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Building Strong Whitelabel Partnerships with John Horn

Building strong whitelabel partnerships with John Horn

In today’s episode of the Agency Accelerator Podcast we are discussing whitelabelling: either white labelling your services or buying in services from another agency. 

This is an important topic since many agencies/freelancers want to sell their services on a white-label basis to other agencies or want to partner with other agencies to provide white label services to their own clients.

So in this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by John Horn, the Managing Partner at StubGroup, a Premier Google Partner ranked in the top 1% of all Google Partners worldwide. 

Amongst many topics, John shares how he has built his white labelling services agency, how to structure agreements, set the pricing right, tips in maintaining client relationships, ways to avoid the common pitfalls, and more.

Many agencies and freelancers start out by whitelabelling their services, as a great channel to win business.  As they grow they may want to offer their customer’s services that are not in their specialism, so whitelabelling is a great way to do this without the risk of hiring new staff.

So get ready for this action-packed episode.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[3:00] 

How John landed in the world of white labelled services

[5:54] 

What is white labelling and why would an agency want to white label their services?  

[7:27] 

The risks in hiring people

[8:49] 

How to price correctly and ensure that you are paid for your worth

[14:34] 

Maintaining a strong relationship with your whitelabel partner by establishing strong lines of communication 

[16:35] 

Brand as you or your partner?

[17:19] 

Tips in selecting a good white label service partner

[20:12] 

How to figure out if an agency should hire an in-house team or outsource

[23:54] 

The importance of transparency in communicating with clients

[25:43] 

How to maintain a balanced and equal partnership

[26:38] 

Reasons why you should avoid ‘toxic’ partners

[27:44] 

What are the deciding factors to consider if it’s right to transition from white label services and bring them in-house

[30:28] 

How did John manage to teach 85,000+ students online?

[31:41] 

John’s advice to his younger self

Quotations

“..there has been so much change in the Pay Per Click World. What you did yesterday may not work today.” - John Horn

“So the ideal relationship that we're always striving and looking for in partners is where there's going to be transparency in communication.” - John Horn

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 Full Episode Transcription

Hey, everyone! Welcome to another action packed episode of The Agency Accelerator. 

Today, we are talking all things about white labelling. I know we've spoken about this before but I think it's a really important topic for many people who are just starting out in their agency life. They might be freelancing. 

White labelling for another agency is a great way of getting your clients. As you grow, you may also decide that providing white labelling to an agency is a way of getting consistent business as well as finding your own end clients.

We're going to talk about how to make sure that you find the right partners and you have this equal partner-partner relationship. We're going to talk about getting the pricing right and how to cope with scope creep. We're gonna flip it on its head and talk about, if you're an agency and you want to bring in some additional services through a white label partner, how do you go about finding them? How do you make sure you have a great partnership relationship? So, another action packed episode and let's get on with the show.

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Okay, on with today's show. 

Hello everybody and welcome to this week's Agency Accelerator Podcast. I'm really excited to talk about this topic today because it's one that we haven't spoken about before. That is white labelling your services as an agency or indeed, buying in services from another agency as white labelling.

 I'm joined by an expert on this topic, John Horn. 

John is the managing partner of Stub Group. It is a premier Google partner and ranked in the top 1% of all Google partners worldwide. He has also taught marketing to over 85,000 students online, which is pretty impressive.

John has been with the Stub Group for close to a decade, working with companies across the globe. Managing marketing for them, mainly focusing on pay per clicks.

As I said, John, that's a pretty impressive track record. Do you want to just start off by telling us a bit about your journey in the agency world? 

Absolutely! Rob, thanks so much for having me on here. I've been looking forward to the conversation and digging into white labelling in particular.That's one of the things I'm excited about, the work that we do here in Stub Group. 

Then, just to give background on what we do. We are a pay per click advertising agency. The way I got into things was back at the very beginning, we started out as two (2) co-founders of the agency. We've been in marketing for a long time. We're looking at the trends of where marketing is going and what types of services our business is going to be needing in the next 5, 10, 15 years and so forth.

At that point, pay per click, also primarily Google advertising, Microsoft Advertising, Facebook etc., was very prevalent but also in some ways nascent in that many businesses had not yet made the switch to a more digital advertising component to their marketing strategies. They still were kind of stuck in the traditional world but they were heading that direction because they're realising that the customers they needed to reach were online, so, they would need to be online to reach them.

Then, we started a Stub Group at that point, wanting to both capture the existing business that existed in the marketplace as well as grow along with the growth of pay per click, search engines and Facebook. 

All that's happened in the last close to a decade here. That's how we kind of started things out. I came on board as the first employee with the co-founders, and really, we just bootstrapped it and figured out how to do things. Figured out how to be successful for our clients. How to get those clients on board, and then grow our team along with our client base. Eventually reach things like Premier Google partner status.

You mentioned Facebook marketing partner status so forth to be able to have those relationships and credibility with the platforms we're using for our clients to help our clients best succeed.

Yeah, fantastic. You must have seen so much change in the pay per click world. It's really changing by the month, isn’t it? Like, Apple that keeps changing their latest operating system. I think it makes it even harder for tracking and so on. I guess there's a big effort to stay up to date with what's going on in that world.

It is very much an adventure. It's kind of the curse and blessing of our field in that. Yes, there's always something new to learn. What you did yesterday may not work today but at the same time, that's why we have work to do and that's what we're being paid. To keep on top of those things and to be able to leverage these insights for our clients who just want to run their businesses. They don't want to spend their days reading Google announcements and testing Facebook campaigns and so forth.

Absolutely. Then, let's move on to talk about white labelling. Let's just start with a couple of fundamental questions. 

You and I obviously know what we mean by that, but just give us a quick definition of what we mean by white labelling. Also, why would an agency consider white labelling their services?

White labelling typically means when you have a service provider, let's say an example, an SEO Agency. They do SEO for clients and they want to provide a service to those clients but they don't have the in-house capacity to do that service. In that scenario, they might go to another service provider such as Stub Group, who specialized in that service and say: “Hey, we want you to do this work, execute this work on behalf of our client but we don't want to just send the client over to you. We want to retain that client relationship. We want to maintain a cohesive point of contact for our client, and also we want to profit from providing this service to our clients.”

The agency, in this example SEO agency, will sell PPC as a service to their client and they'll take that money. Then, they will come and hire Stub Group to provide that service and obviously, they'll be margin there. They'll profit from the work that they're putting into coordinating things, for finding that solution and just providing that solution to their client.

Yeah, and I always tell my clients that there's two key times to outsource services, will that be freelancer or white labelling.

One of those times when you have capacity issues. The other time is when you have a service to provide but you don't have the skills in-house or, you don't want to have the skills. In your example, there may be an SEO Agency that really wants to focus on SEO but they've got a few clients asking them to do some PPC work, and so they think, “Okay, we'll bring in a partner to do it”. 

One thing that we see there often in terms, that thought process on the agency side is, “Do I really want to go through all that work of hiring a new employee?” Betting them on trying to figure out if they know what they're talking about, when I don't know what they're talking about as saying, SEO Expert.” 

How do I really vet somebody on the PPC side and then invest that risk into bringing on multiple employees. Hoping that I'm going to get the business and will be able to meet payroll every month as opposed to the project based. Go find a partner, a client comes in and pays you. Cool! We've got money to pay them and you're just passing that risk on. 

Also, if it doesn't fit in your core wheelhouse of what you do as an agency, then there's quite a big risk to start hiring staff immediately without the certainty that you're going to have a consistent amount of projects or retained work coming in to pay for it.

Talking about paying, there are lots of minefields, tips and tricks and things that we need to explore with the whole white labelling thing. One of them is pricing. How do you white label your services through another agency? How do you get the price right? And, how do you make sure that the agency isn't bashing you down on price? Because obviously they want to add their margin on top of that.

I know I'm sort of sharing some of these. A lot of the questions today are questions that have come from my clients, who have white labelled in some form or another. So, I'm kind of just passing them on to you to get your view on it.

Absolutely. The way that we have approached that historically is definitely looking at each situation. Each partner who is reaching out and saying, “Hey, we want a white label and customising pricing in a way that's a win win for each side.” Like you said, you don't want to get bashed down by your partner.

You don't want to just say, “Hey, let's make pennies on the dollar.” It's not going to be a good long term scenario. Also at the same time, you want to create a scenario where the partner who is hiring you to do white label services is incentivised to do that. Incentivised to go out and bring on new clients because they're also making a great margin. It's usually a process of negotiations. I'm talking with that partner to figure out what's realistic here in terms of what they're looking to charge their clients.

Also on our end, we're looking at scope of work. With white labelling, one of the big reasons why we can offer a discount, often to our partners, is because in theory we have less communication that's going to end up happening because instead of us having 50 different clients that we have separate communication with and separate relationships with, we're going to have centralised communication with our agency partner who their own team has those relationships. Then, we’re able to have significant time and labour savings by not having all of those disparate relationships going on.

Therefore we can pass that on in the forms of cost savings to our partner. However, you've got to figure out that scope of work and expectations going into things and be very clear about that because still, creep.

Also, something that happens constantly where you agree to X and say, “Yep, I can give you this discount because we're not going to be doing, let's say, installing conversion tracking.” Your partner says, “Hey, we're going to take care of making sure codes get installed.” Well, I can give a discount to a partner because I know how much time it takes for my team to generate those codes, install those codes and troubleshoot those codes.

