Scaling Your Agency Without Adding Overhead

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Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

John Jantsch, host of the Duct Tape Marketing podcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I’m doing a solo show. Today, we have the ability now to start businesses without really adding much overhead. You don’t need an office – all you really need is a computer. But in order to scale, there are a few things you have to get right, and we’ve created a system to do just that.

Topics I cover:

  • [1:42] Why it’s actually pretty easy to scale without adding a whole bunch of overhead
  • [4:06] Why undercharging is attracting the wrong clientele
  • [4:48] Why you need to stop selling the marketing tactic
  • [5:53] Custom projects and making up every engagement as you go isn’t the right move
  • [7:28] The first step to scaling without adding overhead is understanding the problem that you’re trying to solve and promising to solve it
  • [8:31] It’s time to start charging a premium
  • [11:19] Developing a partner team so that you can delegate effectively
  • [12:58] What a strategy first program is and why it’s necessary
  • [14:37] The proven, repeatable process and model that we’ve created that your agency can license
  • [15:09] The next Certification Intensive Training that is happening in February

Resources I mention:

More About Certification Intensive Training:

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John Jantsch (00:01): This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Outbound Squad, formerly Blissful Prospecting, hosted by Jason Bay. It's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Jason Bay is a leading sales expert and he talks with other leading sales experts to get you the information you need. I've recent episode, he talked about how much time you need to spend prospecting. Really, really eye-opening. Check it out. Uh, listen to the outbound squad, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:42): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and today I'm doing a solo show. It's been a while, so hopefully you, uh, can endure 20 or so minutes of me chatting at you. I wanna talk about, I don't know if there's a trend now, it's not really a trend, some of it's going on for a long time, but you know, we have the ability now to open and start businesses, coaching, consulting agencies, all manner of businesses these days without really adding much overhead. I mean, you can start pretty easily these days. No office, just need a website. Set a few things up. What happens in a lot of cases is if that entity, that business is successful in any manner, you may, you start to eventually think about scaling, growing it, and that's when it starts. You start having the, like, I need people, I guess, to do that, or maybe I need offices to do that, or, you know, maybe I need to bring in certain expertise because my clients need it.

(01:44): But I think it's really, today, if you focus on a few things, it's actually pretty easy to scale without adding a whole bunch of overhead. There's so much that you can do as sort of the orchestrator of things, using third parties, using outsourced folks. You just have to figure out how to bake it into what it is that you're doing. We work with a lot of marketing agencies, a lot of coaches, a lot of consultants, and the lines have kind of blurred as to what any of those things are. But frankly, I think we all go, most people actually go into business for the same three reasons that they want to generate income. They want to generate some sort of independence, like starting a business as a way to actually make more money potentially than a job. It certainly gives you at least the initial feeling, , that you are going to be free and independent and they're gonna be able to call your own shots.

(02:41): Sometimes if you're not, especially if you're not making enough income, the independence goes away because now you're working to find work and to find stuff to keep things going. And ultimately I think people get into business because I also wanna create some sort of impact. I don't know if that's the initial thought, but I know, frankly speaking for myself, the longer I've stayed in business, the more impact is actually meant to me as an end of doing all of this. But I, I do think that it's a bit of a hierarchy. I mean, again, if you're not making income, you're not thinking about independence, you're thinking about how do I work harder, , how do I work longer, potentially? And if you have that independence that's robbed from you, you are working too hard or harder than you'd like to and don't feel like you're making, you know, reaching your goals, you're certainly not thinking about independence.

(03:27): But once those things actually happen, if you start to, to realize, hey, I'm, you know, I'm making the money I'm trying to make and it is allowing me to start doing things and building systems and processes, you know, you start to actually think about that. So, you know, I think the key here is if you're not experiencing those three things at the level you'd like to, I think one of the keys is what are some of the things that are robbing us from those? And again, as I said, I work with a lot of agencies, consultants, coaches, and a couple things I've certainly seen is working with low-cost price shoppers. Uh, a lot of times when we're just trying to go out there and get business, we're willing to take anybody. We're actually not willing to say no. And so what we start doing is we start lowering our price, we start attracting, you know, the wrong buyers.

