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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.

The Risks of Relying on One Big Client

The risks of relying on one big client

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:06] 

The excitement of winning a big client

[1:26] 

How to avoid over-servicing your clients

[2:11] 

Importance of getting your team clear about service levels

[2:33] 

Tips in handling big clients

[3:28] 

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

[4:13] 

What is the biggest challenge in running an agency?

[5:12] 

Importance of identifying the risk as early as possible

[5:40] 

How to anticipate famine on your agency

[7:39] 

The importance of having your business development and plan in place

[9:12] 

Why you should not focus on one big client

Quotations

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

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

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

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Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

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Useful links mentioned in this episode: 

 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:56] 

Early struggles and challenges in my marketing career

[2:37] 

How to be in control of your own destiny

[3:01] 

What’s my belief about success and failure? 

[3:55] 

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

[4:43] 

The importance of creating a plan

[5:11] 

Why you should start hiring (the right) people

[6:19] 

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

[7:25] 

The importance of having solid foundations in place

[8:01] 

How to focus on your marketing strategy

[8:34] 

Why I believe creating a succession plan is important

[9:59] 

What are my future aspirations

[12:26] 

How to work a 4-day quality work 

[13:21] 

How the pandemic removes roadblocks from our plans and stories

[14:05] 

Importance of delegation and having the right team

[15:15] 

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

Quotations

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

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

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

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode.” If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency.

Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

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

 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Long Does it Take You to Convert a Lead?

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:08] 

The most common marketing mistake for agency owners

[3:18] 

Why you need to nurture and educate your leads

[4:01] 

The importance of knowing your time to conversion number

[4:59] 

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

[6:54] 

Three stages in developing a relationship with your leads

[8:09] 

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

[8:57] 

Rob’s advice to his younger self

[9:37] 

What is education-based marketing?

[10:41] 

Tips to focus and add value in your content

[12:29] 

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

[13:39] 

The real reasons why clients come to you

Quotations

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

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

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode.” If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency.

Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

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

 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[3:38] 

Adam’s journey in the entrepreneurial world

[5:11] 

The importance of testimonials videos in the buyer’s journey

[6:03] 

The difference between written testimonials and video testimonials

[7:19] 

The best time to ask your client for a video testimonial

[8:59] 

Tips on what kind of questions to ask in video testimonials

[10:22] 

How to maximise the use of video testimonials in your marketing

[11:59] 

How to make video testimonials authentic

[13:07] 

How you can use TrustScout software in your agency

[16:23] 

The good and bad of running an agency

[19:29] 

How Adam finds the balance in running two businesses

[22:01] 

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

[24:17] 

Tips in running an agency

[27:51] 

Adam O'Leary’s advice to his younger self

Quotations

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

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

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

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode.” If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency.

Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

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

 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Tips To Quickly Qualify New Enquiries

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:54] 

Funnel marketing activities

[3:18] 

The consequence of focusing your time on the wrong prospects

[6:45] 

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

[7:35] 

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

[9:04] 

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

[10:35] 

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

[10:44] 

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

[11:54] 

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

Quotations

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

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

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

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

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 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

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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.

Creating an Online Programme with David Miles

Have you ever dreamt about earning passive income, (i.e. earning money that isn't directly connected to selling your time)?

Have you ever thought about taking what you deliver for your clients and turning it into an online programme, a course, or a membership site?

A number of my clients have so I thought it would be a great topic for a podcast.

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by David Miles, CEO of The PPC Machine.

The PPC Machine is an agency that helps mortgage brokers generate high-quality leads from their website using PPC and website optimisation. 

David shares how he's taken his PPC services and developed an online membership programme. We explore why he choose a membership programme over other online models, we look at some of the tech he has in place to run his membership, and the challenges and pitfalls he experienced as he developed his programme.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:37] 

What was the catalyst to begin exploring and creating an online programme?

[4:43] 

How to explore different online models- from membership programme to one off courses. 

[5:37] 

The reasons for choosing membership model over a standard course 

[8:05] 

Understanding the structure of an overall online programme

[13:04] 

How to encourage members to take action for online learning success

[14:04] 

What is the current status of David Miles’ PPC online programme?

[14:50] 

The biggest challenge in creating an online programme

[17:40] 

The component parts and tech tools that best work for The PPC Machine

[21:06] 

Tips in selling membership programme

[23:38] 

What advice to give to the listeners who plan to take their business online?

[27:21] 

Tips in pre-selling an online programme

[29:20] 

What are the things that David Miles would have done differently if he were to start over again?

[30:41] 

How to determine the pricing for an online programme

[34:16] 

What would David Miles’ advice be to his younger self?

Quotations

"Moving your 1-2-1 services to an online programme makes your business more scalable. You can reach more people." - David Miles

“I think a really good bit of advice that you don't need to have everything ready at launch. In fact, if you're launching a programme yourself, you need to create a minimum viable offer..“ - Rob DaCosta

“..no one is going to judge how good your programme is by the quantity of content. You don't need content about everything. You just need to have good quality content.” - Rob DaCosta

“Launch with a minimum viable product so that don't don't feel you've got to spend six months or a year creating something huge before you launch, because the big risk if you do that you might be creating something that nobody wants and then you've wasted a year of your life, so decide what your minimum viable product is.” - David Miles

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I enjoy listening to The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I always learn something from every episode.” If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me support more people — just like you — move towards a Self-Running Agency.

Scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, please hit the subscribe button below to be sure you are alerted when new episodes are published.

 Full Episode Transcription

If you've ever dreamt about earning passive income by money that isn't directly connected to selling your time, then this episode's gonna be one that you don't want to miss. Now, if you've ever thought about taking what you deliver for your clients and turning it into an online programme, or course, or a membership site, then that's what we're talking about today. I'm excited to have David Miles from The PPC Machine, who is actually our second repeat guest, and we're talking all about how he's taken his PPC services and turned them into an online membership programme. We'll talk about why he decided to do this, why he picked a membership programme over a different model, and some of the tech and things that he's had to get in place in order to make sure that he can run the programme and talk about how he launched on how successful he's been in some of the pitfalls on some of the things that he would do differently if he were starting again. So, as I say, if you've ever thought about taking what you teach and turning it into an online programme, then this episode is one that you won't want to miss.So, let's get on with the show. 

Accelerate your agency's profitable growth with tools, tips, and value added interviews with your host agency owner and coach, Rob DaCosta. So, welcome to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to have back with me; in fact, David Miles from the PPC. David is a long standing client of mine, and he runs, as I said, the PPC Machine, an agency that helps mortgage brokers generate high quality leads from their website using PPC and website optimisation.

Now David was actually one of my first guests on the podcast in episode 6, where we talked about niching, and David shared the benefits he's seen since niching into the mortgage broker sector. So welcome, David. Welcome back David. Is there anything else you wanted to add to my introduction? No, I think you already know me quite well up to something, something a lot quite nicely. So, good to be back. Excellent. Well, it's well, it's good to have you back. Now, you've been running your agency for a number of years in its current form and today we're talking about taking kind of like the bricks and mortar work that we do and moving it into some kind of online programme. So I was really interested to hear from you what the catalyst was for you to begin exploring creating some kind of online programme, online community for your audience. Yeah, I know this is one of those things I'd I'd talked about I thought about doing for years and lots of people said to me over the years, or you should take your training and, you know, move it online. It's more scalable. You can reach more people and all that kind of thing. And, I suppose, as with a lot of people, the catalyst for doing something that you've talked about for a long while was when the pandemic hit last year. Because obviously that two things firstly, in that initial for six weeks, when the business world just kind of stopped, you know, regardless of what kind of business you're in, everyone seemed to stop and now want to commit to anything in the world ground to a hole that always he gave people like me a lot more time to think about.