If we're not doing that, well then, it's not time we have to give you a discount. But then, to clients down the road that partner comes to you and says, “Hey, we're not really sure what we're doing here. Can you just tap in to install these codes?” That's where things get tricky. So you need to have a process in place to identify the type of scope creep occurs. Also, kindly but firmly pushing back, having clear communication with your partner to say, “Hey, we gave you X pricing because we're giving you X services. If you want Y services, cool, we can do that but then, the price is going to change as well.” 

Yeah. This is just a good moral for any agency that's listening to this around their pricing, whether they're white labelling or not. It 's just a good strategy to get your boundaries in place and get really clear your scope of work.

I've written before about you, John, actually used exact words that you can just request from a client, an agency or a white label that they are implying that this is a really trivial thing for you to do, but often it isn't and there's dreaded, “Can you just do this?” “Can you just do that?” .

Now, when it comes to finding your scope of work, you've agreed that I don't need to get too much into the mechanics of how you do it. What's your view on how you price that? Do you price against that scope of work? Do you take a “Time and Materials” kind of approach? An hourly rate, daily rate, or even a value based pricing rate? 

What was your advice about that? 

Typically, we'll look at labour costs because that's really the primary cost to us. We are selling the time of the team that we have, as well as their expertise and access to our teams at Google and Facebook and so forth. But, really looking at that time as the main hard expense and identifying, on average, how much time does it take to work on different types of businesses. Of course, we've got so many clients and we've been in business for so long that we have a good sense for, “Okay, on average, clients may take X amount of work.”

Obviously, some clients take way more, some less. It's the 80/20 rule but you average that out. You also look at the economy of scale. If we have a partner who wants to give us three accounts, we're probably going to need to charge significantly higher per account than if the clients are giving us 50 accounts because the more work they’re giving us, the more assured income is coming in. Also, the more I'm able to say, “Ok, well, I'm dedicating X amount of time from these team members over here to this partner.”

I can justify salaries. I can justify the expense of their time based upon this somewhat assured income. Obviously, no income is assured because things change all the time, however, having a sense for how much of that work is gonna be coming in and justifying the expenses of me. Paying those employees is the primary metric that we're looking at.

What's just changing tact a bit? You kind of alluded to this in the point you made earlier. What's your view about the white label partner having any direct access to the client and having direct communications? Sometimes, obviously the agency wants to have that extra resource and have that expertise available to the client, but that obviously opens a whole kind of worms and risks as well. I don't know what your view is on that. 

We're always very open to that, if that's something a partner wants. The way we approach it, we want to be the solution that you need. Then, if that's a completely white label and the client doesn't know the work we're executing, cool. We'll make that happen. 

Some of our partners, they'll actually want to leverage the fact that we are premier Google partners. That’s a big selling credibility aspect to communicate to the client. If they're not in the PPC world, they may not know how to answer a complicated question or help set a strategy. So, they want us to contribute to that conversation. We're totally open to that. If that's the scenario that you find yourself in as an agency, again, you've got to factor that into what you're charging the client, because that relationship is going to directly translate into more time on your end.

More conversations with the client, more repetitive work, where you're saying something from the client and you're saying something from the agency partner, and more access to your team, where they have to be available to get on a call with a client within a reasonable timeframe, etc. It's totally doable. Sometimes, it can be a positive to all sides because as a white label partners have that direct access. You can avoid pitfalls that your partner might not know how to avoid because they're not the expert in PPC as an example.

Then, we can hear a question from a client but we just point them in the best direction for them. As long as you get paid for the time and effort that goes into that, then it can work well. 

In that scenario, would you be working under the brand of the client rather than your own brand? 

 It’s really all up to the client and what they want.

We have processes in place if they want a strict white label. We can operate in the accounts, we can have access to the accounts, we can send reports that don't have any kind of study logos or information on its clients and our clients. The agency partner can do what they want. Or, if we're a known entity and our partner is simply operating as that point of contact because the client doesn't want to have 10 different vendors they talk to every week.They just want to talk to one person, have that person go do the rest of the work, then, we can do that as well. 

If I'm an agency and I'm looking for a white label partner, what advice would you give me about separating the good ones from the bad ones? 

Again, this comes through the sort of experience of my clients because I've had a few clients that have actually outsourced PPC to offshore white label agencies, and they have promised a lot in the beginning and then failed to deliver.

So, what would you say the things to look out for?

Offshore is kind of the key word there that you mentioned. Most certainly, not all, but most white label partners, especially if they focus on that, they are paying very cheap labour. Let's say team members in India, the Philippines somewhere there. The work product that you're getting out of them is some respect. You're getting what you pay for. If you're going to pay somebody five bucks a month to do something, well, that's the kind of work you're going to expect to get.

When you are researching that white label partner, you have to understand these: Where is their team based? Who's gonna be working on the accounts? It doesn't mean that there aren't good resources outside of the U.S. Of course, we have some team members, let’s say in the UK, Spain or different places where “Hey, they're awesome!” 

We found them because we live in this remote world where you can find great talent anywhere and it can work fantastically. If you are researching that partner and realising that all their team members are not based in the US, that looks like they're primarily just leveraging new.

Well, I wouldn't say talent, but freelancers. You might find a fibre up work who charges 15 bucks an hour or something like that overseas. That's probably not going to be a good fit for you. That’s one thing.

Another thing, too, really ask them about their processes. What processes do they have in place for white labeling? If they have been doing white labelling for a while, they're going to have figured out how to streamline things. They're going to be able to say, “Hey, yes, when we onboard a client, here's what we do A, B and C.” Here's how we cut down on communication so that both parties spend less time and get to the core information we need.

Here's what happens when a client asks a question of you, the partner, that needs to get to us, so, they should have those answers down path. If they're sounding very like they're making up on the spot then, they might just be getting into white labelling and trying to sell a new service but figuring it out on the fly. So, that's going to take questions.

That's good advice. I think I really understand the process because obviously working with the white label partner is gonna be different to working with an in-house team.

The systems and processes that are put in place to communicate effectively to keep up to date with what's going on and to be able to see progressive projects is super important. That's good advice.

Let's just switch it around a bit and say, let's take it from the agency's perspective now. If I'm an agency, when should I consider bringing in a white label partner? I know you've alluded to this already a bit, but let's just turn it on its head and say, I'm an agency. I'm growing. I'm trying to make that decision. Do I bring in a white label partner, do I hire a team or do I do it myself? What's your thoughts? If someone was at that crossroads, what would your advice be?

I'd say, typically, you want to have a market for the service that you're looking into. Let's go back to the SEO Agency as an example. If they already have a client roster and they're seeing repeated questions, they're seeing clients, ask them, “Hey, can you guys do a PPC?” or “Hey, can you guys recommend a good PPC vendor?”

Then, that's happening consistently. That's telling me, as an SEO Agency, that I can probably sell this service to our clients because they have this need and they trust that we can help them with this need. It's going to be an easy sale or a natural sale, as opposed to your PR firm. 

All of your clients they've never asked you about doing SEO for them but you decide, “Oh, hey, I just want to make more money. Let me go to SEO, at my roster.” You can do that and maybe, you can do a great job at it, but it's going to be a harder sell because you’re trying to create interest in your clients for something new. They haven't expressed that interest to you yet. I'd say that's part of it. 

And then, deciding whether in-house versus outsourced, really, it comes down to your goals as an agency. Do you want to be a full service agency where you have team members who can do web design,who can do SEO, who can do PPC, who can do PR or whatever the case is, and you do all that in-house. Are you willing to deal with the HR headaches that come with that. Investing the time and resources into finding the candidates in those disparate fields. Vetting them and figuring out how to gauge their expertise in areas where you might not have much expertise?

Versus,  do you want to give up? Maybe some margin by going outsourced but also moving that risk away from your in-house team, where you are responsible for payroll every month. Regardless of whether your clients are hiring you or paying you, whether how many clients you bring on board etc.

It's really a risk, a big part of it. You're excusing what your goals are as an agency and which direction you want to grow into. 

I think that's good advice.The niche specialist agency is almost always going to win out against the generalists. Especially the smaller to mid sized agencies. Sometimes it can be very tempting to feel like the other man's grass is green because it's hard where I am.Then, I go in and try to sell all these other services to my clients, and that very rarely is the solution.

I think hanging on to what you're good at and your specialty is where you want to really be building. Like you say, have a clear plan. Have a clear vision so that the decisions I'm making, it takes me on steps towards delivering that vision as opposed to just seeing a shiny new object and getting distracted by it. 

Also, let's just talk a little bit about when things go wrong. So sorry to be negative, but I think, again, I've sort of had client experiences where things haven't worked out as they hoped. That’s why, I feel like good due diligence should touch upon that topic. 

What's the typical causes of why relationships might go a bit sour in the sort of white label agency relationship? 

I don't know. I've never had that happen. I'm kidding. Yes, relationships will go sour. There will always be fires and things you have to deal with. Well, the reality is, if you have a lot of clients with an agency partner, again, the 80/20 rule, there's going to be problems with some of those clients.

That can flavour the entire relationship. If client A over here, if that particular account went sour, maybe a mistake was made by a team member or whatever the case may be, then that can flavour the other nine accounts that are doing well because it's the same point of context of the same relationships. 

The ideal relationship that we're always striving for and looking foreign partners reaching out to us is just, where there's going to be transparency, communication. If one of the other sides messes up, apologise. 

