying to get a customer a quick wind within that first, like literally as fast as you can. So, for an agency, is there a way that you can get an ah-ha moment down to 24 hours? You know, Is there a way to do it so quickly that the person is excited because you're starting off that relationship? That's one of the most likely to give you a good video testimonial or any testimonial because they're the most excited at that moment. Then from there, you're able to keep that relationship and help with scale and grow. 

Yeah, so much good advice. I think a lot of time I see my clients too afraid to ask that early on need to think they need to feel like they need to wait to the end of the project,  and that's often too late. Then, if the clients kind of starting to disengage from the agency and think about the next party, it might be too difficult. 

Tell me about the kind of questions that you should ask when you're doing a video testimonial. Because I guess that's another thing people aren't really sure what to ask. And therefore they avoid doing it. 

Yeah, absolutely. I guess the favourite the best way that I like to explain it is like a hero's journey. So if you can visualise even like, in the US, they have, like, the medical commercials, like for pills and things like that. There's always at the very beginning. There's, like, this sad person who's struggling. And then all of a sudden, they found the magic pill, which is, of course, your service. And then after that, it's happiness, sunshine and rainbows and things like that. I like to follow that pattern when we ask any sort of, questions. So we'll usually start off by, “What is your business about?” For example, like, “Are you a pizza shop? What was the struggle that you're facing initially?” And then bringing them in and then saying “How were you able to find such agency? Was it by referral? Where was it from? How is the experience working with this? And then would you recommend other people working?” 

Brilliant. Good advice that the hero's journey is a great one to use in all the aspects of marketing, isn't it? So okay, so we've done that. We've now got this video testament of this 30 minute, 30 seconds or two minutes. Whatever it is, video testimony, how can we use that? I mean, the obvious places to stick it on your website. But how else could we be using that to help maximise our marketing?

Yeah, my favourite way to use it is to put it into via cells or to create, like, clip montages at the very beginning of something. So even in like the beginning of your via cell or a sales video that you're making for your agency, you can even stitch in at the very beginning, like John is the best. Like this was the best experience that we've ever had. Click that in the beginning, and then you can start that mood off. Right? When that person is watching because now there it's not there. Now, in their mind, they're more engaged because now they're going to see the kind of already have some understanding of how good you do. So there, watch your videos even further and things like this. 

Then also, I love to use it and follow up situations. So, if you're trying to land, say, a $2000 a month deal, the perfect place to stick that in and be able to send it over to a potential client is to follow up with them, send over, say, “Hey, here's all of the happy customers that we've had before.” And that gives you that trust and credibility for that person to make that decision.

Yeah, I'm glad you said that because I have a page with about 12 video testimonials on it, and I always use that page with my prospects and I'm following up some doing exactly that, which is good to know. So I guess one of the other things that put people off doing this is that they worry that the client might not have the equipment or, you know, they don't know how to set it all up. So I guess your software is helping sort of automating some of this process.

Is that is that right? Yeah, absolutely. And one other thing, too. Is that we personally, for me when I see video testimonials, I never liked, I guess one great example like this. Like when speakers are on stage, and they afterwards they go and they pull people aside and like, everybody's in the same situation, the same background. It looks very staged, you know, and one of my favourite things when it comes to video testimonials is that authenticity, people actually being in a different setting, people clearly being at the place that they're giving the review. Seeing all the moving parts in the backgrounds, to me is one of the most important parts. So when somebody actually does pull out their phone, or if they pull out their computer, it gives you that, like, OK, clearly, they didn't script this testimonial out. 

That's such good advice. And I think again that sort of puts people off because they think they have to have this highly produced video. But you're absolutely right. Sometimes the rawer, it looks the more real it looks and therefore people are more likely to believe it.

Just talk us through how they would use your software in this process. So when it comes to TrustScout, redesigned it to be as easy as humanly possible. For any sort of business to go out and collect these video testimonials. So when a user or when a business owner such as yourself, when you go and you use a telescope, what will happen is once you send it over the link to a person or you could put it on a QR code or whatever it is that you want to send it over or Linkedln an email. Once they click on that, it'll prompt up and ask them like it will tell them like, these are the guiding questions that we have. So if you can tell us about this situation, in this situation and then once they start recording, they recorded the video testimonial comes right into the dashboard after they leave their name and their review. And then from there, you access it inside of your dashboard, where you're able to download it and upload it to YouTube or anywhere else that you would need. 

Fantastic. I'm going to go and check this out afterwards then tell a lot of my clients that they should start using it. I think the easier we make this for ourselves and our clients, the more likely we are to do it. And it's such an important part of, like you say, building trust and credibility with your potential clients that it's something we should all be doing. 

So let's just take a few steps back here and talk about your journey as an entrepreneur and how you what you were doing before you start TrustScout, what led you to do that and what your aspirations are sort of moving into the future. Lots of questions in one there. 

Absolutely. Yeah, when it came to TrustScout, I mean, for us, it was just so important. We were initially using it for ourselves, just to be able to help out our clients. It was literally just to save time because we were spending I mean hours to go out and get video testimonials because half the time we would need to go and call up somebody and then be able to say, Okay, this is how to set it up. This is how to actually go and record. And then this is how to send the video testimonials to us. And it was not fun because half the time it would get stuck, in the email or the file was too big or they just couldn't even figure out how to send it. So we're like, okay, this isn't really an efficient way to do it. So, we had people like trying to drag and drop it into files and stuff like this, we just kept it just we had no control over any of the situations.

So when we actually designed trust, that was completely for ourselves to be able to help us and systematise the process and one of my friends, actually asked if we could or if we could share the software with them and go out and even use it for themselves and from there, That's actually when it started going into a larger scale situation where we had a lot more people than we were initially expecting. Yes. How long ago was that that you started to trust? We started TrustScout last June. So a little over a year or a little over a year now.

And then just talk us through your journey of like when you started out in business and how you got this and what your aspirations are Beyond that. Yeah, absolutely. So when I first started off, I knew I wanted to get into sales or if I wanted to get into business. I wanted something that I had control over how much I made. I remember this was back when I was young. It was with Pokemon cards. I love Pokemon cards. Once I found out that people desired one card more than other cards and that you could trade one card for two cards or one card for four cards or whatever it may have been, I fell in love with that idea of being able to have something of value in being able to help people in whichever way it was. So I started really trying to do a lot of projects. And when I was probably 15, 16 years old, I was trying to start up, like, food stands. I was trying to start up everything I could possibly try to do. And some days I would make some money and then other projects. I would make absolutely no money, and a lot of the time in a lot of my projects, very early on, they were not profitable. We would have all these ideas. We had all this type of, like, I guess, passions to try to go in and follow. But we didn't know how to go ahead and make any money like we just didn't know what to do. And from there I went, and I just said, “You know what? I think the best way for me to be able to learn how to do something, whether it's online or if it's just in a local area, is to tack onto what somebody's already doing and kind of see what somebody else is doing.” So I ended up working with a person who ran an online company, and I started working with him, and I started seeing the way that he was generating sales and the way that he was being able to bring clients and bring customers.

And from there I was able to tack on two very specific areas that I found that I was good at the inside of his business, and it allowed me to learn. And once I was able to learn those skill sets, then from there I was able to go out, and I was able to help other businesses be able to do the same thing. And I created an agency for myself, and but I wouldn't have been able to do that unless I actually was a. But unless I actually worked with that person from that initial stage.

I think a lot of people will relate to that story of having worked in an agency, having seen the good and the bad of running that agency and then deciding that they can do it better themselves. In probably as only my story I used to be a million years ago, I was the marketing manager for a software company, and we really struggled to hire a good agency that understood what we did. So I thought at the age of 23-24 I thought, I know I can go and start my own agency And, you know, that naive kind of arrogant youth was stood me in good stead because I don't think I do that now. 

So, how do you juggle running these two businesses? That's always an interesting question to ask people who have got multiple, you know, balls in the air. Yeah, absolutely. It was definitely challenging at first because when you start something, you put everything that you have into it, you know? So when I first was kind of making the switch and working with a scout, what happened is I started focusing all of my attention on that other business, which then, of course, my agency started going down, which was not fun. And it took me a couple of months to start realising like, “Oh, OK, I need to kind of figure out a balance.”

So what we ended up doing is it was actually, I guess, good, because it started to change my perspective of running a business in the first place because you kind of thing that you're supposed to put all your attention on the business. You're supposed to work eight hours a day on the business, at least. Or if you listen to some motivational people out there, they tell you to work 18 hours a day. But what happens is a lot of the time you're just working for the sake of work, you know?

And that right there it was. That's what you start to realise is because you have to start finding time and kind of start figuring out, OK, ‘where is my time best valued in a specific area?’ So what we ended up doing is we kind of said okay, you know what kind of structure? The time where it was like, OK, half a day of work on this project, and then the next day of work, 100% on this one. and I kind of had to think of it as I had to get the maximum of time for the least amount. I agree with you.

I mean, you know, I run this programme the self-running agency, and I wrote my book of the same name for all those reasons is like, you know, we want to grow our businesses, but we don't want to be completely tied into that business, working for a really difficult boss ourselves. So how do we grow it without losing control? But get that flexibility and freedom. And I always talk to people about the concept of working out what their hourly rate is.

It's like what is an hour of their time worth? And if they are doing tasks that are worth less than that, why are they doing them? Why can't they need to delegate them or to make them or do something to stop doing them and focus on tasks that are worth their hourly rate or more? And those are the usually the things that move your agency for. Those are the strategy things that you know, the things that only you can do and what's your sort of future aspirations. You're not grey and, like, I am your young So what's your sort of your translations for your businesses?

For me, I guess the biggest school in the next 4 to 5 years. That type of outlook is to be able to fully automate most of the business processes that are there. I almost kind of want to view myself as the chairman, as opposed to physically going into the business and working on it. So a lot of what I'm even doing now is I'm constantly out looking at okay, “What did somebody just do twice?” You know, somebody on my team. What does somebody just do twice? And how can I systematise that? Actually, even last year, I hired somebody to come in and basically just follow me around, you know, and be able to document everything that I was doing. And you start to realise, “How much of that stuff is something that you don't even remotely have to do?” You kind of thing that you have to do, But then you realise if you can just document processes, then you can have somebody else go out and do it for $5 an hour. And then you're able to focus on the money, how going out and getting new clients, like focusing on the things that actually increase that hourly net worth that you have. That would be my biggest thing is like trying to focus on getting all the systems up all the processes, and then being able to have both businesses running on autopilot. 

