Joshua giuliani business coach

The Exact Steps To Building, Growing & Scaling A 7-Figure Digital Marketing Agency

Contents

Introduction

  • This handbook
  • Who am I?
  • Mindset: What’s Your Intention?

The Agency Timeline

  • Overview: The 3 Phases

Phase 1: Cashflow ($0k to $15k per month)

  • Niching
  • Relevancy Map
  • Marketing asset checklist
  • Profile Funnels
  • Lead generation
    • MONEY Method
  • Sales strategy
  • Project management
  • Your first hire

Phase 2: Skeleton ($15k to $50k per month)

  • Building a team
    • Decentralisation
  • Client retention
    • Onboarding
    • KPIs
    • Communication
  • Project management tools
  • Predictable lead generation

Phase 3: Scale ($50k+ per month)

  • Expanding the team
    • Quality control
    • Hiring a BDM
  • Understanding your numbers
  • What’s your intention… again

Introduction

  • This handbook
  • Who am I?
  • Mindset: What’s Your Intention?

This handbook

Welcome to The Agency Timeline Handbook. This detailed book has been designed to walk you through The Agency Timeline, my 7 figure roadmap for digital marketing agency owners all over the world. As I introduce new models, make sure you take the time to consider how they impact your agency and start making changes TODAY to create your very own 7 figure agency.

Who Am I?

My name is Joshua Giuliani and I am the founder of joshuagiuliani.com, a leading trainer for digital marketing agency owners around the globe. For a long time, I worked in the 9to5 machine. I would get up every day, go to work, come home and sleep and it really didn’t excite me much. The only thing that brought me to life was the thought of starting my own business…

This is really common among digital marketers… Maybe, you can relate.

When I finally quit my job to start my digital marketing agency. I knew very little about running an agency. Over the 18 months that followed, with much trial and error, I managed to grow my agency to multiple 6 figures. As I moved into the coaching side of digital marketing, though, I wanted to know how to crack the 7 figure milestone.

I contacted a number of million-dollar agency owners and interrogated any of them who would let me. There was only one question on my mind… HOW did you do it?

That brings us to today. Now, I coach digital marketers and agencies all over the world in how to implement the 7 figure roadmap that I created (I call it The Agency Timeline), which was born from those interrogations.

Mindset: What’s Your Intention?

This is important. Before we get into what The Agency Timeline looks like, how it works and why it will help you scale to 7 figures and beyond, we need to have a quick conversation about one fundamental in building a digital marketing agency…

Your intention.

We all want to make money – and that’s totally fine. In fact, it’s great. 

BUT you still need to make a clear distinction on what your intention is if this process is going to work for you.

This is something I see preventing SO MANY digital marketers around the planet from achieving their goals. 

Their intention is only to make money, so they start closing clients. Which, again, is fine. BUT they don’t focus on providing a quality service. 

They just burn and churn. 

And eventually, they burn out.

Make the decision TODAY to become the best at what you do, to become a master, to serve your clients better than anyone else and with THOSE intentions, the money will come.

And it will keep coming. 

And you’ll enjoy the process. 

AND you’ll be able to build a 7 figure agency.

It just can’t happen without a client-centric mentality.

The best way to think about this is: “What will create a consequence of more money?” and to put the focus there instead of on the end result.

So, as you enter this process, I want you to set an intention that resembles one of the below…

Tick one that resonates with you the most

❑ I intend to serve my niche all over the world

❑ I intend to become the very best at marketing for my niche

❑ I intend to add immense value to my clients

❑ I intend to change lives with my marketing agency

The Agency Timeline

  • Overview: The 3 Phases

Overview: The 3 Phases

The Agency Timeline is made up of 3 key phases: Cashflow, Skeleton & Scale. The process itself is powerful enough to take a digital marketer just getting started and working from their bedroom to 7 figures with 12 staff members within 12-18 months (I’ve seen it before).

The phases themselves are loosely based on the level of revenue being generated by your agency. Mostly, though, they serve as a roadmap for digital marketing agency owners. 

A roadmap taking agency owners on a journey from consultant – building authority and getting clients… 

To business owner – hiring staff and creating systems…

To industry leader – scaling the agency past their wildest dreams.

So, set your intention (reminder), pour yourself a coffee and get comfortable as we look at The Agency Timeline in detail.