Here's what we're doing to make sure we don't make this mistake again. Own up to it,  move on and not get into this tit for tat where, we made this mistake over here, then,  you made this mistake, that equals out. We're bitter about this. That’s just a terrible scenario for both parties.

Being transparent in communication and recognising that our partner who’s hired us, they're counting on us and we've got to do well for them. Sometimes that means, I've been on the phone on Thanksgiving Day or different times, saying, “Hey, there's a problem here. The fire. We're going to figure it out. We're going to get it solved for you.” 

Showing that level of commitment and care to your partner goes a long way. Having confidence that you're the right partner for them. I think that's important. 

Also, not letting your partner step on you. That's important as well because your partner, everybody, likes to pass blame. That's just natural and human. Your partner is going to always be incentivized and say, “Hey, things aren't working well for this account because your team did X or Y” and you've got to really dig in and say, “You know what, maybe we made a mistake here or maybe not. Here's what's actually going on and we don't have the information that we need, maybe from you, to do well for this client” or “Hey, the client, they stopped answering their phones, which we know because we're doing call tracking, and that's why they're not selling. So, this is not our fault.”

You need to have a conversation with your client about how they're handling the sales process. It's having that level of true partnership of viewing yourselves as in business together and working together.

Sometimes, if you have a toxic partner, you've got to cut them. We've had scenarios where we came to believe that our partners are not being straight with us, not doing right by us, kind of trying to manipulate us to accomplish their ends, kind of blaming us for things that weren't really our problem and trying to get stuff out of us. We had to go to them to say, “This isn't working out. We need to have transparency and trust with our partners and best wishes to you but we're no longer the right partner for you.” 

You gotta be willing to take that step and take the short term pain that comes from that in order to not have your life a living hell.

Yeah, exactly. I think the key message there is the partner-partner relationship, as opposed to the kind of customer-supplier where the customer is beating up the supplier. If you're a way level partner, then, you're sort of two steps further down, removed from the customers. That’s why, there's a danger that can happen even more.

Let me just ask you, I want to ask you a couple of other questions for you to wrap up for three more questions. Is there a scenario where the agency would say, look, we've been working with this white label partner for a long time. We've got this consistent amount of revenue coming in for this service. We need to bring it in-house now. If that happens, how do you manage that?

Great question. Actually, we have not had to deal with that scenario ourselves,  thankfully. I'm sure that scenario does happen. 

The first thing, if one of our partners came to us and said that the question is so kind of helped them thinking through the numbers, because often, there's an alert of yes, they can make so much more money by bringing this in-house. However, what they don't really get is how much work goes into things. What the benefits are even of leveraging. Let’s say, a partnership with Google, like we have a premier Google partnership. The access that gives us the things that we're doing behind the things are behind the scenes for their clients. 

It's making sure they really understand how much work, how much value we are providing, and they're taking that into account. Also helping them understand how hard it is to find good talent in this workforce and just how much work they're gonna have to put into finding those people in the house. Keeping them happy and entertained because that's not easy. That's what I spent a lot of my time on, in solving that problem.

Yeah, I don't know how it is in the U.S. but I tell you, it is a constant conversation over here at the moment. I had my group coaching call this morning and recruitment came up again. Someone was saying, I just thought I got the right team and I've had two people resign, and so I think, it always seems to be an employee's marketplace but it seems to be even more the case at the moment. Kind of as we come out of the pandemic and when we're recording this. Then, I guess that's probably true in the States as well. 

Yes, absolutely. I'd say, don't burn those bridges. If a partner makes that decision and brings things in-house. Again, the reality is they may not like that decision two months from now. Once they're dealing with the realities of actually handling that team next to in the work. You wanna maintain those bridges and say, “Okay, you want to take some of the work on? Hey, maybe start with 10 accounts.Take them on. See how you like it will keep working with these and we'll be your scaling arm. So, when you need help and you don't have those internal resources we're still here for you. We’ll help you scale”

You can even make great hybrid relationship where they bring some business in-house but they keep some business with you. Or, they use you to leverage in those crunch times when they bring in a bunch of clients and they can't handle them internally. There's still a lot of ways you can provide and make value. I think, from those relationships, even if they start to bring that in-house. 

Yeah, that's good advice. My second to last question, I said that you've taught digital marketing to 85,000 plus people. That's a lot of people. How do you do that through online stuff or how have you reached that number? 

Some online training, so I put together, really focused on Google ads. It's really oriented towards small businesses who are getting into Google ads and trying to figure out what to do. Trying to help them avoid some of those pitfalls that new businesses have, such as, they've read Google stuff, “I think this is going to be amazing. Let's do what Google says.” Then, put a budget in here and they wake up the next day, realise that I spent a lot of money and didn't get anything for it. It's trying to help them avoid some of those pitfalls, and I think It’s just to do well. 

I can concur that if you think you can do some of these things yourself that are not in your kind of wheelhouse, then you are on a quick road to spending a lot of time and throwing a lot of money down the drain.I've certainly been there myself, a  bit with Google, but mostly with Facebook ads. 

John, where I'm conscious of our time and keeping the podcast about 30 minutes. I just wanted to ask you the question that I ask all of my guests, which is, if you go back in time and give your younger self just starting out in business, a piece of advice. What would it be? 

That's a great question. I would say be a little more confident. What I mean by that is, when you're just starting out in business, as I'm sure you know, It's so easy to have that imposter syndrome.

I have no idea what I'm doing. All of my competitors, they have it all figured out. They're doing a fantastic job and how do I get into this space? Just realising that everybody is figuring it out everyday. The market is always changing. People look like they got it together but we're all we're all figuring it out. If you invest that time, that energy and that intelligence into what you're doing. If you're truly meeting a market need, caring for the businesses you're working with and the clients are serving then, go forth, do it and things are gonna work out. 

Good advice. I think you're right that we have that imposter syndrome and we have to live with it our whole lives, right? Every day we've got this voice. 

Can you know when you're gonna be found out? But, it's good advice. Whether your younger self would listen to that or not, I don't know. Whether my younger self would listen to that, I don't know. But, a really good bit of advice.

We're coming up to episode 100 of the podcast. My plan, I'm saying this publicly now, so I'm gonna have to do it. My plan is to take all of the bits of advice that my guests have given me over 50 episodes and put them into one episode to celebrate our hundreds. 

That's really interesting. One of the reasons I want to do that is because I don't think people have ever said the same thing about the advice they give themselves. I don't think anyone said what you just said, which is really great. I think there must be a lot of wisdom in that.

John, I really appreciate your time. I've really enjoyed the chats. If people want to reach out to you and contact you, what would be the best way for them to do that? 

LinkedIn, search my name on there. Always looking for DMs on there. If you want to reach out to our company and learn more about our white labelling services, stubgroup.com. Reach out through there with your case studies, video reviews, all that good stuff, and I’d love to chat. 

Great. I will include your LinkedIn profile and also your Stub Group's website as well in the show notes. 

Again, thanks so much for joining us today. I know listeners are going to find this topic useful because they'll be somewhere on their journey of being white label or working with the white label partners. So, there’s some good nuggets of advice in there. Thanks so much for joining us today. 

Thank you, Rob. 

I hope you found today's episode useful. As ever, I try to make the episodes as action packed and actionable for you guys as possible.

I hope you took something away from that, which will help you manage or find white label partners. 

If you enjoyed the episode, please make sure that you leave a review because that really helps the algorithms show me two more people and help more people just like you. And of course, please share the episode with your colleagues as well. Other than that, I will see you next Thursday for the next episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

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

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

Useful links mentioned in this episode: 

 Full Episode Transcription

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 Committed Are You To Your Niche?

How Committed Are You To Your Niche

How niche is too niche? And, how niche are you? 

I know that's a lot of niches in one sentence! But it’s such an important topic that it deserves that many ‘niches’!

Any of you who listen to my podcast regularly or read my content will know that I am a massive fan of niching.

But it strikes me that a lot of people think they have a clear niche, but when I check them out, they don't.  They tell me about their niche but when I check their website or social media content, they don’t show up as clearly focused on the niche they claim to be in.  Why is this?  Well I think  they are hedging their bets

So, let me remind you why I think having and commiting to your niche is so important.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:01] 

What does it mean to have a clear niche?

[1:54] 

Why understanding your niche is important

[2:46] 

Advantages of having a clearly defined niche

[4:06] 

Tips in figuring out your niche

[5:26] 

How to stand out from the crowd to more easily reach your target audience

[7:09] 

Reasons why you must stay committed to your niche

[7:37] 

The impact of broadening or narrowing down a niche

[8:40] 

The difference between a generalist and a specialist

[9:52] 

How my niche has ebbed and flowed over the years

[11:49] 

Four ways you can segment your niche

[31:44] 

What is Anthony’s advice to his younger self 

Quotations

“When you have a clear niche. It means you can produce products and services that you know your audience wants, rather than making a huge mistake of selling products that you think they need.” - Rob Da Costa

“When you have a clearly defined niche, you can also REALLY understand your ideal target customer and their specific needs, challenges, pains that your product or service can solve.” - Rob Da Costa

“..niching is definitely one of the ways where you can minimise the pool of your competition and get much more laser-focused on who your ideal target customer is.” - Rob Da Costa

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

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

 Full Episode Transcription

How niche is too niche? And, how niche are you? 