Such good advice. Personally, I've failed quite a few times in the last few years of hiring, a really good via and hiring social media person, a content person. And this time around, I got it right, because I did exactly what you just said. I spent. It was a very tedious process. But I spent a good few days documenting all of my standard operating procedures on how to do everything that I have been doing. And then when I hired the new team that I have now, they can follow the SOPS and you know, they can deliver it to the sort of level that I would hope with my minimum about my input.

Any other tips that you could share about running your business? I'm putting you on the spot here a bit, but any tips on running your business that you can share with anybody else, any things that you've seen good or bad? You know, when you've been running your business or when you've seen other people running. Absolutely, I would say this was probably one of the better pieces of advice that somebody told me, and it was that there are really only two things in your business that you can never focus on and its traffic or its sales.

Those are really the only two things that happen in your business. And I asked I said, like, “Why is that?” You know, and if you start thinking about it, if you're doing the delivery, if you personally are going out and doing the delivery, and then what ends up happening is you're basically just working a job at that point because you're just doing the service that somebody else who actually has benefits, who gets dental, you know, like that they could be paying you if you were just working like for them in the company.

So if you're doing the delivery, especially as an agency owner, you really have to check yourself and say, “OK, wait a minute. How can I step out of the delivery 100% and only focus on traffic and sales?” Because those are the two things that will actually put money in your pocket? 

Yeah, such good advice. I've not heard it like that before. I think my experience with a lot of entrepreneurial business owners is that they have to change their mindset as well because they do believe that clients, want them. And if I don't work on the client account, the client will haters and levers. And of course, that's not true. And they get stuck on what I call the client service hamster Wheel of Doom. So they're just constantly servicing clients. They've got no time to focus on traffic or sales. They've got no time to focus on the future direction of their agency. And there's a big iceberg up ahead that they aren't seeing because they're so entrenched in client delivery. So sometimes you've got to change your mindset, first of all, to think no, there are other people that can deliver as well or better than me, and I need to hire those people, and I need to train my clients so that they don't want to expect me on the account because I need to do the thing only I can do. And the thing that a lot of business owners do very well is traffic or sales. 

It's also interesting that I see some agencies trying to outsource that problem. So trying to outsource that, like hiring a new business agency or hiring a business development manager and almost nine times out of 10 that fails because sometimes people say it's a difficult problem, but they don't realise that they're the best person to solve it.

100% So if people wanted to find out more about you, Adam and more about TrustScout, where would they go? Yeah, they can go to trustscout.io. And then they'll be able to, really see how you can collect video testimonials for your agency or if you want even doing it for your clients as well. We can walk you through all that. 

Fantastic, Okay, so I'll put a link to that in the show notes. And if people wanted to reach you directly, should they don't have a LinkedIn or via the website or your email? Yeah, You can reach me on LinkedIn. Definitely. Okay, if you just reach out and malaria, we'll put you in conjunction as well. 

So, as you know, the one question I ask all my guests before I let them go is if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business, one piece of advice. What would it be? Yeah, what I would definitely say is try fast and fail fast for me. That that has become one of the I guess main building blocks of my business is because if I go ahead and when I first started off in business, I would work on projects for six months at a time or nine months, even if it wasn't profitable. Thinking that like, oh, it takes so much effort to go out and start a business that it makes sense to kind of work for free for six months or 12 months. The reality behind it is that if you can just get it in front of enough people, and then see what the conversion rates are and how much you're making from it, in 24 hours, you're gonna be way better off because you're going to have all those misses, and then you'll be able to find those couple of winners. That will allow you to scale at that kind of exponential rate. 

Yeah, great advice. Of course, the danger of sitting there working on something for six months that you think your market wants is that you might find out that no one is actually interested in. I always talk about companies that sell vitamin pills instead of painkillers. You know, a customer in pain and they want their pain solving. And what they want is a painkiller bit of where if we are producing a product that's a vitamin pill that we know would be really good for our clients. But they've got a splitting headache. They don't want the vitamin pills. So, you know, I really like that. I haven't heard that term Try fast, fail fast. But that is a good piece of advice. 

And as I always say too, I guess we haven't had anybody say anything like that before. So that is where nearly 100 episodes now, and with no one's ever said that before. So I'm and one day I may be for Episode 100 I'm going to go back and collect all of the advice and put them into one episode. I think that would be a really good one. 

Adam, I really appreciate your time, especially since it's really early in the morning for you in the U.S. But I really appreciate your time and sharing your experience and your wisdom with our listeners. And thanks so much for joining me today. Absolutely. Thank you so much. It was awesome being on.

6 Tips To Quickly Qualify New Enquiries

I was sitting with a client last month and we were discussing business development. They are in the fortunate position to be generating between 20 and 30 new inquiries each month because they've really worked on making their website generate new leads. 

However, whilst some of these inquiries looked promising at the start, they seem to follow a similar pattern that results in the client working long hours to get the proposals written and then the prospect disappears! 

So this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast focuses on the topic of qualifying leads BEFORE you spend a ton of time on them. This means that you're investing your limited time on the hot prospects and rooting out those enquiries that are just information gatherers. 

Also, you will learn six (6) tips and strategies that you can start applying immediately in your agency to implement a faster lead qualification process.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:54] 

Funnel marketing activities

[3:18] 

The consequence of focusing your time on the wrong prospects

[6:45] 

#1 You must get a sense of a prospect’s budget and if they won’t give you that, then it’s a good indication that it’s early in their buying process and they might just be on a fact-finding expedition!

[7:35] 

#2 There are some techniques you can use to ‘encourage’ them to give you a budget or at least an idea of their budget range (this is something I teach my Self-Running Agency Implementation Group Members how to do)

[9:04] 

#3 How to know if it's time to walk away from a prospect 

[10:35] 

#4 For most of us, time is our most valuable commodity, so you want to invest as little time as possible in early discussions with prospects – use pre-written email templates to quickly follow-up leads to filter them ‘in’ or ‘out’

[10:44] 

#5 The further down the sales funnel the prospects go, the more time you should be willing to invest

[11:54] 

#6 Once you agree to a meeting and then agree to write a proposal, get a date in the diary (during that meeting) for the follow-up conversation.  This gives you the best chance of keeping momentum once you’ve sent the proposal

Quotations

“If your prospect won't give you a budget or won't give you a sense of what a range of their budgets my advice to you is to walk away because you will never be able to give them a proper quote, and it is a big red flag to say that it's too early in the process, and they’re probably just in information-gathering mode.” - Rob Da Costa

“..there's nothing wrong with people who are in information-gathering mode, and they may well one day become your perfect client, and they're not ready now. But you should not be using your time to educate them.” - Rob Da  Costa

“..the secret here is to identify the hot prospects that you're going to invest your time in and get rid of those others as quickly as possible..” - Rob Da Costa

“This is why having these pre-written email templates is a great idea because they may not be a fit for you today, but they may be the right kind of client for you in the future..”- Rob Da Costa

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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

I was sitting with a client last month and we were discussing business development. Now they are in the fortunate position to be generating between 20 and 30 new inquiries each month because they've really worked on their website to generate new leads and are clearly working. However, while some of these inquiries look promising at the start, they seem to follow a similar pattern that results in the client busting a gut to get the proposal written and then the prospect disappearing. 

So in this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I want to talk all about qualifying leads so that you're investing your limited time in the hot prospects and rooting out those inquiries that are just information gatherers.

Now I'm going to share with you six tips and strategies that you can start applying immediately in your agency. So grab your pen and paper for another action-packed episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa. 

Before we jump into today's episode of the podcast, I want to really quickly tell you about some free value pack training I'm going to be delivering in September. This training is entitled how to easily fill yourselves pipeline with high-quality leads in the next 90 days. 

Now, this is a 60-minute training where I'll be talking about why referral based clients are actually setting your agency up to fail, the importance of niche in your agency and how to go about teaching that to discover your zone of genius, and how to create compelling marketing messages that instantly build credibility with your target audience. I'll be talking about the importance of building your mailing list and making sure that your agency is aligned across the market, product, service and price. 

So this is a real action-packed 60-minute training with some exclusive bonuses, and all you need to do is head over to training.dacostacoaching.co.uk/salespipelinewebinar, and you can save your seat. I'll put a link to this in the show notes, but let's get on with today's show.

Although I want to keep my business predominantly online, and I've proven over the last 18 months that I can run my business and be as useful to my clients working via Zoom. There are still times where it makes more sense to meet a client face to face, one such client. I spend a whole day every month working on their agencies strategy, and that can be pretty intense work, so it's much better-done face to face.

Now, part of the strategy discussion always revolves around marketing and business development. Now, this client has done a brilliant job at the top of the funnel marketing activities, which means they've been getting lots of people joining their email list and a consistent flow of between 20 and 30 new inquiries every month. This sounds brilliant, right, however, when we dig a bit deeper into the numbers to look at how many of these inquiries over the last quarter are moving down the sales funnel and becoming warm prospects and then, ultimately, customers. We established that a lot of the inquiry seems to follow a similar pattern that results in them having in-depth conversations with the prospect.

Now, these conversations usually result in the prospect asking for a written proposal, and they often give them really short deadlines to do this. So the client works long hours to get the proposal written by their deadline. Sends it off, tries to follow up with the prospect, but they just can't get hold of them. And the prospect disappears. So there seems to be the typical steps that happen in this pattern and see if you can relate to this. So an inquiry comes in and they either request to call or they book a call, depending on what the setup is.

The client has a look at them, and they deemed them to be a suitable lead, so they let that call happen now. By suitable lead, I mean that they match their ideal target customer or their customer avatar. And if you haven't done the work on defining your customer avatar or ideal target customer, I'll put a link in the show notes of one of my free guides that show you exactly how to define your ideal target customer or customer avatar. So they deemed them appropriate. 

So they booked the call in and on the call, the prospect first is always hesitant about sharing any kind of budget but requests the proposal nonetheless and, as I said, they often give them very short time scales, which is all very crazy when you say it out loud. But this is the pattern that seems to happen to this client and a lot of other agencies as well. 

So the client works hard late into the night to get the proposal written to meet the prospect short deadline and then fast forward a few days or a week. And my client is struggling to get hold of the prospect, and despite chasing several times, they give up in the end and hope that maybe the prospect will get back to them when they're ready.

But they really do so if you can relate to this, raise your hand and you could see me right now you would see that I am raising my hand as I say this because this has happened to me a number of times in the past, and it's a familiar story that I hear happening to this client and other clients and no doubt you as well, because, let's face it, we have all been there. But there are a few red flags in the story that I've just shared with you that should have halted the process sooner.

So let's pull it apart a bit and let me share with you six-piece of advice or six strategies that will help you philtre out the time-wasters or the information gatherers so you can focus your time on those hot prospects and do a really good job. 

