Tag Archives for " business development "

The Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME agency owners

Business development is essential for every company, whether they are Coca Cola or Bill’s Web design down the road. Developing and growing your agency as an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) brings with it its own problems and issues, whether it be embracing technology, finding a consistent flow of ideal clients, or attracting the right talent so you can provide a good quality of service.

But where do you start if you want your agency to grow? Well, that’s the million-dollar question and one that I hope I will be able to help you answer over the course of this article.

Let’s get started with our Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME Agency Owners. 


Avoiding Feast or Famine

I spoke about the ‘feast and famine’ cycle in a previous article (which can be found here) so I won’t go into great detail here. In short, ‘feast and famine’ is the cyclical nature of many businesses as they go through waves of success followed by lean spells.

The ‘feast’ part of the cycle is when times are good. Everyone has plenty to eat and you become preoccupied with serving existing clients to the detriment of marketing your agency and new business and to the detriment of your future agency.

The ‘famine’ comes when the clients dry up or a project ends. And the kicker is, this isn’t always easy to foresee – clients can end projects for many reasons and projects may end due to unforeseen issues completely out of your control.

It’s in a time of famine that most agency owners start to exert the most effort as they dedicate themselves to rekindling their order book through hard work and determination... which, with luck, can lead to another ‘feast’. But it’s also in a space of famine where agencies make bad decisions such as discounting their services or taking on any kind of client just to get money coming through the door and sadly this type of decision-making ensures that the feast and famine cycle repeats.

But the ‘feast and famine’ business cycle is not sustainable and very stressful for you and your team, and all it takes is one extended ‘famine’ to push even the most robust company to the brink of extinction. This past year’s COVID-19 pandemic is a great example of how unforeseen events can cause extended lean spells for everyone.

You may be asking how you can avoid the ‘feast and famine’ cycle. Well. I spoke in detail about this in the article mentioned earlier (here) so head there if you want a full break down.

The one thing I do want you to take from this section is that ‘feast and famine’ can and should be avoided. Make sure you have short-, medium-, and long-term plans and keep your head straight: don’t become complacent during good times. Keep those clients happy, keep focused on new business, and the money will keep rolling in.

If you would like to learn more about avoid

feast or famine then sign up for my

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development


Avoid “The client service hamster wheel of doom”

The client service hamster wheel of doom is all too familiar to many agency owners and it goes hand in hand with the ‘feast and famine’ cycle.

When times are good and you are feasting on the spoils of your success, servicing clients can become a vast black hole of time and effort. Multi-tasking becomes paramount and you seldom have time to think about your agency’s future, which is vital if you want to avoid famines and develop your company.

But eventually, the client you’ve spent so much time and effort on will sail away or the project you’ve worked hard on will finish. What now? The famine is fast approaching, and you’ve had little time to plan ahead or develop your business to succeed beyond right now.

So how do you avoid the client service hamster wheel of doom (catchy, right?)? How do you keep clients happy while ensuring you develop your business to keep the wheels turning and food on the table? There are a few things, that you can do to avoid this particular challenge, including:


Don’t be afraid to say no – You want your clients to be happy but there has to be a line in the sand. Being accommodating is one thing but being a pushover is another. Learn to say no when you have to (and teach your team to). Obviously, do it in a professional, polite way with reasons. Most clients will understand and be totally fine with it. It’s all about having clear boundaries and not just jumping when clients say so!


  • Define the scope of your relationship with the client – Make it clear from the outset the type of relationship you will have with your client. Give them clear indicators of how you work. Don’t lead them on into thinking you will jump through fiery hoops into an abyss when they ask if this is something they are not paying for!
  • Define the scope of the work you will do for your client – Again, make it clear what you will do for your client in terms of work (and therefore what you won’t do). Don’t be vague or lead them into thinking you will do something (to win the business) that later on you either can’t or are reluctant to do. Define the terms of work clearly and make sure your clients understand and sign-up to them.
  • Ring fence time to focus on the future of your agency (let’s call this strategy) – Don’t just say you will do this when you have time but rather set aside time on specific days where you will focus on strategy (i.e., planning, product development and business development). Schedule your clients around these times and be unavailable to clients when you are in your ‘strategy time’.
  • Get clear with clients the difference between a ‘standard’ service (i.e., what is included in the scope of work) and an ‘extra’ (i.e., something they will have to pay for) and if for whatever reason, you decide to do an ‘extra’ for free then make sure the client understands the value of it and that this would normally be charged for (and therefore will be charged for in the future).

The 3 components of business development

Of course, knowing that business development is vital is only half the battle. The other half is successfully implementing ongoing strategies that allow your agency to grow no matter what the current circumstances are.

How you do this is important because flailing around with various strategies with no game plan will prove fruitless, time-consuming, expensive and stressful!

Any successful business development plan will need to address 3 key components (click for more detail):

1. Marketing

2. Sales

3. Client retention & growth

And finally...

 

Business development as an SME agency owner can be challenging but it is essential to deliver controlled growth.


Make sure you do two crucial things that will ensure success:

1. You work out your best business development strategies to engage with your ideal target customer.

2. You ring-fence time every week in your diary to focus on these business development strategies.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our Ultimate Guide to Business Development for SME Agency Owners. Have a look around my website for many other useful articles and free eBooks to help you with your continued controlled growth.

Feast or Famine

Download your "How to avoid Feast or Famine" ebook

A step by step guide on how to avoid the feast or famine cycle in your agency.