That's a lot of niches in one sentence, but that's why I want to talk about them in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast.

In running my Agency Implementation Group Coaching call this week, we had a conversation about how committed everybody is to their niche. It's a really interesting topic, so I thought I would dive into that in today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast. 

So grab a pen, think about how niche you are,  protest your niche 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 Da Costa. 

Any of you who listen to me regularly or read a lot of the content I post through my email list on my blog and on social media will know that I am a massive fan of niche or niching if you are in the U.S. 

But it strikes me that a lot of people think they have a clear niche, but when I check them out, they don't. This often happens at the prospect stage when I'm preparing for that call. They've answered some questions in advance because they follow the qualification process that I teach my clients. I've got some information about them, including their niche. But then when I go and check them out on their website or on social media, they're not really showing up clearly in that niche. 

So it got me thinking, how committed are you to your niche? This was a discussion that we had in The Self-Running Agency Implementation Group call this week, and it was a bit eye-opening for quite a few people. That’s why I decided to record a podcast about this today. 

Now, I've recorded podcasts about niches in the past, but let me remind you why I think the mission is so important. So right now we are in late 2021 and the last couple of years have been really challenging, and I think those agencies that have done well have managed to keep serving their audience. 

But my question is, how can you really serve your audience if you don't understand them really well? And if you don't have a clear nation in more of a generalist, then it becomes much harder to really understand your audience. When you have a clear niche. It means you can produce products and services that you know your audience wants, rather than making that huge mistake of producing products that you think they need. This is that whole. Are you selling painkillers or vitamin pills to your clients? A painkiller is something that's going to get rid of their pain right now, while a vitamin pill is something you know will be good for them, but it won't get rid of their pain. It might stop them from having that pain in the future. But right now, what the client wants is a pain killer, and that means producing products and services that you know your audience needs rather than the ones that you think they want, either vitamin pill.

An obvious point here is that a niche provider will always be able to charge more than a generalist. If you needed knee surgery, you would go to a knee surgeon and not your GP. Then, if you had to pay for that surgery, obviously, the knee surgeon would charge a lot more money. When you have a clearly defined niche, you can also clearly define your ideal target customer, your customer advertises your customer persona and really understands their specific needs, challenges, pains that they have that your product or service can solve.

When you understand that you can create truly differentiating USPs, unique selling points as opposed to those cliches such as ‘We go the extra mile,’ ‘we really care’ and so on, which, of course, everybody would say. Then when you've done all of that, it means that you can create really clear marketing messages and powerful content that really hits home. Your goal with your outbound marketing is for your ideal target customer is ‘To read it and go blind me,’ that person is reading my mind. That's exactly what's going on for me now, and that leads them to think, ‘Tell me more,’ which looks like reading the content, clicking on a link or even booking a call with you.

Now I'm not going to go into too much detail about how to create your niche. You can download a copy of my book, which I put in the show notes, which digs into an itching in more detail. 

But broadly speaking, your niche is the intersection of where you're most profitable, what type of customers do you get the best results for, and what work do you most enjoy doing. Then when you've worked out that niche, you need to be really committed to it. This is the question that I asked and brings me back to the kind of core title of today, which is a lot of people say their niche but they don't really 100% show up about that. All the outbound communications don't necessarily show that niche. As I think that it's because people are kind of hedging their bets. Intellectually, they get the idea and the value of niche ng but at the same time they've got this little voice in their head going, ‘Yes, but if you niched you're going to lose opportunities.’ But if you believe niching will make you lose more generalist’s opportunities, then let me tell you that quite the opposite is true. Because when you have a clear niche, your ideal target customer will be able to more easily find you. And of course, as the specialist, you're going to be able to charge higher fees as I've already said.

Most of us operate in a really crowded market, whether you're a PR agency wherein you provide SEO or PPC services, you're a web design developer or a graphic designer or a content marketer or full-service agency, or even a coach like me, we are all in really crowded markets. We have to find a way of standing out.

Now, standing out can't be because you're cheaper than everybody else or because you promise ridiculous levels of service. Unless your completely online based company has no interaction with customers because being cheaper is never going to make you profitable. So you have to have other ways of standing out and standing out by saying ‘we go the extra mile,’ ‘we really care.’ 

As I said earlier is just cliches because I always think when you're trying to work out your niche, you need to ask yourself when I'm coming up with my proposition: ‘Would everybody else say this with all my competitors say this?” And if the answer is ‘Yes,’ which certainly they would be too, ‘we go the extra mile’ or ‘we really care,’ then it isn't something that makes you different.

Therefore, niching is definitely one of the ways where you can minimise the pool of your competition and get much more laser-focused on who your ideal target customer is. So, as I said, they can actually find you which is the best way for you to be able to reach your target audience.

Then, outbound communications providing value, demonstrating that you know what you're talking about, being very clear about who you serve to enable those people in the pool that you're fishing in to find you and reach out to you.

And that means once you've worked out your niche, being super clear very quickly on the first page on the home page of your website, being really clear in your LinkedIn profile, social media content, email marketing, blogs, guesting, webinars and all the myriad of many things that you can do. Are you always showing up as that specialist niche agency or are you hedging your bets because you think there might be some other fish that you can catch outside of your pool?

Let me tell you this when you win a business that is not in your core niche, it is always much harder to service because you don't really understand them as well as your ideal customer, and they don't really understand you. In order to service, those customers often lead to over-servicing which leads to stress and lack of profitability and no time to go and win those ideal clients. 

So there are 100 reasons why getting clear on your niche, being committed to it is super important. Now you've got to work out how broad or narrow your niches are, and my advice is always to go as niche as you can and then broaden up over time. But obviously, there are some limits to that.f you were 

If a web design agency and you might work with SME businesses, or marketing agencies doing their websites, you wouldn't want to go so niche to say that ‘We’re a web design agency that works with marketing agencies in Brighton,’ because you're going to limit your target audience to sort of maybe 10 companies. But you also don't want to be so broad by saying, ‘We're a web design agency that focuses on WordPress development,’ which is not a niche. That's just being a generalist in a very large pool. So that's a clue that you need to go more and more narrow. 

When you have worked out your niche, how easy is it for you to find your ideal target customer? If I'm a WordPress website design agency, I'm not sure that it's that easy for me to find my ideal clients because they could be anybody and everybody. Now I know that I sound like I'm standing on my soapbox and being really passionate and preaching about this, but I can't tell you how important it is.

It's interesting when I asked this question to my 30 Self-Running Agency Implementation Group members and I said to them, ‘How committed are you to your niche?’ Then I work through some of what I'm sharing with you. A lot of people kind of raised their hand and said, ‘Yeah Rob, you've got a point.’ One of the other questions I got is, can you have multiple niches? And yes, you can, and sometimes they can even be disparate niches. But what you need to do is find a way to present that on your website, and you also need to find a story that links your disparate niches together.

But what you can't do is have so many disparate niches, like five or six disparate niches, because that just makes you a generalist again, and that sounds like you are hedging your bets. 

What you can do is start narrow and flow over time. I’m in year 15 of running my coaching business, and I started out as a generalist coach. I failed spectacularly in the first two years of running my business. I really struggled. I didn't have compelling stories to tell big corporates. If I was talking to a small startup and I told them I work with a big corporate, they think, ‘Well, you can't help me, you won't get me.’

So I then realised I needed to niche. It was easy for me to work out my niche because I previously run my own agency. I decided to focus on the marketing agency sector. Over the next few years, that worked really well. That's my business took off. Then I was doing some work with a non-exact director who works with recruitment companies, and he started referring a lot of recruitment agencies to me. Suddenly I found myself with four or five recruitment agencies in my book, but it didn't kind of make sense to just say that I worked in the agency sector. And broaden out to say I work in the service-based business. 

I'm just gonna put a time out in that story there to jump in and say that when you are niche, it doesn't mean you can't take on companies and clients outside of that niche. It just means that you need to make a very considerate decision if you can help them. If you think you can help them, they get you and you enjoy working with them, then take it on.

Back to my story, I had one of these recruitment clients. Then, I started repositioning myself to say, ‘Hey, I'm Rob Da Costa Coaching works with service-based businesses.’ After a year, I realised that I actually don't enjoy working with recruitment agencies that much. Sorry, any recruitment people who are listening to this. So, I stopped taking on work through that channel, and I refocused my efforts on the marketing agency sector. Then I narrowed it a bit more and said, ‘Actually, the place I really enjoy working and the place I feel like I can get the biggest impact.’ The quickest is working with smaller agencies. 

So my target market now is creative marketing agencies with between one and 15-20 staff. That is where 95% of my clients that I do have 5% on the other side. Outside of that, there are the bigger agencies or even they're not in the agency sector at all. But as I said, I made a very considerate decision when I took them on. That is really how you should approach your niche. 

Then, my question to you is if I went on your website right now, would it be really clear to me about your niche and your specialism? One of the points to say here is to remind you that you can actually split your niche in four ways. When we think about our niche, we always usually think about it by the sector that we serve, e.g tech or finance, but actually can split it in four ways. 

Again, if you grab my copy of my book at the show notes, it digs into this in a lot more detail, but you can dig into it by the geography that you serve. So if I'm a web design agency, I would say something like, ‘We create websites for businesses in London.’ You can cut it by the industry or sector, which is the obvious one, ‘We create websites for gaming businesses.’ You can cut it by the deliverable, ‘We create e-commerce WordPress websites.’ Then you can also cut it by the problem that you solve. This is focusing on the outcome. We generate new business leads by improving your online presence through web development and SEO services. 