Okay, well, now I've got the time to do it. X once said that I've talked about for years. Um, because the other thing was, I physically couldn't deliver one-to-one  training to people anymore, which, you know, that wasn't solely what business was about. It was a significant part of it. So those things together really gave me the opportunity and the kick up the bum, to actually get on and start thinking like, how can I take what I've been doing in training rooms and one-to-one with people over the years and turn that into an online offering.

Yeah, I guess it's a soft panacea that many people see with an online programme in that they are limited by their time when they're doing what you and I do, which is typically one-to-one work with clients, whether that be training or coaching. Actually doing the work for them is a consultant like you do when you're running a PPC campaign for a client. And if we take it online than this promise of kind of making money in your sleep and, you know, being much more scalable And I guess you and I both know that promise a bit of a misnomer really. So I think the first thing I would say to people to our listeners is that if you've ever dreamt about creating online programme that absolutely go for air but realise that you know, it's a different kind of effort and work that you need to put in to get the revenue as opposed to the one-to-one work. So now you settled on a membership model in the end. So I'm interested to know why that was on what other models you explored. Because I guess if someone is thinking about taking their consultative what they do and creating online programme, then they will be thinking about these different models. So, how did you explore and conclude that a membership model was the right thing for you? Yes. Obviously there's two ways you can. You can sell online training on my courses. Yet that's the selling is a one of thing. Here's my course, give me £1000, have my course all this the membership model, which is what I went for. But as you know, Rob, you initially I went down, the more traditional sell it as a stand alone course. And a few reasons for our transition to the membership model ready. Firstly, the biggest reason I think is it. But a membership model allows me to offer more support and ongoing help to the people who buy by the court or by what is now programme that includes for courses is one of its elements. And the reason why I think that's so important is one thing I learned very early on when I was doing face-to-face training and you know if mining public training courses, where on things like Google Ads and social media and staff, and we have 10 to 20 delegates on each call. And the busiest point in the day for me is the training on a full day course was always the lunch break, because the lunch break was when the people who had a question that perhaps they were too sharply to ask in front of walls or, you know, they have reflected on something while they were having their sandwiches. Actually, I didn't understand that bit. That will be when they all come over and want to talk to the trainer. So you know, if anyone listen to this is ever run public training, you're now as well as I do. You don't really get to eat lunch. That's your full on part of the day. You can relax when you get back into the training room. Well, that's something that the online courses, you know that it doesn't exist. But lunch break doesn't happen. And so what I didn't want people to buy a course on, then never do it or never finish it because, you know, I suppose you could argue. Either way, I've got their money. So why do I care? Well, actually, because my reason for doing this is I want to actually have people learn new skills and be able to do this stuff themselves, and so I actually want people to finish. But yes, I want the money, but I want to finish the course as well. And that's why if I turn into a membership, then I can offer that ongoing support, hand holding, and coaching to help them through the courses. That was one reason for it and the other reason was I felt if I sell it as a standalone course, it's kind of set in stone that this is what you get. Whereas I know that the nature of what I trained on your traditional marketing world is always changing, involving and new things are coming along. So I wanted to be able to say, Well, this is This is the training you get as a bare minimum, but I'll be adding new stuff as time goes on as new things happen and I learn new things and new things come out. Whatever. Because that only works if people are gonna membership model club, just giving people new content for free or time. Yeah, that were reasons.

And to share with the listeners the sort of structure of your overall programme. So when someone signs up, what do they get? What are the various component parts? Yeah, so is aimed at mortgage brokers and financial advisors who want to generate more enquiries, more leads from their own websites basically. So, when someone first joins the programme, they get what I call a road mapping call with me where it's a half hour call to work out. You know where they're at the moment. That's the other thing. People joined the programme. You know, some have done no on my marketing. Some have done a fair bit. And that's why again, with the membership, you can flex it around what fits each individual. So I helped him work out, whether at the moment, what their priority should be. And then they've got access to a whole library of online courses covering all the different things on the road. Mapping core allows me to recommend to them you should start with this course or that course, because I don't expect people to work through from course number one to course number 20 whatever necessary in that order, it might be. But I talked to one person, and it's clear that they don't have a good value proposition on their website. So I would say things like going to do the course on value propositions. Or maybe, you know, they've got a great website, but they're trying to run some Google Ads also right, going to start with this course. I'm glad so I can point people in different directions. They got that whole live your courses. But the most important thing is that they get us apart. The programme is once a fortnight. They get a group coaching call on line with me and the other brokers, and the idea of that is, each time, their hour long call. And each time I have a sort of start to topic. But I talk about for 20-25 minutes about live training. So, like the one we did a week or so ago, I was talking about how to use email marketing. A couple weeks before that, we were talking about how to write a better copy for your website, and then the second half are the People asking questions either on what I've just spoken about or whatever they're working on that moment. So, you know, we had someone recall last time who had been setting up some Google Ads campaigns wasn't getting as much traffic from it as I thought they should do, and I looked at it, live on air with them and said, Right, if you change this and this and this gives you all the others are learning from that as well, and that's what I think sets it apart from just paying £1000 from online course, and there's a community is, well online community who can ask questions, get support and answers from me and other brokers and everything.

Yeah, good structure and obviously that's a similar structure to my coaching programme, the self running agency. I think people buy courses and people buy books with great intention of reading them all, completing the course. And then life gets in the way and they never do. And there's this whole group of kind of course collectors that probably you and I have both been guilty of. And I know lots of listeners will relate to that. And so whatever we can do to encourage people to actually, you know, follow the content, and implement the content, and participate in the forums and the group cause and so on the better.Because at the end of the day, this is about, you know, like you save people, making a difference in their business route, content you that you offer. The way I do it is, if you've got those fortnightly coaching calls, if all you do as the bare minimum is come to those at least means once a fortnight. You're spending an hour working on your business and working on your marketing. But, you know, so having much life gets in the way, you've got that kind of lock in the diary and often you only have to do one  thing. We did a coaching called a couple months ago about the importance of social proof and online reviews. One of the guys on the call. One idea that I've given I actually went away, implemented it and got an extra 80 old reviews on his Google reviews within 24 hours, you know? So where if he hadn't come to that call, he could have done that at any time, and the idea I gave wasn't rocket science, but if he hadn't come to that call, he'd never have never gotten around to doing that.

Yeah, that's fantastic. And of course, you know, we do this like you say. We want to make money, but we do what we want to make a difference. And we know that we can help people. You know that for me, the catalyst of creating my courses self running agency implementation group was because I was having so many of the same conversations over and over again with my private coaching clients that I thought, Is there a way we can expedite this? And we can actually save some time on our private calls by me saying that I should go watch module three lesson for, because that you can dig into that in your own time at your own pace.

There's lots of associative downloads, so that was my catalyst and I call my group and implementation group because it is all about doing. It's not just about watching that. I don't want people to watch these programmes, Mehta said. Because a lot of people do watch courses. For what Mehta said, they have great intentions of implementing what they've learned and then they don't implement it. So I'm much more like watch a 10 minute less and get stopped, go implement it, and then we go on to the next thing. So tell me so you've launched this, so I go on, you know that that's not unique to be online world.I get back to the days when I vanished, additional training company. We found something that people would come on a cause, and they would leave with all good intentions. But they would have what we call F.T.I,I failure to implement on one of the things actually there to try to address that was I would be doing it with a Google Ads course and saying like, you come on, if you come on my full day good glance training calls. If you want, you can upgrade and come back for a half day implementation workshop a few days later, a week and that people found that really useful because they turned up to our offices with the laptop and I spent half an hour putting into practise what we learn. You did two things that made them got that time blocked out to do. If it also crucially, I and the other trainers were on hand, so if they got stuff we needed reminding something you could do it. And that's kind of what I'm finding recreate here really in the online world.

