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Business Development with Katie Street

Business Development with Katie Street

How effective and efficient is your business development? Do you have a process in place that generates a consistent flow of ideal clients?

If not, then listen to today’s podcast interview with my guest, Katie Street, the Founder and Managing Director of Street Agency. 

As you will hear, successful business development starts by getting your agency’s positioning clarified then building robust marketing plans that deliver outreach campaigns and leads.

Katie explains that we need to lead by solving our client’s problems and by providing value in our marketing (‘serve not sell’).

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:51] 

How Katie landed in the business development world 

[6:17] 

The key differences between successful and  less successful agencies in the aspect of growth and new business

[11:47] 

Reasons why sales and marketing are important for your agencies growth

[14:14] 

Tips in developing easy, consistent and reusable content

[20:24] 

How to learn the language of your target audience

[23:48] 

The best practices in winning new business opportunities 

[28:15] 

How to attract high-quality leads

[32:36] 

The biggest impact of the pandemic for new businesses 

[37:23] 

Katie’s advice to her younger self

Quotations

“ I think initially, most agencies go wrong because they don't actually reserve the time or give the new business the time, respect, and money that it needs to really flourish.” - Katie Street

“Doing something is better than nothing. Do things that are going to be. You could say we're all different. Do something that's going to be easy for you and think about how you can reuse that content.” - Katie Street

“The biggest piece of advice that I can give is to think about your audience and what their problems are (and you'll know this because your audience is your clients). If you're solving problems for your clients all the time, you'll start to see trends because that is what we agencies do. We do solve problems usually.” - Katie Street

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 Full Episode Transcription

Today’s episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast is sponsored by Cloudways. Loved by agencies around the world, Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that takes care of all the web posting related complexities leading users free to focus on growing their businesses and clients. The platform offers unmatched performance, reliability choice, and 24/7 365 support that access an extension to your own team, making Cloudways the ultimate choice of growing agencies. 

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Ok, on with today’s show. 

So welcome everybody to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. Today we are talking all things about business development, and I'm really excited to be joined by Katie Street. 

Katie runs the Street Agency helping agencies with their new business. More than the typical agency, it helps to get their positioning right, building marketing plans, outreach campaigns and lead generation. Also, Katie runs her own podcast, ‘The Word On The Street’ helping agencies win more business.

I am really excited to have you on the podcast because you and I share similar thoughts on this topic. I'm excited to dig into it with you today. 

First of all, welcome Katie and why don't you give us a bit of a potted history of how your journey has developed in the agency world? 

Thank you, Rob and what a perfect introduction as well. I am so shocked that I haven't spoken to you before. But now, I'm really excited to dig into all things new business and a bit of agency growth stuff as well today.

My history, where do I start? My goodness. Right. Okay, actually I was lucky enough to be thrown away at a very young age because I didn't take the traditional route to life as I don't wish for anything. When I first started work, I was only 17 years old and one of the youngest. It’s the reason why I'm still so young now. I went straight into work fresh out of doing a kind of GMVQ in business because I didn't really know what I wanted to do and needed to earn some money. 

I wanted to get a mortgage at 18 because I was getting some inheritance. Then, I landed on my feet in a job that I just absolutely love. My first ever job was for United Advertising and I worked for Exchange and Mart. I was actually their first-ever field salesperson.  They sent me out to go and meet all the traders. I moved very quickly up the ladder where I started. I was managing the evening sales teams at the grand old age of about 19, probably a salesperson of the year, all that kind of stuff.

It was a great introduction into the world of sales from which I had some fantastic training. I then ended up moving up to London, stayed in the world of publishing and went to work for FHM and started working with agencies selling advertising space, sponsorship deals for things like the High Street Honeys and various other things which are great fun at a young age. Then I actually went client-side and got some funding from an employer that I was with at the time, Penny Ricard, to do my post-grad in marketing, even though it wasn't a grad.

But I had enough work experience under my belt by that point to be, I guess put on the course and spent a few years there, then had a child. By this age, I'm only about 25 by the way, doing ever so well in kind of sales and marketing, then moved back down from London and went into the agency world because down in Bournemouth there was a really fantastic creative hub. I think I've spent the last now. I'm going to show my age now, 12, 13, 14-ish years leading new business and marketing for agencies. 

I've been really lucky and have gone back up to London, although I’ve been living in Bournemouth. I've been really lucky to work with agencies of every size from sitting on the board of some quite small independent agencies with very high growth targets. That's agencies with sort of 8 staff, and also some were sort of 40-50 staff where I kind of led the new business and marketing strategy and also big networked agencies. So I had a really good view of what worked at every single scale.

And then, after years of being poached by lots of agencies to help them run their new business and working with lots of lead generation and new business agencies that I guess got frustrated with, I thought, ‘You know what? I'm going to take the leap and I'm going to go and do it myself.’ I got myself a good contract with my first client and off I went and here we are today, a very fast-growing agency ourselves, I guess because we, Street, is an agency for agencies. It's very exciting. 

I'm sure loads of people, including me, will relate to your journey of how you got to the agency world. Thinking like the thing that got me started in my agency back in ‘92 as a young, arrogant marketing manager for a software company was the fact that I felt like we couldn't hire a decent agency that really understood what we did. I thought, I know I'm going to do it myself. I think for a lot of us, that young, naive innocence kind of helps us because I can't help but think now that I'm old and grey. I wouldn't be brave enough to do some of the things I did back then. But like for you and I sort of worked well, and here we are today. 

I just wanted to sort of start off by asking you the question of what you think are some of the key differences between successful agencies and less successful agencies when it comes to growth and new business and so on? 