(04:17): And it is, I know this is really an oversimplification, but you've really gotta resist the urge. I think what happens when we offer, when we're selling our services for too low, yes, you might be able to get a buyer here or buyer there, but you're not gonna attract the right buyer. You're not gonna attract premium buyers who frankly expect to pay to pay premium or at least expect to understand what something's worth. So we've gotta stop working with those folks. And obviously, you know, I'm gonna talk a little bit about what I've seen as a way to do that. We've gotta stop selling the tactic in the marketing world. At least people come to us still today. Now a lot of people, fortunately read a lot of stuff, I write about it. And so there is some expectation that we're gonna talk about strategy, but a lot of marketers are just selling.

(05:05): You know, a client comes to 'em or a prospect comes to him and says, I need a website, or I need this, or I need that. And it's like, okay, we'll get you that problem with selling tactics. And I don't care what industry you're in. The problem with selling purely selling tactics and not being a strategic advisor is there is going to be there is because of the global economy that we live in, somebody will be willing to sell whatever tactic it is that you're offering for a fraction of what you are A selling it for today, and B, what you could ever sell it for. And so if people are coming to us expecting to buy a thing, it's like buying a product. They're gonna go and say, okay, who else sells that product? And they're gonna price shop. And so you know that that's really, you know, that's actually those two go together , that's gonna keep you working with those low cost price shoppers.

(05:52): And then the third piece is making it up with every new project. So many consultants, marketers, coaches that I work with pretty much look at every new engagement as a custom or my favorite word, bespoke engagement. And while there can be some appeal and maybe even some logic to why you would want to offer that kind of creativity, 80% of the folks that you might work with need 80% of the same thing, whatever industry you are in. Certainly true in marketing. Everybody that we see has issues with their website, with content, with seo, with email, with soc, social media, with paid ads, with reputation, with tracking what works and doesn't work. And so we are able to create a repeatable system and I think that that's one of the real keys to whatever service you provide. Think in terms of turning it into a product.

(06:50): Yes, marketing is a system. And so you sell a system, you install a system, that's what you do. What happens is you are gonna be able to pro produce far greater results for a client. You're gonna be able to charge far more because of those results and you're going to get so much better at doing it in such a way that you can now start to off-board and delegate a great bit of that work. So here's my kind of four step process for building an agency, building a business without adding overhead. The first one is you've gotta understand the problem that you solve and you've gotta promise to solve it. Stop telling people what you do and start talking about the problem that you solve.

(07:41): Business owners need strategy. They don't come to me for strategy, they come to me because they can't differentiate their business. They come to me because they feel like a commodity and can't charge the what they want. They come to me because they're working far too hard in making less. Now those are strategy problems, , but the promise, the problem that we promise to solve are all the things that they're feeling intensely. We've built a repeatable process. And so you have to do that as well so that when somebody comes to you and says, oh, I need this. You say, yes, you do, but here's our process to get you that result, to solve that problem that you're talking about. And it goes like this and we're able to repeat it, we're able to delegate it, we're able to train people on it. We are able to get so much better at delivering awesome results because of it.

(08:27): So we've gotta take that repeatable process mentality. You have to charge a premium today. Go out and double your prices. How's that? How's that for listening? Did you get your money's worth if you go out and double your prizes? Here's what I, here's what I will tell you will happen. Some people will object, even some of your current clients will leave, but will all of them will half of them even? Heck no, . And what'll happen is the next project that you engage, the next client that you engage, that doubled price is going to be straight to the bottom line. It's gonna be all profit. If you wanna increase your profits , just raise your prices. You don't have to double them, but I can just about guarantee that 70%, 75% of you listening today are not charging what you should be charging. Here's the problem. If you don't charge a premium, you are automatically turning away your best buyers.

(09:24): You are automatically attracting those low cost tire kickers shoppers and you're not going to have the space or the profit or the revenue to delegate that work to third parties, to freelancers. Again, you don't have to have employees. That's why this is such a beautiful message about no overhead. But if you don't have the revenue to begin with, if you're not charging enough for the services you're providing, you're never going to feel like I can pay somebody else to do that work. In a perfect world, this orchestrated business, you're the strategist, you're the relationship builder, you're maybe the chief salesperson, but you're delegating. You've got enough cap in what you're charging to delegate and go by, get other people to do it. That is absolutely the only way to scale. If you simply fill up your workload and then go hire somebody else and bring into your business and fill up their workload as well, you're just gonna be on the treadmill for life and you're probably gonna end up making less money because you're gonna be paying all those people to do the work if you're charging a premium.