Now we're all really time-poor. So there is a double negative whammy if you're inundated with leads and you're pursuing lots of those leads because you're investing your time in leads that maybe don't go anywhere. And second of all, that means you're limiting your time on focusing on those hot prospects. Which could mean that you're not doing as good a job. Which, of course in itself means that you give yourself less chance of actually winning that hot prospect client. 

So you want to get this right so that you're investing your limited time in the hot prospects because they're the ones that are most likely to convert now. And they're also the ones that are best suited for your business. And, you know, you can do a great job for so as I said, here are six tips if we sort of play that scenario back of things that you should do, and this is the advice that I gave my client in our coaching day.

So first of all, you have to get a sense of your prospect’s budget. And if they won't give you that, then it's a good indication that they are really early on in the buying process. And perhaps they are just on a fact-finding expedition to get a sense of what agencies could do for them and how much it might cost. 

So there are some techniques that you can use to encourage them to give you a budget or at least give you an idea of the range of their budget. This is something that I teach him myself, running an agency implementation group on exactly how to do this. But at least give your client a range of prices and have them tell you where they sit if they won't give you a budget. Now, if you've done all of that and they are still unable or reluctant to give you a budget, then my advice would be to walk away. 

Let's just imagine that you are at home and you've got an architect who's come around your house to discuss having an extension to your home, and you're refusing to give the architect any sense of the budget. So how on earth could they quote? Are they quoting for like a single-story lean-to? Or are they quoting for a three-storey extension with a massive master bedroom on the top floor along with a suite bathroom? They just can't quote and imagine how crazy it would be to sit with an architect and say, ‘’Well, actually, I'm not going to give you a budget. I don't know what it is.” So exactly the same is true for you. If your prospect won't give you a budget or won't give you a sense of what a range of their budgets my advice to you is to walk away because you will never be able to give them a proper quote, and it is a big red flag to say that it's too early in the process, and they’re probably just in information-gathering mode. 

Now there's nothing wrong with people who are in information-gathering mode, and they may well one day become your perfect client, and they're not ready now. But you should not be using your time to educate. These people have content, download freebies, videos, guides or whatever on your website that they can download that will help educate them. So you keep them in your world, but you're not using your time to educate them. 

And often I don't quite know the psychology of this. But often, if you're the person that's helping someone set their budget and define their brief for a project, they'll often end up going somewhere else to get that piece of work actually fulfilled. So you don't want to be that person. So my advice, tip #3, really is that if you've tried to get a budget out of the prospect and they won't give you one, then walk away because it makes no sense. Actually, you know what, share that architect story with them because everyone can relate to that idea of having an extension on their home and how crazy it would be not to give them an idea of your budget.

So for most of us, time is our most valuable commodity, as I've been saying, you want to invest as little time as possible in those early discussions with prospects. Do things like use pre-written email templates to quickly follow up leads to philtre them in or out. Then, think about what other pre-prepared content you can create that you just need to tailor slightly to send off to those prospects that you think are not well enough qualified and bear in mind that the further down the sales funnel they go, the more time you should invest.

If you think of a sales funnel is like a triangle with the wide part of the triangle at the top and the narrow part of the bottom, your time needs to be the complete inverse of that. So if you through another triangle next to it the other way up with the point at the top, that's your time. So at the top of the sales funnel, where you've got people coming in your world, but they're cold leads, you do not want to be spending a tonne of time, so your email marketing, your website, your freebies, your content, your blogs and videos, podcasts and so on can be the content that helps drive people into your funnel and move them down the funnel.

And as they get towards the bottom, you spend more time with them. And, of course, the secret here is to identify the hot prospects that you're going to invest your time in and get rid of those others as quickly as possible, which is obviously what we're talking about today. 

Now my next tip, which I think is a really good one. The one that I use all the time is that once you agree to a meeting and then you agree to write a proposal. When you're on that phone call, Zoom call, meeting with that prospect. Get a date in the diary during the meeting for a follow-up conversation. You actually want them to literally get their diary out. Say, look, I'll get you this proposal by Friday and let's give you a week to review it, and let's put a date for the following Friday at 10 AM to have a chat. Now, of course, that doesn't mean that they won't cancel that meeting, but you've already kind of created an expectation with them that you are going to be following up and let's get a specific date, and it also creates a sense of timeline and urgency for client needs to review your proposal and then have some feedback for you. 

Because isn't it crazy and frustrating how prospects will often testers by saying, “We've got really short time scale and then if you do get hold of them,” say a week afterwards, they say, “I haven't even had a chance to look at it yet.” And you're thinking it worked late into the night or the weekend to get this done to your crazy short time scale and you haven't even looked at it. So that was my sixth tip, which is when you're in that initial prospect meeting or that conversation and you are agreeing to write a proposal. You want to get a day in their diary for a follow up so that you have set that kind of expectation that you will be following up. 

So these are six tips that I shared with my client on that coaching day, and we worked through all of this. We also looked at some other methods for speeding up the process, such as, as I've said, creating a set of pre-written email templates that can be used and tailored for different responses to like, “Thanks but no thanks.” or “Thanks, but I need more information.” They're not writing these from scratch every time. But they are having a starting point that isn't zero, but it's maybe, like 70 and then they just tailor it slightly to get it to 100%. Because the goal of this is to philtre in the hot prospects, where you going to spend your time and philtre out just those fact finders or those people that may not be a right fit, but that doesn't mean you should ignore them. This is why having these pre-written email templates is a great idea because they may not be a fit for you today, but they may be the right kind of client for you in the future, so you do want to follow them up in a political way possible, but it isn't always going to be by spending lots of time on the phone with them.

Now, if you're listening to this and thinking that the client I was with is really lucky because they're generating that many new inquiries per month and your challenge might be that you need more leads at the top of your funnel in the first place, and you're actually not getting anywhere near 20 to 30 inquiries a month. You may not be getting one or two or not even that. Then my recommendation is to go back and listen to my mini-podcast series on business development, which is episodes 41, 43, and 44. And again, I'll put links to those episodes in the show notes.

So I hope this gives you some food for thought because once you're at the stage of generating a consistent flow of inquiries, you really quickly need to separate the info gatherers from the genuine hot prospects and invest your time in the latter rather than getting sidetracked and distracted by following up every lead that often takes you down a blind alley in a dead end. 

As I mentioned, there are some useful links connected to today's podcast in the show notes. And as ever, if you found the episode useful, please make sure that you hit the subscribe button and also consider leaving a review on apple podcasts. Since it really helps the algorithms show the podcast to more agency owners just like you, which in turn helps me help more people just like you. Other than that, have a great rest of your week and I'll be back with you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

How To Increase Your Prices

Why do so many agency owners struggle to increase their prices? 

Every January, I get a letter in the post from my utility companies telling me that their prices are increasing. We are used to receiving this kind of increase.  In fact, we expect it, so we don't question it and we just move on. 

What can agencies learn from this?

In this latest episode of The Agency Accelerated Podcast, I explore strategies to increase your prices in a way that you feel comfortable with and the client is more than happy to pay for (because they continue to see the value in what you're delivering). This applies to both existing clients and new clients. 

I explore the different pricing models agencies use as well as some tips and strategies to ensure your clients value what you do.

Finally I discuss why mindset is the key to increasing your prices and charging a fair fee for the work you deliver.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:13] 

Why should agencies increase their price every year? 

[2:02] 

The importance of having the right mindset in pricing  

[2:34] 

Different pricing models

[3:08] 

Reasons why you shouldn’t sell your time to clients

[4:06] 

Understanding transformation of pricing from being in pain to not being in pain

[5:13] 

An overview of value-based pricing 

[5:43] 

Difference between value-based and time-based pricing

[6:55] 

Tips in positioning yourself with clients 

[8:06] 

The importance of having a niche

Quotations

“You need to focus on the thing that the client really cares about - which is the outcome and the transformation from being in pain to not being in pain.” - Rob Da Costa

“..you all know that a niched agency is always gonna be able to charge more than a generalist. So having a clear niche will also help you increase your prices because you will be seen as a specialist, not a generalist.” - Rob Da Costa

“50% of getting your pricing right is getting your mindset right.” - Rob Da Costa

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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

Every January, I get a letter in the post from my utility companies telling me that their prices are increasing that year and the price increases almost always above inflation rates. Now we are really used to receiving this kind of correspondence, and we just assume that it's the norm. So we don't question it and we just move on. 

So why do we struggle so much in our agency to do the same thing? That's what I want to talk about in this episode of The Agency Accelerated Podcast and explore ways to increase your prices in a way that you feel comfortable with and the client is more than happy to pay the price because they really see the value in what you're delivering.

Now, this applies to both existing clients and new clients. So if you struggled with increasing your prices or indeed you have increased your prices for a number of years, then this episode is one that you won't want to miss.  So grab a pen and paper and let's get going. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa.

So based on my introduction, you'll understand that. I believe all agencies should be increasing their prices on an annual basis. This is something that they need to sow the seed with new clients, that they understand how it works and then have the courage to implement this with existing clients as well. 

Why? Well, firstly, your costs are constantly going up, and secondly, you'll also be investing in people, systems and software to continually improve the service that you provide your clients. So, just like utility companies, you should be implementing a price increase every year. Now I can feel some of your heckles raising as I say this, and it's worth stating that yes, you can increase your prices to half. The battle of getting your pricing right is having the right mindset. So for some of us, that means changing our mindset and focusing on the value that we deliver to our clients and really believing that we do a great job rather than believing the stories that we tell ourselves, such as ‘The climb will never agree to this,’ or ‘if I increase my prices, they’ll probably fire us.’

This just isn't true, and you need to recognise that these are stories that you're just telling yourself and they're not facts. You know, ask yourself what evidence do I have to support this belief? Usually, you'll find you don't have any. 

If you're constantly promoting the value of what you deliver to your clients, that they won't have any kind of issue with the price increase now, talking of value, it's worth reminding ourselves of some of the pricing models that agencies currently use. And to be honest, this stat really drives me crazy. According to a recent benchmark report, 60% of agencies still are pricing on time and materials. If you listen to this podcast before or you read any of my content, you'll know that I am not a fan of this approach, and it really makes it way harder to increase your prices. So let's just take a moment to dig into that. 

The issue about selling time to clients, i.e. hours or daily rates is that a client isn't really buying your time and you’re encouraging them to focus on the wrong thing, i.e your hourly or daily rate, rather than the thing that they're buying, which is the outcome of what you do for them now. The problem about selling hourly or daily rate is it really commoditise is your service and encourages your client to compare one hourly rate, for example, to another. So there might be two agencies pitching for this piece of work. It wants you and one other, and the other agencies charging £20 an hour less than you. But of course, the reality is that the quality of their work is nowhere near as good as yours.