Phase 1: Cashflow ($0k-$15k)

  • Niching
  • Relevancy Map
  • Marketing asset checklist
  • Profile Funnels
  • Lead generation
    • MONEY Method
  • Sales strategy
  • Project management
  • Your first hire

Niching

The first thing to clarify before we get into the Relevancy Map is YES, you absolutely need to pick a niche and stick to that niche for the life of your agency.

This is something that every successful million dollar agency owner I interrogated when putting this process together worked out along their journey, and something that most digital marketers resist in the early stages.

There is only 1 reason this resistance exists… Fear of missing out.

There are MANY reasons for why you WOULD niche, though:

  • Magnify desire and appeal within a specific audience
  • Become an expert within a specific niche
  • Discover a predictable system for lead generation
  • Discover a predictable system for client results
  • Collect extremely relevant social proof (case studies and testimonials)

So, your first task is to land on a niche, if you haven’t already. Evidently, you’ll do it at some point along your journey anyway, why not start today?

Relevancy Map

To build authority within a specific niche, we have to first get clarity. Clarity is essential for creating desire and appeal in your market. When a digital marketing agency owner is clear on WHO they serve, WHAT they do and HOW they get results for their clients, it does something magical for their mindset and ability to attract an ideal client.

My Relevancy Map is designed for gaining that clarity. 

The Map is made up of 4 sections: Avatar, Offer, Positioning and Messaging.

Avatar

This is where we look at the niche we defined earlier and identify what our ideal client looks like. Some things to consider are:

  • What are they frustrated by?
  • What are they motivated by?
  • Why did they get started in business?
  • What is their ultimate goal?
  • What challenges are they facing?

A few things happen when we get clear on this avatar. Primarily, we start to develop an intimate understanding of who they are, which helps later in the process when we create content/assets for our niche.

If you can’t confidently answer these questions, offer 10 people a small gift to do a market research call with you.

Offer

There are 3 offers that every agency will eventually need to have. So, let’s get clear on them from the very beginning. The 3 offers are:

  1. DIY (Do It Yourself) – $97 to $997

This is your least expensive offer and one that is 100% time leveraged. Typically, this is an online course or some sort of online program.

  1. DWY (Done With You) – Minimum $1,000 per month

Done With You is your consultation or coaching offer. Perfect for people within your niche that have the capacity to learn the skill of marketing but just need the strategy (which you have).

  1. DFY (Done For You) – Minimum $2,500 per month

Your most expensive offer is your full-scale marketing package. This is where you step into their business and implement a campaign to help them grow.

The benefit of getting clear on all 3 offers is that it gives you a lot of confidence in sales calls. You’ll know with certainty which offers to pitch to each prospect based on their circumstances. 

PLUS having the 2 lower end offers allows you to charge a premium for full-scale marketing (which is your least time leveraged product).

Positioning

This is your HOW. The process, principle, tool, template, structure that you use to get your clients a result. 

I call this a Unique Mechanism (thanks, Todd Brown) but I’ve also heard it being called a Sellable Process.

When you have a UM (Unique Mechanism) and you start talking about it in your market, you’re doing a few things:

  • You’re establishing yourself as an expert
  • You’re telling your niche “I have a solution to your problem”
  • You’re creating intellectual property for your agency
  • You’re becoming more desirable than other marketers who don’t have a UM

Take two digital marketers both targeting cosmetic surgeons. 

One of them is saying “I help cosmetic surgeons get new clients”

The other is saying “I help cosmetic surgeons get new clients using The Einstein Funnel”

Which is more appealing? Obviously, the guy with The Einstein Funnel wins every day.

Creating a UM is going to be useful for sales conversions, for creating lead magnets and events and for positioning yourself/your agency as an industry expert.

Messaging

The key thing to remember is that your niche is made up of 3 different people. You’d be forgiven for lumping them all together and assuming they all want to hear the same thing, but that just isn’t the case.

Imagine an accountant running a business. Let’s call him Pedro.

Pedro has run his business for 30-years and has never had to run a digital marketing campaign to get new clients. In fact, he doesn’t even use Facebook or Instagram himself, so he has no idea how effective those platforms are for generating leads.

Pedro has his regular clients, gets referrals from those clients, walk-ins off the street and occasionally runs a newspaper ad or does a flyer drop.

