407 episodes

Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.

Smart Agency Masterclass with Jason Swenk: Podcast for Digital Marketing Agencies Jason Swenk

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 114 Ratings

Growing an agency is very difficult, and you might feel unclear what to do next in order to grow and scale your agency. The Smart Agency Masterclass is a weekly podcast for agencies that are wanting to grow faster. We interview amazing guests from all over the world that have the experience of running successful businesses, and will provide you the insights you need. Our podcast is just over 3 years old, and have reached more than a half million listeners in 42 countries.

    How to Create a Profitable Agency Machine That You Can Eventually Sell

    How to Create a Profitable Agency Machine That You Can Eventually Sell

    Do you want to create a machine that ensures agency growth? David Butler was working as a special ed teacher when he decided to try his luck in the real estate business. He later created an agency looking to reinvent himself during the 2009 financial crisis. With Jason's help, he was able to grow and ultimately sell his business. David now enjoys a new lifestyle and focuses on his family. He joined Jason on the podcast to talk about how he implemented the "Netflix model" to prevent client cancellations, how he streamlined the company's hiring process to put the right people on the right roles, and how making a white label agreement with a larger company was the key to really grow his agency.
    3 Golden Nuggets Creating a machine. Once David started to see his agency grow organically from his first apartment management company client, he implemented the “Netflix model” where he charges a very competitive fee to make sure the agency won’t lose customers. How did he keep it profitable? “I figured property managers would be so busy they wouldn’t utilize us all the time,” he says, “But they would still need us.” Of course, he made sure to estimate how many clients they could handle. Streamlining the hiring process. Being a big believer on the principle of hiring your weaknesses, David hired a local company to take care of the customer service and clients are continually amazed by how quickly they get a call back. He also believes in the importance of putting the right people on the right positions and made sure to create a hiring process that would eliminate unfit candidates. “It’s stupidly simple,” he told Jason. The big change. The Netflix model failed when it came to hiring a highly paid sales team. This is when he started considering a white label agreement with a larger company. It was not easy, the entire process took about two years. However, this company had 350 sales agents and this was the key to the growth. Now, his agency was taking 100-200 new clients each month and he could continue to focus on hiring the right people. Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to gusto.com/agency to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    White Label Your Sales Team to Create a Machine and Streamline Your Hiring Process Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, everybody? Jason Swenk here. And I got one of my friends that ran an amazing agency for a number of different years. Now he went from being a special ed teacher to owning apartments, to owning an agency, to selling it. And now he's financially free and just travels and does what he does and has a ball doing it.
    And today we're going to talk about his journey. So possibly you can learn a couple of little nuggets from him and do the same thing. So let's go ahead and get into the show.
    Hey, David. Welcome to the show.
    David: [00:00:38] Hey, Jason. Good to see you.
    Jason: [00:00:39] Yeah, man. I'm excited to have you on and uh, and tell your story. So, you have a pretty fascinating story that always amazed me and everyone else that heard it. So, and I'm not going to give you justice on telling it. So tell us kind of who you are and tell us a little bit about that trajectory from special ed teacher, apartment, to owning an agency and then selling it.
    David: [00:01:02] Gosh, I’ll try to keep it into a nutshell. I was a high school special ed teacher for about 10 years and coaching high school sports and then a good friend of mine gave me the, um, the really famous old infomercial Carleton Sheets… Uh, how to buy real estate with no money down. And, uh, I listened to it on cassette tape in my car as I drove to work and I use the basis of that to buy my first hou