Now the client is comparing your hourly rate against the cheaper hourly rates. So they either go with a cheaper rate or they ask you for a discount before you've even started. And this is a fundamental reason why selling time is the wrong thing. Clients are buying a transformation now that transformation is from being in pain to not being in pain. So, for example, if you go to the dentist and you've got a toothache, then you were literally in pain and you want them to get rid of your pain and you don't care how long it takes. In fact, you want them to do as quickly as possible because you're not buying their time. You're buying the value of getting the outcome, which is not being in pain. 

But if you're buying a bottle of water, then the transformation you are buying is from being thirsty to not being thirsty or being dehydrated to being hydrated. So if you are pricing against the transformation, then it becomes much harder for the client to ask you for a discount, and you've certainly no longer look commoditised. You're focusing on the thing that the client really cares about, which is the outcome and the transformation from being in pain to not being in pain.

So, what you need to do is really dig into this in your prospecting conversations or with an existing client when you're setting the next cycle of objectives, you need to dig into understanding what that transformation is and understanding how much it's worth that clients not being in pain anymore. That's kind of a quick overview of value pricing, and I believe everybody should be using that. I think a lot of people don't use it because they get confused. In fact, the benchmark report states that only 23% of agencies are taking this approach and using a value-based pricing approach.

So obviously this episode isn't just about value-based pricing, but I wanted to give you the context of value-based pricing versus time-based pricing and also explain why it's much harder to increase your prices when you are selling time. Because if you say to a client we want to increase our hourly rate from X to Y or a day rate from A to B. Then immediately the client's gonna start comparing you to other people and asking you not to do that because someone else is charging a cheaper rate. But as I say, they're not comparing the right thing when you do that. So that's why you shouldn't take that approach, and it makes it much harder to increase your prices. 

So the first summary from this part of the conversation is you can increase your prices by taking a value-based pricing approach, and when you are talking to your prospects and you're writing proposals focused on the outcome you're delivering for the client and therefore charge the higher fee. Now, of course, internally, you're still going to want to work on ours because you need to make sure that your team is profitable, that people are not over-servicing clients and so on. The only way you can really do that is by doing time recording. But that's a whole different conversation compared to what you're selling the client.

Now, another way to think about this and ensure that you're getting your pricing right is to consider the things that the client is buying from you. Fundamentally, they're buying three things. They're buying your technical skill to deliver your product or service. So if your web developer, then it's your skill to develop the website or graphic designer or your copyrighting skills or your SEO, PPC skills, that is kind of a given and that's kind of commoditised because that's what everybody in your market will be doing. But you are also selling, and the client is also buying your strategic advice and your years of experience to make that transformation is pain-free and as fast as possible. And in my experience, too many agencies undervalue those second two points that your strategic advice and your creativity and years of experience to fish effectively get rid of the client's pain. So when you're talking to clients and you're quoting, make sure that you focus on those second two areas, and not just the commodities kind of delivery of your service, because that's where the value is to the client.

That's what starts to make you look different and more importantly, in the context of this conversation, that's what enables you to increase your prices. And, of course, you all know that a niche agency is always gonna be able to charge more than a generalist. So having a clear niche will also help you increase your prices in the market because you will be seen as a specialist, not a generalist. If you needed knee surgery, you would go to a knee surgeon specialist. You wouldn't go to your GP. And if you had to pay, guess which of those two would be charging more.

So a niche agency is always going to be able to charge more than a generalist. So that's some tips and ideas on how to position what you do with your clients in a way that they will really value it. So when you're talking to a new customer, you can get your pricing right from the start. And, of course, when they are signing a contract, you want to make sure in that contract that you state that you will be reviewing you're pricing with clients every single year. 

Now I totally appreciate that. That's the easier way to get your pricing right. And the harder way is, well, if I'm underpricing with current clients or if I'm pricing on time and I can see now that I'm undervaluing what I do, how do I go about changing it? And I appreciate that's the much harder thing to do. So, first of all, I do think you need to get into the rhythm of increasing your prices every year. I think when you write to your clients while you discuss it with them, you need to focus on the value that you're giving to them, which is why you're increasing your prices rather than leaving it to them. To think that you're increasing your prices because you've got fancy new offices or you want to pay yourself more money, which, of course, we all know it's not true. 

In the show notes, I am going to give you a link to grab a free download of a price increase letter. So if you want a template you can use, then head over to the show notes. Click on the link and grab a copy of the free price Increase letter. 

Now with existing clients, you want to do it in more stealth-like ways. All that means is just changing the tone of your conversations to start focusing on the value and the outcomes more. And then when you are pricing up new projects or you are pricing up additional work on top of your retainer, then you can start pricing based on value and having that conversation with your clients, where you're asking them about the outcomes and understanding the wider impact that the work you're doing for the client will have on their business and price based on this. 

As I said earlier if you're sitting here thinking, well, Rob, that just won't work for me, then I really want to challenge you and to challenge you to start changing your mindset because you don't know that is the case. Then, if a client is really arguing with you about a minor price increase, then, first of all, you've got to ask yourself, ‘Are they the right client?’ and second of all, you need to be asking yourself, “Have I got the way we position? What we do wrong?’ And, ‘Is the client perceiving my product or service in a very commoditised way, rather than seeing it as a strategic part of their marketing that will really help their business move forward?’ If it's the latter, it becomes much easier to increase your prices.

So you really want to challenge your mindset around this because, as I said, 50% of getting your pricing right is getting your mindset right. 

Okay, so that's what I wanted to talk about in this episode of the podcast, short and sweet. It's a big topic, and I actually have a webinar that I run on this. So do look out on my homepage when I'll be running that webinar again and we dig into the whole pricing models and the way to understand what your clients buying and then strategies on increasing your pricing, getting your pricing right and some techniques that you can use that will make this much easier.

But I hope that the outcome of today's podcast is to get you thinking a little bit differently about your pricing to challenge you if you haven't increased your prices for a long time, and to start changing the conversation with your clients to focus on outcomes and impact rather than the time that you spend providing your product or service. 

As I said, if you jump into the show notes, there is a link to a free download of a price increase letter that so please grab that and use that as a template for contacting your clients. But that hope you found it useful. Please hit the subscribe button. Share this with your colleagues and please consider leaving a review on Apple Podcasts because it helps me reach a wider audience. But other than that, have a brilliant weekend and I'll be back with you next Thursday with our next guest episode.

Using A Lead Magnet To Get New Subscribers To Your Mailing List

Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly will know that when I have a guest, I ask them what advice they would give their younger selves just starting out in business if they could go back in time. 

Now some of you have asked me, “well Rob what would you say to your younger self?” So, the piece of advice I would give my younger self is to start building my email list as soon as I started my business. If I had figured that out earlier, I would have a much bigger list now. And more importantly, I would have a much bigger pool of ideal target customers to nurture and ‘fish’ from. 

So in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator podcast, I want to revisit one of my favourite topics because it's one of the most valuable things you can do in your agency and talk about the importance of building your mailing list, and more specifically, how to get new subscribers to join your list. 

Now I've spoken about the importance of building your list before (in episodes 5 and 30), but today I want to dig in to specifically discuss how you can get more subscribers.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[0:14] 

What advice would I give my younger self if I could go back in time?

[2:43] 

The importance of building a mailing list

[3:40] 

What is the best structure for an email?

[4:04] 

How to win new clients

[4:55] 

Understanding the value of a ‘lead magnet’

[8:00] 

What is the best place to get people to start engaging with your lead magnet?

[8:56] 

An overview of how a sales page works

[10:34] 

The components of an email automation system

[14:39] 

How to set up a sequence of emails in an email automation system?

Quotations

“Every business will have two or three marketing activities that work well for them and deliver good results.” - Rob Da Costa

“..the bigger the list, the more value you will get from it. And communicating regularly with your list means that you're keeping your list clean and you are keeping them connected with your agency.” - Rob Da Costa

“Remember, your goal with these emails is to nurture them through the sales funnel so that you can identify your five-star prospects (your hot prospects) and start having a more personalised engagement with them.” - Rob Da Costa

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.

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!

 Full Episode Transcription

Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly will know that when I have a guest on, at the end of the episode, I asked them what advice they would give their younger selves just starting out in business if they could go back in time. Now some of you have asked me, well Rob what would you say to your younger self? So, the piece of advice I would give is to start building my email list as soon as I started my business. I know that's a sort of really practical piece of advice, but if I figured this out earlier, I would have a much bigger list now. And more importantly, I would have a much bigger pool of ideal target customers to fishing. 

So in today's podcast, I want to revisit one of my favourite topics because it's one of the most valuable things you can do in your agency and talk about the importance of building your mailing list, and more specifically, how to get new subscribers to join your list. Now I've spoken about the importance of building your list before in episodes 5 and 30, but today I want to dig in to talk about how you can get more subscribers.

Now hopefully, many of you will buy into the concept of building a mailing list. You'll also know that it's not really worthwhile buying in a list or building a cold list by people that don't know you and have given permission to be emailed by you. So you need to get people to opt in to join your list so that they are a warm, receptive audience. But how do you go about doing that every day so that you're getting more subscribers? Well, that's the topic of today's podcast.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host agency owner and coach Rob Da Costa. This episode of the podcast is sponsored by my own programme, The Agency Selling System. The programme provides you with a resource library of video trainings, tools, and templates for everything to do with new business from your positioning, your marketing strategy, including everything you need to know about building your email lists and creating engaging nurturing sequences to convert your subscribers into loyal customers. Everything to do with selling and client retention and growth, just to name a few of the topics. You can see more about the programme by checking out the link in the show notes and as a thank you to my listeners for following me on the podcast. If you use Podcast10, that's podcast number 10 at checkout. Then you're going to get a 10% discount off the programme.  Okay on with the episode and this particular episode is action-packed, so it's well worth you sitting down and grabbing a pen and paper so you can take some notes. 

Every business will have two or three marketing activities that work well for them and deliver good results.

And these were based on the type of content their audience likes to digest, and also on the things that you're good at doing, whether that be making videos or recording a podcast like this or writing detailed blogs. But one of the things that are non-negotiable that every business should be doing and underpins so much of your other marketing activities is building your mailing list. Consider that every warm lead that you add to your list is worth £10 a month in revenue, Then hopefully you would be motivated to want to add more contacts to that list, and secondly, you would want to communicate with them frequently so that you can convert those contacts into revenue. Now, of course, you want to make sure that you're adding value when you send emails and you're not spamming your audience. And you also want to make sure that you are getting the structure and the content of your emails right, so that you're focusing 80% of the time on value and 20% of the time on selling. But that structures a topic for another podcast. Basically, the bigger the list, the more value will get from it. And communicating regularly with your list means that you're keeping your list clean and you are keeping them connected with your agency.