He thinks the business is doing well and has NO IDEA he’s leaving money on the table. SO, when Pedro sees an ad for lead gen or gets a phone call from a digital marketer offering to show him how to get more leads, he’s not interested because he doesn’t know he needs more leads.

BUT… If Pedro received an email with the subject line “TAKE THE QUIZ: How Accountants Are Using Social Media” and that quiz educates him on just how many leads accountants are generating online and for how much – Now, you have his attention.

Our job is to understand how to speak with each of the below sub-groups within our niche.

  1. Blissfully Unaware 

Everybody in this mindset either doesn’t know they have a problem or understand they have a problem, but it’s not bad enough or painful enough to look for a solution.

  1. Tell Me More

As someone moves out of stage 1 and into this stage, they understand they have a problem and are actively looking for a solution to it. When they see you, they need to know your exact system for solving the problem.

  1. How Do We Do This?

Now, they know they have a problem and understand the structure of your solution, they just need to know you’re a good fit for them.

Profile Funnels

Let’s talk lead gen.

What you need to know about lead gen in the Cashflow phase is that it’s 80% organic. It is entirely possible to grow the agency to $10k-$15k per month using organic strategies, with some support from paid.

This is possible because of something I call Profile Funnels. A Profile Funnel is created when we turn our personal profiles into sales pages for our business with clear messaging and CTAs.

See below how to structure each profile funnel for maximum consolidation of organic traffic. The goal is for our activity online (we’ll talk about that later) to generate traffic to our personal profile and then for that traffic to take a specific action. During the Cashflow phase, that action will be to join our free Facebook group.

Facebook Profile

  • Cover image with your message and a CTA to your Strategy call landing page
  • A more concise message in your Intro with the Strategy call landing page URL
  • Free Facebook Group URL above the featured image
  • Single featured image to be used to promote the Free Facebook Group URL

Action list:

❑ Design cover image with message and CTA to landing page

❑ Write intro with landing page URL

❑ Design square featured image with Free Facebook Group URL

❑ Purchase custom URL for redirect to Free Facebook Group (optional)

LinkedIn Profile

  • Cover image with your message and a CTA to your Strategy call landing page
  • Your message as your headline
  • Detailed version of your story in relation to your niche-specific services
  • Email CTA within the story

Action list:

❑ Design cover image with message and CTA to landing page

❑ Write headline (using message as a guide)

❑ Write story (in relation to niche)

Instagram Profile

  • Your message in the biography
  • The Strategy call landing page CTA and URL
  • Use Story Highlights to promote specific content (Stories are really useful on Instagram)

Marketing Asset Checklist

Free online course (See example here)

This is a really basic online course that packs a punch. Don’t be afraid to offer high-value in this program. During the Cashflow phase, you will be directing traffic from your Facebook Group Welcome Video into this course and using it as a cold lead warmer.

Free Facebook group (See example here)

Building a community gives you a lot of credibility in the market. This free community will further qualify any organic traffic coming to your personal profile and incubate those users.

Things to remember:

  • Facebook is basically a search engine, so use lots of keywords in the title and description of the group for maximum organic exposure
  • Your welcome video will welcome people to the group, quickly tell them who you are, get them to comment something below the video (for engagement) and encourage them to join the free online course for high-value content (link in description)
  • Every week, tag new members in the comments of the welcome vid regardless of it they already engaged with it

Action list:

❑ Develop a name for the group 

❑ Design cover image for the group

❑ Film Welcome video

❑ Write Welcome video post description

Strategy call landing page (See example here)

This asset will become increasingly important for your agency as it scales. Right now, all you need to know is that you need it for retargeting traffic (and some organic from your profile funnel). It will accentuate the pain of your niche, demonstrate your value to them, create social proof and offer a free strategy call. The CTA will take them to your Application Page.

Things to remember:

  • Use the initial copy on the page to accentuate the pain of the user
  • Lots of social proof with client testimonials and case study results
  • This page will be promoted on social media, so ensure the copy follows advertising guidelines for Facebook/Instagram

Action list:

❑ Write copy for the landing page

❑ Design complete page (use this example as a guide)

❑ Link page to Application page

❑ Design and write copy for retargeting ads to this page

Application page (See example here)

This page is your gatekeeper. It will prevent tire kickers from coming through the funnel (hopefully) with copy discouraging people who aren’t serious and a pretty serious application form for prospects to fill in – including the question “Are You Currently In a Position To Invest In Your Business?” for good measure.

