loader from loading.io

Can your Infrastructure Support 10X Sales Growth?

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Release Date: 04/30/2020

Content Marketing: What’s Your Story? show art Content Marketing: What’s Your Story?

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Bonnie Mauldin, Founder and Managing Director for The Mauldin Group, left a career in medicine to start a general, full-service digital marketing agency, helping any client who knocked on the door. Today, The Mauldin Group provides professional web design, internet marketing, and business development training to clients in “healthcare, construction, manufacturing, senior living, and education.” Bonnie feels these industries are less regulated than others, like finance. Less regulation means her team can create marketing content and “freely share information, education, and entertainment...

info_outline
Perfecting Personas show art Perfecting Personas

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Justin Ramb is President and Sandra Marshal, VP of Client Services, at Bigeye, a full-service B2B and B2C agency that focuses on audiences, creative work, media and analytics, and data.  Understand audience:  Use primary and secondary research to discover who they are, where they consume media, what they look like, and what triggers them to convert Develop marketing personas that match two or three target audience personas Test strategies against those personas to ensure activities align with objectives B2B:  Use current customer data to develop lookalike audience and...

info_outline
Bridging the Gap for Big Market Enterprises show art Bridging the Gap for Big Market Enterprises

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Justin Gray is CEO and Founder of LeadMD, a performance marketing consultancy. The agency concentrates on achieving tangible, holistic business goals – defining a buyer, launching a product, increasing revenue – to produce bottom-line impacts, rather than focusing on middle-process goals such as website or cost-per lead-optimization. Most of LeadMD’s over 3,500 clients are B2B and B2C considered-purchase organizations – big market enterprises of $100 million and up.  A “considered purchase” is a complex buying decision, fraught with emotional and financial risks and potential...

info_outline
Marketing Wellness: When Food is Medicine and Movement is Life show art Marketing Wellness: When Food is Medicine and Movement is Life

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Alana Sandel, Chief Experience Officer of the agency, Marketing for Wellness, has a deep passion for helping people “to be well.” Her personal health struggles inspired her to create her agency, which focuses on quality of life, healthy foods, and fitness. “better-for-you products” – “to build brands for a better tomorrow” – especially brands with solutions for people with chronic health problems.  Alana notes that 60% of our population suffers from chronic health issues. COVID-19 is dangerous, but even more of a threat to people with diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular...

info_outline
PR Surround Sound and Taking Clients to the Light Bulb Moment show art PR Surround Sound and Taking Clients to the Light Bulb Moment

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Tara Murphy owns 360 Media, an entertainment, lifestyle, and hospitality agency that focuses on public relations, event planning, and digital marketing. In the last couple of years, the agency has expanded into hotel work and commercial real estate. 360 Media will have been in business 25 years as of next January. In this interview, Tara describes how her agency utilizes a variety of complementary narratives, images, and quotes layered on different platforms (social, email, print TV) to build a “big picture” storyline and cadence a client’s message. Tara explains that a lot of companies...

info_outline
Focus Faster, Leverage Success show art Focus Faster, Leverage Success

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

In 2007, after nearly a decade of experience in numbers-focused direct-response marketing, Matt Weber used a business broker to buy a small jack-of-all trades agency that provided sales training, traditional media marketing, and a small bit of web development. Over time, that agency became ROAR! Internet Marketing, where Matt is now President. The agency’s forte today? Measurable actions. In this interview, Matt explains what a buyer can expect from a business broker, how to select one, broker limitations, and a broker’s role in facilitating business acquisitions. He warns that it will be...

info_outline
A Million-Brand Mission in a Post-Covid World show art A Million-Brand Mission in a Post-Covid World

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

As a bestselling author and keynote speaker, Deb Gabor, CEO and Founder of Sol Marketing, has, herself, become a “brand.” She defines Sol Marketing as a brand-driven, strategy-led marketing firm in the business of creating irrational loyalty. Irrational loyalty means people are indelibly bonded to a brand.  When Deb talks about her agency, she does not list the provided services: she feels marketing services have become commoditized. Instead, she presents a passionate vision of what the future could be. She tells people she is on a million-brand mission – to impact a million brands...

info_outline
Changing Behaviors to Improve Public Health show art Changing Behaviors to Improve Public Health

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Jeff Jordan is President and Executive Creative Director of Rescue: The Behavior Change Agency. Rescue offers a broad range of marketing services for government agencies (public health departments, state and federal agencies) and non-profits seeking to promote positive changes in public health related behaviors.  Jeff started his agency when, as a high school student, he volunteered for his local health department’s youth-targeted anti-tobacco program. He transitioned from volunteer to contractor, tweaked the anti-tobacco program to approach teens in an innovative way, and grew the...