That’s a big question. There are probably lots of things that obviously derive success. But from a new business and marketing point of view, I think there are two things that I personally think are really important. First of all, it is just doing things. There's so many agencies, the biggest struggle that most agencies have and all of you guys listening out there will hopefully empathise with. This is just making the time for new business and marketing content, activity, outreach, whatever it might be because as soon as your clients are shouting and you're busy delivering client work, that is the priority, and it should be the priority. It’s what's paying the bills. But what tends to happen is that the new business and the marketing activity, whatever it may be, gets pushed to the back, and it's very easy to get forgotten. You really need that. Because from my point of view, you really need that always-on approach. It's agencies that respect that. I think initially that you invest time and money into developing an in-house team, usually, and I, although we are an agency for agencies, I don't know, most of our clients do have a team.

Also, it's not always just us. Some clients do just use us, but the majority of them do have an in house team as well. I think initially, most agencies go wrong because they don't actually reserve the time or give the new business the time, respect, and money that it needs to really flourish. Then often agree more off the back of that become a whole load of other things, the biggest thing is also giving up too early. 

It's frustrating for me and you, anyone out there who's listening, who's been involved with either hiring a new business person or is a new business person themselves. I think often that new business person is looked upon as the kind of solution to all their problems, and I'm sure people feel the same about agencies like us, and I'm not saying that person isn't going to be the solution to your problems, but to my mind new business and marketing for an agency is everyone's business within the agency. It is not one person's job to deliver all of the new business. It's a team effort, you can't put them and we do. I felt the weight of it on my shoulders many a time thinking, ‘Oh, my goodness, if we don't win this big deal that we've got coming in, I'm going to my next on the line. I'm going to lose my job.’ That's not a nice way for anyone to film. It wouldn't have necessarily even been my fault if we didn't win it. There's a big team involved usually and coming up with the strategy, quoting the job here and then you're selling all of your people, not just your business person. I think that's also something and not giving them enough time. I guess so. That's the third extra. 

One is, it's expected that within six months you'll see fantastic results, and a lot of new business people turn up with a fantastic little black book. I've got one. I've had one and they will hopefully get some leads through and opportunities in early doors that hopefully you'll be able to convert. But the reality is, new business works best when it's always on, and it's been running for over a year. I just think agencies don't give the new business people, person, agency or process enough time sometimes because once you've been doing it and it's consistent and you and I both know this, Rob, I'm sure we're going to talk about it today because I do actually practise what I preach. It works beautifully and it just gets easier and it shouldn't become mature anymore. Hopefully, we can share some ideas around that today. 

I mean, listen, you could. It almost looks like I've given you a script of what to say which trust me, everybody happened because otherwise what happens is agencies lurched from feast to famine right there in that place of a feast. They've got absolutely no time to do anything but service clients. They're trying to juggle 20 different demands. Business development goes out the window, marketing goes out, the window projects come to an end often through no fault of your own, because things happen.

Then suddenly you're looking at an empty order book, and you panic at that point because you need to pay your bills. That panic leads to, as far as I can see, two things that often happen: one is that you take on any kind of client. If you take on the wrong kind of client that doesn't fit in your core niche then or your sweet spot, then they are really difficult to keep happy. You end up over-servicing them, which creates more stress in the agency, and the second thing people do is they discount because they're desperate to win business, so they discount their services.

Now I'm filling our time with less profitable work, and again that leads to stress. I talk about being stuck on the client service hamster Wheel of Doom, and I need to trademark that term because I talked about it all the time to my clients, and this is the thing. Like, if you're stuck on that client service hamster Wheel of Doom, you've got no time to do any marketing or any business development. As Katie says, you have to protect that time and it doesn't matter how busy you get. You just have to think this is how much time I got for servicing clients. 

I really like this expression that you used the always on. It was a kind of mentality towards your sales and marketing. 

Yes and I think you've got to look at it like that now, I know your audience tends to be between smaller agencies from one person all the way up to 25 and we sit bang in the middle of that. I think we've just recruited our 14th member of staff and will probably be about 20. Hopefully, we’re. I mean, we're probably by the end of our financial year will probably be at about 25. The reason that we're growing is that from day one well, I say they want that's a fib. I am a new business and marketing person, and I know the importance of it. Maybe not from day one, but within the first six months, I had recruited someone to solely do our marketing, and I know the importance of that and it feels risky. At one stage there were only four of us, and this person is 25% of my agency’s staff costs going on someone that isn't delivering work for me. But it has been absolutely essential to us growing. Now we have a team of two if you exclude me. We're just moving one of the other staff actually into a new business role to support me on the new business. We're recruiting another digital marketing exec. We will actually be a relatively small agency for employees dedicated to our sales and marketing, which is absolute for me.

Most agencies that we work with are three times the size of us and don't have four people in their team, but it does work. There are smart things. We do work using digital marketing, apprentices, etc. I'm not saying that we're spending thousands, but clever about how we're doing it and I'm certainly leading that team. But I think, if you don't recruit for that team, it will always happen that client work will come first. Even if you're trying to segregate partial time from one of your staff members.

That's what a lot of people do, right? Let’s say, one of your clients is us. Then, of course, that client goes to the back of the queue. I know loads of people are going to relate to this, and they're probably shouting at the computer or their phone and they listen to this while driving along. That's all very well in theory. But I'm stuck on the client service Hamster Wheel of Doom. What do I do to get off? What would be your tip to someone, an agency who's really busy, who's super stretched, who is not thinking about this because they've got enough money coming today and they're not thinking about the future enough? What advice would you give them? What would be your words of wisdom? 