Yeah, that's great. I think you know anything we can do to encourage people to take action not just learn is really good. So now I think you've been running this programme for about what, six months now. So tell us how it's going. Yes, we launched beginning of November and it's going really want the numbers of the numbers, members growing months by months with no as yet done huge amounts of marketing around. I'm just starting have a bit more because I pushed to get more people on board, but primarily the people who've joined so far being people who were already aware of and when I do, we're already on my emailing list, comes out my free Facebook lives and stuff like that. And yet the people have said Yes, we you know, we'd like more of this basically So they're the ones who've joined right. And what would you say by reflecting back on the last six months? What would you say the hardest part of putting this kind of programme together, launching it and then marketing is? Funny enough, I don't think creating the content is the hardest part, even though that 40 what most people you have people listen to this thinking of doing this. I bet the thing was putting them off is thinking, Oh, my God, I've got a whole lot online courses. I can't possibly do that. I don't have the skills at the time. I don't have whatever. Um, I don't think that is the hardest part again. Another beauty of the membership, you don't have to launch with everything completely finished if you've got your core offering of course is there, and again if it's a membership like mine. But it's not all about the courses. It's more about the fortnightly coaching. Then you don't need to have this huge finished product before you launch. So I think that's one of the other is the thing I thought would be the biggest challenge for the biggest hurdle that she wasn't. I would say that the hardest thing is probably, you know, it's getting people to engage, getting themselves, joining the community, and come to the things because I know that those who do turn up to the coaching, I love it and get great value for it. But as we always think, there's always some who you know, unable to make it or don't turn up and you know, that's the hardest thing is you could take a horse to water. And I know from completing preach owners they have similar problems. 

So yeah, I completely agree. I mean, it always makes me laugh that the hardest thing the way I run my programme is like people have to submit the questions in advance of our group calls, and it's sometimes like getting blood out, always get the questions and they always come in at the last minute. But sometimes they're literally coming in and nine o'clock when the cause of 10, even though I stopped sort reminding everybody the week before, I think a really good bit of advice that you just shared there is that you don't need to have everything ready. In fact, if you're launching a programme yourself, you need to create a minimum viable offer, which is something that you can start selling and is the bare bones of your programme. Because the input you get from your members is really gonna help you shape what the future of it is and what new content you need to create. So like you said, a lot of people will be thinking I've gotta create this massive compendium of 80 said of will. This content is gonna take me months and months and months and therefore they never get going. But the truth of it is you don't need to have everything ready. And actually, you know my programme isn't a membership programme. It's sort of like a nine month programme. And, I still imagine content and I've been running my programme for a year and a half now and are still adding new content as I feel it's relevant. I think another piece of advice I would give is that no one is going to judge how good your programme is by the quantity of content. You don't need content about everything. You just need to have good quality content. 

Talk to us a little bit about the tech because I think the other thing that puts a lot of people off is all of the component parts that they need to put in place to make this work. So tell us a little bit about the tech that you're using and what you explored. You know, I think that can be because there's somebody from choices of tech that I think part of the problem can be is not even getting your head around how to use it. It's that potential overwhelm off. There's just too much, too much choice. The system that I'm using is probably not the most straightforward, to be honest, because I'm one of those people who likes to kind of take the best bit of software for this job and combine it with the best bit of software for this job. I liken it. To back, back in the days when, when before MPs reason, people listen to music and proper for a high five. But there were some people who would like to go out and just buy the Amstrad all in one system because it was simply plug in that worked on. Then there were others like me who would like to go out by, you know, the Marantz CD player in the name and per normative and then connected altogether and similar with software. So my set up is not the most simple, but it works for me, so I use a system called Thrive Apprentice, because part of the Thrive suite of products that my whole website is built on. So Thrive Apprentice, is their module for creating online courses. All my courses created on that I I use Vimeo for my video hosting. So if I want to create a cause, basically I create the PowerPoint slide deck to go with it like you would for a real world training course, and I go through that screen recording it. I use a philosophical Screencast-O-Matic for doing the screen recording. She's really great. It's a low costing. It cost me. I don't know, something like £70 a year, I think if I had to guess. But it is not a significant amount of money, and that does all the screen recording it's got video editor built into afterwards. After, if you could take the recording you've done you can tap and tail it, you can edit out the arms and the ours. If you've, I screwed up a bit, and you could recall innovation over the bit that you've messed up. It's dead easy to use. It's not got tonnes of video editing features, but that's nice, because then it's not confusing. It's got all the ones you need for doing a course creation. I then under that video, and then I could create my lesson in. So I've apprentice and saying, Pull this video in.I can put the lesson notes in there. So that's what I used to creating that kind of online content. My group coaching calls, no fancy tech involved there. It's a paid Zoom account. I set up the Zoom meeting and the link out on the agenda is people beforehand and may join the call, and what I do with all of those coaching calls is because they themselves are, you know, whenever growing library of useful stuff. So I record them all via Zooms record function, and I just turned those into a video but available to the members afterward, and for my community I use platform called Mighty Networks, which is kind of like is basically where you can create your own private version of Facebook really. And yes, I use that to host the community. So that's sort of how I did with all different components, better on the other. The other main component is to actually sell the membership and take people's monthly payments. I use Strivve Card and my plug in forward press that runs the member database is called WishList Member. That's what it's called. So I'm using different bits of everything I know. I know, the other extreme. But I know you use Kartra, which basically has almost components all in one package.

So if people like fiddling with the tech, you know, then you could do what I have done. If you just want an off the shelf, thinks I'm in a car trouble. I've heard people speak highly of MemberMouse as another thing, but kind does the whole lot. Um, But one of the one of the things I did, you know early on, was quite a reading member of membership systems and then I think that's it's important to get that right, migrating for one membership system for another is quite a pain. So I would definitely get that right. But with the other stuff, you know, if I suddenly decided I didn't like video anymore or I wanted to put my courses are different thing. It wouldn't be that difficult to move the videos from one platform to another or something like that. But moving all your members off one check out system one member into another. That's a bit more of a headache. So put the time and effort into getting that. 

Yeah, good advice and I will put links in the show notes to all of the tools that David just mentioned. In case you want to look at them, and as David said, you know, I think we both went through a fairly thorough assessment. In fact, prior to me moving to Kartra, I used to host some in the individual training courses on Teachable, which is a specific of course platforms. That's a really good platform for taking payments and delivering the content. But it didn't do enough from membership perspective, I guess. So. I decided to move to Kartra and as David said, cultures and all in one platform. So I host my videos. There are hosts of my course programmes there. I will take all the payments there. I have more female marketing's hosted in one platform. The advantage of that is it integrates really well and it's more straightforward. The disadvantage is it's not as flexible, so the way what David ,so talk about was like picking best of breed tools and then collecting together on what I do is making the connection piece really easy, but perhaps compromising in some aspects. Although place things like Kartra getting better all the time.

And as you said, there's other tools, like MemberMouse and Kajabi is another well known to all. So what advice would you give to somebody else if they were thinking about their listening to this and they're listening because they thought about how can I stop selling one toe, one work? How can I take what I know and put it online? What advice would you give them? 