info_outline
Why KPIs Don’t Work . . . and What Does show art Why KPIs Don’t Work . . . and What Does

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Keith Perhac is the Founder of SegMetrics, a once-upon-a-time marketing agency that pivoted from marketing services to a suite of analytical and reporting products. Today SegMetrics builds and refines digital testing and tracking tools that provide marketers with critical information on where “leads come from, how they act, and how much a marketing program is really worth.” In this interview, Keith explains that KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) tell a company if it is doing something better or worse than at some time in the past. However, KPIs are about averages – they do not explain...

info_outline
Client Tech Education, Deep Data Study, and Micro-Testing:  a Formula to Boost Business in Uncertain Times show art Client Tech Education, Deep Data Study, and Micro-Testing: a Formula to Boost Business in Uncertain Times

The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast

Brian Lawson and his brother left their jobs in engineering, IT, and software development to found WebMO (Web Marketing Optimizer), a digital marketing agency. From the beginning, they focused on optimizing organic visibility/SEO and doing Google search ads, not just studying digital marketing tactics, strategies, and analysis, but digging into the “behind the scenes” mechanics. Today, WebMO is heavily data-driven, does everything digital marketing, and serves a large number of diverse and predominantly small-businesses nationwide. WebMO’s “super-detailed” understanding of Google...

info_outline
 
More Episodes

Anthony Sarandrea is the founder of Siteflood, a high-revenue agency offering website design, search engine optimization, paid social, paid search management, and analytics and tracking to select clients. Siteflood’s primary focus is on paid media, fast results, and a trackable ROI. 

Originally, a boutique agency with select clients paying a monthly retainer, Siteflood has added a “partnership model,” where Siteflood’s income from a client is tied directly the number of leads it generates or the client’s sales numbers. As these clients grow, the agency’s incentivization grows. This model has enabled Siteflood to scale quickly without needing to add huge numbers of staff or hundreds of clients. The agency garners a daily gross revenue in the six figures – with a staff of around 30 people. 

Does incentivization always work?

Anthony relates the story where one of two client companies, with identical, copy-pasted Google AdWords, made $3 for every $1 net margin spend and the other company claimed they had not “made a dollar of revenue” in 4 months. The difference in results had nothing to do with the generated lead flow. It came from differences in the companies’ internal sales processes, products, and how each company closed deals. Anthony emphasizes that incentivization only works when you are “aligned with the right people.” 

In this interview, Anthony recommends finding clients that work . . . and then finding more of the same kind of clients. He describes the process Siteflood uses to select “the right clients”:

  1. Does the company measure up on an in-depth “vetting process” of its processes, culture, and growth-readiness? Does this relationship look like it will be successful?
  2. Is the company at an inflection point where it is large enough to quickly scale to putting six figures a month into marketing and small enough that it can be coached to improve its internal, customer relationship, and sales processes?
  3. Does the company have the infrastructure to support a ten-fold increase in sales? 

At the beginning, Anthony did it all. He explains how growing his company was an iterative process of replacing himself. He recommends a book, The E-Myth, Why Most Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, available on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Most-Businesses-Dont-About/dp/0887303625. The book discusses the growth journey in terms of learning new skill sets. Anthony feels the key to sustainable long term growth is to invest in his people – to serve as a facilitator and cheerleader, to provide the right tools and training, to continuously invest in his employees’ wellbeing, and to set them up for success. 

Growth also requires hiring . . . the right people for the right reasons:

  • Hire quickly to replace yourself in jobs you don’t like to do. 
  • For fast results, hire people who can do things better than you can. If you cannot afford someone full time, hire part time. Anthony recommends a site called Clarity.fm https://clarity.fm/ where experts are paid by the minute.
  • Hire for jobs at which you excel, but expect that the person replacing you will only be 70% as good at it as you are. Here, Anthony explains his training process. He says a company owner absolutely has to replace him- or herself if the company is to grow.

Anthony’s interview is rich with ideas. His favorite way to be contacted is through Instagram at: @anthonysarandrea. Or google his name and reach out to him on one of his sites. He loves answering questions.

Transcript Follows:

ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined today by Anthony Sarandrea, Founder of Siteflood in Scottsdale, Arizona. Welcome to the podcast, Anthony.

ANTHONY: Hey, Rob. Thanks for having me, brother.

ROB: Fantastic to have you here. Why don’t you start off by telling us about Siteflood and the specialties that you work in? 

ANTHONY: We started as a boutique agency that took on select clients. Really the paid media space is where we’ve always sharpened our teeth. A lot of that is the speed of results to be able to have a trackable ROI on a lot we’ve done. We started taking on select clients in a traditional agency format where they paid us a retainer per month, and a lot of clients still are on that format.