I think one is to do something. Always doing something is better than doing nothing. I talk a lot on my podcast about solving and not selling again. One of the big reasons that agencies often don't do well is they don't think about the needs of their audience, and they just start pushing out, like doing cold calling or recruiting lead-gen agencies that's gonna bash the phones and basically sell to them going, ‘Look at us. Look how great we are.’ Totally the wrong approach. I'm not saying that you won't get some potential leads from that, but they won't be quality leads.

The biggest piece of advice that I can give is one, think about your audience what their problems are, and you'll know this because your audience is your clients. If you're solving problems for your clients all the time, you'll start to see trends because that is what we agencies do. We do solve problems usually. 

You know what key topics and things that you should be talking about. First of all, I think about your content strategy. ‘What are the problems of your audience? How can you help solve them and develop content around that?’ But that doesn't have to mean you are waiting for your next project to go live and going. ‘Well, I can't write case studies. You don't need case study content.’ 

I have built my whole agency without having a single case study on my website. I'm not saying that we're not doing our website at the moment and about to publish studies, but I have got to this stage without publishing any case studies on my website. 

Sorry to interrupt, but it's funny how people put these roadblocks in their way because I can just hear people saying, ‘Oh, I can't start doing this because I don't have the case studies to back it up,’ which doesn't really matter, does it? It's like you say if you understand the pain that someone is in that you can solve and that's what you talk about, then people are going to be interested in listening to you.

That is it. If you can start developing and think about the way that I have structured our content is easy and manageable for us to develop. I mean, I don't think my marketing team would agree with this, but it feels easy to me, maybe not much to them, because it's a full-time job for them. However, what we have done is made sure that we develop content that is reusable and that we can shatter down. Try and think of something that's going to be easy for you as a business owner or someone responsible, or leading the sales and marketing or responsible for getting new clients in. Think of the things that you can do that are going to be easy and repeatable because you want to have consistent content that's continually being pushed out to market. 

Think about what you can use or what you can do to help you develop that. For some people, that's writing content and insights posts, recording a podcast for some people that are hosting Webinars, hosting physical events, recording YouTube videos, or whatever it might be or creating some form of social content, whatever it is, just start. And if you start small, then that's absolutely fine. You test it, you see what the engagements are like and you just start doing something. 

Doing something is better than nothing. Do things that are going to be. You could say we're all different. Do something that's going to be easy for you and think about how you can reuse that content. 

Another thing that I see agencies do. I'm going off on the right tangent and have got many things I want to touch upon that whole what you're about to go into now. Let's go with that. Because just before we came on there, Katie and I were talking about some of the webinars that Katie runs every month and how well they're doing. And Katie was talking to me about how they took that content and reusing it. Then, just talk a bit about that and inspire people how they can do the same thing with their content. 

Yes, the webinar is something that we do once a month, but it probably produces us at least 10 pieces of content a month. It's a live event itself, we host it on Zoom as a Zoom webinar we usually have. We've got 1200 people signed up. Now it's just an amazing boast about that. But we recorded live. We usually now probably have around 25% attendance, and then we push it out via YouTube and on video and people go back and watch them. But that produces us a live event. It produces a video that we edit and put onto YouTube, there are two different assets. We then use that video and cut it up into social clips that we will push out throughout the month and to promote next month's webinar. We might do three or four video clips.

We also, in fact, one of the most valuable pieces of content that we have found in the past few months in terms of growth and engagement, are the really nice value SlideShare, you'll see them on LinkedIn and Instagram where you're giving a statement or extra piece of information or some value add on each slide we create a value post out of it, and we also write up the whole webinar itself and pop that on to our website now. 

We also don't just leave it there. We then use email marketing, and we'll pull things out in the email to push that out to our engaged data set. We use one. We do one thing, which takes me an hour to record, and then I'm not saying that it's not the easiest thing to do to cut up all that content. But there are many great platforms out there like I don't know if lately, that enables you. I think that Gary Vaynerchuk and I are going to check that lately is the right platform, but that enables you to cut that content up and produce you. It will actually, even it will learn the language and the things that your audience wants to hear about, and things that remarketing perspective are going to help get you noticed, and it will then pick out the right time codes for you. It will write your post for you, and it will cut the video into the section that you want it all. You've then got to publish it. I mean, there are many things out there, and what we do is try to make it easy for ourselves. We're always on the lookout for cool new tech like that as well.

It's amazing. Listen, if people are feeling overwhelmed by this, you need to take Katie's advice, which is to do one thing. Do it really well and then think about how many different ways you can cut it. I mean, in a more simplistic way. 

If you take this podcast, well, we're recording this podcast, all go on onto the podcast channel and distributed via the various channels like Apple Podcast. But we're also recording a video of it, so we can post that on YouTube. We will also cut up some of this video to promote social media, create an audio gramme that we can use to promote on social media and so on. 

Even with a simple thing, it's not simple, But a thing like this, we are finding five or six ways of reusing the content and I think what I see is I have my group coaching programme showing them this diagram.

Last time we had a group which was a circle with a big warning sign in the middle of it. At the top of the circle, it says ‘new marketing or business development idea’. The second box was, ‘trying it for a while and implementing it.’ The third box was ‘Well Rob it might work for you, but it's not working for me’. Then it goes back to the top and moves on to the next shiny new object. I think this goes back to your point earlier, which is you have to be consistent and persistent with stuff.

There is almost no despite what crazy people on Instagram and Facebook will tell you. There is no magic bullet to this. You have to do a few things, do them really consistently and stick at them even if you feel like you're not getting anywhere. As long as you're being smart, looking at analytics, refining things and understanding your audience, you have to be persistent with it. 