There were two things I would say. One you've touched on already is go with the minimum viable products that don't don't feel you've got to spend six months or a year creating something huge before you launch, because the big risk if you do that, if you might create something that nobody wants and then you've wasted a year of your life, so decide what your minimum viable product is for launch, and commit to launching when you have that level of product that level of membership available. And the second thing I would say it's really important is create a waiting list and this is something that I did when I launched mine. If I were going back in time, I would maybe spend longer launching the waiting list. But I'm impatient, so I didn't but the beauty how you're waiting it is so wonderful about here. If you start telling people you know, people on your existing mailing list PPL existing clients contacts, prospect whatever your database of contact is, you start telling them this is what I'm visible I'm working on, this is coming. Are you interested? You want to join the weight of this? And I I did that. It's totally an obligation I have said to people for a number of occasions I'm creating this programme. This is the outline of what it's gonna look like, what the components and if you're interested in being one of the first to know when it launches, you know, and getting in a special founder, members price and all that kind of thing. Then just click here. And that added on the waiting list on that meant that at the time when I actually launched, I forget how many I had on the waiting list. But it wasn't a vast number was up 50 to 100 people. Maybe it meant I had that call of people who basically already committed. Then you did it by new rough. It was gonna be in the programme. May knew what it was gonna cost them. And so I said anything that the same, right? It's launching on this date, and that was like a week beforehand. So you're building up the anticipation and when I actually opened the doors that was right. This is it. I, you know, got me my 1st 10 sign ups, like within the first hour. And beyond, that is what you know. It's good from the commercial point of view, but it gets some money coming in for the membership straightaway. But more important in that it immediately validates that you've done something good because you've told you what it is you're gonna be selling. Okay? Not part of the money yet, but they've said we're on the weight of this. We will do as soon as you launch it, and then a decent percentage of those actually do. Do it when the time comes. You think? Yes, I have got something here, which is why I've got a viable product and that gives you the impetus of inside right now. Interface of how to do. How to grow membership, how will get more people into it. You know, whatever. I think it's really important that we don't want is a membership where you've got two members. But if you're doing things like group coaching calls or whatever because no, it doesn't hurt that much energy does it. If actually it's only hit you and two people. 

Yeah, I'm really good advice that I think the thing I would say to anybody that's thinking about doing this is do your research and do your validation and the only way you really validate that programme is by someone buying it because someone might tell you that they're interested. But telling you they're interested in parting with their cash are two different things. So, as part of your research and your validation, you need to pre-sell your programme using a minimum viable offer. And at that stage, you probably don't have any content created, you just mapped out what it will look like. I'm gonna put a link in the show notes to guide that I've created on validation and research to help people go through those steps because, you know I've launched at least seven programmes in the past without doing this, and they've all been failing to one degree or another. So it was only after literally seven courses here over the last probably 6-7 years that I realised I needed to do this validation properly before I launch. Of course, there's a big difference between you thinking you know what your audience wants and your audience actually wanting something, so I think that's really good advice. 

So, I think something else to say is that, that validation idea isn't unique to just memberships. So if you were doing the more traditional launching of one online calls, you can still do that validation and at minimum viable product. So if you say you were doing, you know, of course, that was ultimately going to have 30 lessons in it. You could launch it and start selling it when you've created, say, the first 5 or 10 lessons. And you decide to most people, you know, the other lessons will be delivered over the next two months or something. Because again, that means you can actually, you know, test out the actual idea about getting some people onboard and if you know, if you've created your first 10 lessons and you're starting to flag a bit and think it always is hard work for nothing motivates you like having a load of people who've paid for the other 20 lessons and who are waiting to receive them. So don't don't think about those things as just applying for membership to be transferred to ordinary one of the courses as well. 

Yeah, for sure. And like you say, there's nothing like putting something in life to motivate you to get stuff done. Is there anything you would do differently if you were going to start again? Would you do anything differently that you've done so far? I think the thing I said about making the waiting list period a bit longer. Probably would really do that differently next time, and I suppose another thing I would do would do differently by the one thing that might I suppose I did try and create. This is a one off course and then transitioned into a membership. So, knowing what I know now, I would have done it as a membership from day one on. That would automatically have made the waiting list period longer because the waiting list would have been building up while I was creating Well, all the courses and scratch. Whereas by the time I did my waiting yes, I already got a lot of the stuff I needed ready to launch. So, yeah, I think extending that phase would be something I would do differently. But other than that, no, I think that that's the main thing, that's the beauty remembers you could. You could tweak it and change it as you go through. You know, it's something that you've got members saying, Oh, be really nice. If the programme included this or, you know, this hasn't happened to me But if people said, Oh, we'd rather only have a coaching called once a month once a fortnight or you can make those changes as you go. So I don't think you have to have everything set in stone like from day one.

Yeah. No, absolutely. Let me ask you a massive question and see if you can answer in one minute. Just I’m concious of time. One blast. And maybe this is a separate poor castle together. But one aspect that we haven't discussed is pricing. Like, how on earth do you work out? How much to charge, whether it be a one off fee, several payment fee like I have in my programme or monthly recurring membership fee? How did he start figuring out the pricing? 

I've no idea. This's a short answer.It's a a massive, massive question. And, I've read so many different theories on pricing and what you should do, it shouldn't do with it. The route I've gone for with it is to try and keep it as something where it's a low monthly amount because: a) I don't want people to be thinking too hard about whether to join in the first place, or b) whether to keep their membership going. I don't want price to be a barrier to them, to them coming on board. What I would say is, don't get obsessed with what each individual person is paying. Because if I looked at you know what someone on my membership gets for the monthly membership they pay, I'm setting myself way too cheap. What I do instead is look at what is my total revenue from the membership on DH there? Actually, we had that work. So you know, when I look at the time it takes me to go and do to group coaching calls per month, for example, I think, Yeah, that's actually I'm content with that as an hourly rate or whatever, you know, whatever you want to call it. So I would say, price it such that people don't have to think too hard about joining and don't have to think too hard about staying. Think about the value that they're getting for it. But the problem with that is you have memberships cover a huge range of things. Some people run memberships and online courses where what you're teaching someone is somebody with their hobby, you know? So maybe you've got a membership about how to play the guitar better. Well, that's mostly only gonna be their hobby. Will never get a return on that investment. Other than the pleasure I get from playing the guitar better with something like my membership, I can price it at the higher end because if you're a mortgage broker joining this, if it gets you just one extra client per month from what you learn from this, you know that's put another £1000 a month on your on your bottom line. So I think that's what you think. You're pricing thing. What's the actual value to the kind of people are joining this? How much could it change their business or change their life and therefore, what will be willing to pay for it? But I would rather than you have a lot of people paying a low amount of money than have you know, 10 people paying me £500 a month because I want that, I think. I guess I grew that. 

And of course, one of the ways you can and get some sense of pricing for whatever your programme is going to be in whatever topic it's gonna be for whatever market is, just to do some research and find out what other people are charging. That's a good starting point. I also think in the early days, I know both you and I did this is that you have assault founders rate and you almost use that as a way to get people through the door early because you tell them the price is going up. And, what you need to do is start a low rate and then increase the price until you reach a point where you've hit that soft, sweet spot, which is the right fee for you and the right fee for your market as well. So, like so it was probably an unfair question to ask you right at the end, but I just wanted to get that one in. 

So as you know, the last question, I ask all my guests, and I deliberately asked David not to go back and listen to episode 6 to see what he said before but I'll do that after this. If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be? Well, I haven't been back and checked, but there are actually two bits of advice because I think since you asked me that in episode 6, I think I got asked on someone else's podcast and gave a different answer. So I'm going to give both okay. Advice I would give to my younger business self are niche your business because I didn't do that until about six years ago, and I wish I'd done it sooner. And the second piece of advice would be start building your email list because again, that's something that I only really started focusing heavily on a few years ago. If I'd started doing that 10-20 years ago, I'd have an even bigger at me. My email list is a massive asset, and, like I said, it was where the majority of my members have come from for my membership programme. Imagine if I started building that 15 years ago, it would have been even bigger and better. So start building a list, too. 

Yeah, two great piece of advice and, you know, my listeners will know that I bang on the drum about both of those. And sometimes it's really hard to get people to figure out that you're building your email list is gonna be one of your most valuable assets, and it'll be one of the most valuable asset. So if you want to sell your agency and it's certainly going to be the sort of pool that you swim in and fishing and if you can make that pool's biggest possible. And of course, as we all know, nitching your agency means high price is easy if your clients to find you and easier to look different to your competitors. So good piece of advice. I will go back and check out what you said on episode 6 to see if it's the same works on a different. But I'm not sure if I don't think we've ever had either of those two piece of it as advice before.