Over the years, we started performing well for clients and realized, why don’t we productize our service? Why don’t we sell leads or sell on a per sale or something like that where essentially, instead of getting paid a flat fee each month, we were tied to incentives that aligned with the actual company itself – or our partner, I should say.

That allowed us to very rapidly scale without having to add hundreds of people or hundreds of clients or anything like that. When our clients grew, we grew and the incentivization grew and we made more money. Today, we’ve scaled up to a little over six figures a day that the company makes in gross revenue. I think a lot of people are surprised the team is only 30-something people. Most agencies in order to scale need to hire on dozens and dozens of people to get anywhere near that level, where because of the model and incentivization ad structure, and we’ve been able to do it in a win-win format.

ROB: The productization you came up with, did you get to leads? Or was there another metric? Does it vary by client a little bit?

ANTHONY: It varies by client. Most of what we focus on today is in the lead space, so each customer we send. But a lot of times it was structured initially on profit sharing or rev sharing or a bounty per new customer we drove. I think a lot of agencies and brands – we talked a little bit before this on where I see the future of advertising agencies – I think brands are going to demand more, as they should, out of their agencies, where it’s not just a “write a check and forget it” and pay it each month.

When essentially the incentivization is in alignment, both the agency and the company grow and everybody feels good about it versus writing a 10 grand a month check about SEO and saying you might see something in the next 2 years.

ROB: Right. It seems like there’s always tension in pricing, and you want to drive to value for sure. It seems like when you talk about leads, there’s a tension because if you price towards closed business, then you are linking your business to their sales effectiveness. But if you are not pricing to their closed business, then it leaves room for conversations about lead quality. How did you figure out which side you wanted to land on, if you have?

ANTHONY: Great question. That thought process – I’ll start with this, too, to asterisk the whole thing – it forced us to realize that we bring a lot more – a lot of times companies or even vendors look at themselves as vendors and they’re like, “These are the guys that write the checks for me.”

It’s like, hold on, when we’re doing good services, we’re actually helping write the checks for them. We’re helping them pay their employees because we’re driving customers. So it put us a lot more in the driver’s seat than I think a lot of agencies or even brands look at vendors or agencies. They look at them as a commodity or it’s just another person, where now it forced us to be infinitely more selective on who we worked with.

To your point, I remember at one point we had two companies that were the exact same. We literally copy and pasted the campaigns in Google AdWords, and one company was making $3 to every $1 net dollar margin that they were spending, and the other one said in 4 months, they hadn’t made a dollar in revenue. What was the difference there? It was their sales process internally. It was their product. It was how they closed deals. It had nothing to do with the lead flow we were driving.

I think a lot of agencies and brands, it’s easy to point and say the leads suck or the traffic sucks or they’re not good at what they do. We had to really look at, who are we aligning ourselves with? That is equally if not infinitely more important, to be aligned with the right people.

I guess to answer your initial question, we focused at the beginning, and we do today, on driving the best customers, really helping our clients make the most money, because we know in order for us to get paid more and put more dollars in our pocket, we need to help them put more dollars in their pocket. Otherwise they can’t pay us. If the company is not making money, they can’t continue to justify paying us.

So by focusing on really the bottom line of our clients or for agency owners to do that, you’re able to essentially justify your fees coming back tenfold. They’d be silly to not want to pay you more if you’re making them that money and you’re able to trackably show that.

ROB: As you’ve dialed in on these right customers for you, have there been certain categories, certain types of companies for certain product lines that have emerged? And how do you get close enough to really, really vet and evaluate whether they’re a good customer?

ANTHONY: The vetting, we’ll do everything. When they come in and they’re asking to work with us, we’ll buy the product or we’ll call in and even walk through the sales process of enrolling the client and stuff like that and just see, how is their follow-up sequence? How is their upsell sequence? How do they do it? A lot of that, we don’t necessarily have enough hours in the day or resources and/or bandwidth that we want to point towards helping them tune up their sales process.

If a lot of that is not already in place, we know it’s probably going to be a failing campaign. Simple things that you forget, but most companies don’t even pick up the phone when it rings. It’s so funny. They have a $12 an hour college guy or gal answering the phone, and it’s like, you’re spending 10 grand a month on Google AdWords and then you have a $12 an hour girl or guy answering the phones? How does that make sense?

So even just little quick things like that. Just saying, “Hey, is this going to be successful? Have they invested in their sales process?” That’s number one.