Yes, it's true. In fact, I had the lovely Lucy on my podcast recently, and she said something that I can totally resonate with. You speak to agencies that we did a webinar, but we just didn't really get anything from it. Yes, because you did it once. You didn't reuse the content, you didn't let it live and breathe and you did it once. Then you're hoping to get, what, 10 leads and 10 meetings and it looks. I mean, obviously, we have had occasions where we've done that. We did a webinar for a client, and we've had 4-5 meetings straight off the back of it. Luckily, they've had two opportunities that they've managed to convert.

But you've got to look at the whole of your new business, funnel and cycle and pipeline. If you've got half a brain, you'll realise you're doing that one thing. It might take you six months to a year to convert any actual paid work from that. It might not do, but you can get lucky. We've done some fantastic physical events for clients where within a few months, they've converted three or four clients, but you've got to give it the time, and it always works better if you're consistent and you've got that always-on approach.

I guess people want a shortcut. We live in a very sort of impatient society now, an immediate society and they want that gratification immediately. You're not going to get it. 

Let me just ask you a bit of a controversial or it might not be a controversial question, but this is sort of my experience and my view with my clients around the new business often they try to outsource the completely new business problem as they see it to someone else, and they might hire a new biz agency or lead-gen agency. They might even try something like telemarketing, which I'm not sure works at all anymore, or they might hire an expensive business development manager, and it often ends up costing them a lot of money and a lot of time, but it doesn't deliver the results. I always end up telling my clients that the best people to sell your agency are you, the agency owner or the senior team. I'm sure that's a bit of a polarised black and white view, and I'm sure there is a lot of greys there. But what's your view on that? What, your response to that? 

Well, do you know what? It's why I set up my own agency because I always did better at leading new business than any of the kind of lead gen newbies agencies that we recruited. I knew that there was a better way to do it. I'm not saying that we are the answer to all of the agency's new business problems. You do have to look holistically at the new business process from beginning to end and make sure, for instance, I think a lot of agencies and I hear this all the time, ‘We just need leads, we’re fantastic at converting. We just need qualified, good leads.’ 

If you can get some leads, I will smash them. Some of the agencies do that. But more often than not, there needs to be some work done on the conversion process as well. Actually, we've started doing some consultancy with a lot of our clients on that and helping them with that opportunity to win the process, the attraction side of things. 

I think 100% you cannot rely on someone like the Street Agency or the various other newbies, consultancy fees, marketing agencies, technologies that are out there to come in and solve all of your problems. You've got to give it enough time, love and respect internally as well. Also, I think certainly, some of the smaller agencies that we work with will be starting to get some fantastic leads and opportunities but then they're like, ‘Oh, we're really busy. We can't have that meeting until next week’. 

That's why you're going to lose the opportunity because you're not giving it the love we've worked really hard to get you these meetings and opportunities, and then you're going, ‘Oh, we're really busy.’ I might be able to have a call with them next week. Well, they have gone to someone else by then. You have to give the new business the respect it deserves. If you've got the wrong attitude to it and I think your new business sales, whatever you want to call what we do I often refer to what we do more is actually marketing than I do sales. It does achieve sales. 

At the end of the day. It's what we're working towards. If you don't give it the time or respect at any stage of the journey and you don't treat it right, you won't win because there will always be an agency that is faster, smarter, working, and harder. You've always got to think, ‘What is the extra that I can deliver? How can I be asking better questions, delivering a more exciting response to an RFP or a more elaborate pitch that really shows that I care?’ You've got to go extra at every stage in the journey, and if you don't, then there'll always be someone else's.

Yes, it's true. I really liked it when I was sort of prepping for today's podcast. I'm just looking at your website and LinkedIn profile and so on. I really like your holistic reproach and it's funny, as you were saying, holistic. I was writing that word down on my iPad because you don't just look at the lead gen piece. You look at the whole thing from the agency's positioning, and I guess often you must see the situation where a kind of an agency asked you to go and solve Problem A, like generating more leads for us. But when you look under the hood, you realise that actually, they've got Problem B that needs solving. Like, for example, they don't have a clear proposition. They're trying to be a generalist. They don't have a clear niche there. They think they're special, but they're not, and you've got to burst their bubble. I guess you just have to look at all of that stuff before you can actually start implementing anything. 

Definitely, so much I want to talk about. But definitely, that first piece is really important. If strategically, you don't understand who the audience that really needs you is, they need you more than any other audience, and you don't understand the problems that they have. The whole thing's going to fall flat on its face because you're going to be talking to the wrong people and attracting the wrong kind of leads potentially. That’s the initial strategic piece, I guess, is where we focus so much more time and energy, and a lot of our clients will say to us, ‘Gosh, you said you were different to the others.’

A lot of them have often worked with the others and they're like, ‘Gosh, you really are!  You really do treat this differently,’ because you have to understand the right messaging and approach right up front because if you don't know what you're going to do and where I believe you are, a lot of agencies will attract the wrong leads. That's going to waste you a lot of time, but also your agencies that often haven't done this before. They don't have that kind of nice big. I always refer to it like a snowball when we start.

We start small and the agencies that we've been working with for two years do so much better with us than the ones that have been working with for six months, and I'm quite honest with our clients about that. The longer and the more you do this, the better it will get. But also it enables them to not qualify in on what you were talking about earlier, which are those really terrible leads and opportunities that aren't the right fit for them. Or they're going to have to heavily discount because they're desperate for work as they haven't got a strong amount of or a hot pipeline of leads, people that they can talk to. They don't know where their next leader is coming from, they get desperate. The discount, they work with the wrong kind of clients that maybe haven't got the right attitude or aren't the perfect fit for them. 