That's always great, David. It's people listening to this, and they want to find out more about you and particularly check out your programme, where would they go? If you go to the website, which is ThePPCMachine.co.uk. Always stuff said if they specifically about the programme. It's ThePPCmachine.co.uk/PPP  because the programme is called the Predictable Part Mind Programme (PPP). And obviously they want to connect me, I'm on LinkedIn and Twitter was updated miles, you know, all the usual places. Yes. 

So we are scribing this down, we will add all those links into the show notes, so people can check out what we've been talking about today. See what yourselves page your programme looks like get some other ideas but wanted to thank you today for joining us David, this has been a topic that I haven't talked about before. But it's interesting. And I think like you said, the catalyst has been the pandemic that more people are starting to think about taking their agency work and moving it online in some form. But they often don't know where to start. I feel such a huge task. So I hope that the advice you shared with people today will help them make that journey a little bit more pain free for them. Hopefully, thank you very much. for has been a pleasure chatting to you as always. And, yeah, I hope it's giving people some useful advice. We'll see you again soon. Bye!

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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 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.

Recruiting Staff in a Challenging Climate

Recruitment is such a hot topic at the moment. I know everyone is finding it tough, so today we’ll be talking about the biggest challenges in recruitment.

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, we are joined by Ugis Balmaks, who runs his own recruitment company, Recruiter Mill that helps agencies hire great staff. He shares some interesting insights about the current state of the industry, the recruitment process, tips on how to recruit people, and how to give yourself the best chance to be successful.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[02:50] 

Ugis Balmaks’ back story on how he started in recruitment: his first hired employee, his biggest learning experience in recruitment, and more about his company.

[6:35] 

Pros and cons of hiring an in-house staff vs remote worker

[9:00] 

How to recruit people during these challenging times in the U.K

[11:16] 

Do’s and don’ts in recruitment

[14:36] 

The marketing funnel steps in the recruitment process

[18:58] 

Tips in filtering job applications

[22:22] 

How to assess cultural competence during the interview

[26:23] 

Why honesty is the best policy throughout the recruitment process

[27:37] 

Difference between hiring employees directly and outsourcing through a recruitment agency

[30:11] 

How to choose the right recruitment agency 

[33:12] 

Why you should get involved in the recruitment agency decision making in hiring

[36:08] 

What is Ugis Balmaks’ best recruitment advice?

Quotations

“So often in life,  learn the lessons in life the hard way and they are the best lessons that we learn.” - Rob Da Costa

“..that's kind of was a huge wake-up call to what can happen if when hiring is done poorly, which it was at that time. And it led me to kind of start and explore how I could hire better.” - Ugis Balmaks

“Hiring is such inexact science that someone can show up really well at the interview, but then they fail to deliver spectacularly once they start working.” - Rob Da Costa

“Yeah, it's almost like any other marking funnel where you see the numbers and when something's not working, you can see exactly where it's not working, and then you go in and I can fix it.” Ugis Balmaks

“You have the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and see what this that they're not, including kind of really try to put them into shoes of a person that would want to work with you, or that you would want to hire...” - Ugis Balmaks

“My favourite expression which is ‘Slow down to speed up.’ Like take your time, go through these steps… because you want to hire right.” - Rob Da Costa

“No one else knows your business better than you do… But your gut instinct is also going to give you a lot of safety and security.” - Ugis Balmaks

“Hiring the best people you possibly can afford, so that you can delegate down and relinquish as much control today as possible.”- 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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 Full Episode Transcription

Recruitment is such a hot topic at the moment, and I know everyone is finding it challenging. In fact, I had my group coaching call today, and we were talking about some of the biggest challenges that each of the members have, and recruitment came up time and time again. So this podcast episode is really timely, and I'm excited to be talking with Ugis Balmaks today. He runs a recruitment company that helps agencies hire great staff. And he has some really interesting insights to share, including thinking about your recruitment process in exactly the same way that you would think about a marketing funnel.

And he also shared some really good tips on how to interview people. And we apply my favourite expression, slowing down to speed up to make sure that you are really thorough in the recruitment process of that, when you hire someone you know you're giving yourself and then the best chance to be successful. So, another action packed episode and let's head over and have a chat with Ugis. 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, Cloud Ways 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 Cloud weighs dot 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. Hey, everybody and welcome to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. I am really excited to have with me today, Ugis Balmaks from Recruiter Mill. And today, we're talking everything to do with recruiting stuff, which is such a big frequent topic that I am having with my clients at the moment. So, I'm really excited to have you just with me today. Now, normally, I would give a bit of background information, but I would rather you just did that himself because he can share with you some of the stories, both the good and the bad of what he did that led him to create Recruiter Mill. So, welcome to the podcast, and yeah, we hand it over to you. Thank you so much Rob. It's an absolute pleasure to be on. Yes. I wanted to tell a little bit more about myself and what led me to even start working in recruitment. So I actually used to run my own business. That was not an agency that was an information product business. And, of course, I had to hire for that business.

And yeah, the first person I hired was about six years ago, and that was completely atrocious. I'll be honest with you. And yeah, we can even go into some of the details of what happened. So it was a developer that I hired. I didn't know. I didn't know much about development at the time, but what happened, what I didn't realise is that everything he touched basically broke. So, whenever there was something that was working after he worked on it, it didn't. And so after not a very long time, we realised, okay, our passion is not going to get any longer.

But on his last day, what he managed to do was introduce a backdoor into our system. So for a few months, we noticed that our sales, they're kind of dipping, but we couldn't put our finger on it. And finally, we got some weird customer support. I think it's where people are saying, ‘Hey, I bought a course from you. Where's the content? What's going on?’ And so, what happened was that the developer who managed to break everything else actually successfully worked on the back door of our development system.

And he was following some of the cells towards his own account. Of course, finally we figured out with some help from some good friends. But yeah, that's kind of was a huge wake up call to what can happen if when hiring is done poorly, which it was at that time. And it led me to kind of start and explore how I could hire better.  But since then, you know, it wasn't always that awful. And I actually managed to hire quite well afterwards. And, sorry.

So it wasn't always this awful and I managed to hire quite well afterwards, and my business grew quite large to high seven figure mark revenue. So I was quite happy about that. And when I sold my business, I was looking at the next thing I could be doing. And I just kept seeing, a lot of my friends were asking for advice specifically in recruitment and one of those friends, like he kept coming back for it for advice. And at one point I even did a hiring interview for him just to show how it's done properly and after the interview.

He's like, ‘This is excellent.’ I wish you could just do it for me. And that's one kind of the light bulb went off that I actually could be doing this for him and for other people. And funnily enough, now we're hiring the six person for that friend of mine, and I was only six months ago. So yeah, that's kind of how I got started in recruitment. Yeah, it's funny is that we so often in life learn our lessons the hard way, and they are the best lessons that we learn.

And you know, one of these I'm always trying to do on this podcast is be really honest and share their bad as well as the good. So that's that horror story of the developer that you're talking about, or well, I hope that other people haven't had that issue of them finding a backdoor into your software. I'm sure a lot of people will recognise that. You know, hiring is such an inexact science that someone show up really well at the interview, but then they fail to deliver spectacularly once they start working.

So, let's kick off with a big topic. First of all, one that I muscle the time, which is talk about the pros and cons of hiring an in-house person versus hiring a remote worker, especially in this very changing world that we currently live in, where actually those lines are getting a bit lower blood because in-house workers, for the last year I've had to be remote workers, but what would you say the advantage of me, hiring someone that's gonna be a full time employees in my office versus hiring someone that might be somewhere else across the world?

