Tag Archives for " client retention "

The top priority for growing your profits

client retention

If you make an effort to keep up-to-date with useful research in the area of business theory, there’s a good chance you’ve come across “Blue Ocean Strategy”. In their 2005 book Blue Ocean Strategy, researchers W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne argued that markets can be split into two distinct categories: blue oceans and red oceans.

Simply put, a blue ocean is a market that is emerging, profitable, and not yet packed with competitors that turn survival into an all-out dogfight. In contrast, a red ocean is an existing market where established competitors struggle to eke out a reasonable market share, and new entrants have a slim chance of succeeding. The red colour of the ocean alludes to the kind of waters sharks feed in – a grim analogy for business competition, but fairly accurate!

In this article, we’re not going to focus on discussing the differences between blue oceans and red oceans, and how you can apply this knowledge in your business (that’s a topic for another day). Instead, we’re going to look at one particular factor that will influence your ability to survive in a tough, crowded market.

The global market

The reality is that business is getting more and more competitive with every passing year. Waves of globalisation have spurred on increasing interconnectivity between countries around the world. This creates a situation where you’re not just competing with a handful of companies in your local area – or even in your country – anymore. Instead, you’re trying to keep up with competitors on a global scale.

And this reality of increased competition from all sides is prevalent in the agency space. Depending on the kind of service you provide, you might be insulated from this to a certain extent (e.g. local recruitment agencies have little to fear from foreign competitors – although they have their own challenges, such as competing with online agencies like Monster). However, there’s other sectors that are very prone to disruption from the wider environment: think design, marketing, or business consultancy services. The kind of work these agencies focus on is easy to do in a “remote” (i.e. online) capacity, leaving the door wide open to potential competitors.

Sometimes these competing agencies are located in lower-cost regions of the world, where they can afford to charge much lower prices than you can. Maybe they offer a novel approach to delivering the same results to your clients. Maybe they can even deliver better ones with their methods. The water is getting redder by the day. Without a proper strategy in place, you could be in for a nasty surprise in the near future.

When you’re operating in this kind of environment, how do you compete? How do you stand out among this competition, and create a business that’s sustainable in the long-term?

The answer is simple…

You need to focus on building great customer relationships. And by this, I mean that you should focus on increasing customer retention rates, and growing the service you provide to your existing clients.

Of course, customer relationships are just one half of the equation. The other half is knowing exactly what niche of the market your services are perfect for. But we’ll leave that topic for another day, and instead zone in on the value of effective client management.

Being able to retain & grow your existing clients is a powerful skillset, one that you must develop if you hope to build your agency. It can make the difference between swimming alone in shark-infested waters, and having an ally pull you onto their boat, stopping the beasts from sinking their teeth into you.

But developing this skillset isn’t easy. If you’re the head of a large agency, the leader of a client-facing team (or even if you’re a one-man band), it’s quite possible that you haven’t taken the time to really work on client management best practices for your staff or yourself. With everything else you have on your plate, giving your staff training you feel might be a bit redundant seems like a huge waste of time.

And if it was the case that your staff already possessed these skills, I’d agree with you – it would be a waste to give them specific training in this area. But the skills of effective client management aren’t exactly common knowledge. Maybe you’ve seen this first-hand in your own business. Maybe you’ve experienced this first-hand  (e.g. that time when you weren’t sure how to handle a client that asked for too much while giving too little in return).

Don’t make the same mistakes!

In my coaching practice, I’ve seen the same issues playing out time and again in agencies around the world. The fundamental approach many of them take to client management is flawed, setting them up to do unprofitable work, work too long for too little pay, and to stress constantly over keeping their clients happy.

To bring things back around to our idea of a “red ocean”… these kinds of agencies are floundering in blood-red waters, hoping that their indifferent allies (clients) will paddle over and rescue them – but they can’t be certain what’s going to happen.