    • 25 min
    How to Convert More Proposals Without Doing a Ton of More Work

    How to Convert More Proposals Without Doing a Ton of More Work

    Drew Hendricks was a philosophy major who started in the agency world after building his first website in the 90's and never looked back. Today, he owns Nimbletoad, a full-service digital marketing agency that specializes in website design, SEO, and PPC. Recently, Drew expanded by founding Barrels Ahead, an agency where he adapts his love for wine and developed an organic growth marketing framework to address the unique needs of the wine and craft industry. Drew's conversation with Jason is filled with useful tips from all his years as an agency owner. He shares his secret to convert more proposals as well as why you should be quick to respond when potential clients reach out to you.
    Agency Owner vs Entrepreneur. The mastermind has really helped Drew understand the difference between being an agency owner and being an entrepreneur. Most agencies come to be as the result of a problem and he has seen that many agency owners focus on being an authority on that problem, instead of being an authority on your agency. Too many people are stuck in actually doing the work rather than kind of treating the agency as the project, he says. If you want to be a business owner then that needs to be your top priority. You can't do both. The secret sauce for proposals. Over the years of writing proposals, Drew has learned something that worked really well to help position the proposal, defray the pricing, and justify it through very objective terms. In the pre-talk process, you will usually ask the client who their competitors are. Then use tech tools to assess competitors' spending on SEO or PPC. When you show this data to your clients you can say, this is how much you need to spend to compete with them. And if they don’t want to spend that amount? Then you let them know that maybe they should be playing in a smaller pond. Show enthusiasm. In a world where showing genuine excitement over something is supposed to make you uncool, dare to be different. If a potential client contacts you, call them as soon as you can. Don’t be afraid to look too anxious. They’ll appreciate the quick response. And that goes for other aspects of the business too. Our guest says he has interviewed many people and forgot the last time someone mentioned they were excited to work with the company. Sponsors and Resources Agency Dad: Today's episode is sponsored by Agency Dad. Agency Dad is an accounting solution focused on helping marketing agencies make better decisions based on their financials. Check out agencydad.money/freeaudit to get a phone call with Nate to assess your agency's financial needs and how he can help you.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    Become an Authority on Your Agency and Use This Secret Sauce for Proposals Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Uh, excited to have you listening to the show today. I have one of our long-term mastermind members who has grown several agencies over the years, and really has taken… Today, we're going to talk about the amazing things that he's learned over the years and applied them to his current agency that he's doing right now.
    I think you're really going to love this episode, so let's get into it.
    Hey, Drew. Welcome to the show.
    Drew: [00:00:35] Thank you, Jason. Thank you for having me on.
    Jason: [00:00:37] So you're the first guest to, uh, actually be in the intro on the mountain, waving back to the drone. So I was just watching that. I was like, oh, there's Drew. So well I digress. Yeah. So tell us who you are and what do you do?
    Drew: [00:00:58] Yeah. I'm Drew Hendricks. Right now I'm running two agencies. One’s Nimbletoad, which is a generalist agency. And the other one is a brand new venture called Barrels Ahead, which is sort of the culmination of everything I've learned over the last 30 years of running agencies.
    Jason: [00:01:12] Yeah, that's awesome. Uh, and you actually started an agency before me. So tell us kinda how did you get into it?