(10:27): That's why having repeatable process works. That's why promising to solve a problem that's going to attract people that you can charge a premium. And then the last one I've, fourth element I've alluded to already is if you're going to want to build this business that can scale without adding overhead, you are going to need to be thinking about always thinking about your partner team. Because frankly, no matter if you're outsourcing to freelancers, you need three awesome freelancers for every service or tactic that you need somebody to work on, like paid ads or content or web design or whatever it is in your particular industry, because you'll lose those people. You'll rotate through some. Some will be a great fit for that really big complex client. Some be a great fit for that kind of turnkey cookie cutter client. So you're always working on developing a partner team, but you've gotta have that repeatable process in place so you can delegate effectively. You can teach people to do what it is that you do, and you've gotta be charging enough so that you've got the cap space to do that.

(11:36): Look, marketing's a system. That's the, that's what I've, that's been my life's work. is teaching people that idea and for the agencies that we work with, we teach kind of this fractional CMO plus implementation team path. So we all, all attract clients the same way. Free content these days or some portion in fashion of networking or a funnel or referrals. A lot of people in the traditional sense, they have a meeting. It's really a sales meeting to discover what the issues are to then write a proposal to wait around and see if maybe the proposal comes through to do the work and then to start it all over again. . But our repeatable system looks like this. You put out free content or however you attract leads, you actually conduct a strategy session. So instead of a sales call, you're not there to find out what they need.

(12:28): Well, you are there to find out what they need, but you're there to actually present information in a way that, that, that demonstrates such value that they're like, nobody's ever presented way to me. You know, a lot of times we show up and we ask questions and we get over objections and we close or we trial close. Well, what I've found is if you just demonstrate to somebody a process of your part of your repeatable system that has tremendous value, they're gonna come to the end of that and saying, how can I get this? And you're like, oh, I didn't even think to sell you anything . So a strategy session in that fashion, then actually have the answer for us. It's a six, what we call strategy first. So nobody passes go without going through our strategy first program. What that allows us to do is a number of things.

(13:18): First, it allows us to develop the strategy, but it also allows us to develop a relationship as a trusted advisor. It allows us to teach a client or a, or yes, in this case a client or a client's team, what marketing really is. And then, and only then do we turn to a long-term retainer. One of the mistakes I see a lot of folks make that are in this consulting agency world is they want, they have a long-term retainer approach and they wanna sell that long-term retainer. But if you take this piece on the front end and create this value through strategy, first off it's work that needs to be done. In fact, I would contend that a lot of agencies, while they don't have a process for it, they kind of have to do a little bit of strategy work. They just don't get paid for it.

(14:01): But there's a lot of things you can't really propose without doing a strategy. The other thing it really teaches for us, you know, a lot of times when people propose long-term retainers, it's just a guess. You know, when we go into a long-term retainer after doing strategy, we know 100% what is going, what is going to be needed because we've spent enough time with the client to, to figure it out and to find out this approach is something that we license to agencies. It is something that we teach. We have a network of folks that then collaborate and band together. We've got the strategy sessions, we've got the entire repeatable process. We've got the model for pricing and building your agency without adding overhead. I'd love to teach it to you, or I'd love for you to at least check out and see that if it's something that kind of meets your world, um, and what you've been looking for, I can tell you all about, you know, all the perks and benefits and the exact process that we go through to licenses.

(15:04): There is a page, I'll leave this in the show notes, but I'll also leave it here that you can check out. It's just dtm, like for Duct Tape Marketing, right? Uh, depend upon when you're listening to this, we hold the certification intensives for licensing about every 60 days. So we've got a couple coming up in early in 2023, but also check out that page cuz uh, that's where we will always have the most up to date upcoming dates for our certification intensives. All right, Erwin, take care. And again, I'm recording this towards the end of 2022, so I'm gonna wish those of you that listen to it right away, a rocking 2023. All right, take care. Love to hear from you. Send those cards, letters, messages. It's just [email protected] If you ever wanna chat with me, I return all the emails from sane sounding people.

(16:00): How's that? All right, take care. Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find [email protected],, dot co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.





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