Now, if you want to win new clients, not only do you need to demonstrate that you're good at delivering your service, whether that be web design or writing or SEO strategies, but you also need to be showing up as the expert and the trusted advisor, and your email marketing strategy is a great way of doing that consistently by showing up in your prospects inbox and providing them with small bite-size pieces of value whilst demonstrating your expertise. Remember that we have to take our prospects through that no like and trust funnel and email marketing is a great way of building all three of those stages. 

But another way of providing even more value and positioning yourself as that trusted advisor and expert is by offering a more detailed lead magnet. So you may well have heard of this term before, but let's just take a step back. For those who haven't and explain exactly what a lead magnet is. As the name implies, a lead magnet is something of value that is going to attract your ideal target customer to part with their email address in return for receiving this lead magnet. Now it needs to be something that genuinely provides value so that it demonstrates your credibility and understanding of your client’s challenges. So what could a lead magnet be? Well, it could be a number of things from a detailed 10-page guide to a one-page template or top 10 tips. It could be a video lesson, or it could even be something like a quiz that provides some insights for the reader once they have answered the questions, and, of course, they received those results fire an email once they've submitted their email address. It just needs to genuinely impart some value to your reader. It's going to focus on the ‘why’ and the ‘what.’ And of course, when the client works with you, you're going to be delivering the ‘how.’ 

Now one of the questions that people often ask me when I'm talking about this with my private clients are my group coaching programme is, they say. But, Rob, I'm worried about giving so much information away that they won't actually want to work with me. But the reality is that clients come to you because they are time-poor and they don't have the time or the resources or the skills in house to solve the problem. And so they just want you to take the problem off their hands. So let's remove that as one of the reasons why you don't want to produce a detailed guide or you fear giving too much value away. Remember, people are time-poor. They've got time to go and figure this out for themselves, and they want you to solve the problem for them. So the lead magnet is just going to be providing them with some value and showing them via this value that you are the right person on the right agency to help them.

Now one mistake that I've made in the past is producing so many pieces of content for my lead magnet, and thinking that I need to have lots of these mitt lead magnets, and that's the right way to generate more email sign-ups. But the reality is that you only need one or two pieces of really great killer content to act as your lead magnet to start getting regular subscribers to your email list. So let's dispel another myth, which is I need lots of these lead magnets. No, you don't just start with one. And again, if I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice, I'd say, Rob, you don't need to have 20 or 30 lead magnets on your website. Start with one. Make it the best piece of content that you can promote the hell out of that, and then over time, you can add more to it. But just start off with one and market it really well. Oh, and by the way, let's dispel. Another myth here is that you don't need to spend thousands of pounds getting it beautifully designed pdf. Obviously, if you're a design agency, it needs to look like and you might have those design capabilities in house. But if not just used canvas and create a nice template so that it's easily readable. Remember, people are judging you based on the quality of the content. They're not judging you on the design. 

Okay, so now you've got this one piece of killer content for your lead magnet, and you've created a nice PDF or you've shot a video. Well, you've written the quiz. Where do you promote it? And how do you get people to start engaging with your lead magnet so that they can access it in return for their email address? Well, the best place is going to be your website, and what you want to do is create a specific sales page or landing page on your website so that when they arrive, they're seeing some really engaging and enticing content. It's almost like an ad if you like, to encourage them to download the lead magnet. Now, this sales page needs to lead with your client’s pain and then show them how your lead magnet will help them start transitioning away from being in pain to not being in pain and how to do that as quickly as possible.

Now I'm going to do a future episode on the anatomy of a great sales page. But a quick overview of a sales page needs to start with a really engaging headline, which typically looks like how to achieve a desire without getting stuck on an obstacle. So a recent headline for one of my cells pages using this formula was: “How to increase your profits without fear of losing clients?” So take that approach to your headline and then promote the freebie. The killer content is the lead magnet.

Now you're also going to want to include some testimonials or which could be written. Or there could be a video of people that have used your freebie and get value from it. So that's something to bear in mind to get some feedback from people, and a really important point is that you want to make it really easy for your reader to access your freebie. So make sure that right at the top of the sales page, almost below that headline and what we call above the fold, you've either a form that they fill in, which might just be their first name and their email address or a button to click on, which will open up a pop-up form. And you want to make sure that that's not buried somewhere at the bottom of the page. In fact, you're probably gonna want to include this but formal button at least twice on the page, once at the top and once at the bottom. And if you're using a long-form sales page and you're probably going to have it in the middle as well. So don't be afraid of putting that several times and making it really easy for your reader to access it. So, as I said in a future episode, I'll go through the anatomy of an ideal sales page. But that just gives you a kind of quick snapshot and have a look around my website to see some examples of sales pages. In fact, I'll put some links into the show notes. 

Okay, so you've written your piece of killer content. You've created this amazing, engaging sales page. Now we need to link it all together using the right tech. Now, sometimes this can feel really overwhelming, and actually, it's a barrier for some people to start building their email list. But at the end of the day, it's pretty simple. So let me outline the tech, and the process is you need to connect all of these pieces together. So basically you need three things. A website to host yourselves a page, an email automation system to send out the killer content and then subsequent follow-up emails and a form that people fill in to request the piece of killer content in the first place. So let's break these down, and we're going to start off with the email automation system. So you want to start using something like convert it or Mailchimp or ActiveCampaign. And I've personally used all three of these over the years. But now I host all my emails in Cartwright, which is an all in one system, and my websites are also hosted there. My email automation system, my forms, my videos and so on. But I would start simply by using one of the systems that are just off for email automation, and I'll list all of these in the show notes. Now, of course, you can also need a website, and I hope that with the website that you have you can easily create new pages yourself, rather than having to go back to your web development agency every time you need a new page. And certainly, if you use a platform like WordPress and a design system that sits on top of it like Thrive Architect, it will be very easy for you to create a new page. In fact, tools like Thrive Architect and Kartra that I use give you lots of pre-designed templates for sales pages, which are a great starting point. 

So now you've designed ourselves page. You need to connect the form to the email automation system, and you'll be able to do this in one of two ways. You either create the form in your web development platforms such as Thrive Architect, and then you link it through to your email automation system, or you create the form in your email automation system and embed it on your website. Now I know that might sound complicated, but trust me, it's not. It will take you 10 or 15 minutes now, of course, to ensure that you are GDPR compliant. You'll also want to make sure that you have a tick box confirming that the reader allows you to send them further emails. And your email automation system will make this very straightforward to add that in. In fact, usually, it's just part of your settings to say you include GDPR compliance approval. I hope that doesn't sound too complicated because it is really very simple. 

So the final piece of the jigsaw is the emails that you're going to send once they've given you their email address and requested to receive your lead magnet. And the nurturing sequence of emails that you send after they've downloaded the lead magnet is really important so that you can start to move them through the sales funnel and build that know-like and trust journey with your ultimate goal, being a meeting to discuss a potential project that you could help them with.

Now, one piece of really important advice here is that make sure you deliver your lead magnet via email. Don't just redirect someone to another page on your website where that PDF appears because that will encourage people to give you bogus email addresses. Whereas if they know that you will send the lead magnet via an email, then they have to give you their correct email address, so that's a really important tip. Also, by doing this, you force or highly encourage people to tick that GDP our compliance box. So word it carefully, such as in order for me to send you the guide you have requested. Please confirm you’re happy to receive further emails from me and tick the GDPR compliance box. Now the sequence of emails you send once they've requested your lead magnet deserves a podcast episode in itself. But I put together a lead magnet of my own, which is a welcoming sequence of emails that you would send to somebody once they've subscribed to your list. So if you want to grab a copy of that lead magnet, I'll put a link in the show notes.

The first email you're going to send immediately upon them completing the form is going to be the email that delivers your lead magnet or your killer content. And you can store that, for example, on Google Drive and then put a link to that in that email. Or you can send it as an attachment and that both of those approaches have pros and cons, and this will largely be dependent on the email automation system you use in terms of which allows you to do what? As I said, both have got their pros and cons. But again, just a reminder. Don't deliver your killer content directly on your website unless you want to receive loads of bogus email addresses. 

Okay, so you then want to send them further emails over the next week or so, which digs into certain aspects of the lead magnet that they have downloaded in more detail. So, for example, in my case, if you download my self-running agency book over the next five days, you're going to receive a series of emails that include videos of me diving into certain aspects of the book in more detail. Now, this is a really good idea because some people like to read and some people like to watch videos and so on so I'm covering all the different variations of different readers. Then the follow-up emails will become less frequent over time. But you probably want to end up with a sequence of about 10 to 15 emails sent over the next 30 to 60 days. Remember, your goal with these emails is to nurture them through the sales funnel so that you can identify your five-star prospects who you're hot prospects and start having a more personalised engagement with them to discuss a potential project. You shouldn't fear sending that many emails over that period of time, because remember what we said at the beginning. Your subscribers are worth £10 a month, and you need to identify those hot prospects that you can start engaging with. And if they have requested to receive your lead magnet, and in the emails you send, you continue to delve into that particular topic. Then they're going to be receptive to them, and your open rates should be high. Okay, so I feel like we've covered a lot in this episode, and as I said at the beginning, I hope you grabbed a pen and paper and took some notes.

I hope that it makes sense, and most importantly, I hope it inspires you to start building your email list if you haven't done so already. Now don't forget I've put the links to the email automation systems in the show notes. I've also put a link to my lead magnet, which is a welcome sequence of emails. You can grab that for free, and you can just see how all of that works. But other than that, go forward and create your email list. I hope you found this useful. Please hit the subscribe button. As you know, please leave a review if you enjoyed it, because that really helps me reach more people. But other than that, I will see you next week for our next guest interview on The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

SEO & Backlink Strategies With Richard Kennedy

Does your agency have a robust SEO and backlink strategy in place? 

If not you should, and in this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by one of my clients and one of The Self-Running Agency Group members, Richard Kennedy, who explains why SEO and a backlink strategy is a must.

Richard runs an e-commerce SEO agency, Arken Marketing.  Arken helps SME e-commerce businesses grow and compete against the big players in the market, by utilising effective SEO.

Richard shares how he started Arken Marketing and how he helps SME e-commerce businesses grow and compete using SEO and backlink strategies

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:11] 

Backstory in building an SEO agency and Richard’s future aspirations for Arken Marketing

[4:24] 

How to figure out your niche when starting up an agency

[6:36] 

Tips in niching down your business

[9:17] 

Defining SEO in a broader context

[10:37] 

What are the advantages of using SEO over PPC?