Now it's very likely that you would combine one or two of those together, but I've tried to be clever here and combine all four of them just to show you how you can do that, and you would never do. This is a bit of a mouthful, but I'm making the point. ‘We generate new business leads by improving your online presence by developing e-commerce WordPress websites for gaming businesses in London.’ 

As I said, that's a bit of a mouthful, and you wouldn't combine all four. But I just want to remind you that when you're working on your niche, you can cut it in a number of ways. Back to my question, how committed are you to your niche? If I went and checked out your website, would it be clear about the niche that you're in? And if the answer is no, which I think for a lot of people it will be. Then I really challenge you to go back to the drawing board, redoubled down on your niche, be really committed to it and make sure that your website. Also, your outbound calm, such as your LinkedIn profile all show up as that specialist. Trust me, when you provide your niche you can charge more money, it becomes much easier to win clients and you stand out from your competition. Then, you shouldn't be shy about finding a niche. As I said, what you should really do is go as niche as you possibly dare and then think about broadening out over time.

Another point to bear in mind is that when you try to appeal to lots of people because you really want to hedge your bets, as you don't want to be a niche you try to appeal to lots of people. You actually end up appealing to nobody, and then the niche provider comes along and beats you in all the different areas that you are trying to win in. 

So if you're frustrated that you're not winning business or you're going in to pitch, but you're not always winning it. If you're frustrated that clients that you're winning don't really understand you, then I could say double down on your niche and do some work on it. 

Grab a copy of my book because it talks you through the steps of creating your own niche, and if you have any challenges with it, reach out to me. I guarantee that the niche agencies always do so much better than the generalists. I've very rarely seen any kind of agency. That's a generalist doing as well as the specialist agency. As I said, if you needed knee surgery, you would go to the knee surgeon specialist, not the GP and the same is true with your agency.

So I'm going to get off my soapbox now. I hope this episode has been food for thought for you. I challenge you to go back and check your website out, double down on your niche, and I'll see you next week for the next episode of the podcast. 

By the way, if you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving me a review on Apple Podcast. Also, please think about sharing this with your colleagues as well and really trying to reach more people. It’s one of the best ways I can do that is with your help to get the algorithm to show this podcast to more people. But other than that, have a brilliant rest of your week and I'll see you next week.

Building Communities with Anthony Burke

Building Communities with Anthony Burke

How can building online communities help your agency’s marketing strategy? 

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by Anthony Burke, the Owner of “Brits in Dubai”, as he shares his journey building and monetising online communities as well as his story of living in Dubai and what inspired him to start  his community.

Brits in Dubai is a private Facebook Group that originated in 2014 and is dedicated to helping British expats settle and thrive in the UAE. A great place to get advice, support and network. 

Since then, the group has grown into the number one British expat group with more than 25,000 members and over half a million posts in the last six months alone! 

How can you apply what Anthony has learned and achieved in your agency business?  That is what we set out to explore in this episode.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[1:29] 

Anthony’s journey to building a number 1 Facebook community 

[6:00] 

Tips on how to build momentum in your group

[9:11] 

How much time is needed to invest in managing an online community?

[11:21] 

Why delivering great value is important in monetising a Facebook Group

[13:55] 

What is the best and cost-effective way to build professional partnerships

[15:44] 

Why you should ‘go unique’

[16:50] 

Building landing pages and searching the best keywords

[18:37] 

How to find the balance in delivering the value and selling your products/ services

[20:18] 

The importance of building your email list

[21:20] 

Tips in marketing your products/services to the members of the group

[26:50] 

The impact of Covid in business decision making

[28:33] 

Living the ‘digital nomad lifestyle’

[31:44] 

What is Anthony’s advice to his younger self 

Quotations

“The thing that I always tell my audience is that when you are creating outbound communications, whether it be through a Facebook group, email marketing, social media, videos or whatever, you need to get this balance of 80% providing value and only 20% selling. ” - Rob Da Costa

“It's about being human, and it's about being real and authentic. If you have a community, listen to what your community needs, then you make sure you produce products and services that they want as opposed to thinking about what's better for them, and you're going to create something that nobody ever buys because they don't actually need it.” - Rob Da Costa

“I'd always say, ‘go with your gut. If it works fantastic, if it doesn't, there are more options.’” - Anthony Burke

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

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

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

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

Useful links mentioned in this episode: 

 Full Episode Transcription

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

Welcome everybody to today's episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast I am really excited to have with me today, my latest guest, Anthony Burke.

Anthony Burke runs a business called Brits in Dubai. Way back in 2014, Anthony created a Facebook group to help Brits settling into Dubai. A place to get advice, support and network. Since then, the group has grown into the number one British expat group with over half a million posts just in the last six months and about 25,000 members. So I thought it would be really great to have Anthony on the podcast today to share his experience of growing a community like that and then also how to start monetising that community. 

So, Anthony, welcome to the podcast. Is there anything else you want to add to my introduction about where you are and what you do? You've actually done quite well there, Rob. 

Hi. How are you? Are you Well, I'm really good. Thank you. Yeah. Good. Because he has been shining, so that always helps isn't it. It always helps too.

Just kind of elaborate on the group. As you rightly said, this was purely when I'll go back a couple of steps. I was in the UK and I on coffee shops had three coffee shops myself on my now wife, who was the governor of the time again, a little bit stalled. We wanted a new challenge, wants to do something completely different and shall decide I'm going to the device. And I went, why? In my mind, no culture, no history, no anything like that. Basically, I didn't know anything about it. 

So the idea was to go over for weeks. We've enjoyed it and if so kind of look at option thereafter. Then, we went for a week. I didn't come back basically. Gemma did some finalising. She went off and she joined me. Probably six weeks, it makes 22 months later, and I was basically working for a publication called Construction Magazines. Obviously, Dubai is just building and building and building. It was a good place to be.

Then, I've actually done some work on that previously, probably about 20 years ago, and I knew the owner, so I decided to jump in with them. So they'll be there for a year, just see what I wanted to do. And in social media, which was very, very lucky in the back at that particular time. They haven't really caught on. It's usually about 10, 12, 5, 10 years behind. I would say the Western World. It's got a massive now, as you can imagine, But at that time in 2000 and I think he was 14. With that,  I thought that this is my market. This is what I'm going to go after. Let's sit back and develop them. So I built a company called Stepping Social, which is still today and when I first moved by this to use Google, but it just wasn't the tools for really specific questions like,  ‘Where can you live? Where's the best place to come and meet like-minded people and all this kind of stuff?’ So I thought Facebook Group before they were popular with that will be good things soon.

I invited a few friends, people can ask questions. I can just give myself some guidance and what’s not. So it starts with a handful of friends. They are friends, obviously, and they started blooming and blossoming before it, a few 1000 when it's 10,000, and from 10,000 is now 25,000. It just keeps escalating. It's people who recommend the group just because of the help. Readily, the information is that it's very active. People are genuinely very good at giving advice. It's worked out quite well.

So basically, if you want to debate that is the group to join. It’s gonna give you all the information that you need. I'm quite proud of that and I think. 

Sorry to interrupt you. It's interesting that I was doing a bit of research prior to our interview today, and so I was looking at other kinds of groups like that, and any other groups that have fought are way lower in terms of the numbers. So your group has obviously become the number one kind of place for expats to go and learn the network and ask questions and so on.

Right, it's I mean, there's about three or four. I would say that I've seen what I've done to try to mirror that to a degree, not quite successful, but usually disgruntled members from the group that I've tried to have their own thing, and that's fine. If there's a market for others, enough paper and well. Good but ideas to make sure it was all-inclusive, as in there's no such thing as a silly question. There was no such thing as troubling or anything like that and were heavily monitored.

What I would say is because it is a niche group were very keen not to be the latest or anything like that. But we want to say, right, if you are a Brit and you are living and working, but I mean, this is a group for you, we get many other nationalities, wants you to join, but chances are they're wanting to join to sell goods and services. We’re very strict, and we have one person that looks after basically admitting people, and so we do background checks on literally everybody that comes through. 

Just on Facebook, we want to know if there are provisions from the U. K. They are living and working in the boat, and they're not just going to come to the group to sell, because if it becomes just a sail fest and it will absolutely kill your group, that is for sure. The way we've done is, we've been quite creative, and we've been very strong and the management of who actually gets to partner with us within the group.

We'll probably talk about how we monetise up. Throughout this year, I'm interested to ask you this is kind of for a personal reason because I've been really unsuccessful. If I'm honest about growing my own Facebook group, which I've tried on and off over the years and kind of put it parked it really? How did you start from scratch? And I know you said like you invited a few friends and colleagues, but how did it kind of build momentum from that point onwards? Because I guess at the size you're at now, it's sort of easy to organically grow it because so many people are seeing it and sharing it. But when you just got 10 or 20 or 100 members, how do you get from that point to the next sort of next level? 

Well, the other thing is, it's been crazily active within the group, not just leaving it up to other members. Start by building conversations again. People actually talking once you get to talk and the people kind of join them out with the algorithm out to Facebook. Its lots of conversations are going on here, and then they start. You've been to be seen in kind of search engines and whatnot. That's when Britain to buy where I think that the top when it comes to anything, British experts and advice. We were quite elderly people who just joined the group with that based on the number of conversations, but I would say you've got to lead it. You've got to drive it. You've got touch some conversation there that people are going to kind of enjoy doing with us because it's a nation because it is the Brits group.