But if you do this right and I can't say this enough. If you do this right, you invest the time and you approach it strategically, it will just get easier. It's no effort for us now. We get 20 to 20-30 new business inquiries a month. We do qualify out, obviously the majority of them. Otherwise, I would be a millionaire. But we do qualify out of a lot of them. However, it does mean we can do that really quickly, and we can refer those leads to the right kind of partners for them. But I have many leads because we've been doing this consistently for a long time basically.

There's nothing like practising what you preach. I guess you have to find the right kind of client that gets this that is willing for you to take a broader view of their business rather than just coming in and generating some leads.

I've got just a quick story of a client, the London agency I worked with years ago, and they contacted the original and said, ‘Hey, can you come and do some sales training with us?’ I'm not really doing sales training, but I went and chatted to them, and they said their problem was that they had a sales team of about four people who were getting a lot of leads and they weren't closing them. They thought they needed some sales training for those salespeople. I said, ‘Look, before we do any of that, what I need to do is do a fact-finding look a bit broader around your agency,’ Then, the issue turned out to be not that the salespeople weren't any good, but their qualification process further up. The sales funnel was really poor. They were handing really inappropriate leads to the sales team, of course, they couldn't close them. I said, ‘Actually, what you need to do is have a better filtering process, a better qualification process that your sales team have left fewer leads to deal with, which when they're not flying all over the place, but they're close at a high rate.’ It was the issue and that we were able to figure that out because we look broader in the agency, which I guess is what you need to do at the beginning of your engagement with clients. 

Definitely. We've onboarded a lot of clients. Especially recently, they have been doing exactly that. They've actually been doing some new business activity and developing content, but maybe it's just not quite right, and therefore they're not getting the right type of leads. They're either qualifying out of them because they're not right for them. or they're going for them and not winning them because they're not right for them. Then, that strategy piece is super important.

Yes, I just want to dig into one other question. I'm conscious of time today, but you and I could probably talk for another two hours. What changes did you see during the pandemic? What was the attitude towards new business? And how did agencies respond? And how did it impact you? 

Good question. Well, it's impacted my business personally, brilliantly. Because I think quite early doors, I knew that lots of agencies had a problem or we're going to have a problem. Then, we started producing helpful content and of course, I did think this is going to be good for us from a new business point of view.

I want to help as many agencies as I can because I know that it will come back tenfold. But we've never been on the Street, and I'm not saying this is going to be forever. We will change this. We've never had to do any sales outreach. All of our marketing means that the right kind of opportunities actually come to us, it does make life very interesting. I'm not saying we don't do any outreach. We do outreach, but we only push out our marketing and help. 

I tell everybody that's the best way of getting new business and it's exactly what I do. I put my marketing out there and I get inbound inquiries. I do very little direct outreach to people. Good for you, that completely concurs with that. 

It works. I'm not saying that we'll do that forever because we will probably start to transition now and we know the type of agency that we can work really well for. We are going to have a bit of a step change, I guess, in that direction. But I think the biggest thing that I saw is the agencies, where many of them turned off their sales and marketing early doors and stopped doing anything because they thought it was the easiest thing to cut. 

Some of these agencies I actually used to work with or for are really struggling now. Their teams have shrunk because there have been other agencies out there that have continued with their marketing outreach. Then, they have continued like we have done to push out helpful content that now their share of voice is much bigger than the ones that didn't.

I think that's something that I saw and, of course, doing what I do. I guess that that would be the case. I mean, it's obvious if you look at any historical stats that those that you have kind of marketed themselves through, whether it be a recession, World War II or whatever it might be, have come out on top because their share of voice was bigger, especially because there were fewer people talking. Therefore, I think that for me is one of the biggest things.

Actually, It took a little bit longer at the beginning of the pandemic for deals to come through. There's been quite a flurry of your agencies that we've been working with over last year. That stuck with it and maybe didn't win as many opportunities last year because it was slower for people to make decisions. Everyone was within the brand world that we're usually marketing our agencies to. Everyone was taking longer to get there or the CFOs were getting involved. Everything was taking all of those that stuck with their marketing. We've got clients that have already won just from their work with us five or six clients this year because this year everyone's taking action. 

I think the market out there a bit like the property market at the moment seems to be very buoyant. There seems to be a lot of positivity out there. This is why I say the biggest thing is to just do it if you can start, you'll do it brilliantly.

Yes, I completely agree with that. I've got a really interesting client who is part of my group coaching programme, and they do PR for health, beauty and scars and that kind of thing. Then, the minute pandemic hit, they literally lost all their clients by one, which was the body that looks after spars. We sat down and put a strategy together, and it was exactly like that. ‘Keep serving your audience. Keep providing value to your audience. Keep inspiring them about how they can keep serving their audience’ Then as things came out of the pandemic, her business is flying now. Because of that, she's also much business. 

I just want to. I really love your solving, not selling. I might have to say that because I always talk to people about ‘You have to get the A. You have to get the 80-20 rule.’ Apply to all of your marketing, which is 80% provide value, 20% sell, and you have to get that balance right but if you don't, then you're either going to be seen as a fantastic resource. As no one will ever buy from you or you're going to piss everybody off, or they're going to unsubscribe from you because you're just trying to sell, sell, sell, which doesn't work.  It's great to have someone who's kind of singing off exactly the same hymn sheet. 

I’m unconscious of time. Katie, I really appreciate your time today, and we should get together again, and there's lots more we could have talked about. But the question I ask all of my guests at the end of an interview is if they could go back in time and give their younger business self a piece of advice, what would it be?

I think the biggest thing that I've probably learned is just to be better, I am very action-focused, but to be braver and I'm very much someone that goes with my gut feeling in life. But I think when I was younger, I would look to other people for reassurance and maybe hold back and wait before I took action. 