[11:56] 

The importance of being ranked organically

[12:24] 

Why SEO is an effective strategy for your business

[13:05] 

Benefits of link building for your website

[14:14] 

Understanding link building, domain authority rankings and backlinks

[17:21] 

How to implement link building strategies

[19:11] 

How to distinguish a good backlink from a bad backlink

[22:21] 

What is the deciding factor if a link is worth pursuing or not?

[22:50] 

Tips in creating SEO strategies for your business

[24:11] 

What is the ‘dream 100’  system?

[26:19] 

How to build good quality and trustworthy website

[29:26] 

Why ‘focus’ is important for your business’ SEO strategy

Quotations

“I don't want to be too big, but I've always wanted it to fuel my other projects.” - Richard Kennedy

“...not every business defines its success by how big it is or how fast it grows.” - Rob DaCosta

“We only work with people that we want to work with and they want to work with us and it's made it a whole lot easier in the long run in the short term.” - Richard Kennedy

“..the website needs to be trustworthy… approachable... Having good content makes everything so much easier.” - Richard Kennedy

“..you just can't replicate success through copying.” - Richard Kennedy

“..building your dream 100 list is actually one of the systems that we teach in The Self-running Agency Group.” - Rob DaCosta

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.

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:

 Full Episode Transcription

To rank on Google, you need a few things, you need a technically sound website, you need to match with the intent. So if someone's looking for SEO services, you have to have SEO services and you have to have authority and authority, you get mostly from links. So links count as votes and votes aren't all equal.

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value-added interviews with your host, agency owner and coach, Rob Da Costa.

So, welcome everybody to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I am excited to be joined by one of my clients and one of The Self-running Agency Group members, Richard Kennedy. Richard runs an e-commerce SEO agency, Arken Marketing. Arken helps SME e-commerce businesses grow and compete using SEO and backlink strategies.

Welcome, Richard! Is there anything else you wanted to add to my introduction and talk a little bit more about who you are, what you do?

No, well thanks for having me and you kind of got it, got it in one really help small to medium-sized e-commerce businesses. Try and compete with the big boys in their market. Fantastic. How long have you been running Arken? Five or six years now. I actually remember when I started, but it kind of started off as a freelancer and then it just kind of happened naturally that I could bring it into the agency brand rather than just being a freelancer. So, it just kind of happened naturally. I think that will be a very common story to many listeners and indeed that was the same as my journey that I started out freelancing on my own, and then got the opportunity to grow my agency and had to make that choice from being a freelancer to actually growing a business. What are your aspirations for Arken? So, I don't want to be a too large agency, a very small agency at the moment, but I don't want to be too big, but I've always wanted it to kind of fuel my other projects. I have an interest in plenty of other things. I'll kind of use this as a way to explore my other passions, but that's kind of how I hope it goes or envisioned it going. But no, I don't have aspirations to be a huge SEO agency. I see some of them, especially on LinkedIn and it just seems like an absolute nightmare to manage to me and it's not something I have personal aspirations to be, to be honest with you.

Well, if you have a clear plan and this is the stuff that we talked about in the program if you have a clear plan and so you know where you're headed, then you can kind of create controlled growth, whatever that means. And of course, not every business defines its success by how big it is or how fast it grows. So I think it's really interesting that you say you want Arken to be a vehicle to enable you to explore your other passions because getting that balance as an entrepreneur right in your time can often be a challenge and we can all get very consumed by our business and that becomes our life rather than you know it's supporting our life. I mean when I say the pattern, I don't mean like not going to be a professional golfer which is the only hobby I have outside of work, but I just feel like there's a lot of opportunity with the skill set of SEO and done marketing to explore for avenues and I don't think people should necessarily pigeonhole themselves in it for forever in that sense.

No, sure. I mean I'm a good example of that, this is career number three for me. So I started out as a bad programmer at IBM, and found my way into marketing, became a career to really become marketing manager for a software company, then started my agency around that for 11 years before selling up and then re-training to become a coach's what I do now. So I've actually had four pretty different careers, so absolutely. And just a little bit of a side track before we jump into talking more about SEO and backlink strategies and all that stuff. Arken has a very clear position in a very clear nation that provides SEO services to SME e-commerce businesses. And listeners to this podcast will know that I am a big fan and a big advocate of agencies getting a clear niche. So, I'm just interested to understand how you chose that nation, and what you see some of the benefits of working in that particular area are.

Yeah. So like I imagine most not almost all the agencies they start and they service everybody anyone who wants SEO. Their service to them we noticed a clear pattern of who we can help best and who we can track the results best on. So it's like we still do have clients that are within that certain market. But it's like I had a call the other day with a B2B client that they only need a couple of costs or conversions a year to make it absolutely worth it. And as great as that is, it's not something that we can track that well. So when we know it was big e-commerce, when we do good work we can see the results quickly. So it's nice for this, most of us to see the benefit we're having. It's easier for us to track it's something we enjoy working on. It just made it a lot easier niching down. We still do have clients outside of that, but it does make it easier and we can hone our skills better if we are dedicated to e-commerce. It's been really good for us.

Yeah. Absolutely. And a good point you make there is that just because you are niched into a certain sector doesn't preclude you from taking on clients outside of that nation. That's something I always tell everybody. And that's true for me. I have a couple of clients that are not agencies, like having architects that it's not an agency or so you just take those clients on a case-by-case basis. But you market yourself as being in that niche. What advice would you give to an agency and SEO agency that is scared of a niche because they think they might lose business opportunities if they don't niche down.

So I think it is very good for numerous reasons. But by how I think you should do it before I get onto the benefits is don't go into it in niching before you've actually worked with. What you think is your ideal client because it may not be what you think it is. So we were quite lucky that we had a range of clients and we kind of naturally fell into the saw clients that we will be like working with the one that we can get the best results. So I wouldn't just decide before you've actually worked with them. I know that it can be quite difficult to understand, but difficult to get these clients if you're not in a niche. But it's something I was scared of at first and I'm not scared of. But since we've done it, we've been able to hone our services to our select clients. Not only can we give them better results, but we can also charge more and more of them who are ideal clients. There's no or there's a lot less stress involved with dealing with clients that we kind of don't really want to work with. We only work with people that we want to work with and they want to work with us and it's made it a whole lot easier in the long run in the short term.

And that's a really good piece of advice actually, that I should use more with people, which is to get clients in your target niche. First of all, to prove that you can win them, to be proved that you can do a great job for them and to show that you actually enjoy working with them, because that may well impact your niche, where your niche is. Yeah. Yes, exactly. Right. I just think it's important to know you like working with them before you commit to, you know, all your branding or being. For example, dedicated to e-commerce and then once you've got any commas to climb, you really don't enjoy it. It kind of seems a bit backwards, but it's definitely been a positive move for us. And of course, there are some sectors that will get the services that you offer more than other sectors, so that's a part to play in it. Like if you were, I don't know how good an example of this is, but if you were trying to sell SEO services to say manufacturing businesses, you might find that harder because they don't really get it. I mean I might be completely wrong here of course, but they don't really get SEO and they don't really understand the value of it.

Yeah, there's not many established e-commerce businesses that don't know what SEO is and the value that can bring doesn't necessarily mean they're implementing it. But they do understand the value of it. They do understand you know what it is for a start there not, you know, it's not smoke and mirrors to them, they are aware of it. And of course, they're going to be very dependent on it too, to generate revenue for their business.

So let's move on to talk about SEO. Which is kind of the topic of today's conversation. Can you just start out by giving us and the listeners a broad definition of what SEO means? So search engine optimisation is optimising for search engines, most commonly everyone refers to Google, but that doesn't necessarily mean just Google. So you got Amazon from an e-commerce standpoint, you've got YouTube, you've got Bing, it's all different search engines and you can do stuff like if your content creator you can optimise for like gum road and stuff like that. So it's basically optimising to get your listing higher in a specific search engine. I try and describe it like I help people find what they're already looking for because they're not going on a search engine looking for trees and then they come up with, you know, I'm not trying to get in front of those services, they're already looking for the business, which is why it probably converts a lot higher than anything else because you know, you don't go on Twitter to look for us. You said, well you can do it, but if they're using Google, they're already looking for your business. So, that's kind of a broad definition of SEO.

And if there was you sitting in one corner talking about SEO and then someone else who was a big fan of PPC like paid advertising, what would you say the advantages of using SEO? Excuse me, it's not paid traffic, right? It's traffic, that's the right term. So what advantage would you have using SEO versus PPC or should I use both? Well, I think you should use both. I think any successful business won't just rely on one source, but the biggest difference or the biggest selling point is organic traffic is if you turn off your ads, you know your traffic doesn't go off overnight. It's something that you've earned. It's something that you have for a while as long as you've done it properly. So it's not something that you know costs X and you get Y from it. It's yeah you earn it and it stays with you for a while if you do it properly.

So that's an important distinction to make. I just want to emphasise, you're basically saying if you pay for advertising, the minute you turn those ads off your traffic is going to disappear because you don't have that source anymore. Whereas if you put a good SEO strategy in place, it's going to last for a while and it's going to keep working beyond the time of initially putting that strategy in place. Exactly. There's an inherent trust as well, like when you Google for a business or a service that if they're ranked organically there's an inherent trust you get that the number one. So you kind of know that you just assume that the best but there is a trust factor involved with ranking organically as opposed to being a paid ad up there.

So have you got any other thoughts on your sort of answer anyway? But why is SEO such an effective strategy? Like if I'm a small agency and I'm putting my marketing in place, why should I put SEO as one of the top strategies that I invest in? Well, it's just to remember that with SEO you're targeting people that are already looking for you. It's not you're not forcing something on them that they're not interested in. There. already interesting your services to some degree where they are in the funnel, depends on what sort of contact you build this, they're already looking for you. You just got to be in front of them at the right time, because they're already looking for you.

Okay, let's talk a bit about link building and then I'll come back to using it broadly. Now, I've seen the benefits myself of doing link building, but can you just explain a bit about what link building is and why people should be doing it? I'll give you a quick kind of explanation. So to rank on Google, you need a few things, you need a technically sound website, you need to match with the intent. So if someone's looking for SEO services, you have to have SEO services and you have to have authority and authority, you get mostly from links. So links count as votes and votes aren't all equal. So, the benefit with link building is well, without link building it is very, very difficult to compete in the competitive markets. It's normally the difference-maker. So it's important for certain markets. It's not vital for all markets, but anything competitive, a difference-maker is more often than not link building. So if you want to overtake a big player, it's usually a lack of links. Not always, but it's usually a lack of links.