Things to remember:

  • Copy should discourage tire kickers from filling in the application
  • Use lots of questions in the form to discourage tire kickers
  • On submission, user should be redirected to calendar app to book call themselves on the spot

Action list:

❑ Write copy for the page

❑ Design complete page (use this example as a guide)

❑ Write questions for a form

❑ Create a form using Wufoo/HubSpot/Typeform

Lead Generation 

See below the Cashflow phase lead generation matrix (activities for future phases have been faded out).


Lead generation for you right now is all about building authority and gaining exposure to your target niche. The way we do this is with a 5 step system that I call The MONEY Method.

Messaging

Let’s go back to the Relevancy Map for a second. Understanding what your message to market is prior to doing any lead generation activity is really important and will really assist your efforts here.

Let’s define what you do so you can quickly and confidently rattle it off the next time someone asks.

I help [niche] [the promise they want to hear] in [timeframe if relevant] using [your unique mechanism or sellable process].

Omnipresence

In 2019, it is extremely easy to impact a really targeted audience. In the Omnipresence step, we are creating that impact with high-value content. Your daily tasks now need to include content creation to create that authority. 

Once it is created, we use that content in a few different ways.

  1. Posting on your personal profile

The first place you’re posting is on your personal profile. This is your sales page. The entry point to your profile funnel. So, let’s make it content-rich to further encourage any traffic to go on and hit a CTA.

  1. Posting in other people’s groups

This is how we reach new people in the niche (organic traffic). With daily value posts in niche-specific groups, we begin to establish our credibility with a large number of prospects all at once. With consistency, you will begin to create fans and become a part of the community.

  1. Posting in your group

As an admin of this community, you are seen as a leader. So, lead. Facilitate conversations. Run polls. Create detailed tutorial videos. Get active in this group and set a frame of expertise and industry knowledge to incubate this audience.

  1. Retargeting to your sales letter page

Your only paid advertising strategy in the Cashflow phase is a retargeting campaign sending people to your Strategy Call Sales Letter page. You are retargeting any and all audiences you can at this stage (Instagram/ FB engagement, website traffic, landing page traffic, free course users, etc). 

Things to remember:

  • We want to find Facebook groups that have a high number of our target niche
  • First post in the group should be an intro post showing gratitude for being part of the group and promising to add a bunch of value
  • When posting in multiple groups, never post the same content in more than 1 group (this will cause a stacked effect in the feed for anyone who is a member of both)

Action list:

❑ Identify 5-10 Facebook groups with members that fit our avatar

❑ Develop workflow (Content creation > Newsletter > Personal Profiles > etc)

❑ Create a content schedule for publishing management 

New Audience

As you engage in other people’s groups on Facebook and add value on Instagram, new people will be connecting with your personal profile. In this step, we ramp that up and go out seeking people from within our niche. This grows our “social sphere” so that more people see posts as we publish them on our personal profile. Doing this will strengthen our omnipresence.

  • Connect with anyone who engages your post in groups
  • Follow a set amount of people on Instagram every day
  • Use tools like LinkedHelper.com to automate LinkedIn reach out

Engage

All of the work you’re doing at this point is now leading you towards sales calls. This step is where we start generating those calls. Anyone who engages with any of your posts anywhere on social should be private messaged to start a conversation.

The reason this works is that you know they know who you are. You know they’re vibing with your content, which probably means they saw value in it, which probably means they have a problem, which is an opportunity.

The intention is to uncover that problem and offer them a free strategy call to solve that problem. Or to at least get them into our free course or FB group.

Yes

If you followed all 4 previous steps, you should be on multiple sales calls a week with prospects who genuinely know, like and trust you. Find out more about sales strategy in the next section.

Sales Strategy

Here is EXACTLY how you manage those sales calls (and any other sales calls that come up). If you follow this system, you’ll have no problem getting clients.

Firstly, let’s talk mindset for this call. One of my mentors always told me to detach from the outcome on sales calls for better results. It is a powerful frame to set for yourself. 

When we are detached from the outcome on these calls, we approach them from a place of abundance instead of scarcity and desperation. 

To use a practical metaphor, just like the man or woman who wants to pick up at the nightclub, but doesn’t care if they do – more often than not, that person gets a result. And you will too if you detach. 

With that being said, here’s the 3 Step Sales Process complete with a script for each section.