It’s the same in your business. If you’re not confident that you can retain a client, you’ll do one of two things:

  1. You’ll bend over backwards to keep these clients happy. This leads to them expecting more and more from you over the long-term, creating unrealistic expectations for your work moving forward… and eventually, creating enormous dissatisfaction when you can’t live up to these flawed standards.
  2. You won’t commit your resources to producing the kind of great work you need to do as an agency. Why would you waste time and energy on a client that might leave you in the next month or two?

Both of these scenarios lead to the same conclusion – your clients move onto another agency if your output doesn’t quite meet their standards. That’s not to say that your work is bad in this scenario. It’s a case of their expectations being too unrealistic, or that you’re stretched too thin trying to over-service countless clients to deliver truly great work.  

We both know that retaining and growing your best clients is the path to business success. Even think of something as fundamental as your customer acquisition cost. That’s a sunk cost you have to incur every time you go out and hunt for new business. Based on that alone, getting more money from your existing customers will be more profitable than finding new ones.

You can’t afford to paddle around unprotected in the red ocean of a fiercely competitive market. It’s better to have a stable, safe location to survey that waters from, allowing you to dive in when you need to (but protecting you when you don’t).

Rather than having a large pool of potential rescuers (who may or may or not pull through for you when you need them), wouldn’t you rather know you could rely on help from a handful of bigger boats – and be sure they’d be there for you?

That’s what it means to retain clients and grow your existing accounts.

You don’t worry about constantly acquiring new business to replace those customers that walk out the door and never come back.

You don’t have to worry about satisfying those demanding clients that barely move the needle when it comes to your bottom line.

And you won’t have to worry about losing your best clients – because you possess the skills required to keep them truly happy with your work.

We’ve already talked about how over-servicing is a fools game, one that we all get caught up in at some stage. However, there’s a difference between knowing something and being able to put that knowledge into practice.

That’s why I created the FREE Client Management Masterclass. Based on my experience in the agency space (first as the owner of a 7-figure agency, then later as a coach and mentor to 200+ agencies across multiple sectors), I’ve produced a free 30-minute video training session that can be used to take your client management skills (and those of your employees) to the next level.

The Client Management Masterclass went live on Monday 18th March, and streams directly to your computer, tablet or phone. In the Masterclass, I reveal my Three Pillar Approach to effective client management, teaching you how to get paid what you’re worth, manage client expectations up front (to avoid conflict and negative situations), and boost retention rates to supercharge your profitability.

I’ve accumulated these client management best practices over the past 25 years, based on my observations of what creates the most impact for my coaching clients. Anything you learn here is proven to work across a variety of industries, and will likely be of benefit to your business too.

Additionally, all attendees of this Masterclass will be given the chance to sign up for my brand new Client & Account Management Mastery Course, featuring exclusive video training, in-depth tricks of the trade, and access to a private mastermind group, where you’ll get the chance to ask me your questions on a weekly live Q & A. This is like hiring me to coach you in-person (which typically costs £2000+, depending on your needs). Further details of that will follow at the end of the Masterclass.

The Client Management Masterclass is available for viewing now. If you’re interested in learning more about it, please go here. If you register in the next week, you’ll be eligible an additional FREE bonus (more details at the end of the Masterclass).

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. 

Now at present, Cloudways is offering an exclusive discount for The Agency Accelerator listeners, so visit cloudways.com and use the promo code AA20, that’s A-A-20 to get a discount of 20% off of your first three (3) months on the hosting platform of your choice.

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.

How to Generate Leads from Your Website

how to generate leads from your website

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

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

The answer is that it should be the latter.

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:09] 

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

[2:01] 

The importance of quickly building empathy with your readers

[2:46] 

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

[5:03] 

Tips on how to drive traffic to your website

[8:58] 

How to convert leads

[9:23] 

Four stages to drive traffic to your website

[10:51] 

Tips in creating your ‘killer content’

[11:46] 

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

[12:14] 

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

Quotations

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

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

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 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Risks of Relying on One Big Client

The risks of relying on one big client

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:06] 

The excitement of winning a big client

[1:26] 

How to avoid over-servicing your clients

[2:11] 

Importance of getting your team clear about service levels

[2:33] 

Tips in handling big clients

[3:28] 

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

[4:13] 

What is the biggest challenge in running an agency?