So let's just take that, that's a good explanation. But let's just take a step back for anybody that's listening to this and going, that's fine. But I don't understand what link building is. All right then, the link is essentially when you go on a website and you have the blue hypertext and you link from one site to another. That's a link you can have. So there's a difference between referring domains and backlinks. The backlink is the individual link. So if your website, if you link to my website 10 times throughout your website, that's one referring domain and 10 links, that's what the differences are. And there are various different types of links. You can have image links, you can have no-follow. You can have the following links, you can have redirects and I won't explain all of those because I will be here forever. But some links are worth more than others, which is mostly what people can't when they're talking about. You know, I need X links. It's not mostly a follow links sign.

And how does this all come into play with domain authority rankings and what the hell does that mean as well? So the main authority domain rating, trust, flow and citation, I think citation player from majestic, are all numbers that tours give you, so they don't mean anything. The problem with relying on those as well as they can be easily manipulated. It used to be a paid rank. All these numbers don't really mean anything, to be honest with you. They used to report on domain rating, but it doesn't, it's as if I had to explain the overall power of the domain in five seconds, that's what I would use. But it's just a real kind of vague look at how powerful a website is. It doesn't mean a lot on its own. You know, you gotta look at the links that they're getting. This domain rating is from traffic relevance. It's not just so I wouldn't just rely on those metrics but it is kind of a good quick indication as to the value of a link. But there's a lot more to it than just domain authority or domain rating. So, that's useful for me to know because I've always looked at my domain authority or rating and think it's always too low and look at my competitors and it's a lot higher. So I've been striving to improve that. But as you say, that's only one way of ranking how your website is performing. Google doesn't rank websites based on their domain authority or domain rating. It's a good indicator but it's something that could be an easy meal. It is. You can just go on fibre and type in domain authority and there are so many gigs that you can artificially boost that provide absolutely no benefit other than associate your website with their potentially bad neighbourhood.

So it talks us through some strategies for link building, like if I was doing myself, what would I be doing, what would I be trying to achieve? So there's, I mean there are hundreds of different strategies that you can implement. We try to focus on a few core ones depending on the client, you've got images. If you've got great imagery, that's a fantastic way to get links. You can get the top websites the world isn't going out and create their own images for that of course. They will source them from third parties, which is a great way you've got guest posting, although it's typically got our worst name now because it's people associated with the spam techniques. I'm sure you get it as well, you know, offering you a guest post, you've got digital PR which is something we're doing more and more lately. You've got the thing that we love, what I love to do the most is build assets that build links. So think of it like it could be useful like it could be a calculator, it could be a, you know, a link tool, it could be anything that's useful to your industry that has a search volume. Statistics pages are great because you can build it, you can promote it and then it will naturally build your links over time. That's what we focus on. But the easiest way to get into it would probably be the guest posting group by essentially putting your content on other people's sites. But it has to be good and don't fall into the trap of buying the links that people will email you and the massive excel sheets because they are 99% absolute junk and you don't want anything to do with that. That's kind of the easy way into it. And I guess there's a danger there that the whole point of link building is that you want a high performing, high ranking website to refer people to your website or use your images or usual tool as you said. And if you've got lots of backlinks coming into your website, but the actual quality of the websites they're coming from is not very good. I guess that can damage your own SEO. Yes, but to be honest, the link penalties are far less common than they used to be. Google's a lot better at just discounting them so you're wasting your time and effort in the first place. I just would set your expectations or set your standards higher than what may be typically people do just because if you do if you're not setting your standards high, could just be wasting your time. Putting an effort into the sights set isn't worth anything. You know, if you submit crap content to a crap website, it's not going to do your business any good. It's just a waste of time.

So, this is a message of quality over quantity. Better off building one backlink a month from a good website with good content. Then you would be doing 10 or 20 or 50 or 100. All right. I don't know about those. It depends. It's very subjective what is a good or bad backlink. But yes, for example, you wouldn't go on fibre and have 100 automated links that just get no value from it whatsoever. And I would rather spend my time and money on creating a good piece of content that I would naturally build links over time. But you do have to, you have to promote that content as well. It won't just, you can, unless you're a large established business, you know, you already have a search presence, it's not a case of build and they will come, you do need to promote these assets as well, but I would rather spend my time and money on one piece of great content that can build links over the next 6 to 12 months then blasting links from rubbish websites.

A couple of years ago I pursued HubSpot to write a guest blog for them and they had lots of hurdles that you had to jump over. But eventually, I wrote an article on client and account management for their blog. HubSpot is a really good active marketer and obviously a good product, but they are great at marketing I guess their website ranks really high and I could see when it went live I could see a significant increase in traffic to my website and most importantly because I was allowed to promote one download in that guest blog, I could actually see the number of people that were downloading the piece of content as well and you know it isn't it's hundreds. Of course, as you said earlier on that was probably two years ago and it still delivers results for me today because it's still alive and it's still there. So that is a good example of I guess a good quality website and good quality content as well.

A very easy way to decide if it's worth it or not, is to try and imagine if Google didn't exist, would you still want that link? And if you would then that's not the only indication, but it's a good indication that it might be a link worth pursuing.

Let's just more broadly speaking from an SEO strategy. So I am a small agency owner, I don't have the budget at the moment to outsource my services to an agency like you. What kind of advice would you say to me if I wanted to do my own SEO, or what are the sort of 3 or 4-5 tips you would give? I think his name is Brendan Hufford has a good strategy for doing stuff like this. You would find, I think because his dream is 50 years dream 100, I'll have to double-check. Basically, you find the top 50 or the top 100 people or sites that you would most like to have dealings with and then just start building relationships with them. That's how I would do it, because it's not only the, you know, the SEO. The benefit of that, but there are potential partnerships as being a guest on the podcast, there's a whole different host of things that can transpire from that rather than just implementing a strategy that's how I would approach it is to find the sites I really want to be a part of. For we were linked to from, sorry, see what they post and just start a conversation with them. That's how I would start. Yeah, absolutely. So, building your dream 100 list is actually one of the systems that we teach in The Self-running Agency Group. Have you seen that bit? But there are actually templates because it's a strategy that I've used myself. So where you literally sit down and brainstorm every single partner that you would work with, love to work with from the ridiculous aspirational kind of partners down to the more realistic kind of partners who are maybe one or two rungs bigger than you up the ladder. Then, you start an outreach program. And as you said, Richard partnering can mean a number of things. And actually, before we went live on this episode, we were talking about guesting on podcasts being a great way of building your profile, building your audience, and getting traffic back to your website because obviously in the show notes the list was linked to a marketing website. So no doubt you will get some traffic from this website. Sorry, from this episode. So building a dream 100 list could be in all sorts of things from guest blogging, guest podcasting and running a joint event together, doing a speech for their audience. You know, all sorts of things. So that is a good strategy and I guess that's sort of a broader part of an SEO strategy. I think there's potentially massive SEO benefits and others and that's the way I would approach it with not just an agency site, but any site really is. If you're starting a brand new site and it's not it's not a case of they have 1000 makes you need 1000 links, but if you look at it in that terms, it can really seem insurmountable. And that's how I would start or recommend. Any business to start is to find the 100 sites where you would love to get links from, see what content they post and build out similar content. That's how I would recommend any business to start.

Right, good advice. Any other tips to someone who's thinking about doing SEO and link building themselves. Anything else you would advise them? People often forget about their actual website, so the website needs to be trustworthy. You need to be approachable. If you're after a pestle band, you need to have information on yourself on your website. People don't link to nameless faceless sites anymore. They used to, but I would spend a lot of time getting my site to look as trustworthy as possible and have as good content as possible. Having good content makes everything so much easier. So I really can't emphasise that enough, that having good content. Just makes things a lot easier. And it does start with having a good site as well. I guess you're sort of saying that there's no magic bullet to this, there's no magic solution as much as some people will try and tell you otherwise, and that it's the sort of fundamentals that are so important, like having a good quality website that has good content that's easy to navigate that is clearly talking to me, and that functionally works is a great basis to start with. Yeah, it just makes everything else so much easier. You can outreach to a higher standard site if you've got a good site yourself or if your content is useful, it makes the conversations you're having with these people so, so much easier. I think every client we work with, we work on their site before we work off their site just because it makes our job so much easier. That's a good point. And I guess sometimes it must be frustrating for you because a client doesn't necessarily think that should be your starting point. They think they've got a website there now, and want you to drive traffic to it. But actually, you kind of have to say, hang on a sec, let's look at your website first. People fall into the trap of X posts having 50 links, for example, we can just recreate that and get 50 links that don’t work like that. So you need to, if you want to go down that route, you need to have something that differentiates you from it. It needs to look better. It needs to talk to the user better. It needs to do something better. Otherwise, you just can't replicate success through copying. Absolutely good.

Any last thoughts on any other advice that you would share before we wrap up today? No, but I'm always happy to help if any of your listeners want advice and I think I can reach me on, it's just [email protected] Always happy to help or point them in the right direction. Sure. And what's while we're talking about links concluding the show notes, we'll also include your website link and your email. Is there anything else you want us to include? No, that's absolutely fine. Just my website and just my email, [email protected] If they have any questions they can reach out on LinkedIn or anything happy to help.

So the final question that I ask all my guests is if you could go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business, one piece of advice, what would it be? Other than buying as much Bitcoin as I possibly could. I think I would say just to focus on one thing, whether it's because there are so many different elements to it, so it's not just link building, it's not just technical, it's not just content. There are so many things I would just focus on one aspect of s because as the business is growing or the industry, sorry, it's you have specialists in all these different areas and I would just say just focus on one thing, and one market.

It's a good piece of advice and we should all start narrow and broaden out. It's much easier to do that than it is to start broadening. Try and fail at that, and then we have to go narrow. So yeah, I think I would tell my younger self to buy more Tesla shares. A great, good piece of advice, I always love asking guess this because I almost think in 100 episodes we've never had the same, think twice, even tested a few people who've come on the podcast more than once to see, to challenge them not to listen to what they said before, and then to check if they said the same thing or not.

But I don't think I've had that bit of advice before, So Richard really appreciates your time today. There were some good nuggets of advice in there and I was just thinking as we were talking that we need to call this episode titled build it and they won't come because I think sometimes people think if I build a lovely website and put it live suddenly I'll get loads of traffic to it and of course that is far from the truth and I think you've highlighted that point today.

Yeah, you think it used to work more like that but now as blighted companies are in there they the bar is so much higher. Absolutely. So we all need to be applying some of the advice you have given today. So great thank you so much for your time today and I will see you soon. No problem. Thank you very much.

Staying In Control Of The Direction Of Your Agency

Why do so many agency owners aspire to build an agency that is less dependent on them (i.e a self-running agency) but completely fail?

They end up building a business that they work for (instead of working for them) with the worst boss in the world!