    • 19 min
    Why a Solid Recurring Revenue Stream is the Key to Agency Growth

    Why a Solid Recurring Revenue Stream is the Key to Agency Growth

    Are you creating a solid recurring revenue stream for your agency? Dan Sundgren has been involved in the digital marketing industry since he became one of the first employees at Google around 2003. After years of witnessing the rise of that tech giant, he eventually started his digital agency, FreeGren, which specializes in SEM, SEO, SMM and Website Development and Maintenance. He sat down with Jason to talk about the lessons he learned at Google about breaking the rules and how there's always a different way to look at things. He also talked about his decision to work with contractors rather than having employees, and why recurring revenue is the goal.
    3 Golden Nuggets Breaking the rules. Working at Google for many years since its beginning Dan had the opportunity to witness how that company grew, broke many rules, and created a new paradigm for corporations. One of the lessons he carries with him from that time is that you don't necessarily have to follow hard and fast rules. There's always a different way to look at things. And it’s good to remember that you can flip things on their head and think about it differently. Working with contractors. Another learning experience with Google was the way they took care of their employees. However, Dan and his partner decided early on that they would work with independent contractors. To do this, Dan spent years building a network of trusted partners that have now worked with him for years. He relies on them to do the heavy lifting. It has its own complications, as Dan admits, but he exclusively works with people he can trust. After all, it takes years to build a reputation and a name and he doesn’t want to sabotage that by doing crappy work. Recurring revenue is the goal. Like Frank Kern a few weeks ago, Dan talks about how he chose to scale slow and make sure his agency had solid recurring revenue streams for PPC, SEO, website maintenance, etc, where it is very repeatable. Now this gives him the tools to make pretty accurate forecasts, to the point that he can tell where his agency will be in 12 months. Sponsors and Resources Wix: Today's episode is sponsored by the Wix Partner Program. Being a Wix Partner is ideal for freelancers and digital agencies that design and develop websites for their clients. Check out Wix.com/Partners to learn more and become a member of the community for free.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    Contractors vs Employees and Remember that Recurring Revenue is the Goal Jason: [00:00:00] Hey, agency owners. Welcome to another episode of the Smart Agency Masterclass. I am Jason Swenk and I have an amazing guest, Dan. We're going to talk about his building his agency over the past four years. But also what he's learned. He's one of the very first employees at Google. Um, I think he was telling me back in 2003 or 2004, he can correct me in a, in a second.
    Um, and we're going to talk about really amazing things. So I can't wait. Um, but before we get into the episode, I want you to do something. I want you to take a screenshot of the podcast and then upload it to your favorite social media. Tag us, so I can give you a shout-out for listening to the show. And let's go ahead and jump into it and talk to Dan.
    Hey, Dan. Welcome to the show.
    Dan: [00:00:53] Thanks for having me, Jason.
    Jason: [00:00:54] Yeah, man, excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what do you do?
    Dan: [00:00:59] Uh, my name is Dan Sundgren. Uh, I started an agency over four years ago with a partner of mine, Scott Freeborn. The Genesis of our agency is FreeGren. After a long and laborious naming process, we mashed our names up at five o'clock and decided to call it good.
    And we named our company FreeGren because we're a 50-50 two-headed beast. And we've just had a blast last four years building our little agency up here in the Northwest. Um, Scott came from Dexcom Media. Um, my experience was with Google, and AOL, and Merkel. Uh, worke

    • 24 min
    How to Build an Eight-Figure Agency by Training Your Competition

    How to Build an Eight-Figure Agency by Training Your Competition

    Brian R. Johnson has served as a leader in online advertising and conversion rate strategy for nearly two decades. He had been offering professional training courses in the Amazon ad space for years before opening his own agency with his partner. Now, Canopy Management is an eight-figure agency and the leading A-to-Z, full service Amazon agency. He joins the podcast to talk about how he built his platform and community before being an agency owner, how he learned the importance of documenting processes and giving new team members access to them from day one, and how he encourages everyone in the team to build each other up.
    3 Golden Nuggets Building a platform. Many agency owners start their business by offering training courses, advising others on how to solve problems in their niche. This was the case for Brian, who admits he has trained some of his biggest competitors, but also says that this is what helped his agency grow quickly in the first year. People already knew him and wanted to work with him, either as clients or as employees because he had spent years building up a reputation and a community. Learn to get out of your own way. Agency owners can get in the mindset that they can do everything. In reality, you are crippling your team if they don’t have access to a documented process. It’s no good to the agency or the team if you only have it in your head. You need to document it and you’ll be surprised to see how the team can then take that and improve it. Encourage your team to build each other up. Our guest recommends doing “daily huddles” to build a more united team. These are 10-minute daily minutes where he will ask “who had a win yesterday?” “What are some problems that we should all be aware of?” And “who got caught being awesome?” This way, he encourages the team to celebrate their own wins and highlight their teammates' successes. It is a highlight of the week at this agency. Sponsors and Resources Agency Dad: Today's episode is sponsored by Agency Dad. Agency Dad is an accounting solution focused on helping marketing agencies make better decisions based on their financials. Check out agencydad.money/freeaudit to get a phone call with Nate to assess your agency's financial needs and how he can help you.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    Create a Platform and Build an Eight-Figure Agency Jason: [00:00:00] What's up everybody? Jason Swenk here. And I have an amazing episode with Brian who runs an eight-figure agency. Um, and we're going to talk about what it's like to run operations for an eight-figure agency. Cause I know a lot of you are trying to get to the summit to get to that next level. And so we're going to dive into this in this episode, so let's get into it.
    Hey, Brian, welcome to the show.
    Brian: [00:00:30] Thanks for having me.
    Jason: [00:00:31] Yeah, man. I'm excited to have you on. So, uh, tell us briefly who you are and what do you guys do?
    Brian: [00:00:37] Of course. So my name is Brian R. Johnson. I throw that in there cause there's a lot of Brian Johnson's out in the world. So, um, yeah, Brian Johnson out of, uh, based here in Austin, Texas.
    I am currently traveling on the West Coast with my family. So I am in the Amazon space, uh, running an agency, actually co-running an agency, uh, that handles, um, multimillion-dollar sellers brands that are brick and mortar brands, as well as, uh, sellers who sell on the Amazon sales channel. And so we handle all their advertising and, uh, quite a bit of their marketing that goes into moving more product for them. So, that's kind of the short version of what I do.
    Jason: [00:01:24] That's awesome. And so why would you partner with someone else named Brian? It’s got to be so confusing. That's the first question I got for you.
    Brian: [00:01:34] Yeah. He actually recruited me. Because he tracked me down because I happened to be, um, I was the subject matter expert in, in my subject, you