Absolutely. So how I look at this is I tried to keep the end in mind and on my personal end, and what I'm going for is that I'd like to have a business that's an asset that's generating income for me, but also that's worth something. And if I treated as something where I hired help here and here or there on these people can be really good. But it all depends on me at the end of the day. To me, that's not a business. To me, a business is something that can run on its own.

If need be, I can step back for at least for a while, and hopefully in the long term, for a longer time. And because of this, for me it was never really a question because I know I want a business for myself, to build a business. I want to build a real team with people who can run it by themselves eventually. Yeah, yeah, and I completely concur with that always, I believe, although I know this isn't a hard, fast rule. But if you try to build your agency solely using freelancers, then it's like building houses on quicksand.

And, another good point that you've made is that you're not really building much equity into your business if you're just hiring freelancers. And you know I'm all about building the self-running agency, and you can't build a self running agency if you are completely intrinsically stuck in the agency as well. During, while recording this as well in the UK anyways, we started to come out of the pandemic, and it's been an interesting time for recruitment, and I thought, maybe this will still happen, but I thought that it would become easier for agencies to find good people.

But in the UK, for sure, it's not true, always still really difficult for people to recruit. So what's your take on that at the moment? Yeah, in my experience, it actually has been a good time for hiring, and I think that the theory is kind of clear to anyone who thought about it is that there are many people who lost their jobs, many talented people. So now they're open to the job market. And yeah, for this, for the same number of jobs there, there are a few more people applying for them, so you should be getting better candidates.

And generally, to be honest, that's what I'm seeing. It's hard to comment between UK and the global market, ‘cause my clients they usually work for the English speaking market, but the candidates are coming from all over the globe. But, yeah, I can think of a person that used to be, being in airline. And now, of course, that's no longer a viable option for him but a super talented person, and we were able to tow him for one of the clients. They also run an agency or a friend of mine runs a photography information business.

And so he hired a person that used to be in charge of photography for cruise ships. So he was running a team of 80 people, I think so. Somewhere on that scale and his team is not that big. It's maybe around 20 people. So he got someone again, really, really experience, really talented, just because their industry no longer offers viable options for them. So, for in my experience, it has been good in recruitment. You know, I think maybe in the UK it's because we have I pretty robust furlough scheme.

So a lot of people are still being paid by the government to not work. And it will be interesting in September 2021 when that ends, whether we will then suddenly find it a lot easier. But I have certainly been having conversations, my clients who finding it, challenging to recruit. And I had, you know, conversations morning where clients tried to find a design director, and it's just really difficult moment. But I said, I think here people are just staying put where they are and keeping their heads down while they're on furlough.

But when that ends well, you should see what the fallout, what the fallout is. So just talk it through like the recruitment presses. Can you share some, if you were advising someone on hiring someone, can you share with them some of the do's and don'ts that they should be focusing on when they're recruiting. Absolutely, and there's so many tactics that I want to share today, and I think we'll get to the best ones. But I think it's worth starting with kind of the mindsets and how you should look at hiring in the first place.

So I've kind of going through you through three stages of having a mindset about hiring. So the first one was gonna I didn't know what what I was doing and and you heard a horse or your earlier, and that's that's what it led to. And there were other mistakes that where maybe not spectacular but still quite bad. And that's kind of not knowing what to do. And usually you end up copying someone else, you posted general job ad,  and yeah, on my first interviews, I had no idea what to say.

The interviews didn't seem productive. I didn't feel like I was learning about the candidates, and that's kind of one approach. Of course, you don't want to be in that approach. The other kind of way to approach hiring is what I call the headhunting model, where your rider approaching people in LinkedIn. But even more commonly, you ask every single friend of yours. Are they interested, you probably have a few people that you spotted over the years that you think.  Yes, I would like to work with them somehow, someday.

Then you ask, your employees used to do the same thing, and I've messaged or kind of scroll through my friends list on Facebook at least six times when I was in this stage, kind of hoping to find something, someone that I haven't thought of previously. And that's not a bad approach. Honestly, many of my first best hires where people that someone else recommended or that I knew from contacts. But it is a limited approach because I'm at least not the kind of person that goes out and networks and meets a lot of new people.

And the people I meet usually own their own businesses, and they're already looking for someone, so they're not really helpful in these terms. So the last approach and the one I've kind of evolved to is treating hiring as a marketing funnel. Basically, So, yeah, making sure that you know who you want to approach, making sure that you know where to approach them, how to approach them, help to filter them later on the process and that's brought me by far the best results, because then it's kind of. Yeah, it's almost like any other marking funnel where you see the numbers and when something's not working, you can see exactly where it's not working, and then you go in and I can fix it.

And that's been by far the biggest breakthrough for myself and then everything else around it is tactics, kind of figuring out where to post, what kind of job ad to write, and so forth. Then, yeah, I'm happy to show that. But this one mindset, which was the biggest one for me. Yeah, I guess it's interesting as well, because you also have to like a lot of my clients are agencies with sort of 5 to 20 staff,and they might be trying to hire their next big person, but they need to have a positive mindset about their agency that this person should be honoured to come and work at the agency and not,  ‘Oh my God, I will be so pleased if they chose to come and work with me’ because I think it makes recruitment much harder. So there's that mindset of peace. I'm just interested in the whole marketing funnel analogies. That's really interesting. Can you just got it, iIf you could break that down a bit and look at some of the component parts of that funnel from a recruitment.

Absolutely, and over the years, kind of. It's not even necessarily working with my client's. Initially, I started sharing with other businesses ‘cause it was kind of a pain point for us, kind of a painful for them, And everyone's trying to figure it out, and kind of learn about it, and we learn to get her in. What I see now years later for many of them who also implemented a similar approach successfully, is that they're always kind of the same steps. So the first step is knowing who you want to hire, and that's not as simple as it may sound.

So, what you do there is kind of list all the attributes and all the things that you were looking for in a person away usually break it down is what I'm looking for in anyone. That's that I'm working with, so general attributes that make a solid team player and someone I like working with and then its role specific attributes that I'm looking at. Some people call this the top score card, and I think that's a fine name on. That's pretty much the first step realising, Okay, who am I really going for?

And a great way how to realise what are those attributes that you should be working with and how I first came up with him, was looking at every single person that I worked with in the past and kinda of realised. Okay, what's great about them, what's not so great or people that didn't work out, why didn't it work out. And by the end of this exercise, you come up with a few around 10, maybe attributes that's that you were looking in someone, and yet then you kind of know, Okay, now we know them beforehand, and when someone applies, I can kind of run them against the checklist and see whether they'll be a good fit or there's already that I see now this is a deal breaker for me.

I just can't work with this person and because you have this mindset that you mentioned previously. You don't have just anyone who can walk into a gum. This is hired by you. If you don't have that mindset, then you have the confidence to say no to someone who might even look good otherwise. And that's the first step that into the process. Yeah, that's really interesting. And then what's next after that? So next, you have to kind of learn about the brawl and that's kind of also works in the first step, but you have to know who you're going for, and then you have to really understand the person.

So I'd say you're hiring a link builder, which is a quite popular position to hire for it could be anything else really that you're hiring, could be a video editor, could be in main marketer. And one thing that I often like to Google is what's awful about being a link there, what's awful about being a videographer, or customer support person, and I kind of read some forums, spread it, Quora of whatever it is, and I understand what did this that they don't like about the job and I compared to my job and see oh, can I offer something that people usually don't don't receive in these roles and kind of try to approach him from an angle.

Yeah, I'm providing something special between these hundreds of job ads they could be choosing between. They should go with me because I have something no one else has, and that's that's the second step. Another thing to do here is to go on actual job boards. So first of all, you need to find them and see where you could find a person that you're looking for. See if they're more ads like the one for your position. Because if there aren't any of unfolding, builders are going, though they're no videographers air going there.