Then, we started doing events. We get together and got to a venue to meet like-minded people. We even a single night which is strangely enough, because a lot of people just moved to the by there on their own. It's a big, wide world if you like. They tend to be on the younger and the biggest if you like demographic is probably 21 to 35. These people kind of fresh out of uni and whatnot and that they're just trying their feet elsewhere, and it's a great way to do it with.

So having these get-togethers has really helped, and obviously, they start talking. We're going to this event during this group because they would say, and invite your friends. So then they would get other people to join the group. I would do webinars, seminars, and some people that fragment tax seminars. 

A couple of years, but did I was completely tax-free. And a little while ago, they decide that they're gonna start introducing some. Sometimes it's very small, but people need to know. So we started doing seminars and webinars based around that and that you've got very popular.  Again it just drives people and without necessarily wanting to sell, because I think it's probably sailed in a group. It's a big fat turn off. It's all about giving massive value. And that's what we did in the initial stages today. 

Yes, it's interesting because the thing that I always tell my audience is that when you are creating outbound communications, whether it be through a Facebook group, email marketing, social media, videos or whatever, you need to get this balance of 80% providing value and only 20% selling. And because you've got to build that know like and trust with people before they're ever going to buy from you.  So you're sort of singing off the same hymn sheet as me of really focusing on providing value. 

Let's just talk about I know that most agency owners and probably most business owners are super short on time, so they might be thinking about building a community. But how much time do you have to invest like in those early days? Now, if you make a comparison, how much time are you spending actually monitoring, answering questions and marketing the group?

We're more in the initial stages. I'll be honest. It was a lot of hours, and it's not a 9-5 thing. Now, people asking questions all sorts of times. I think if you're really active and you do give these people the good advice as much as you possibly can in the initial stages, then that's a good thing. Eventually, you get your own champions within the group and people with the skill sets. So when somebody's asking about tax kind of questions, that’s going to help them instantly. If someone is looking for property in the marina, right and say, someone, 's gonna tell him where's a good place while our good towers please avoid this tower and whatnot. 

Then, you start eventually, just get me on champions. But yet in the initial stages, it is a lot of work. But it just evens out now, like they were 25,000 adult posts nearly as much as conversational because it’s held on there for me. Lots of people are asking the right questions. I guess the building is ill but I think it's fairly niche as well. 

I think that's key to make sure you're looking at a niche market rather than a generic one, because so many other groups, I absolutely demand is huge. 78 to 200,000 members and then I joined a couple just to see how well they were doing. And there's just no interaction. It's basically people going on there just trying to sell anything and everything. It's a big turn off. People just do not want to go in there to be sold to on on on a regular basis. So it's how you even monetise that and how you kind of manage it. I think that's the key. 

Yes, I think that's perhaps where I could have done better with my group because I was just targeting agency owners but I could have probably notched it down a bit more, so I think that's a really good piece of advice for me and anybody else that's thinking of creating a community is to be as niche as you can, invest lots of time upfront and then make sure you're adding value to the members and getting them to engage. 

One of the reasons why our listeners might be thinking about creating a group is because they think that's the way of building an audience that they can ultimately monetise. This is a silly question for someone who's built an audience of 25,000, but just talk a bit through the value of building that community and in terms of how it supported you, earning revenue and doing business development. 

Okay, Again I'll put some background and I was in Dubai for seven years, and then we moved back to the UK. So everything I'm doing right now is in the UK. We came back to our first child. We haven’t managed to get anything about,  such as life, Covid came around and it's kind of lost. A lot of things were not going to be out there, but it's irrelevant now, to the digital world that we live in.

Anyway, sorry to interrupt you again, and I want to touch upon that whole digital nomad thing at the end. We'll definitely come back to that because I got a shared interest there, Yes, I think the point I was probably alluding to is I'm kind of trying to start now.

We were talking about monetising the value of building that community and how you can use it as a business development platform. Right, we lived up to the UK and I was going to be doing photography that that's why I was getting to then has a full diary full because I was going to be doing wedding photography because that's kind of my past as well. I had a social media company in The Bible, and we did a lot of hotels, restaurants. I use photography from that. So it was a skill set I was using, and I thought I can easily get back into the UK and develop that now that collapsed. There are no weddings going when I had a year full of weddings gone instantly and some other than I'd start thinking, right. ‘How am I going to get myself out of this? This mess that we're potentially in? The circumstances in it?’ And I thought I am spending so much time on this group and my wife, we have somebody else working in that.

We've got about five men knowing the group. Spending a lot of time and I'm talking initially 12-14 hours share between us on a daily basis. It’s nowhere near as much like that now. But the fact is, we needed to get something from this rather than just being these nice people upset this group, and I didn't want to inundate it. So we started working with partnerships. 

Now, what I mean by that is I wanted to work with one specialist that works in any one particular area. If I can say a property developer and themselves and rent houses and wanted that I wanted one specialist, I wanted him to be our champion. Anybody talked about properties where to live, they can give some good, solid advice and that's worked out well. We work with some specialists that do use cars, expert motors, and they do 60% of their business through our group. It's huge, and that's because we give them value out. They talk to people they explain about how they can get finance, that they can sell cars all the registration because it's much different to what is in the U. K. So it's value out. 

And that's what we were saying to people. ‘Look, you are champions. I want you to start speaking to our group, really explain what is you can do for them.” I can make their life a little bit easier. I've gone down this route, and we have one eye care specialist. Basically, with people, I want some money back to the U.K. It was the best way to do it. We must cost of works. The best cost-effective way of doing it through the banks is the same expensive, using an eye FX broker because of some money to and grow so that that helps. That helps our members massively. Because I've got now somebody that goes to and then accountable because they're in the group. So, we know that these people are gonna give good side device and really help out.

So I would say me working with just a specialist in any particular area has worked massively with baggage people sending baggage home. We've got one specialist. I do that now. How we've actually done that is rather than just leaving it to chance and putting on an advert, because if you've been in the group you'll see there's a post it's gonna drop down and we use, like, the feature posts. But we do multiple pulses about that. We do video interviews very similar to what we're doing, asking a business and then they are where they come from, and it's more conversational. Like how they started in the by the weather came from what their background is. 

It's on a personal level. That's what I tried to get through, for our champions of speaking, I do call them champions because, the other people are the best of what they do, and I'm like, I'm heavily focused on looking for those right people, and we don't just let anybody do it. So let's have systematically start looking right. ‘What do you want to our members’ needs? Where do they need to help on a regular basis?’ I mean hotels and restaurants, the 10,000 of them in Dubai, so we can look at lower the different venues for that. But when it comes to specialist advice, I always say, ‘Go unique, go with one person and, let's see how they can help the members.’ So that's how we've done that. And I basically look at people and say, I want to work with you for three years. his is how much is going to cost, and this is what we're gonna do for you.

So that's probably the next thing that we do. Not just a case of post and on the group. And as I know, you're a massive fan of build a list as far as an email list. Yes, absolutely crucial, massively crucial. What we do is build a landing page for any particular business. Anybody wants to talk about any particular product or service, I want them to speak to them directly, but we collect the data. 

Then, it is initial and right. Okay, ‘X Y is asking for properties in the Marina, can you help them out?’  Well, then steer them. Obviously, we've got the data, and we can then talk to them about properties further down the line. Do some added work for the clients. And we also use keywords. The keywords are fantastic in the group. So if anybody is saying I want to again, I'm just gonna use property for now. But anybody who wants to move to the Marina or downtown or to wherever in the city. 

As soon as I mentioned I get pain, and then I put a link straight through. You need to be speaking to such and such is linked to some more information. It can be a brief synopsis of who they are and whatnot. They know who they're speaking to do some debt collection of the phone number. Well, it's usually an email and the name, and now and again, we get a phone number for, like, mortgages. People want to speak to them very quickly. So we collect this information for my list is building all the time. You don't have to give me your email just really joined the group. But people are very willing to give you an email address because it's something that they want. We don't spam them, that's ever so important. We understand the information that's pertinent to what the original query was. It's building up that you've got far more of an open right if you do that as well. 

Yes, there's so much in there that I just want to pick apart a bit. It sort of reinforces the 80-20 rule that 80% add value. But then there is a way of selling as well. It's interesting that I have a client that has been really successful at building a Facebook community, and it's growing, and it's very niche. I won't say who it is because I don't think they're listening. I don't want to know who I'm talking about. Then one day they're a marketing agency and then one day, someone in that community because I'm part of it as well, said. ‘Can anyone recommend a marketing agency that can help us do this thing, which my client could?’ And then someone else went on and said, ‘Oh yeah, go talk to this company,’ which wasn't my client. 

So here's my client running a community with someone asking for their services and someone else recommending another. That is because they were just focused completely on adding value and never letting people know who they are and what they can do. And that's a good example of only, like focusing 100% on adding value but never the 20% on selling. So you've got that balance right. 

I really like the point that you made. It's about being human, and it's about being real and authentic and all that stuff. And I also think one of the great things about community, which again you alluded to, which I think is so important for listeners. If you have a community in whatever way it is, whether that be an email list or Facebook group or something else, and you listen to what your community needs, then you make sure you produce products and services that they want as opposed to thinking about what's better for them, and you're going to create something that nobody ever buys because they don't actually need it.