    • 31 min
    How to Build the Best Agency Culture by Attacking Ideas, Not People

    How to Build the Best Agency Culture by Attacking Ideas, Not People

    Chris Leone was playing drums in Japan trying to figure out his next step in life when a keynote by Gary Vaynerchuk inspired him to enter the agency world. He ended up working an entry-level position in a small agency and worked his way up to being president and CEO of WebStrategies Inc, a multi-million dollar agency that focuses on mid-low funnel, lead generation, SEO, PPC, social advertising, and inbound marketing. Chris sat down with Jason to discuss how he worked his way up from the bottom of the totem pole. He also shares his experience with an agency acquisition just as he was named CEO and how he built a culture of learning. Chris's team is encouraged to speak up and take ownership of their ideas, which goes a long way.
    3 Golden Nuggets The power in saying someone’s name. Our guest is not afraid of a challenge. His first day as CEO came right after an acquisition and he was asked to handle the first meeting between both teams. This is an important moment, as the first impression on a new team is critical and may determine whether or not the acquisition is a success. He decided to spend time before the meeting making sure that his team knew everyone by name before they arrived. That way, they would feel welcome and less hesitant to give the new company a chance. Attack ideas, not people. Chris has worked hard to create a work environment where employees feel safe to speak their minds and be themselves. “It’s not a performative culture” he says “It’s a learning culture”. He builds on the belief that leaders who are open to test an idea, observe and then implement from there greatly outperform the ones who are much more rigid in their thinking. Adapting to the online office. The past two years have brought many changes and, right now, many are still not ready to go back to the office. Regarding his agency’s decision to go virtual, Chris says he continues to learn and adjust to the situation. But does not consider this will be a permanent change, nor one that will work for everyone. In his case, it made sense to go virtual if his team did not feel comfortable going to the office yet. For the future, he does not dismiss the idea of going back to an office. Gusto: Today's episode is sponsored by Gusto, an all-in-one people platform for payroll, benefits, HR where you can unify your data. Gusto automatically applies your payroll taxes and directly deposits your team's paychecks, freeing you up to work on your business. Head over to gusto.com/agency to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    Rise to the Top of the Totem Pole By Building a Learning Culture for Your Team Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, agency owners? Jason Swenk here and I have another amazing show where we're going to talk with an agency CEO and also owner who started out at the ground level couple of years ago as an entry-level employee. Worked all the way up to a CEO. And we're going to talk about what they did. How did they become a multi-million dollar agency? Lots of amazing things.
    And also talking about how they went virtual in the past year. So it's packed, it's packed and let's go ahead and get into it.
    Hey, Chris. Welcome to the show.
    Chris: [00:00:38] Hey, Jason. Thanks for having me.
    Jason: [00:00:40] Yeah, I'm excited to have you on. So tell us who you are and what you do?
    Chris: [00:00:44] Yeah. So my name is Chris Leoni. I'm CEO of WebStrategies. We are a digital marketing agency based out of Richmond, Virginia. We focus on kind of mid-low funnel, lead generation stuff, SEO, PPC, social advertising, inbound marketing, that sort of thing.
    I got about, 30 employees that are located, uh, both in central Virginia and, uh, increasingly scattered throughout the world as we start to shift towards more of a full remote model over here at WebStrategies.
    Jason: [00:01:15] Awesome. So let's kind of back up to where, when you started with the agency. You know,