Then, I would say the biggest thing is just to try things. Your worst thing is something might not work quite right. But you will learn very quickly that it's not going to work, right? Take action as quickly as you can and doing things would be my advice to my younger self.

Yes, I think it's a really good piece of advice. It was a place for all of us today and being brave, I think as well and putting yourself out there, whether that means, getting on the podcast interview or doing all the webinars and all that kind of stuff for standing up and talking. Get out and do stuff. 

Katie, thanks so much for your time today. If people wanted to reach you, what would be the best way for them to get hold of you?

Yes, put me in an email. Quite easy. My email is quite easy, it's [email protected] Or find me on LinkedIn, Katie Street. 

We'll share both of those links in the show notes. Also, if we can find that recent platform invention as well. Then I'll list that because I'm gonna go have a look at that as soon as we get off here. 

Thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate the advice that you're providing our audience, and I'm sure lots of people will hopefully take action after today's episode. 

Brilliant! Thank you for having me, Rob.

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.

How To Be Productive With Your Limited Time

One of the things that all agency owners, freelancers, and indeed any kind of business owner is short of is time. But how do we separate being a busy fool from using our time productively?

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast,  I want to share with you five (5) ideas and strategies that will help you become more productive. Now, these are ideas that I use in my own business, and I also teach my clients so I know that they will work, and I know where they will work for you.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:57] 

How to be successful in running a business

[3:01] 

The importance of having a plan for your business

[3:56] 

5 tips to becoming more productive

[3:59] 

#1 Create a daily schedule

[6:13] 

#2 Delegate, delegate, and delegate!

[9:38] 

#3 Limit your email checking – ideally twice or 3 times a day

[12:42] 

#4 Use technology to aid your productivity

[15:46] 

#5 Create space for  ‘thinking time'

Quotations

“..remember, if you want to make a difference to how efficient you are, you've got to do something different.” - Rob Da Costa

“The golden rule is to make sure at the end of the day you have ticked off every item in your to-do list rather than just creating a longer list which feels very dispiriting and is a really typical scenario.” - Rob Da Costa

“..my favourite expression which is, ‘Slow down to speed up.’” - Rob Da Costa

“At the start, you really need to think about how you can make these ideas work for you rather than sitting there thinking why they won't work for you. You also need to be disciplined in implementing these ideas because, after all, it takes 21 days to change a behaviour. So, be determined to stick with your new strategies, and find a way of holding yourself to a count.”- 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!

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Useful links mentioned in this episode:

 Full Episode Transcription

One of the things that all agency owners, freelancers, and indeed any kind of business owner is short of is time. But how do we separate being a busy fall from using our time productively? That's why I want to tackle in this episode of The Agency Accelerator. I want to share with you five (5) ideas and strategies that you can start using that will help you become more productive. Now, these are ideas that I use in my own business, and I also teach my clients so I know that they will work, and I know where they will work for you.

So to get the most out of this episode, listen with an open mind and figure out how you can make these ideas work for you rather than thinking you're the exception and they won't work. So 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. Today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast is sponsored by Cloudways. Loved by agencies around the world, Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that takes care of all the web hosting related complexities, leaving users free to focus on growing their businesses and clients.

The platform offers unmatched performance, reliability choice, and 24/7, 365 support. The act is an extension to your own team, making Cloudways the ultimate choice for growing agencies. Now, at present, Cloud Ways is offering an exclusive discount for The Agency Accelerator listeners. So visit cloudways.com and use the promo code AA20, that's AA20 to get a discount of 20% off your first three months on the hosting platform of your choice. OK on with today's show. I've always said that to be successful in running any kind of business, you need to be a great juggler, and you need to be a great juggler of three (3) key tasks.

Firstly, delivering great work for your clients. Secondly, running your business. That means staying on top of your finance, your ad men getting your invoices out on time and then thirdly, focusing on the future of your agency to ensure that you've got a consistent pipeline of new clients waiting in the wings to work with you. So that you never lurch from that awful feast to famine cycle that I've spoken about many times before. Now, whilst I appreciate many of the ideas I'm going to share with you or not groundbreaking original, I think it's always good to be reminded of what we know.

And we forgot  and all, perhaps, what we didn't know, and also to be held to account to implementing some of these ideas. And remember, if you want to make a difference to how efficient you are, you've got to do something different. You can't just hope things will change. So that's what we're covering this episode with the five (5) tips that I'm outlining. Now, let's start off by talking about the importance of having a plan, and whilst this episode isn't about planning for your agency, we've talked about that before.

You do want to make sure that the way you spend your time is driving your agency forward to delivering that plan, rather than just being a busy fall and going around in circles. So you're going to want to make sure that your daily schedule is taking steps towards delivering your monthly objectives, and they take steps to living your quarterly annual yearly plan. You need to ensure that you're getting the balance right of client delivery, business development, and planning for the future, and running your agency. That's those three (3) balls that I talked about in the introduction.

And if you get this right, then you're going to avoid feast and famine, and you're gonna have a consistent pipeline of new business whilst also do a great job your current clients, and that is going to give you an awful lot less stress, and you're going to have a clear sense of direction. So, the first tip I want to talk about is about creating a daily schedule, and my advice to you is that you plan your next day and you get a really good habit of this of planning your next day at the end of the previous day.

And then in the morning after you've reviewed your emails, you will visit your schedule for the day. And if any email actions need to be scheduled, you can put them into your plan. Now, a couple of tips here. Firstly, overestimate how long each task is going to take, because you need to be able to cope with the unexpected. All those things that you didn't know when you planned out your day, but undoubtedly will happen. So overestimate how long things will take so that give you some space to cope with the unexpected and, secondly, use a tool for scheduling.