So I think it's really smarter for you to listen to your audience and then bring in partners that can solve some of the problems and challenges that they have. And of course, the building of an email list.  As you said, I'm a big fan of that. The listeners will know that because I talk about it all the time. But a really good example is like I think building a community online like this is a brilliant strategy. But it's also smart to try and get those people to come to your email list. Because, as I know Donald Trump gave me the best example as he had 20 million Twitter followers, and overnight he lost them. Of course, that's very extreme. 

But these social media platforms can change their teas and sees, and that can have a big impact on you. A good example of that is that a few years ago it was very easy to export your LinkedIn connections and get their email addresses. Then LinkedIn changed their terms and conditions so you can no longer get their email addresses. So encouraging people to move into your list in whatever way is a smart thing to do. 

If you think about your social media agency in creating a community to support the growth of your social media agency or to win more clients, which is obviously what a lot of the listeners would think about, what advice would you give those people? Like it for me, if I was going a group to support my business, and I wanted to turn to find a way of actually turning some of those members eventually into my customers, which is a bit different to what you're doing, what have you got? I know I'm putting you on the spot here. Have you got any advice for anybody that's thinking about embarking on that journey? 

Well, I would not say I must have kind of going so that the community groups, rather than I mean niche is great, but it's quite difficult to target these people to get into a certain group because we're all busy kind of professionals, aren't we? It's spending a lot of time in groups can be a bit counterproductive. So, it's having that fine balance.

Most people are just basically looking to get clients, aren't they? It is tough because I say everything I've done. I've not gone down that route. I've always talked to the community groups. I do think there's a tonne of value, a tonne of business within, so maybe not the right person to spend give advice about lights of the newsgroups supporting agency. 

So you've not thought about doing that for your social media business, then? No. I mean, what I thought about doing is doing more community groups what I've done now looking down at the regional, or, whether the damage that route again in different parts of the world, because they have proved very useful.

Why don't you get the numbers and the people as opposed? But now I just thought about it. I could in reality if, at the time, the crowd, the manpower, these people are coming to me now. Now, my clients, I could potentially outreach them and do their social media, the PR, and maybe you can build a business out of that. I haven't touched that. That could quite easily do that. So, building opportunity groups where people have come in and they've fragments. 

I get this a lot. The drawing, a tonne of groups and all I've done is ever put a post on there. And its hepatitis has been taken down. We've been asked to move away, or it's just not the same kind of impact. That's down to again, down to the age of 20 things. So if you could potentially build up these quality niche groups, as far as the community groups that mentioned in, these groups say there is a business I can get through there because people just don't understand the power of social media, whether or not going to be selling adverse, they're doing PR doing marketing coming to you and chance that they want to advertise in the group is just because they haven't really got much of a clue outside of the group.

So there is a market there. I haven't touched it because I have another partner who basically does web creation and social media presence. which comes to me for that I have set up. I'm quite busy doing what I do that I don't necessarily need to do the other side. But I would do. I build up the community groups because you're going to get people who want to advertise, and if they're doing that, chances are you don't really know what they're doing. Then, you can be their guiding light. I would say, 

Well, that's the thing I guess it’s like any way you can build your tribe, whether it be through these community groups or email this or anything else gives you an audience that you can demonstrate your credibility to build that no like and trust so eventually you're there when they're going help. I get this, but I haven't got time to do it myself. ‘I need some help’ and you're like, ‘Hello, I'm here that I would have?’

Yes, and I think I've seen some really successful business groups you can call in communities the same thing, really, where they've built their tribe using a Facebook group. And then they've been able to really market to that when they're focused on that 20% of the selling. Of course, those people already know, like and trust you, so they're much more likely to buy. 

I'm just going to say that there is one thing that I could have possibly added to that a little while. But again, like a pre covid, basically put out questions saying to businesses, ‘Look, there's a lot of business owners in here. Do you want a networked group?” It is where we can read regularly, almost like a, b and I just for our members and that 400 people sign up a lot. So, if I was that way inclined that could have been a really nice platform for me to say, right? ‘No, I can help you on the X, Y and Z.’ And hindsight, maybe I should have done that and it’s not. I can't do it now. But I think building up that group, you're going to get these natural people coming in anyway. Then you can touch that. I’m not saying. Then you can say you want to set up your own kind of network professional within that. You've got low hanging fruit potentially and it's not a big leap, isn’t it? From having the community to then saying ‘OK, well, now we're creating a networking group and you're going to pay £20 a month or whatever for that.’

That's great. Now you touched upon this early earlier that you're now back in the U. K. and just for listeners Anthony, any sort of achieving the digital nomad status of currently travelling around the UK while his son is still young enough to be able to do it in there in their motor home and having lots of adventures but still being able to work. So just tell us a bit about that decision. Obviously, Covid had some impact on it, but tell us about that decision and, what it's like, right?

Okay, well, against me being me, if I have an idea, I kind of go with it. Paul, Jim, I should just go. We're gonna have coffee shops, Okay? We're going to go to want to live in a different country, okay? We'll come back. And then he said, Well, ‘I'm getting stalled.’ We've all been locked up for such a long time. I've lived in the UK for numerous years. Obviously, I spent seven years in the divine. We came back and I said, I've been literally everywhere in this country, and I cannot tell you anything about it, because wouldn't it be nice to just go from one town to another town and really kind of enjoy and explore and just trundle around?

So we said, ‘Right, let's get a motor home, and do a two-year trip,’ which is what we're on now. Been doing it since April. Well, so far we've been as far as Carlisle all were done to then to Cornwall, which is amazing. Unfortunately, we caught Covid and, in the common wheel, myself and my wife, isolated in a van with a two-year-old. Yes, through its challenges that was quite difficult when we eventually could. We weren't contagious. We managed to get back to our base in Cheshire. That's good. Yes, well, so we came back out again a couple of weeks ago.

But the idea was one just enjoys the kind of digital nomad lifestyle to up to two years old. I'm an older dad. I'm 50 now and I wanted to spend as much time with him. This is why I love the digital kind of frame. Why you don't need to be anywhere. 

So he's going off, and he's having the best time of his life. He's seen so many cool things were going so many nice places. I can work from the van. I'm gonna set to help. I've got a WiFi setup pack of solar panels so I can just work here. We also built, but we've got these pop-up areas. So when it's raining, he's got play areas to play outside can still work. We bring our car with us as well. Then, Gemma can just go off for the day. I do my work, do whatever I need to do.

And then, we've got family time, and it's not just a case of coming home and just watching TV, we've got a new backyard every other night, and it is such a nice way to live. It really is. I'm going to have this helps out it down. They're trying to go from a four-bedroom detached house to basically a small box. It's quite difficult, but we're managing it, and we're doing well because of it. It's just open up your eyes and you meet so many nice people and you get to see so many beautiful places that you probably passed through and not giving it a second top. And to be able to do the exploring to be able to work, just live which everybody's dream life. To be fair, we're living it. It's quite nice, but I think it's because we thought a few years ago about this digital world, and to be fair, it wasn't covid. I probably wouldn't have done this out of setting up an office that I just kind of developed, and I don't think we would have developed as quick as what we have done.

Because of Covid, everything's going online. My Zoom meetings. I have three or four of these days sometimes, and it's opened it up for me. I'm paying so much you used to do in the Zoom something so you don't need to do. You don't need to jump in. You can go to a meeting two hours away for a half-hour, 45 minutes and then do another two hours drive. You are much more effective doing the way you're doing now in digital, well again, doing it in a space I just love, and I like to have a new backyard every other day. It's just a really nice way. 

So I'm sure lots of listeners will be listening with envy. But it's completely possible, and I think we put a lot of our own roadblocks in our way that keep us in a comfort zone and stoppers doing these things. It's completely possible, and as you say, if there's anything positive to be taken out of the coronavirus situation. It's meant a lot of us have had to move online and proved that we can work remotely and also proved that travelling is not a very effective way of running the business.

Last Friday, I had to go to London. It was the first long sort of trip that I've done. And so I was in London for a two-hour meeting and it probably took me six hours in total. I drive there, have the meeting and come home. I mean, it was a necessary meeting because I needed to meet this person face to face. But it does remind you that it's just not efficient. At that same time, I could have done a 32-hour meeting. 

So if anybody is listening to this with envy about what Anthony is done, then just remember that it's completely possible. You just have to get out of your own way and make those decisions. 

Okay, so before we wrap up, I just wanted to ask you the question that I ask all of my guests, which is if you could go back in time and give your younger self a bit of business advice when you're just starting out, what would it be? 

I've tried a couple of different things, and I'm quite pleased that I have. I'd always say, ‘Go with your girl if it works, if it works fantastic, if it doesn't, there are more options.’ I think that the younger me would have. Maybe I did a lot of self-doubts. I mean, eventually, I've done things, but I think I would have done it a lot easier a lot earlier. I would say, ‘Just go with your gut feeling if it works from tough, if it doesn't, there's always other options.’ And I think you're a longtime dead as well, so you kind of got to live your life, because the possibilities now are endless. I wish we had the opportunity. 

Now you know me at 50, what I had when I first started doing my own thing because I've worked in various different industries, and my first business was 20 years ago. It's still alive and well today. Sometimes I wish it stayed within that. Yes, I just think it's nice to have choices and a good feeling is a massive one. If you think it's a good idea and get the right advice. Speak to the right people don't just maybe go hang out with them.