No, If no one's advertising there, the videographers won't be going there. So then you know it's not worth boasting there as well. But if there are, if the job ads are there, then you can look what everyone else is saying. And usually they're not that good. So once again, you have the opportunity to learn from others’ mistakes and see what this that they're not, including kind of really try to put them into shoes of a person that would want to work with you, or that you would want to hire on kind of make them., yeah, make them want to work with you. You know much that Zagat So that's some really great tips, their ecstasy doing that research. So now we're at the interview stage and we're sitting down with these people. What's your tips about separating the superstars from the kind of time wasters, useless people, That's all. Yes, so my number one tip is actually to get rid of the people who would waste your time in the first place. So before I go to interviews there, a couple more steps. A number one is the application and so what I see people usually doing is some of your cover letters, send me your resume and we'll get back to you. And to me, that's kind of an awful approach, to be honest, because whenever someone's writing a cover letter, there's no set standard. There's nothing, there’s no guidelines. So whatever they write in there, it's kind of hard to judge. Of course, if it's completely awful, it's full of mistakes or the sentences, that makes sense. Of course. Then you can disregard them. But if you want to hire someone good, which, of course you should want. Then it's much harder to learn anything from a cover letter.

So what I do in my application forms is ask a few specific questions and I even give instructions to how they should fill out the form. I say ‘Show off. Don't be shy to do it. We want to work with the best people. So show us why. Why? You're one of them. Give us thorough answers. Give us complete answers. Don't skip fields.’ Yeah. Instructions like that. One word like those. And then from the application, you can see often you can see in seconds, OK, This person will not fit because they skipped questions or they're not giving me one sentence answers, and you'd be shocked how many people you can just discard by doing this. It's 80 to 90% of people don't make it to the next step. And so that's one step. And this is kind of how you filter everyone who was definitely not up for the job and of course, you can also look at their experience and see. OK, this looks like a very solid person, but they just don't have the experience that you're looking for. So the other thing that you do once people have passed application stage is you give them a test job on, and that is how I like to look at things here is that this is the best predictor of how well they do an actual job.

So if you give them something that they will actually have to do on the job, and they can do it well, chances are when they come on the first day and they have to do the same thing, though, they'll keep selling. Whereas if there's someone who can do the job or they can do kind of poorly Uh, yeah, probably not much is gonna change by the time they join your team. So I've also had this experience where I learned okay, I can be having these awful people that are making backdoors into my development system.

So let's really check for a fit and that they are a good person and check references and so forth, and that needs to be done. But you also need to check for their technical ability so that they're able to really do the job. And still to this day, most people, if they're able to do the job really well fit. Yeah, usually we can figure out. So yeah, that would be my number, number one. Have them do something. Show them their input.

Because from the interviews, people might appear really cool. Really nice, nice people. But if they can do the job, that doesn't help you. So you need someone who can get things done. And how do you assess cultural fit as well as competency? So I think in a small agency, having someone that's gonna be a team player and fit culturally is almost as important as their competency to actually do the link building or the graphic design or the website or whatever it is you're hiring and force her any thoughts on that cultural fit piece?

Yes. So that's the other important part. And there is a really helpful resource for that I recommend to anyone who's taking hiring seriously. I mentioned the business owners that I've talked to in the past, and the ones who follow this framework, they pretty much hiring is not a headache for them any more. And the book and aren't the best way to learn about this is called ‘Who: The A Method for Hiring’ , the author's last name I believe is Smart, and that's one resource that I can recommend.

They kind of go through the entire process, but especially this checking forfeit stage of the interview process really, really thoroughly, and they pretty much have a foolproof process that you need to follow. And so, I can talk a little bit more about the process just to give the listeners a better idea of what it's all about. So, what you do is in the interview stages you go through after you screened them. So you get on a quick call and ask a few questions and see that you have this.

This seems like a reasonable person to talk to, and usually they are. If they can complete the job, then you move on to a much longer interview, the kind of brand name for it called top grading on. And in that interview, what you do is go through every single job on their resume and you ask the same about 10 questions. So ask: How did you get this job? What did you have to do? What were your responsibilities? What were your successes? Mistakes? What did you enjoy most? Enjoy least? How is it working with your supervisor and what with a supervisor tell about you? And, why did you leave the job? I think those are pretty much all the questions that we always ask. And these injuries take about three hours. So in three hours, it's impossible to fake. So the real you is gonna show up. And I actually tell candidates that it's a good thing because we're trying to learn about each other. So we're not not trying to hide anything. And before both of us invest hundreds of hours into training and on boarding and leaving our jobs sometimes, that it's a good idea to spend these few hours in advance and kind of really, really get to know each other. So, yeah this process is so worth it, because in these three hours, you pretty much learn everything you can, at least in this amount of time of other person. And by the end of that call, you have a great feeling of what they'll be like. And what is great is that no one's perfect. So you also learn about what are the potential weaknesses, and you can already start thinking about him. Okay, can I work with this? How can I work with this? And usually they're awesome candidates.

They have one or two flaws, and because you know them in advance, you were kind of already working around them. And that's not only great for filtering candidates, but also learning about them, and kind of working with them effectively once you’ve hired them. So, yeah, I can only recommend this. Yeah, I really, really love that bond is interesting because I've done a few interviews with clients, and when you ask them those negative questions. Sometimes they get a bit flustered about it because, of course, they prepared in their head or the positive things to say.

But now I'm asking the negative things, and I always think if someone says, ‘Oh, I can't think of anything negative,’ then that's a big black mark against them. Because, of course, we can all think of something negative about where our skills are strong as other areas and we need to show a human being in the interview. So if we're not willing to review that, reveal that. And for me that would be a bit of a warning flag that perhaps they know the right handed it absolutely.

And that's why I have a little script for by introduction of every single in tribute that I do. And that's one of the things I say. That's no one's perfect. But we have enough experience to realise that we take these things into context and kind of take the good with about. But we do expect honesty. And if there's no honesty, that's that's a much bigger red flag then than anything about that ever happened. So yeah, if someone's not willing, open him up about things. There's usually a reason to be honest, and it's better to stay away from that.

So to the listeners, you just is really encouraging you to do the thing that I tell all my clothes all the time. My favourite expression, which is slow down to speed up, like take your time, go through these steps that we've just been talking about, be really thorough, don't feel that you can't take three hours to do an interview because you're only a three-man agency. Of course you can't, because you know you want to get that hire right, and you want to make sure that they will be able to do the job and they will also fit in.

So let me ask you one other big question that's always asked to me, and I know that you're gonna have a slightly biassed answer to this, but that. But I'm still interested to hear your view. Should I am looking to recruit, should I use an agency or should I do it myself? Yeah, I'll definitely have a biased atmosphere, but so I mean, I guess it depends on where everyone has had, but, um, yeah, it's such an important part of the business. That's, I've just seen so many changes by what happens before you.

You're hiring, right, and what happens after that. It's really, really important to get it right than, whether you use an agency, whether you read books, whether you learned from someone else. Just Yeah, it is something you have to get, right? So whatever way you get it right, make sure you do it. And, of course, as always, doing things on your own is the longest path. So if you have six years like I had tio kind of spend in getting hiring rights and for some reason it might be the right choice.

This, because they're building for really the long term, then absolutely go, go ahead and learn about things. If you're unsure and there's seven other fires that you need to put out, then I would encourage getting help. Yes, you're giving me the plight answer. But I'll give you. I'll give the arts. This is what I would tell my clients is to hire an agency because we, our clients to hire us because we're specialists and we should do the same thing when it comes to recruitment and fundamentally, you either have time or money and most agencies don't have tonnes of time.