  1. Cognitive Dissonance and micro-commitment
  2. Demonstrate value
  3. The close
  1. Cognitive Dissonance and micro-commitment (5-10 minutes)

Your role as the salesperson is to help the prospect understand where they are now and where they want to be, which creates a gap between those two places. A gap that they will want to fill with your services. This is called Cognitive Dissonance.

There are 4 quadrants that you must ask questions about, to get them thinking. This model understands that people make decisions using a combination of logic and emotion, so the quadrants we must cover are (in order):

  • Logic of Now
  • Logic of the Future
  • Emotion of the Future
  • Emotion of Now

Logic of Now

How many customers/clients do you have right now?

Where are you based right now?

How many team members do you have?

What are your monthly sales right now?

Logic of the Future

How many customers/clients do you want to have in 12 months?

Do you want to get a bigger office?

How many team members do you see yourself having in 12 months?

What are your goals for monthly sales?

Emotion of the Future

What would it mean for you if you were able to achieve that?

Emotion of Now

If in 12 months nothing has changed in your business, what would THAT mean for you? 

The clearer you get in each of these quadrants, the bigger the gap becomes between their reality of now and the expectation of the future (dissonance).

Then you ask these questions…

You understand that to go from where you are to where you want to go, things need to change yeah? (micro-commitment)

What’s the number one thing holding you back?

  1. Demonstrate value (5-10 minutes)

What’s great about this system is that we can utilise the sales call to further establish our position as a leader in the industry by adding more value.

You’ll have a pretty good idea by now what they need help with, but keep an open mind when they respond to the question about what’s holding them back.

If there is something really specific they think they need to know about, they’ll tell you and you can focus on that for the value demonstration portion of this call.

  1. The close

After adding immense value on this call, a percentage of people will proactively ask for a price. This is a green light to pitch (we’ll get into that in a sec). For everyone else, all you need to do is ask this question to move the conversation towards your services.

“Have you ever worked with a marketer before?”

This question is the bridge to you pitching your services if the conversation doesn’t naturally lead to it. Regardless of what their response is, this is what you say next.

“You’re exactly the kind of person I help, is it cool if I take you through how that would look?”

99% of the time, the prospect will agree to be pitched. If not, no worries, we are not attached to the outcome of this call anyway, right? 

With certainty in your voice, pitch your services at this point. Based on the conversation, you’ll know which of your offers (DIY/DWY/DFY) is right for this prospect.

A percentage of people will close, for anyone who doesn’t, it’s time for objection handling. I am going to teach you an incredible question right now to ask after you handle the objections for getting the prospect over the line.

You need to know 2 things for this question:

  • How much money they want to make in business (realistic)
  • How much you charge a month

“If I was able to help you make [realistic goal] and I only charged [your price], would that be fair?”

The unfair advantage of your agency is that your service has a direct value. By comparing that value to your price, you help the prospect understand why they need to work with you. We wait until after the objection handling to ask this question as it makes any objection redundant.

Project Management

In the Cashflow phase, we save money by using free project management tools. There are 2 main tools that you need to sufficiently manage projects with clients.

Project Management System – Trello

A Project Management System (or PMS) is essential for managing specific tasks as well as campaigns with clients. Trello is a free tool which ensures client onboarding goes smoothly and keeps us informed about what client tasks need to be done and have been done.

Click here for an example client campaign management board.

Communication Tool – Slack

One of the biggest growing pains an agency will endure is around client communication. Keeping clients informed about campaign progress is essential for client retention, but without boundaries, clients may contact you 24/7.

Using a free tool like Slack will allow you to set boundaries around when they should expect responses to their queries (by using do not disturb mode). An added bonus is that using a tool for communication adds a lot of structure to your service, which in turn creates confidence, trust and commitment with your clients.

Your First Hire

With the Cashflow phase well and truly underway and your retainer clients starting to mount, it is time to start thinking about your first hire. You would start thinking about this hire after consistently earning $5k to $15k per month.

The first person you are hiring is a personal assistant. This person will take over all the mundane tasks that you do every day, that doesn’t necessarily require you to be involved. This can be a physical person or a VA, whatever you feel comfortable with here.