I just get a good bit of advice. I think I always say to people, back in ‘92 when I started my first business, and it was my young, arrogant, naive, innocence that probably enabled me to do it because I didn't know anything else, whereas now I'm old grey and cynical. So I think listening to your got such a good bit of advice, I think it's an I've got instinct. That flight or fight is a thing that keeps us safe. And there are so many scenarios, including that one where we need to listen to our gap.

Anyways Anthony, I really appreciate your time today. If people want to get in touch with you or learn more about Brits in Dubai and so on, where would they go? That's something usually two but I'm assuming Mafia readers are not in Dubai or of any interest in going there. But if they want to reach out to me personally, I'm more than happy to do that so they can send an email or they can follow me on Facebook, it's Anthony Berg. The email is [email protected], and I'm happy to field any questions. 

I'm even thinking about creating a training package to show people how to develop a good straight-faced constructive and talk about other things more in-depth than what we have done today and build out can build it as a business. So I'm in the process of thinking of doing that. If there's enough interest and also a great idea. 

We'll include will include the links in the show notes, including the Brits in Dubai, because people might want to just have a look at what you're doing. And if anyone wants to reach out to Anthony and have a chat with him about building your community, then he's just giving you that office, please do. 

But other than that, I want to say a big. Thank you for giving up your time today. I know you're in that. I think you're in the Lake District at the moment, so there's probably lots of beautiful things to see, but you're sitting here with me instead. 

So sad. I've got 11 o'clock and 12 o'clock meetings. I'm not seeing much of Kendall at all today, but yes, I'm in the Lake District is beautiful. I don't work Fridays. Friday is the weekend. That isn't Saturday for me, it’s my complete two days off. Yes, we're going to win the man that kind of thing, but brilliant, Rob. Absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me today. Welcome. Thanks for joining us.

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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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

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

Human Centred Design with Piccia Neri

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I am joined by Piccia Neri, a UX expert focusing on human-centred design.

Piccia's goal is to help agencies and developers find success on their website by putting their users at the centre of design.

[00:15] Background on Piccia Neri

[02:55] Mistakes agencies make in design and concept

The first thing to remember is you are not the person you are serving. When you put the client first, you create an engaging experience. Secondly, accessibility. By catering to everyone’s needs and disabilities, you broaden your reach of who you can help.

[04:47] What is human-centred design and what does it mean to be a web designer?

Putting the people that use your products at the centre while humanising the user (i.e., who you are designing and building for). We tend to forget that our websites are the first point of contact with our prospects. You have less than 5 seconds to make a good impression, so make it count!

[08:18] Second biggest mistake; not testing

Seeing as we suffer from ‘proximity blindness’ when working on a project, it is imperative to test and get feedback from our target audience BEFORE we ‘go live’.

[13:55] Using forms as the opportunity to interact with a customer

Just like with websites, forms should be made with accessibility in mind. More often than not, we are excluding people from filling out forms and surveys. Accessibility is the epitome of user-centred design.

[17:08] How to approach design so that it is user-centric

To create a user-centric design, extensive research is required, especially in the beginning. Start by learning how you can help. Also, keep in mind that research is not a linear process, be prepared to go back and forth. Launch early, test, perfect and tweak.

[21:37] What are the expectations of your website and where does it fit in your marketing strategy?

Research needs to starts with asking as many questions as you can to your clients. Why do you need a website? What purpose will it serve? What action do you want the user to take?

[25:34] Designs for Conversion Conference

The purpose of this conference is to help people make fundamental transformations by putting the user at the centre of design. This is the only conference of its kind where designers get to interact with non-designers.

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

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

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Cloudways - website

Piccia - Linkedin profile

Piccia – Twitter profile

Design For Conversions Conference

Useful links mentioned in this episode:

Cloudways (enter AA20 to get a 20% discount off your first 3 months) 

Piccia - Linkedin profile

Piccia – Twitter profile

Design For Conversions Conference

Should Your Agency Launch a New Product or Service?

In this episode of The Agency Accelerator Podcast, I dive into everything you need to know when considering developing and launching a new product or service. From knowing your market to research and product validation, I share all the tools needed to launch a successful product.

Here’s a glance at this episode…

[01:33] Launching a new product or service

Before diving into launching a new product/service it’s important to recognise your reason for doing so. If it’s just to increase revenues, chances are this product will not meet your expectations and you should double down on your existing core services.

[02:36] Two steps to follow when launching a new product:

1.    Make sure you are clear about your core product. It is crucial that you must be seen as an expert with your current product before releasing a second one.

2.    Make sure you know your market wants it! There’s a big difference between knowing that your market wants something versus thinking they need it. Expanding on your product portfolio directly correlates to meeting market demands.

[05:37] Talking to your marketplace

The only way to understand what your market needs is by researching and speaking with people. A good note to keep in mind is to record all conversations so you can utilise the language being used and identify key pain points that your product can solve.

[08:02] Outlining your minimum viable product/offer

Pre-selling a product before you formally launching is a sure way to discover if people are truly interested, before investing time and effort in developing and launching the full product.

[11:38] Doing your research; two steps

1.    Form focus groups to get feedback. From there you can refine the proposition.

2.    After the proposition is refined, the 2nd step is to introduce this to your second audience.

[13:02] After going through the research and validations phase:

1.    Get the product service ready. After you’ve done your research and have validated, now is the time to fully develop the product or service.

2.    Think about how you will market and sell. Strategise by going to your existing clients and letting them know this product exists, explain what it does and how it can help you solve any of their pain points. Even if the client is not ready to buy at the moment, email nurturing is a great way to keep in touch with people until they are ready to buy the product. 

Rate, Review, & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts

“I really 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. Click here, 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!

Links mentioned in this episode:

·     Blog: Pain killers vs Vitamin pills

·     Validation Guide

Using stories and testimonials to bring your marketing to life with Miranda Birch

In today's episode of ‘The Agency Accelerator Podcast’, I get together with Miranda Birch, founder of Miranda Birch Media; a company helping business tell stories to better engage with their clients. Today we talk all about the importance of storytelling in your marketing and also the value of great customer testimonials. This episode is packed with actionable items, so I know you're going to find it really useful and insightful.


Time Stamp

01:22 Miranda Birch introduces herself, her background, and why she loves stories

03:01 The power of storytelling for agencies wanting to connect with potential and existing clients

06:07 What makes a good story

08:17 The role of customer testimonials in an agency’s sales process

13:28 The best format for testimonials

14:50 How to maximise the value of a video testimonial

16:14 What point should an agency approach a client for a testimonial

21:25 What to do when a client does not want their name published in relation to a testimonial

24:20 The do’s and don’ts of getting, interviewing and creating testimonials

26:15 Miranda’s new online courses about testimonials and how to capture stories that convert

32:38 The benefits of getting in front of the camera

35:40 Miranda’s advice to her younger self starting out in business 

If you would like more ideas about how to secure new leads and convert them into paying customers then sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Useful links:

Miranda Birch Media

Attract more clients with 10 minute testimonials with Miranda Birch

Miranda's email series: Pick My Brain

Connect with Miranda on LinkedIn

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Download The Lead Generation System Book

Download The Strategic Email Marketing That Gets Results Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

The do’s and don’ts of using email marketing to generate new business

In today’s episode of ‘The Agency Accelerator Podcast,’ I am revisiting a topic which I spoke about at the beginning of last year; email marketing. If you want a robust business development strategy that delivers a continuous source of ideal leads, then email marketing should be at the top of your agenda. 


Time Stamp

01:22 The importance of email marketing

03:02 The importance of building your social media profiles and moving your followers into your email list

04:54 The 8 do’s of email marketing

10:11 The 8 don’ts of email marketing

15:40 Focussing on the growth of your email list

If you would like more ideas about your

business development then sign up for my 

FREE Sales Pipeline Masterclass 

business development

Useful links:

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Download The Lead Generation System Book

Download The Strategic Email Marketing That Gets Results Book

Join my Facebook group ‘The Agency Accelerator’

Download the 'Creating A Sustainable & Profitable Agency' book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

Rob

CRM & Automation – Interview with Lindsey Pickles

Lindsey Pickles

In today’s episode of the podcast we are talking all things CRM and marketing automation.

I am excited to have Lindsey Pickles from Bright Dials on the podcast. Bright Dials helps companies get to grips with their customer data by implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems and marketing automation tools as well as the processes to support their successful use.

Time stamp

1.03 Who is Bright Dials?

1.35 Definition and difference of a CRM and marketing automation system

2.34 Why is it so important for companies to implement CRM and Marketing automation? 

3.10 What would you say to someone who doesn’t have a CRM in place and doesn’t have customer data stored in one place?

5.27 How do you start untangling where they are at right now and what they need?

8.40 What does volume costs mean?

9.35 At what stage should an agency start investing in CRM and automation?

10.24 Efficiency gains from using these tools    

11:55 Understanding your numbers and data  

13:00 How do you select the best tools

14:14 What is your view on one tool that can do it all rather than using individual tools and integrating them together?

16:36 Example tools you can use  

18:49 If you are new, what should you do next?   

20:10 Customer journey mapping

22:45 Closing the leaky bucket

23:00 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?

Useful links:

You can contact Lindsey:

LinkedIn

Website: www.brightdials.com

Terminology guide

Download The Self-Running Implementation Book

Subscribe & Review

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

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

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

Thanks so much.

>