Number two, we’re at a really interesting inflection point where we need a big enough company that can scale so they can put six figures a month into marketing dollars, but also small enough where we can grab their ear when we need to say, “Hey, answer the phone in a certain way” or “Hey, you should work on your upsell sequence.” We had Fortune 500 companies where it took months to move anything, and it was hindering us, especially if we’re tied to performance. If we know something is going to work, or at least we want to test it, and it takes 3 months of approvals to get through middle management to upper management to senior – that’s not a partner for us either.

So we’ve really landed on companies that probably do anywhere from $10 million to $50 million a year that are heavily focused on direct response advertising. Things like that are really our bread and butter.

ROB: Any particular categories of direct response product?

ANTHONY: On our own website, a lot of the lead focus are a lot in the financial space, but healthcare has also been very big for us. Very easily, though, you can apply the same model to ecommerce. The same challenges work there, and now the conversation is on the phone with the brand. “How is your supply chain pipeline? Are you guys able to scale up quickly? Do you guys have investments? How’s your cash flow?” Asking those types of questions where if you’re signing up 100 sales and you go to 1,000 sales a day, do they have the infrastructure to support that?

I guarantee you, if you’re an agency owner or if you’re a brand listening, that conversation sticks out infinitely further than every other agency that’s like “I charge 10% of spend. We’re going to get you impressions and clicks and SEO.” The brand owner is almost like, “I don’t understand half this stuff. It feels like brain surgery. Everyone is having the same conversations with me.” “Here’s my past work.” It’s like, how about getting on the phone and being like, “Logistically, how would it work if you tripled it? Do you guys have the infrastructure to support that?”

Have that conversation. See the response you get if you’re an agency owner to a brand. Or if you’re a brand, think about how good that would feel to have that agency partner having those conversations with you as a partner.

I keep saying partner, too. I don’t say a vendor. I don’t say a company. It really becomes a partnership in a lot of ways because the whole train falls off the tracks if both sides aren’t keeping up their end of the bargain. If the engine isn’t moving, if they’re not putting the right gasoline and oil into the engine, you’re just the wheels, really. You could be the best wheels on the planet; if that engine is not fine-tuned, which is the client, or vice versa, there’s a problem. So there really needs to be an alignment on both. 

ROB: Anthony, you said you’re around 30 people in the company now, but obviously everybody starts somewhere, and it usually starts pretty small. How did you end up starting Siteflood, and what led to that beginning?

ANTHONY: It really started with me doing a lot of essentially consultation or consulting work, it felt like, or side hustle, where you’ve got a couple clients. I was the technician. I’m the one running the AdWords accounts and things like that and having the conversations.

At least me – I’ll just tell my story – you start doing everything, really. I’m the bookkeeper, I’m the accountant. I’m wearing all the hats. Then, at least my journey, I got busy enough where I was able to hire on – at the time, the first hire was a bookkeeper part-time, and then the second hire was actually my brother, someone to run the ads where then I enjoyed and was good at the conversations with the clients. Then started building out essentially people doing the work, so the technicians. I was the manager/point of contact for the clients to liaison, I’ll say. Then eventually replacing myself as that, and then last step is and was replacing myself in sales.

That’s the progression. I find a lot of agency owners move through a similar progression. They go from the technician to manager to learning how to be an entrepreneur. There’s a great book called The E-Myth that I recommend to anybody listening. It essentially walks through that journey and how you’re really each time learning new skillsets.

I was a badass sales guy, and then I was a badass internet marketer, and then I had to learn how to be a good manager. Then I had to learn to be a good entrepreneur. You really start at ground zero, almost on each one. I think the quicker you wrap your head around this is a totally new skillset, even though it’s the same industry or type of business – I think a lot of people fall into the fallacy that it’s like “I’m really good at Google AdWords. I’ll be a really good manager or a really good entrepreneur.” It’s not always the case. It’s very difficult to start from ground zero and really humble yourself each time you move that progression from technician to manager to entrepreneur.

ROB: Those last couple of steps that you mentioned can often be the most challenging. That switching out from being the lead salesperson, in particular, because in a services firm, so often the client wants some facetime with you as the founder, as the leader. How have you navigated that transition? Is it more that people who are taking the role and leading on sales are leading in that function and you’re still brought in sometimes because that’s part of the brand of the firm? Or have you found some tactics that you’ve been able to move it even further?

ANTHONY: I think there’s one thing that really stuck with me. I think especially a lot of A type entrepreneurs are very controlling, and nobody’s going to ever have the same level of care you do for your business because your name is on it. You’re taking the risk, so you get the downfall and the upside. When the company is making good money, you’re making good money. When the company is struggling or failing, it’s really your ass.