Choose someone who is organised, good with people and not afraid to do the dirty work. As the agency grows, this person will become a client-facing Project Manager managing all communication with clients, but for now, their tasks are:

  • Onboarding
  • Social activity
  • Administration
  • All the mundane stuff
  • Anything you can confidently hand over

Congratulations – With that first hire, a strong understanding of your target audience, consistent cash flow and foundational systems in place, it’s time for you to graduate Cashflow phase and move into Skeleton.

Phase 2: Skeleton ($15k to $50k)

  • Building a team
    • Decentralisation
  • Client retention
    • Onboarding
    • KPIs
    • Communication
  • Project management tools
  • Predictable lead generation

Building a team

Welcome to the Skeleton phase in your agency. This phase is all about creating systems, structures and processes that allow your agency to scale in phase 3. 

The first thing we’re going to talk about is who to hire, in which order and how things change as you build out your team. 

Decentralisation

So, right now everything goes through you. This is the real issue for digital marketers that want to become legitimate agency owners. It’s a real sticking point and something that puts a halt to growth altogether.

Even with the first hire you just made, the business is still reliant on your involvement. This is what your business currently looks like.


This structure is where the burnout happens. This is the structure where digital marketers pull their hair out and unless you progress from this structure, it is very difficult to grow any further.

That’s why we need to start decentralising your agency. We begin this process in Skeleton.

See below how your team will be built out during this phase (in order). 

  1. Media buyer/Marketer (you want to train this person to be a replica of you)
  2. Assistant becomes Project Manager
  3. Once Media Buyer/Marketer is a replica of you, another Media buyer/Marketer 
    1. First media buyer gets off the tools and trains them
  4. You become a salesperson (with a bit of strategy)

Media buyer/Marketer

As the client work begins to mount (you’ll have 6-10 clients by now), we hire a media buyer or marketer (or whatever is relevant for your agency) and begin grooming them to be a replica of you in the business. 

They are given some of the client work to free your time up. You will still be involved in client strategy and implementation for some of the clients, but now you’ll be sharing the load. 

Assistant becomes Project Manager

You have the option at this point to promote your assistant to become Project Manager OR to find someone to fill the Project Manager role. 

Your Project Manager will work directly with the clients, making sure they are well taken care of and that they have submitted everything that the agencies require of them. All communication will filter through this person. 

Allocating this person to your client’s account will further strengthen the credibility of your agency with your current and future clients. 

At this point in the agency, you will look like this.


More Media Buyers/Marketers

Once your first Media Buy/Marketer is a replica of you and you trust in their ability to produce a result for your clients, you begin building out their team with more Media Buyers/Marketers (or developers etc). When this happens, your first Media Buyer/Marketer has less to do with the actual implementation and is more involved in quality control and leading the new team members.

You have very little to do with this team, which is why it is important to teach leadership skills to the Media Buyer/Marketer that you groomed for the team leader position.

You become a salesperson

Your role in the agency now shifts to sales with some client strategy depending on the ability of your Media Buyer/Marketer team leader.  

With the confidence that the agency is set up to process and serve clients with precision, your focus can be placed on more content, sales calls, problem solving and agency management.

When you implement this structure, you’ll be able to quickly double the size of the business. Here’s what it will look like.

Now, it will look a little more like this with some more balance and processes that will assist you in driving the agency forward.


Client retention

Acquiring new customers is important, but retaining them accelerates profitable growth. Unfortunately, the industry average client churn is 30% per month. This means if you have 10 clients, 3 are leaving at the end of the month. Our focus at this point is to minimise that number.

There are a few ways we do this.

Onboarding

Develop an airtight onboarding process. Using Trello (and a new PMS that we’ll talk about in the next section), we are able to create checklists which makes it easy for the Project Manager to take the client through a productive process. This will fill the client with confidence and justify their decision to work with you.

Some potential onboarding tasks could be:

  • Complete the account information form
  • Connect Facebook Business Manager to agency
  • Add relevant content to Google Drive
  • Complete URL Master list
  • Send onboarding email with credit card form
  • Set up invoicing
  • Add relevant members to client’s FB assets
  • Make sure logins work
  • Create KPI worksheet

KPIs (even if they’re working with you for a month)

Not too many marketers are doing this. By setting 3/6 month KPIs with the client (even if they sign for 1-month), you are doing a couple of things. 

Firstly, you’re getting them to think longer-term and, subconsciously, to commit to longer than what the contract says. 

Secondly, you’re setting expectations and gaining clarity on what success looks like, so when the discussion comes up at the end of the contract, you have numbers to back up why they should sign back on.