[5:12] 

Importance of identifying the risk as early as possible

[5:40] 

How to anticipate famine on your agency

[7:39] 

The importance of having your business development and plan in place

[9:12] 

Why you should not focus on one big client

Quotations

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

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

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

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!

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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 Long Does it Take You to Convert a Lead?

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:08] 

The most common marketing mistake for agency owners

[3:18] 

Why you need to nurture and educate your leads

[4:01] 

The importance of knowing your time to conversion number

[4:59] 

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

[6:54] 

Three stages in developing a relationship with your leads

[8:09] 

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

[8:57] 

Rob’s advice to his younger self

[9:37] 

What is education-based marketing?

[10:41] 

Tips to focus and add value in your content

[12:29] 

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

[13:39] 

The real reasons why clients come to you

Quotations

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

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

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

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

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

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

 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[3:38] 

Adam’s journey in the entrepreneurial world

[5:11] 

The importance of testimonials videos in the buyer’s journey

[6:03] 

The difference between written testimonials and video testimonials

[7:19] 

The best time to ask your client for a video testimonial

[8:59] 

Tips on what kind of questions to ask in video testimonials

[10:22] 

How to maximise the use of video testimonials in your marketing

[11:59] 

How to make video testimonials authentic

[13:07] 

How you can use TrustScout software in your agency

[16:23] 

The good and bad of running an agency

[19:29] 

How Adam finds the balance in running two businesses

[22:01] 

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

[24:17] 

Tips in running an agency

[27:51] 

Adam O'Leary’s advice to his younger self

Quotations

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

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

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

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 Full Episode Transcription

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Tips To Quickly Qualify New Enquiries

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

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[2:54] 

Funnel marketing activities

[3:18] 

The consequence of focusing your time on the wrong prospects

[6:45] 

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

[7:35] 

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

[9:04] 

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

[10:35] 

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

[10:44] 

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

[11:54] 

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

Quotations

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

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Increase Your Prices

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

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

What can agencies learn from this?

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

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

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

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:13] 

Why should agencies increase their price every year? 

[2:02] 

The importance of having the right mindset in pricing  

[2:34] 

Different pricing models

[3:08] 

Reasons why you shouldn’t sell your time to clients

[4:06] 

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

[5:13] 

An overview of value-based pricing 

[5:43] 

Difference between value-based and time-based pricing

[6:55] 

Tips in positioning yourself with clients 

[8:06] 

The importance of having a niche

Quotations

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

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

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

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much time do you spend servicing clients?

Client Servicing

How much of your time do you spend servicing clients?

If you feel you have no choice but to spend most of your time in ‘client service mode’, and if you believe if you don’t, you won’t retain your customers, then you will not have time to focus on the future of your agency (e.g. business development, strategy, marketing etc) because you are at the beck and call of your clients.

Infact, you're caught up in the Client Servicing Hamster Wheel of Doom (CSHWOD) and you need to find a way to get off it and do something different, and that starts with changing your mindset.

In this week's episode of The Agency Accelerator, I explore how, as an agency owner, your time needs to be split into 3 ‘buckets’ that will enable you to serve your client’s needs, focus on driving your agency forwards and have enough time to run your agency.

[1:02] The Self-Running Agency Implementation Group: Open for enrolment. Find out how you can join fellow agency owners in the journey to building an agency that is less dependent on YOU!

[3:36] How much time are you spending servicing clients? Probably too much!

[4:23] How to avoid the dreaded Famine & Feast Cycle. No one wants to end up in famine trough where we make bad decisions such as discounting or taking on the wrong type of client

[6:25] Learn how to split your time into 3 buckets: REVENUE, STRATEGY & ADMIN and what should your split be?