    • 20 min
    How to Grow Your Agency By Filling Your Sales Pipeline

    How to Grow Your Agency By Filling Your Sales Pipeline

    After working on his own using his experience in the agency world, Chris started specializing in the project management side of the business. Eventually, he decided to form Genius Digital Marketing with a partner and they have been growing ever since. Now, they work with growth-focused companies to accelerate their digital marketing strategies by operating results-driven campaigns. He talks a bit about how to make the jump from being a freelancer to having his own agency, how breaking sales and breaking operations is a normal part of growth, and how sales fix everything.
    3 Golden Nuggets Making the jump. Like so many agency owners, Chris worked in the agency world for a while before deciding that he could do the job on his own. After working together on some projects, he and his partner decided to "make it legit" and he went from freelancer to agency owner. By this point, he knew that his expertise was on the project management side of the equation and was clear about what he was bringing to the table and how his partner complemented that, which made the transition a logical next step. Sales fix everything. You never want to talk about losing a client. But if you can just get more sales, then you can afford more people and you can afford to potentially lose something. It’s about being confident in trying new things while you grow. Sales will fix everything while you solve your next bubble of growth. Don’t be afraid to increase prices. Sales will fix everything, yes. But don’t forget to raise your prices. Bringing on more sales, you're going to have to bring on more levels, more people. And if you do that and don’t raise prices, you may find out at the end of the year that you worked a lot more and still earned less.  Sponsors and Resources Agency Dad: Today's episode is sponsored by Agency Dad. Agency Dad is an accounting solution focused on helping marketing agencies make better decisions based on their financials. Check out agencydad.money/freeaudit to get a phone call with Nate to assess your agency's financial needs and how he can help you.
    Subscribe Apple | Spotify | iHeart Radio | Stitcher | Radio FM
    Keep Growing While Sales Bring New Opportunities Jason: [00:00:00] What's up, everybody? Jason Swenk here and I got another exciting episode about how an agency owner went from freelancer to bringing on a partner to a thriving agency. So it's a really good episode and I hope you enjoy it.
    Hey Chris, welcome to the show.
    Chris: [00:00:26] Hey, Jason. How's it going, man?
    Jason: [00:00:27] Yeah, man. Excited to have you on, um, and, uh, talk about, you know, your journey as a freelancer to agency owner, to, you know, successful agency owner. So tell us a little bit about who you are and what do you do?
    Chris: [00:00:41] Yeah, sure. So, uh, my name's Chris. I work out of, uh, our office here in, uh, the Dallas area.
    And, uh, I didn't always live here, actually. I just moved here six months ago. And the reason I moved here was, is for this business and for this partnership. I had been living in Las Vegas before that it's kind of where I'm from and where I grew up. But, uh, Aaron and I, Aaron's my business partner, we formed an agency about a year and a half ago. And have been working on the agency this whole time, you know, kind of forming the partnership, getting all the business stuff going, and earning clients and new business.
    And, uh, eventually it got to the point where we were like, hey, you know, let's actually own a building. Actually, we bought a building and let's run our, our office out of the Dallas area. That's where he lives, where his family's at. And I moved down here. So, um, yeah, that was about, you know, like I said, about six months ago and you know, we've been, we've been doing pretty good work since then.
    So it's exciting times, you know, moving around doing different stuff and trying to grow the agency and, and deal with all those hurdles and, and having fun while doing it.
    Jas

    • 16 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
114 Ratings

114 Ratings

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Jason highlights all aspects of growing a business and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

Aidan Sowa ,

Awesome Podcast

Loved being on the show!

Clarisse Gomez ,

Awesome Podcast!!!

Jason, host of the Smart Agency Master Class podcast, highlights all aspects of management and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

Top Podcasts In Business

Listeners Also Subscribed To