Welcome Gift

Just like the onboarding call, this is a way to get the relationship off on the right foot. Something small will suffice here with a message of gratitude for their confidence in the agency.

This strategy is effective, even for clients who have only signed for 1 month, due to the law of reciprocity (one of Robert Cialdini’s principles of persuasion). Client’s will want to stay with you for longer if they get a gift. It would also be wise to continue the gestures after month 1, perhaps every 4 months to keep the client committed to your agency.

Communication

This goes without saying (but I’d be a bad communicator if I didn’t), communication is key to client retention. Make sure the client is contacted at least once a week by the Project Manager. You can do this automatically using some PMS tools (including the one we’ll talk about in the next section).

Project management tools

It’s time for you to upgrade your PMS from Trello to Basecamp. Basecamp is is a much more powerful tool ($99 USD per month) which will allow your clients to gain access to their “project” and communicate with your team through the system itself. 

This means it will also take over Slack as your communications tool. All conversations are now stored and accessible by anyone in the team in one place.

Some of the useful features of Basecamp are:

Campfire – Where your team can communicate regarding the project

Message board – Where your client can communicate with you and your team

Docs and Files – Data and information can be stored (useful for forms/content)

Automation check-in – Automatic messages to the client

To-Dos – Useful for the onboarding process and ongoing tasks

Predictable lead generation

Up until now, your agency has been growing mostly from organic activity. All of that is about to change as we implement a predictable lead generation strategy. In the Skeleton phase, you will begin to invest $50 per day into growing a niche-specific list from cold traffic. We’ll talk about how to use that list in a moment. All the organic activity remains the same, you are simply adding extra elements to your overall plan.

Complete Lead Generation Matrix can be seen on the next page.

The cold traffic advertisement pushing people into your list will be a video promoting 2 things.

  • High-value lead magnet
  • Daily newsletter

High-value lead magnet

Something structural or pivotal to the success of your clients. You really want to offer high-value here to pique the curiosity of the user.

Daily newsletter

What most people do is to promote a lead magnet and then hit the prospect with constant emails. We’ll be doing things a little bit differently. To ensure the prospect is engaging with the daily emails we’ll be sending out, we’ll be promoting the email itself as a reason to sign up.

The video should talk about how the client’s current marketing efforts are not working because of specific reasons, how to fix it, why your agency is epic and the 2 reasons they should hand over their email (lead magnet and newsletter).

Things to remember:

  • The video should talk about how the client’s current marketing efforts are not working because of specific reasons, how to fix it, why your agency is epic and the 2 reasons they should hand over their email (lead magnet and newsletter)
  • CTA for the video should be BOTH the lead magnet and the email newsletter
  • (Optional) We could give the newsletter a name which would make it more marketable… Something like ‘The Daily Tech’ or “ similar

Action list:

❑ Design landing page

❑ Write copy for the page (don’t need too much)

❑ Connect page to HubSpot/ActiveCampaign/etc

❑ Create lead magnet for promotion

❑ Design daily newsletter header and email template

❑ Film video promoting lead magnet and email

❑ Write copy for the cold traffic video ad

The genius in this system is that once a user signs up to your list, they are retargeted with ads pushing them to your Strategy call landing page. You know this list is receiving daily value bombs, is probably connected with you on social and is a member of your niche, so every impression is being put to good work.

Management of this system is very straightforward.

  • You continue to create content daily
  • Project manager publishes via email the next day
  • Project manager publishes on your personal profile the same day
  • Project manager strategically publishes on each of the FB groups you are targeting (never the same content on more than 1 group on the same day)
  • Media Buyer/Marketer manages paid traffic into list and onto Strategy call landing page

The Free Facebook group welcome video CTA now shifts from the Free Online Course to the email list to consolidate on organic traffic also.

With this setup, you will pretty comfortably and quickly scale the business to $50k per month due to your impressive systemisation and lead generation strategy that is now bringing in new leads every day. It is time for you to move into the Scale phase. 

Phase 3: Scale ($50k+ per month)

  • Expanding the team
    • Quality control
    • Hiring a BDM
  • Understanding your numbers
  • What’s your intention… again

Expanding the team

As was the case in Skeleton, we begin the Scale phase by hiring new people to keep up with the growing portfolio of clients and to put an increased focus on new client acquisition.