Business Development with Lucy Snell

In today's episode of the Agency Accelerator Podcast, I’m really excited to have this week's guest, Lucy Snell with me. We’re talking everything to do with business development and some of the dos and don'ts of things you should be doing in your agency and shouldn't be doing in 2021.


Time Stamp

01:05 Lucy introduces herself and her background

 
02:55 Lucy explains how she decides on what advice to provide businesses she works with 


05:22 Why business development is a longterm game 


09:42 Trends that happened for agencies in 2020


12:31 The difference between an agency that really succeeded last year and an agency that has stumbled or even failed


16:34 Using email as a tool for business development 


20:46 The ‘Client Service Hamster Wheel of Doom’


22:17 What agencies should be doing this year from a business development perspective


25:27 Finding things that work and engage with your target audience 


27:50 Things that agencies should not be doing this year from a business development perspective 


32:30 The ‘Mastermind Group Coaching’ programme

If you would like more ideas about your

business development then sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Useful links:


Cherry Business Consulting

Lucy Snell Online

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

My business development strategy using LinkedIn

In today’s episode I am talking all about LinkedIn and specifically exactly what my LinkedIn strategy is and why I think if you are in a B2B space, it is the most important social media platform you can use.


Time Stamp

01:16 The dos and don’ts of using LinkedIn for business development and outreach

01:29 Treating LinkedIn as a sales funnel

03:16 Finding who your ideal target customer is on LinkedIn

05:05 Strategic posting on LinkedIn

05:50 Investing time into LinkedIn on a regular basis

06:30 Keeping your connections clean

07:26 The balance of 80/20 and what that means 

If you would like more ideas about your

business development then sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Useful links:


Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

Interview with John Ashton Discussing The Kitchen Table Community Concept

In today’s episode of the agency accelerator podcast I’m extremely excited to have John Ashton with me. John is the founder of copywriting agency, ‘Write Arm’, he has written a book, ‘The Kitchen Table Method’, and is also the mastermind behind the ‘Kitchen Table Community’ concept.


Time Stamp

01:05 John gives his thoughts on many people starting their freelance journey in 2020 

07:24 John explains what the ‘Kitchen Table’ method is

11:06 Why culture is so important for your business 

14:43 How to maintain your culture as your agency grows 

19:42 Growing an agency solely with freelancers

24:50 What is ‘’The Kitchen Table Community’?

32:00 John’s piece of advice to his younger self

 

Useful links:

Sign up for my FREE live Masterclass

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

The 'Kitchen Table Community'

John's copywriting and content writing agency: Write Arm

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

Planning for a successful year ahead

Good riddance to 2020, I am looking forward to a happier and more balanced 2021. Let’s not take for granted all the freedoms that we had pre-2020, once we start getting them back this year – fingers crossed!

In today’s episode, I talk about having a plan for the year, as well as putting a robust business development strategy in place so you can get a consistent pipeline of leads, prospects and new clients – and you don’t need to rely on word-of-mouth and referrals.

Time Stamp


01:34 Two key areas to have in place in order to take back control and get a better work-life balance

02:00 How to get a plan in place for the year ahead

04:40 The 7 areas that your plan should incorporate

07:00 How to break down your plan into quarters

08:03 Breaking your quarterly strategies into a monthly plan

08:49 The importance of your plans being dynamic

10:00 Why you need a consistent pipeline of leads, prospects and new customers for your plan to work

11:05 The foundations of creating your pipeline


Useful links:

Sign up for my FREE live Masterclass

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

Interview with Lee Jackson discussing trends in 2021

We made it to Episode 50!

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

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

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

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

Time Stamp

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

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

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

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

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

04:38 Small businesses struggling to sell things online

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

06:05 Two aspects: technology and marketing

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

08:34 People working out how to pivot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21:37 The importance of niching

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

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

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

 

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

Rob’s Learning From 2020

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

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

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

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

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

So without further ado...

Time Stamp

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

5:53 The pandemic differentiated three types of agency:

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

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

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

8:16 DON’T cut your prices!

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


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

11:06 I learned to delegate more.

11:34 I learned to automate more.

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

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

14:00 Paid more attention to my mailing list.


14:45 My 5 Bad Habits of 2020: 

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

15:25 I worked WAY too much. 

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

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

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


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

19:05 Delegate more. 

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

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

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

21:50 Improve my work-life balance.


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

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

 

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

Planning for a successful 2021

Planning for a successful 2021

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

It finally feels like we have some control again!

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

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

The list goes on!

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

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

Links mentioned in the episode

Join my FREE business development Masterclass. Register here.

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

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.


Rob

Turning Customers Into Advocates – Interview with Remeny Armitage Royle

Remeny Armitage Royle

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

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

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

Time Stamp

1:45 How Remeny helps her clients

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.05 Avoid adopting the utilities or mobile phone business model!

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

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

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

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

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

15:38 Learning about why you lost a pitch

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

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

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

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

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

Useful links:

You can contact Remeny:

Brilliant and human website

Remeny's Linkedin profile


Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

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

rob da costa

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

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

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

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

3:51 Kartra

4:31 Groove pages

7:08 Zoom

7:27 Loom

8:33 Livewebinar

10:42 Vimeo

11:50 Canva

12:17 Designrr

12:51 Thrive Architect

14:05 ConvertKit

15:38 LinkedHelper

16:30 RocketReach

16:59 Dictation

18:25 Xero

18:40 ReceiptBank

19:32 Google Drive

20:22 Amazing Marvin

21:27 Toby

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

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

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