Todd Friesen – Performics
Ian Lurie – Portent Interactive
Moderator – Mark Knowles

Summary: What are some proven techniques for winning new business? What are the large agencies doing for streamlining client reporting, scaling their efforts, and finding & retaining net talent? How can you establish credibility with clients and peers in this growing industry? The speakers on this panel will show you!

Resource planning:
  • Time management
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Deliverable management
  • Set expectations
  • Goals achieved
Every Thursday afternoon Performics distributes a resource plan: comprehensive list of exact deliverables for each team member by next week — alleviates stress and confusion, avoids things falling through the cracks.
  • Make them experts
  • Share freely – Boss has to be accessible
  • External training
  • Educaion goals – SPECIFIC career & professional development goals
  • Cross-training
Make each team member believe that he/she is the expert in the room (or at least that’s what the client thinks/expects)
Goals & Measurement:
  • Standard reporting
  • KPI agreement
  • Scheduled
  • Sensible
  • Year-over-year – everything is YOY, because all businesses are seasonal
  • SMART: Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound
  • Empower your team
  • Trust your team
  • Fall on your sword
This is what drives freedom & innovation
  • Celebrate & reward success – monetary & public
  • Recognize motivation – team & individuals
It is really easy to engender loyalty on a team with little, regular efforts.  But, it’s also easy to lose good employees over fixable issues.
“Criminal law (or in this case, running an agency) is like wrestling with a shit covered bear — you may win, you may lose, but you’ll still be slightly mauled and you will definitely smell bad.”
25 tips in 25 minutes
  1. Cash flow is good. Income is not cash, revenue is not cash, cash in the bank is cash.
  2. You’re not a tech company or a software company.  Client services is unpredictable.
  3. Build around the knowledge that you will be interrupted.
  4. Document everything.  Portent’s Fat-Free Guide.  Provides structure, reinforces learning.
  5. Teach inside and outside the company.  Prospects need to have heard of you, and find you on Google.
  6. Hire for brains not skills.
  7. Hire honest people.
  8. Hire curious people.
  9. Hire people with emotional intelligence.  Need to know when clients are happy & unhappy.
  10. Have a sense of mission (not to be confused with a mission statement).  Ian’s:  Turning people into good communicators.  Making sure good people with good businesses don’t get bad advice.
  11. Root for the home team.
  12. Delegate for long-term efficiency, not for speed.  Every bit of training is an investment.
  13. Build a good leadership team (not to be confused with “executive team”), preferably internally.
  14. Foster organization clarity.  Things always fall apart if no one is willing to make a key decision.
  15. Manage the tug-of-war.  Things go haywire if any one part has a stranglehold.
  16. Have a spine.  Don’t try to be the cool parent.
  17. Don’t be a psychotic despot, stay caml, cool & collected.  Once your team is scared of you, you’re in trouble.
  18. Buy shoes that have strong toes for those times when stupidity reigns.
  19. Pick a toolset and use it.  Majestic, SEOMmoz, Raven.  Don’t try to build your own (yet).
  20. Automate reporting as much as possible.  Read Edward Tufty (sp?).  Remember reports are not analysis…clients want recommendations & guidance.
  21. Be nimble, but not too nimble.  Know what can be outsourced and what can’t.
  22. Don’t fart in public.  Keep it off of Twitter & Facebook.  Never call out a client in your blog (even if anonymous).
  23. Encourage your team to argue with you.  Yes men are worthless.
  24. Is IS personal.  if you don’t feel it in your gut when something goes right/wrong, you will run out of motivation.
What about introductory periods for new hires?
Todd: We don’t do that…the vetting process takes care of 99%.
Ian: Ask hard questions.
Pricing & monthly retainers?  What is standard now?
Ian: Some clients expect monthly retainer, none expect the size of the retainer.  Economy has made it harder to set long initial retainers.
Todd: He’ll do it by hour, but charge you a ridiculous rate per hour.  Actively moving towards performance-based pricing.  The more people pay, the more they understand that you are the experts.
Ian: Performance-based pricing requires long-term commitment, and you need to control enough of the conversion train to succeed.

How would you start out today?
Ian: Find a tiny niche — local, mobile, etc.  Old-fashioned networking.  If you want to make a living, approach other agencies and be willing to contract for overflow.
Todd: Get your name out there in the community & the industry.

Client horror stories…what are the red flags?

  • Don’t work with anyone out of South Florida.
  • “I just want to pick your brain.”
  • The person who can’t tell you what their company is/does.
  • Any sign that one particular group has a stranglehold over the site/company.
  • Nightmare stories about the last agency…you’re probably next on the firing line.
  • Beware of squishy goals (particularly in relation to performance-based pricing) & lack of balance.

The cost of retaining people…is it an unavoidable cost of business, or do you think if you do the right things, people should stay.
Ian:  Make sure the only people leaving are the ones getting deals that they can’t (and you wouldn’t yourself) refuse.
Todd: People go looking for new jobs for a reason, they don’t just fall into their laps.

Terminology….used to be ad agencies, what do you prefer now?
Todd: A Performance Marketing Agency.  Internet Marketing Agency is still accurate.
Ian: Full-service Interactive Agency

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