Quality Control

There is only so much one person can do and still be effective. We need to make sure we manage how many clients each Project Manager and Media Buyer/Marketer services.

If we imagine 1 PM and 1 Media Buyer/Marketer as a team, then you can use the below guide to work out how many you need to hire depending on your services and how many clients you have/expect to have.

1 Media buyer/Marketer + PM per every 5 clients (for a premium service $5k to $10k per month)

1 Media buyer/Marketer + PM per every 10-20 clients (local service)

Hiring a BDM

With every new hire, you’ll be more and more distracted with tasks related to that side of the business (training, working with team leaders, culture building, etc). To make sure focus remains on lead generation and business building, we hire a Business Development Manager.

This person will proactively generate leads and also begin managing sales conversations as they come in from our lead generation strategy.

Understanding your numbers

At this point, your agency is predictable. It is running like clockwork. Your challenge in the Scale phase is to understand this predictability on an intimate level. By understanding these numbers, we can further improve our position in market. 

The mindset has to change in this phase as your agency is turning over at least half a million dollars a year with at least 10 team members, so adopt the leader mentality and approach this activity like a business owner.

Some of the numbers to get clear on are:

  • How much does it cost to get someone on your list?
  • How much does it cost to generate an application?
  • How many organic leads do you generate per post?
  • How long does a client stay with us?
  • How many hours are team members spending on clients per project per week?

From a lead generation perspective, it’s important to know the CPL (to list) and CPL (application) as well as conversion percentage of applications. With that information, you can understand the true cost of obtaining a client. Compare that to the LTV (lifetime value) of that client and you have yourself a clear understanding of what’s happening in your agency.

With a complete understanding of these numbers, you can make the decisions which will take your agency to the next level, make it more profitable and convert more clients. Those decisions will become apparent during this process.

What’s your intention… again

Your agency is steadily moving towards $100k per month, your vision of a 7 figure business will shortly be a reality. You know this because you’ve created predictability. Your agency is a machine, servicing and getting results for clients all over the world. 

It’s at this point that you have to revisit your intention.

What is your ultimate lifestyle vision?

You have many options for your next steps depending on the answer to that question. Here are a couple of possible scenarios.

Become Innovation Manager

You’re an entrepreneur at heart and you decide the growing responsibility of running a 7 figure agency is too much for you. You’ve done the work to grow it and now you want to focus on keeping the agency on the cutting edge of digital marketing. This has been your intention from the very beginning and you want to go back to simpler times.

In this scenario, you need to hire a few different people to cover the hats you’re currently wearing in the agency. 

  1. Salesperson/BDM
  2. CEO

Salesperson/BDM

The first person you need to hire is a Salesperson or BDM to replace your contribution to sales calls. Your existing BDM will be given management responsibilities for this new member as they know the systems, sales strategy and team culture.

CEO

The CEO will manage all aspects of the agency that you have currently been responsible for outside of sales. Hiring a CEO, especially if they are proven in the industry, will be a really effective way to breathe new life into the agency and speed up growth.

Become CEO yourself

Who else knows the business better than you? You could choose to become CEO at this point. You would have to hire a Salesperson/BDM as per the previous option, but by doing so you give yourself more time to focus on the operation of the agency. This could also be a move that will speed up the growth of the business.

Step away entirely

You’ve been working on this agency for a couple of years now and that entrepreneurial DNA is urging you to take on the next challenge, so you decide to step away. What’s great about what you’ve built here is that it has a real value to prospective buyers. 

Alternatively, you keep ownership of the agency and collect owner dividends. Either way, you would want to hire a CEO, Salesperson/BDM and even an Innovation Manager to ensure the longevity of the agency.

This is a confronting exercise, but understanding what really matters to you is important. The agency will flourish with people who are excited about its growth and have the same intention as you had when you first started this business all the way back in the Cashflow phase.

Congratulations on completing this Handbook! You now have a detailed understanding of how to start, build, grow and scale a digital marketing agency. Every step is important so approach each one with intensity and the intention you set in the Cashflow phase.

My job is to help agency owners implement this framework in their business. Running an agency is a daunting, and often painful, exercise. I create clarity and coach people on how to make the right moves at the right times, making it much less painful. 

If reading this handbook has inspired you, cleared up the process or solved a problem for you, you’ll want to get on the phone with me to discuss implementing this in your agency. Apply for a call with me here

Here’s to your success!

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