Now I use a tool called Marvin as my daily scheduler. I find it really easy to use and it sinks with my phone, and with my diary, and I find it really, really useful now. I've got no affiliate to that, so you can use your own solution if you know one. But I'll put a link in the show notes to this toolr. And as I said, there's no affiliation. I just actually like the tall and it works really well for me, and it has timers like that sinks my diary and my phone, So it's easy to use.

You know, we all have random ideas when we're in the shower or walking the dog, and you want to be able to capture them so it all like this will enable you to do that. Now, of course, some people prefer pen and paper, and that's absolutely fine. But the golden rule about planning all days to make sure the end of the day, you have ticked off every item in your to-do list rather than having a to-do list that was even longer then it was at the start of the day, which is often what happens when people just write a long list of things to do.

They take things off and get them done. But they keep adding more and that is not a good way of keeping you motivated. And it feels really dispiriting to see list that actually ends the day longer, whereas if you do this properly and you get really disciplined about it, then you will get to the end of your day and you will see every single item ticked off on your list. You will then allocate time to plan the next day, and you just feel like you are in control. Now, on the point of having too many actions in your to-do list.

My second tip is to delegate, delegate, and delegate. So, we need to focus on our superpower. That's the thing that you are really great at doing, and most importantly, only you can do because, of course, we think we're great at doing everything. But what the things that only you can do, and they usually look like being the figurehead for your agency, creating that plan and doing business development, and we want to get someone to support it with a lot of those other tasks, so a lot of your admin task can be outsourced.

If you're just starting out or you're one person agency, then get yourself a virtual assistant. Obviously, if you've got a team, you can start delegating more. But one thing I would say about delegation is we need to break those stories that we tell ourselves that stop us delegating. You know, I haven't got time to show, but someone it's quicker to do it myself. They won't do it as well as me. Those air holes, just stories that stop us delegating it and you're asking yourself the wrong question because it should never be while they do it as well as me, because the answer will always be ‘No,’ of course it should be, will they do it well enough to do a good job? And the answer will become ‘Yes,’ if you think that way, but just challenge yourself when you're thinking. It's fine talking about delegation, but it takes me so long to show someone how to do something than it does to do it myself. Well, sure it does in the first couple of times, but after that they'll be able to take that piece of work off your plate. So this is a really good example of my favourite expression, which is “Slow down to speed up.”

Just delegate, if it effectively to somebody, make sure you're really clear. Make sure they understand what's expected of them. Make sure they understand the deadline. Make sure they understand what the output is. And if you slow down to articulate that really carefully, then they'll do a good job. Whereas if you delegate poorly, which is what a lot of people do because you kind of know what you want them to do in your head. But you don't communicate that very well. Then, of course they're gonna fail, and then you're gonna perpetuate their stories, which was all well, I knew they wouldn't be able to do what I might do it myself.

And I've suffered from that myself in the past, and I really challenge myself on that. And now I have a really good set up of project managers, and content writers, and social media schedulers, and podcast EPT editors and video editors that are supporting the running of my business. Now doesn't mean I have a huge team. It just means that I use a virtual assistant who uses some other people to get all these things done. So I'm liaising with, like the project manager in the neck, getting other specialists to do that work now.

One thing that I've done that works really well is I have documented my standing up standard operating procedures. So how to upload a podcast? How to edit a podcast, how to upload an email, just showing the people that I'm delegating to exactly how to do it. And I've also shot short videos, so that they could go back and watch these videos, and that just makes their learning much quicker. And it saves me having to repeat myself a number of times, and I use Loom, L-O-O-M, which is a fantastic tool and it's free, and I just shoot short video showing someone have to log on to a particular piece of software, or how to edit, or whatever it is.

So, that is definite example of slowing down to speed up. Document what you want someone to do. Delegate it carefully and they will do it. But just remember that my second tip is to delegate, and that you need to focus on your superpower. And let's move on to my third tip, which is a bit of a motive one, and that is to do with your emails. Now. I think we should all be limiting our email, checking ideally to twice, or maybe three times a day.

So first thing in the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening. Now I can hear your screaming as I say this and your thinking ‘Listen, I can't possibly do that. My clients expect a much quicker response,’ and sure they do. But you need to do two things here. You need to train your clients, so that they understand that if something's urgent, they will call you, or they will use some kind of other messaging like Whatsapp. And you need to explain to clients when they start working with you and other team members, how you check your email.

So, explain that you're only check your emails three times a day. And in between that, turn your out of office messaging on to explain: “I'm not at my desk at the moment. I check my email three times a day. I'll get back to you as soon as possible.”  So you're managing expectations. And, of course, with new clients you can tell them this at the beginning. We are, I think, completely addicted to emails. And I think this is why this tip is such an emotive one, because people like to feel needed.

They like seeing that little outlook dialogue box peeing up in the corner of the screen. But it is such a distraction. We’re like, you know, we're losing that battle against all these apps and tools that are fighting for our attention. We're losing the battle. So if you want to get focused, if you want to be efficient, then just check your email three times a day and otherwise turn your outlook off and sender, put you out of office on and explain to your client. And the other thing I would really recommend to do even if you won't do what I just said is to turn that dialogue box off, go into your settings, and where it says notifications, turn off the one that says ping up every time an email comes in because it's so distracting.

And if you're trying to focus on doing a complex piece of work, like writing a proposal or getting ready for a presentation or developing a new product, and you're seeing these boxes opinion in the corner, they're just a big distraction. And it will take you so much longer to get that deep thinking piece of work done than it would if you turned off those notifications and didn't get distracted. I think a really good aspiration that we should all strive toward is to get our inbox down to zero at the end of every day, and you even might wanna have your VA give her first pass of your email so that they can identify the important ones that you need to respond to.