[8:22] Having the right mindset will help you get off the dreaded CSHWOD!

[10:55] What is your notional hourly rate? An important discussion to get your pricing right and hit your profit targets

[12:13] Why you should dedicate time on building a robust strategy for the future of your agency

[13:04] Defining your niche

[14:18] Identifying your target audience

[14:39] Build a great marketing campaign

[15:14] The Self-Running Agency Book

[15:39] A piece of advice: Do a few sales & marketing tactics. really well and consistently, don’t get seduced by ‘shiny new object syndrome” You are always the best salesperson for your agency

[16: 59] Guide on how to split your time across REVENUE, STRATEGY & ADMIN – where are you today and where do you want to be?

[18:20} The benefits of getting your time split right

Come and join us in The Self-Running Implementation Group

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Learn more about "notional hourly rate"

Learn more about famine & feast cycle

Read more about how you can define your niche

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much,

Rob

When Clients Just Keep Wanting More – Managing Client Expectations (part 2)

managing clients expectations

Welcome back! In the previous article, we talked about one of the most common problems agency owners face – managing clients expectations when they keep asking for more. We went over how having a rock-solid service level agreement in place is a huge boon, as it gives you an easy way to handle delivering extras and unforeseen changes.

In this week’s article, we’re going to dive deeper into the things that influence your client’s expectations, and what you can do manage them. Even before you first create that service level agreement, you have the chance to influence how they perceive you. And once you’re working together, you need to ensure that everyone on your team is on board with your methods.

Let’s turn first to how you win their business.

Sell Based on Value, Not Time

If you’ve read some of my other articles, you might already know that I’m a big proponent of value selling & pricing. Rather than figuring out how much time something is going to take you and then quoting prospects based on this time, you should instead figure out how much value (outcomes and impact) your work can create for them and price accordingly.

Getting crystal clear on the value your work brings to the table will allow you to charge higher prices, win better business, and build better relationships. Think about it – when your customers understand you’re solving problems for them that are saving them (or making them) far more money than it costs to keep you on retainer, they’ll be delighted with your arrangement.

Learning to pitch & sell based on value (and not just time) is a game-changing shift for your agency. If you’d like to learn about it in more detail, you can download my free Value Selling eBook here.  

We won’t examine the topic in exhaustive detail here – just the bits that are most pertinent to our discussion about how to manage demanding clients.

First things first…

Selling Commodities is a Difficult Business

It’s normal to price based on time. Particularly for internal control purposes, it’s good to have an idea of how long a particular project is going to take, or how many man hours will be required to get something over the line. However, when it comes to pitching, basing your price on time (and not value) is a critical mistake.

Commodities do not command large prices. When the fuel gauge in your car is teetering towards empty, you probably don’t seek out the station that charges twice the price of all its competitors. You probably don’t like paying a premium for your phone plan or business cards.

All of these are commodities. We judge commodities based on price, nothing more. And if your clients should view the work you do as a commodity, then you’ll be judged relative to other agencies in your industry. If competitor X can get the job done in half the time, they’ll seem more attractive. Even if your work is better, more tailored to their needs, or you’re far more reliable… when you pitch solely based on time, you’ll be trapped in a race to the bottom.

When you give a time breakdown to clients upfront as part of your pitch, you leave yourself open to the extremely common question of “why will x take so long?” – and when faced with this criticism, you’ll often react by discounting your price, which starts you off on the wrong foot and sets the tone for the relationship.

The real issue with pitching based on price is symptomatic of the underlying issue… focusing on outputs instead of outcomes.

Focus on Outcomes, Not Outputs

An agency that wins in the long-term is one that delivers great work to clients. Reputation is invaluable for client-facing businesses, and a reputation for doing great work is one of the most powerful assets you can build as an agency owner.

But to deliver outstanding results to your clients, you have to frame your relationship in terms of outcomes, not outputs.

