Running an agency is hard.
Just ask any of the DigitalMarketer Certified Partners. They have all worked tirelessly to get their agencies where they are, and they know what it takes.
We wanted to get to the bottom of that success, so we reached out in our Certified Partner Facebook Group and asked for some tips.
And they had some really great advice. Thirteen CPs let us know what is working for their businesses, what tips they would give to other agency owners, and what they wished they had known long ago. This way, you can learn from their mistakes and get your agency on the right track.
Charles Musselwhite—Musselwhite Marketing
What I would have told a younger version of myself:
- There is more than enough business out there
- Surround yourself with experts (DMCP’s) and be a sponge
- Get out of your own way
- Know your strengths and delegate the rest
- Share the WEALTH! You can’t do it all by yourself. Find good people and build your team
- The best talent isn’t always in your backyard
- CONNECTION is critical
- Focus on customer/client satisfaction and profits will follow
- If you want to make more money, HELP MORE PEOPLE!
Kathleen Slattery Booth—IMPACT
I have SO much advice I would give my younger self.
You’re only as good as the people you hire, so hire the best person for the role regardless of where they are. This might mean embracing a remote work culture, but it’s okay—if your people are top notch, they (and the company) will thrive regardless of whether they come into the office.
Be picky and hold out for the right people, but if you DO make a mistake and wind up with someone who doesn’t perform to your expectations, fire fast. While it may not feel good to let someone go, you’re doing both yourself and them a favor by moving them along to their next opportunity.
When you find the right people, treat them well. Be generous with pay, time off, and benefits. Employee churn is particularly hard in the agency world where client relationships are built on trust.
Doug Foley—Foley Media
When you’re trying to sell “Digital Marketing Services,” remember that to most of your customers and prospects, it is an entirely different language. While Customer Value Journey, Funnels, and Conversion Rate Optimization might be your expertise, the customer may have just learned what SEO meant last Tuesday. These things confuse them and will paralyze them from making decision. Instead, lead with an insight that is relative to where they are today. For example, “In 2020, more than 50% of all searches will be voice searches… what that means for local business owners is they need to make sure they have their business set up properly in Google My Business…”
That quick win opens the door for a deeper conversation and for a larger customer value journey. More often than not, business owners call for SEO, because that’s what they are familiar with. They don’t really care about being number 1 on Google, they want the leads that they associate with being in that position. The CVJ is that solution, but you cannot lead with that—you need to meet them where they are at, and start a conversation.
Darren Craig—Fully Charged Media
If I was starting out again I’d keep everything “clean” or “simple.”
Stay focused on your goal and don’t get distracted—it will slow you from reaching your goal. Learn to say no quickly.
Write processes or checklists as soon as you can, then you can hand things off or grow your team easier.
Grow a team as soon as you can, before you get too used to the money.
Build your network wherever they may be. Always be learning, as long as you’re implementing the learning—as Marcus Murphy said “Education without implementation is entertainment” (I keep reminding myself of that!)
Jeff J Hunter—BrandedMedia
I wish I had really “niched down” sooner. Most of my clients would ask me for a wide variety of help, and my personality type makes me prone to say “YES.” The problem was, I couldn’t scale my agency because I was doing everything for anyone.
When I was able to focus on a specific type of client (Marketing Agencies & Influencers) and the specific type of service offering (Branding & Organic Social Media Marketing) it all came together. The hardest lesson I learned was saying an important two-letter word, “NO.”
Joshua Davis—Smart Web Ninja
Always be reading to learn and grow, but for sure read a few books to properly understand how to structure your business the right way, such as E-myth, Clockwork, and Profit First.
Also, productize your services. Don’t be custom to everyone, saying yes all the time to everything. Have 3 “packages/service offerings” such as “Good” “Better” “Best.” Be confident in what you’re good at and have to offer and stand by it! If you’re getting a lot of no’s, then maybe change it, but keep it productized. This is one of the things that will enable your agency to scale faster. Plus your team will love you more!
Be brave and charge 3X what you’d have charged before. If you’re not getting 2/3rds or more saying no, your prices are too low.
Take care of these premium clients, since they happily pay more for the extra attention and to know things are done right the first time, without their needing to intervene.
Don’t spend money or time trying to pretend or flaunt—focus on solid execution with a solid team following a solid process.
Finding a super specific niche is good, but that means you have to be okay with passing up opportunities that look good. And it means you need referral partners to send stuff that doesn’t fit you, which means they send stuff your way that is what you’re known for.
Give away everything you know. Those who would implement it wouldn’t be your clients anyway—and they’d second guess you all day, while paying pennies. Sharing your knowledge will cause the right clients to come your way, eliminate headaches and wasted time before they happen, and bring you more deals than you’d imagine.
Omari Broussard—10X Strategies Consulting
I’ve learned there are 3 “Major Keys” to keep in mind when building an agency…
1) Sales—You can be excellent at marketing, but if you can’t close sales, you’re dead in the water
2) Document Everything—The key value in your business next to your client list is your systems, which are fueled by checklist
3) Right Butts in the Right Seats—If you want to scale, you will reach a point when you need to build a team
These 3 simple keys will keep you moving forward through the good and challenging times.
Salome Schillack—Shine And Succeed
The way a client interacts with you during the sales process is how they will interact with you when you work with them. If they don’t say “please” and “thank you,” don’t sign them up.
Go slow and go deep. Focus on delivering outstanding service and results for a few people and you’ll have more referrals than you need.
There is no such thing as a Facebook ads emergency. Be strategic, teach your clients to be strategic, plan your work, and then execute the work. Say “no” to clients when they want to create emergencies. If you do this, you’ll never need to jump in on anything in the middle of dinner with the family.
Connor Peterson—Course Kings
#1: Get paid for revenue driven services and make sure the client understands that you are making them more money.
#2: Avoid or outsource time and effort-based services.
#3: Always be communicating with clients, they’re investing money with you, keeping them up to date reminds them why they work with you and also makes them feel like their investment is being delivered on.
Michael King—LASIK Marketing Agency
Know your “WHY”: Being an entrepreneur is a lonely road at times. Knowing WHY you are doing what you are doing helps you get through the challenging times.
Collaborate with top performers: find others who have pieces to the puzzle that you don’t and partner with them. Don’t be afraid to outsource to people who excel in areas that aren’t the highest and best use of your time.
Understand the difference between strategy and execution: Be wary of over consuming content and the shiny object syndrome. Instead, when you learn a wicked smart idea, implement it and then optimize it.
Matt LaClear—Your SEO Squad
Beware of aggressively following up with prospects. Either they see the value you represent, or they don’t. Pursuing the latter will only zap you of your joy. The world is full of cats who dig you. Pursue them at all costs.
Great happiness is your most reliable ally in growing your agency. Spend your time, energy, and talents on clients who appreciate your skills. Those that don’t will rob your peace. Avoid these vampires by any means necessary.
Expect remarkable results from everything you do. You are one of a kind. Remember that you rock, and are destined to win.
Julian Canita—Julian Canita Marketing Solutions
I would tell my younger self to learn how to sell. My belief was that as long as I had an awesome business and an awesome offer that the business would just come. So it’s only recently when I’ve really started to invest and learn sales for my agency.