And there are also lots of really great email management tools that will automatically filter your emails for you and put them into different folders. And one of those tools that I use is called SaneBox and again, no affiliation to this. I just like it. So I put a link in the show notes to that as well. And what that does is you set up some certain rules and it will filter your emails, so that you know the ones that you need to attend to today, and there might be once that kind of like information or emails that you might want to read in the future, and it will automatically follow them for you. That's a good way of managing this because we should all aspire to get our in boxes down to zero. Tip number four is an overarching tip, which is to use technology to aid your productivity. Such as SaneBox and Marvin I've already talked about. But what other tasks can you automate? While there are tools like Zero for accounting and bookkeeping, which has personally made my life so much easier, and the time that I now spend a bookkeeping which, to be honest, is not my favourite thing to do has probably been halved because it just works in a more intuitive way, connects it'll bank account he just makes that process easier.

So let's just think about some other tools that you could use as well. So from a communications perspective for project management perspective, I use Asana. But you can also use Trello or Monday, and these are just good tools for communicating with teams, especially when you are working remotely. Or you're using people in different countries or even just for yourself project managing, so that you stay on top of stuff and you can get alerted when you need to do things, you don't drop the ball, so that's project management and communication.

I use Grammarly for all of my email content, like it's like a first past spelling and grammar check, which is super useful. I use Google Drive for sharing content with my team. And from a social media perspective, I use Buffer, but you confuse things like Hootsuite so that you can schedule and send out posts on all the various different platforms you use without manually having to do that. I use LastPass for my password management, and I'm sure most of this is familiar to you.

But the last two really good tips from a productivity perspective on that is that I use voice to text for all of my writing. So I use on Mac. You just set up a key that when you press brings up the microphone, and I speak my content first of all, because that is much faster and it gets the content would be much quicker. But it also captures my tone of voice, and I take this approach of write fast, edits slow, so that is a really great way of writing quickly.

So that's what another tip and then the last tip, which I've already mentioned his use Loom to record videos. Now, I use Loom to do some training with my team so that they could get up to speed quickly and have a reference. But I often will use Loom when I'm replying to clients as well. So the client has said, ‘Hey, Rob, what do you think about this? Or can you look at this for me?’ I will usually do it in read real time, startling video and review their email, all the content they've sent over in real time and then just send them an email back. Now that's much quicker for me.

Andi also create a lot more engagement. Imagine if you've got a prospect who has reached out to you, and rather than just sending them a long email. The first thing you do is send them a video going. ‘Hey, Jane, it's really great to meet you. Thanks for your email, had a quick look at our website, and this is what I think.’ And if they receive a video like that, then it just is a great way of building that kind of connection that relationship quickly with your client.

So that's tip number four, which is all about using technology to aid your productivity. And my last tip, tip number five, is to give yourself some time and space to have some thinking time now. Thinking time is something that I teach myself running agency members. And it's one of the first things we cover when people join the programme and it just give you the time, and the space to plan, to think, and to take that high level view off your business so that when you launch back into the detail doing your stuff, you know that you're focused on the tasks that will move you forward.

Thinking time also gives you the opportunity to be creative, and to focus on the future. And that might include things like new products and services. And it certainly gives you the time and the space to think about how you could be more efficient in the things that you do. Now, we are so stuck on that client service Hamster Wheel of Doom, where we're running 100 miles an hour just to keep up, and we start a day with 100 emails. We've got too many things on our to-do list.

We got too many demands on us. And if we don't create space to do some thinking time, then we're just never going to break that cycle. Now the secret to thinking time is to do it every day, and to do it at the point in the day when you're most alert and your most creative. So scheduling some thinking time, for example straight after you've eaten a heavy lunch might not be the best idea. But if you're a morning person like me, then start off your day with half an hour thinking time to plan, to problem solve, and to create.

This is definitely a key strategy to avoiding being a busy fall, and to ensure that you're spending your limited time on the things that will genuinely drive your agency forward. Okay, so those are the five key strategies that I wanted to share with you today. I know that they're not groundbreaking, but hopefully they've reminded you of some things that you may have forgotten. Or maybe you've learned some new things, and I would definitely recommend that you implement these five (5) things into your agency. So number one was creating a daily schedule.

Number two was as soon as you can possibly do this, start delegating, even if that means hiring a VA for a couple of hours a week to start with. Number three was only look at your emails 2-3 times a day, and turn off your dialogue box, and put you out of office on the other times, and explain to your clients when you're available, and obviously tell them it's urgent. They can call you on work towards inbox zero. Number four was to use productivity tools to get you as efficient as possible, and to automate tasks and to improve communications. And then number five was to allow some daily thinking time to plan, and to problem solve, and to create.

Now, as I said at the start, you really need to think about how you can make these ideas work for you rather than sitting there thinking why they won't work for you. You also need to be disciplined in implementing these ideas because, after all, it takes 21 days to change a behaviour. So, be determined to stick with your new strategies, and find a way of holding yourself to a count. Of course, reward yourself when you do those things. Now, if you want to learn more about this then I have a suite of e-books and cheat sheets to help you with mindset, with productivity delegation, and time management.

And they are all part of my productivity pack, which is free, and I'll put a link in the show notes, so that you can grab them. But I hope you found today's episode useful, and I will be back with you next Thursday for our next guest interview on The Agency Accelerator Podcast. And if you haven't ordered it, please hit the subscribe button, and please consider leaving a review on Apple podcast because it helped me reach a wider audience like you. Other than that have a great week and I'll see you next week.

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