There are already stretched in 20 directions. They think it's going to be much cheaper Tow, try and do some LinkedIn advertising or some advertising on one store or wherever, and then they get inundated with a million CVS that they need to work through. And most of them are rubbish and, you know, and suddenly then they're rushing through the interview, and then they make a higher and then it's a mistake. And then suddenly, as costume way more in time and probably money that it would have done if they'd have reached out to a good agency in the first place.

So my advice to all of my clients, its bite the bullet spend the money upfront with an agency like yours so that they get the right person, because that is worth a heck of a lot of money. Hiring the wrong person isn't just costly in terms of, you know, the money that they paid. That person is costly in terms of the impact on the business, the other team members and the clients. So my advice is hire an agency. On that note, how do we separate again?

Another unfair question to ask you, but how do we separate the good agency from the not so good agency? That's a great question, and I wish I had a good answer here because I'm also working with agencies, and that before that exact reason cause I want certain things that happen in my business. But I just don't know how. And I would rather spend my focus on the very, very, most important things one or two that I definitely need to get right before I start. Like trying to every single little thing but hiring an agency, I mean, so why I. Sorry.

So let me just interject because I'm misinterpreted. I mean, I've decided I want to refuse a recruitment company to hire someone like you. I'm talking to three different recruiters. How do I decide which is the good ones and which is the not so good ones? Uh, yeah, I see what you mean. So I kind of look at and anything else that's that you'd be looking at when hiring the agency. What's are there? What sort of risk are they taking on? When do they get paid and what are their incentive structure? And kind of go buy those things and more specifically in recruitment. So one thing that to look out for is how much and when do you pay? So, of course, every agency will want a little fee upfront because they're investing some work but the bulk of their kind of return or their income should be based on success, I believe, because you only get the benefit when you get the employees. So they all should also should only get the benefit when they get an employee.

And the other thing is how they approach hiring and what what is their lead time. And that's one of our brand promises is that will hire as strictly for you as we hired for ourselves and many times has happened where I talked a client out of hiring someone because I just see it won't be a fit. I've made this mistake before for myself, or I've seen other people making this mistake. You don't need to do it and they're appreciative. That's that. I'm telling them these things, but yeah.

Ah, it has to be kind of a thing that that they're willing to do, and I don't know how to cheque. Put out beforehand, maybe from references or abuse. But that's a really important thing, because it's the most natural thing in the world. If you're getting paid when you deliver someone, then you're what you're gonna want to deliver a soon as possible. And sometimes you're not checking for the quality of what you're delivering. So that's one thing when I'm setting up my business that I'm looking out for, I can forget this.

And I'm telling every single employee of mine as well that this is not something we can afford to do ‘cause yeah, we want to work with our clients for the long term, and we don't want to just make one hire, we want to make several hires of course.That's a very huge thing to look up. Just a last quick question, because this came up this morning with a client. So I said I'd ask you, I told them I was in fear in you today.

What should be the guarantees that is there a typical example of a guarantee that a recruiter will make like we will return if the person leaves within three months to get this much back? If they leave in six months because this client telling me that they had someone that cost a lot of money to hire. But they left after eight months frustrated with the recruitment company. And I was like, well, I'm not sure you can really blame the recruitment company after eight months that person's height left.

Maybe you need to look at your own management processes in that. God, I don't know what your view is on that. Yeah, so on that 18 months is a long time to expect kind of some sort of reimbursement for hire that state for that long. But one thing I would recommend for is you are looking out for is actually being involved in the hiring process. So you want the help and you want someone to kind of show you how things are done and do bulk of the work. Once the decision is made, you at least want to participate, and you want to review the candidates in detail.

You want to at least watch those long interviews that you're recruiters hopefully doing. And if you don't have a good feeling about the kind of guy you think something's off, then you're probably right in. No one else knows your business better than you do. So for that person, that's that. I see this question. I would ask, how involved were you actually in the decision making process? And if they were, unfortunately, that's on them. Yes, they have to be, I don't know. But I think one thing I said to him, what you just said, which is good to hear is that you can go through this process, but you also need to listen to your gut instinct. You can measure them against roles, responsibilities and job descriptions, and you can have application forms and tests. But your gut instinct is also going to give you a lot of safety and security. And I think we quite good at ignoring. I got sometimes. Absolutely, and one thing that I've also painfully learned over the years is that there's never been and that's like not actually about hiring, tt's about keeping people on the team. I never made a mistake firing someone on my team and I've made many mistakes by not firing people.

So whenever you were in that situation, you probably have to do it, you have to master the courage to do it and to bring it back to recruitment. If there's a candidate that's you really want to take home But in your gut, you feel No, it's not gonna work. You shouldn't take that person cause that never, never, ever works out. If there is someone who you feel great about, it may work out. May may not work out. Then you shouldn't trust you. We got in a positive sense.

But if your gut is telling, you know that, don't you listen? Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with that. I think that's true in business, in all senses, isn't it? Okay, so I'm conscious of time. But let me ask you the question that I ask all of my guests on, which is, if you go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business. One piece of advice, what would that be? Yes, so I was thinking about that then the answer I came up with is that I would want to trust my employees more. And that's something.

Actually, I'm still struggling with and kind of working my way through because it always feels like I'm the person that knows how the business should be run. I started. So yeah, I can, of course, help them Only helped him by being involved. But I'm just saying when I take a step back and reflect that it's not always true. And I also I'm conscious of the fact that I need to let my employees grow, need to put them in a position where they can actually grow the business for me.

Not necessarily. I'm always the person that's doing the growing. So that's something I wish I've started on earlier and now started them. I'm still working through it. So I think many people have had a similar problem, but I think that is the good fight to fight. So that's so that's what I'm trying to do. A great piece of advice, and I'm always, always surprised that I've almost never had the same response to this question in the with the guests I've had on the podcast known you know, must have had 40 guests.

Now, that's why I love asking that question. Such a good piece of advice you know entrepreneurs, a terrible letting go and relinquishing control. Yeah, if you want to build an agency that's less dependent on you and you want the flexibility and freedom, you have to be willing to relinquish control because you can't have one without the other they'd like mutually exclusive. So I guess on that note, hiring the best people you possibly can afford so that you can delegate down and relinquish as much control today as possible.

Listen, you just thank you so much for today. I always know I've had a good guest on the podcast when we go over time and there's so many more questions to ask. But we'll get you back at some point in the future. We can dig into some of these things in a little bit more detail. I know the listener, they're going to find this episode really useful, especially some of those kind of funnel steps that you outlined. And I will also put a link in the show notes to the book that you mentioned.

But if people want to get hold of you and find out more about Recruiter Mill, where is the best place for them to go? Yeah, absolutely so the best place is to go to recruitermill.com and so you can learn a little more about my kind of hiring philosophy and how I approach it and hopefully learn something from that. If you'd like to work together, the best thing to do is to book a call and my approach there is to have a 30 minute strategy call.

So in those 30 minutes, we kind of outline What are the things that need to be done? And if you have the resource, if you have the kind of willpower to go through that journey, I'm happy if you do, if you'd like to work to get it afterwards, that's of course. Also, an option yeah, going to our website recruitermill.com is that the best thing to do. Fantastic. Okay, so we'll put that into the show notes as well. And I just want to say a big thank you for your time on the podcast today.

Thank you so much. I hope you'll agree. That was a really action packed episode, and I hope you had a pen and paper and took some notes. If not, then head over to dacostacoaching.co.uk/recruitment and you can grab a summary of the key points that you just made today. And don't forget to check out the show notes for the book that he mentioned, and obviously links to his business as well. Other than that, I will see you next week for the next episode.

By the way, make sure you've hit subscribe on, please consider leaving a review on Apple podcast. Otherwise, have a great weekend and I will see you next week.

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