The outcome is what your client is really buying. The output is what they use to get there.

Think of it like this:

  • A content marketing firm’s outputs might be blog articles, social media posts and general strategy consulting sessions. The outcomes that their clients are chasing are more engaged customers, more leads, more profitable relationships with clients etc.
  • A PR firm’s outputs include press releases, features and media coverage articles. The outcome their clients want is to have a better public image and increase market awareness.
  • A branding consultancy might deliver a new logo and brand identity documentation to their client – but what that client really wants is a refreshed brand, one that lets them capture more market share than before.

“Outputs” are commoditisable. Plenty of other agencies can deliver the same outputs you can. But outcomes are harder to copy. If you build your business on helping clients achieve their outcomes, you’ll have stronger and longer-term relationships.

If they want to expand the scope of your project beyond what you’ve already agreed on, you can politely remind them that you’ve already decided on a direction for the project. If something is to be added, something else must be removed – or else an additional fee will have to be agreed for the extra work.

Three Quick Tips To Help You Deal With Demanding Clients

I’d like to finish off this article by giving you three quick tips that I’ve seen work wonders in agencies of all shapes and sizes. These practices are distilled from my years of experience coaching 250+ agencies in various sectors, so don’t be fooled by their simplicity.

  1. Agree to a contingency fee with clients upfront. Have them set aside an additional 10% of your retainer fee for extra work that might arise during the period. If you don’t do anything extra, you don’t charge them for it – but if you do, you’ll easily be able to get the payment for the additional work and won’t feel awkward asking for it.
  2. Make sure your staff are well-trained in handling client requests. Junior members in particular need to be watched, as they’ll often conflate customer satisfaction with just saying yes to everything that’s asked of them. This can cause problems for your agency as you scale, so don’t forget to ensure that everyone is on board with your way of doing things.
  3. Furthermore, make sure junior staff members don’t respond to clients too quickly! Ensure they’re getting the level of service they’re paying for. Don’t respond to their emails within an hour unless your service level agreement entitles them to this privilege (TURN OFF YOUR EMAIL DIALOGUE BOX!). Doing this is counter-intuitive for some, but will help to prevent unreasonable client expectations in the long run.

And finally… if you’ve done all the above and clients are still asking too much of you, it might be time to consider whether you’re a good fit to work together. Working with your ideal clients is crucial to running a stress-free business in the long run.

The filtering process starts back when you’re first considering them as a client, so if you gut tells you they are not a good fit – listen to it and move on to the next prospect.

In the eyes of your ideal clients, you’ll be seen as a partner, not just a supplier. In the eyes of the non-ideal ones, you’re a supplier – a provider of a commodity, there to be used as necessary. Seek out those clients who see you as a partner.

For more information on how you can determine who your ideal client is, you can get a free copy of my Customer Persona eBook here.

Conclusion

In this two-part series, I’ve addressed one of the most common questions I’m asked in my coaching practice: what do you do with clients who keep asking for more?

These kinds of clients are often unclear about what to expect from your service because you haven’t adequately explained your terms upfront. To counter this, you can create a rock-solid service agreement at the start of your relationship. Include specifics as to the deliverables they’ll get each month, charges applicable for extras, outcomes you’re working towards, etc.

Another reason why clients seem unreasonably demanding is that you sell based on outputs, not outcomes. When you frame your work in terms of how much it costs or how long it will take, you make it easy to compare your proposal to that of many other agencies.

If you pitch based on the value you bring to the table instead, you’ll have less issues with clients demanding more from you (for no extra pay). When you’re both clear on the outcomes your work will deliver on, clients are less likely to request incongruent changes or take up your time with other requests.

Finally, it’s simply good business sense to do certain things (e.g. agree a contingency fee upfront, train your staff to handle clients correctly, and enforce response times to manage expectations). These tips can have a significant impact on your business if implemented, so don’t hesitate to give them a go.

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