So in this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I explore how to ensure you build an agency on your own terms: one that you stay in control of and one that ultimately could be running itself.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[0:00] 

The 4-day work experiment from Amy Porterfield’s Online Marketing Made Easy podcast

[0:45] 

The concept of running a self-running business

[2:26] 

Staying connected with your mission and vision statement

[3:18] 

What does real success look like?

[3:53] 

How to reconnect with your ‘why’ in running an agency

[4:29] 

Transitioning from face-to-face coaching to online meetings

[6:00]

Why I can spend my winters in South Africa

[7:43] 

The importance of focusing on the journey and not just the destination

[7:57] 

How I am moving towards becoming a ‘digital nomad’

[9:05] 

What are the technical equipment I need 

[9:59] 

Understanding how to best use a VA and the structures I use

[11:47] 

What I am doing this year to take control of how I want to run my business

Quotations

“We are surrounded by stories of super successful entrepreneurs who make it sound so easy and have supposedly made their millions and are trying to tempt you to strive for the same thing - it’s almost as if - if we don’t aspire to that then we are failing.” - Rob DaCosta

“..growth in a financial sense doesn’t always mean success.” - Rob DaCosta

“..wait for some future point when everything will be better and forget to live my life within the constraints of what we are able to do now.” - Rob DaCosta

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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!

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Useful links mentioned in this episode:

 Full Episode Transcription

I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts last week, which is Amy Porterfield’s online marketing made easy, and she was talking about an experiment that her business has been doing to move the whole organisation of about 20 staff down to a 4-day working week without losing any revenues in their business, and indeed ensuring that they met their ambitious growth targets. It was really interesting to hear about the positive and negative aspects of the experiment, the things that they've had to change, e g. moving all their meetings down to a maximum of 30 minutes rather than an hour or more, and indeed whether they will keep doing this after the 90-day experiment is up.

It got me thinking back to the concepts of the self-running agency that I've been talking about and teaching for the last couple of years, and the importance of making sure that we are running an agency on our own terms and not just chasing the next shiny new object or the next revenue tear, because that's what we feel we should be doing to be successful. We're surrounded by stories of super successful entrepreneurs who make it sound so easy and have supposedly made their millions, and then they're trying to tempt you to strive for the same thing.

It's almost as if if we don't aspire to that, we are failing. It's crazy when you say out loud, right, and it seems to take you so far away from the key reasons of why you would start your own business in the first place. So in this episode of the podcast, I want to remind us about that. But I also want to share my personal story of some of the things that I'm doing to make sure I'm running my business on my own terms. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DeCosta.

I'm not sure where this is instilled in us, but it's almost as if we don't aspire to grow our agency by, say 20% year on year, then we're not being successful and indeed others. But perhaps more ourselves, if I'm honest, judge our success based on this growth. But that might well not be what you want. You might want to create a lifestyle business and focus on maximising profits, or you might want to focus on being a social enterprise and making a difference in your community. There's a whole myriad of reasons why we run our own agencies and why we started our own agencies. And it's super important that we stay connected with that mission. And we create a vision every year so that we know we're headed in the right direction rather than just being pulled by external factors or by the things that we tell ourselves we should be doing. The problem is, as I mentioned in the introduction, that we're bombarded with social media posts and ads of Instagram people standing in front of expensive yachts that probably aren't even up. There's telling us how they built their agency and how they can help you do the same.

But it's important to remember that this might not be what you want, and growth in a financial sense, doesn't always equal success. Let's face it, if you were growing your revenues, but you're hating what you were doing and you get really stressed and working long hours and perhaps even getting physically ill, then would you deem that as success? I know I certainly wouldn't. And sometimes, you know, we have to learn that lesson the hard way by going down that route to get to a certain point where we say no, having more money isn't necessarily the thing that makes me happy.

So in the spirit of openness and sharing, I want to talk about some of the conscious choices that I'm making in my business and my life as we are coming out of the pandemic. And I'm sharing this in the hope that it might inspire you but also give you permission to reconnect with the why like, “Why did you start your agency?” What do you want to be?” and, “How can you do it on your own terms?” Because, let's face it, one of the reasons we start our own business is because we want control. But we're not careful, and we're not making these conscious decisions and choices. Then suddenly, one day we can wake up working for this monster that we've created and having a much harder boss than we've ever had in any kind of job that we had in the past. So anyway, here are some of the things that I am doing and choices that I am consciously making. So first of all, prior to lockdown on the pandemic, I would spend probably three or four days a week travelling to head to clients in London, on the train or driving up the motorway or even getting on a plane. And it was a super ineffective use of my time because let's say I was taking a train into London, which would take me an hour and a half, and then I would perhaps coach one or two clients and then I would come back in a very crowded trainer and probably standing up most of the way for another hour and a half. And that would be my day. Whereas the pandemic force, of course, was all online. And now I do my meetings by Zoom, and that means that I could possibly do 3-4 even 5 meetings or coaching sessions in a day if I chose to.

So I made the conscious decision to not go back to that face-to-face coaching life because I think coaching online can actually be more effective because you can do shorter sessions and more frequent sessions. I have a couple of exceptions to that where I will travel to a client because they're either very local or because I really need to be sitting face-to-face. So, for example, if I was doing some strategy work with a client for the day, it would be very difficult for both of us to concentrate that long online, so I would then go and sit with them. But that's probably the exception and not the raw. And it probably happens once every two or three months rather than two or three times a week. So that's my first conscious choice I'm making not to go back to doing face to face coaching now. Prior to the start of the pandemic and indeed, at the start of the pandemic, I used to spend every January-February of each year in warmer climes, typically in Cape Town. And, of course, the pandemic has paid for that. In fact, I only just got back in 2020 before lockdown happened, so I was fortunate to not be stuck in South Africa during the start of lockdown. But having done this two or three times now, it's really shown me that I can completely viably go to another country and spend an extended period of time. So I'm not just there on holiday and actually get into the rhythm of working. And of course, one of the great things about South Africa is not only that their summer in January-February, but also they only have a two hour time difference to the UK, so that really makes the working day viable. You can rent pretty cheap. Airbnb is out there. The cost of living is much lower than the UK, so that is something that I aspire to do every year. But of course, as I said, the pandemic has put paid to that. But that will be something I'll be doing again. But in the meantime, I find myself sort of marking time and waiting for this fictitious point in the future when we might be allowed to travel again. And then I realised that I'm doing exactly what I outlined in the introduction, and exactly what I advise my clients not to do, which is to wait for some point in the future when you think everything will be better and forget to live your life right now and enjoy the journey.

So you know, when we're talking about vision, Sometimes clients tell me that when they hit this milestone, things will be great and they're busy with their business. But of course it might take them a year or so to get there, and they don't think about that journey. So I want to encourage my clients and myself to make sure I'm focused on the journey and not just the destination. Of course, right now there are lots of constraints on us. I can't go and spend my time abroad. But another thing that I've been working towards is becoming more of a digital nomad, which is a term that lots of 20 year old Instagrammers bound around while they live their lives on an opioid in Bali.

But as I said, I've proven for the last few years that I can work in a different country and be just as efficient and continue to serve my clients and my audience when I'm sitting at my desk in the UK or sitting at a desk in Cape Town. Now, we are taking one step further because we've just purchased a motor home. And whilst I'm not quite ready to become a socks and crocs, I am excited to be able to find some beautiful places in the U. K. And then hopefully in the near future in Europe where I can travel, explore, and work. And you know, technology really does make this easy impossible to do now because you can get great mobile WiFi setups that you can get solar panels and all that kind of stuff so I can run my computers and record these podcasts and edit videos, and all that stuff whilst being in different locations.

So I haven't taken delivery as I record this podcast, but we're just about to. So we've been busy researching all the tech that I'm gonna need, like mobile WiFi and off grid energy solutions such as solar panels and lithium batteries and all that kind of rubbish. And who knew that there was a whole world of tech and terminology to learn? And right now I'm revisiting my physics level by reminding myself the difference between amps, watts, and volts. Now, by the time you listen to this episode, I will have been away for the first few weekends. So if you want to know how I got on, just reach out to me and I'll let you know. So that's a really exciting project and a new adventure for us. And, you know, I have no idea what the outcome will be. I might hate it, although we've done it a few weekends before, but I'm hoping that I will enjoy it and I can explore parts of the UK that I haven't seen and do it in a pretty inexpensive way. 

Now, the next thing that I have been working on because I've made lots of mistakes with this is getting my kind of team structure in place. So I've tried various virtual assistants. I've tried using a virtual assistant to organise my diary, someone else to do my audio podcast editing, someone for video editing, someone for copyrighting. And it's been really difficult to project manage and they've been really different qualities. So sometimes I find myself trying to delegate and then having to rewrite it, and telling myself those stories like it's quicker to do it myself. So I finally got a structure in place that is really working, so I'm working with a VA company, and my main point of contact is the project manager there. And then they have a team of people that have specialist skills. So they have someone who is really good at creating artwork for social media, someone who is good at editing audio for podcasts, someone else who is great for video editing, and someone who is good for writing content. And I'm only dealing with the project manager. And then she is managing all these other people, and so far that is working well. And that is enabling me to pump out a lot more content and also for me to be able to focus on my superpower, which is creating the content, not necessarily editing this podcast or writing the show notes. So if you are a freelance personal or one person agency, then really think about how you can delegate to a team of people, even if they're just virtual people that you hire for a few hours a week, and I'm going to be recording more about my VA structure and I'm going to actually interview my via on a future episode. So look out for that because, like I said, I think I've got this concept of having a project manager, and then a public publisher and editor working well for me. So I want to share that with you. 

So that's what I'm doing in 2021 to take control of how I run my business. As I said, I think I was starting to fall foul of this idea that when the world opens, I'll be able to start doing things I used to do and pick up where I left off. And I think many of us felt that would start to happen at the beginning of 2021, but here we are halfway through the year and whilst the vaccination is rolling out well in the UK, things haven't really changed in terms of being open and travelling. And to be honest, most countries are not opening their doors to us right now. So rather than continue to mark time and wait for some notional point in the future, I'm creating the kind of working environment that I want based on the constraints that exist right now, and who knows what the future holds. But this whole situation reminds us to live more in the present, and I guess that's sort of the theme of my podcast today, which is to stop marking time and waiting for things to happen in the future. But take control of them now and realise that you have choices and you can make whatever you want happen. And remember that success isn't determined by you growing your revenues 20% year on year on year on year. And so make sure you stay connected to the reason why you run your agency. So I hope this episode has given you some food for thought, and if so, please make sure that you leave a review. I agree. Be eternally grateful. Hit the subscribe button to make sure you don't miss out on future episodes, and I'll be back with you next week for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

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