Where was I going with that? Oh, I had a great mentor tell me one time, “If you can hire someone to do the job 70% as good as you, that’s what you should aim for.” It was tough because at first I had someone come in and would run the AdWords accounts, and I was like, I can do this better.

The reality is, you probably can. If you’re telling yourself that, it’s probably true. But you will never grow with that mindset. The company will not grow. Unless you find a way to get more hours in the day – which Bill Gates hasn’t been able to figure that out yet – unless you find a way to be able to extend the length of the day, it’s impossible for you to ever break that.

Wrapping my head around that was like, got it, cool, put your ego down, understand that yes, nobody can do this as good as you – and that’s okay. Now it’s become a function of, can I hire someone to do it 70% as good as me. I really lead with “I do, you watch, then you do, I watch, and then I manage.” Essentially, I’m doing it and showing it; they’re watching. Then I’m hands off and I’m watching and I’m saying, “Now you’re doing it.”

Then when it feels good, it’s putting checks and balances in place. It’s “Hey, let’s track the CPA you’re driving for this campaign. Let’s track how many conversations you had with a client.” I’ll poke in time to time and just listen on mute to a sales call, little things like that. But really, at least for me, it’s a function of again, I’m doing and you’re watching, you’re taking notes.

And it’s not a one-time thing. It’s consistently – it’s funny. Now I joke I’m really a cheerleader, at the end of the day, today. I work for my team more than they work for me. My job all day long is like, “What can I get you? How can I help you?” They’re like, “Go get me this.” I’m running to go get coffee for everybody. That’s my job now: to continuously invest in their wellbeing, to make sure they have the right tools, they have the right training, set them up to have consultations with people that might be better. That’s in personal and business life.

That continuous grooming of individuals is really, at least in my opinion, the key to sustainable long-term growth. But again, that was a little tactical there. I think that same progression applies to whether you’re hiring someone around an AdWords account, someone to talk to clients, or someone to sell. But short answer, yeah.

The other portion of my time is putting out fires. I’m not going to say I’m sitting on a beach all day and the machine runs itself. I am there to put our fires. I am there when there’s a difficult conversation or a new challenge that comes up for a sales guy or within the accounts. I am there to help strategize or to jump in or anything like that. Yeah, I’d say I handle the top 10% of fires as well that roll up to me.

ROB: Very good. Anthony, you mentioned that one of your early hires was your brother, and it sounded like he came in in this operational structuring role. How have you thought about, as you grow, handling this balance of needing process to scale while also needing creativity and the entrepreneurial spirit to continue growth and avoid stagnating?

ANTHONY: That’s an awesome question, dude. I think first you’ve got to understand where your strength is. Is it operationally or is that continued vision? Ultimately, I think I’d be lying if I didn’t say you have to learn and work on both. That’s where that challenge of the 24 hours comes in.

But it’s hiring people that can do things better than yourself. For instance, I remember when we were at a much, much, much smaller size, I hired an operational consultant who came in for a week. It was a ton of money at the time for him to come in, and I was like, this is a necessary investment. He put together project management systems and he put together processes.

It was all stuff that I had been probably a year too late. We really needed it a year earlier and I just kept being like, “I’ll do it” or “We should” or “We’re good, the train’s not falling off.” Making those investments back into the business is extremely key because if I hadn’t done that, we would’ve never unlocked the next level in the video game. We would’ve been stuck on that same level.

That process is extremely important and it is something that I am not blessed with. I was not born to be very checklist, A, B, C, D, E. I always joke it’s a “fire, ready, aim” mentality. Essentially, finding people, whether it’s consultants, it’s a part-time person – whoever gets that ball moving, because a lot of times it’s hard, depending on the size of an agency, to be like “Let me go hire a full-time operations guy or project management.” You might not have the cash flow to be able to justify that.

But what can you afford and what kind of steps – there’s a great site called Clarity.fm where you can pay people per minute for their time. Go find someone who ran a good-sized company operationally and have them come in and help put this together. Spend a day with someone on your team that can help do it. Because ultimately, you do need to be watching out for icebergs as an entrepreneur. If that is the role you’re going to take and you are going to be the visionary, you do need to be looking out for the future and say, “Hey, we need to productize our service” or “Hey, we need to focus here.”

Some of the most successful people in the world stare out of a window for hours throughout the day. Everyone’s like, “Are they daydreaming? What are they doing?” You get paid as an entrepreneur to think. The quicker you can free up your time from – I’ll have days where I have 200 emails, and I’ll shut it down. I’ll just sit outside and just think.

It sounds funny. It’s like, “Dude, you’ve got to knock those out.” Some of my highest ROI time is just sitting on a bench somewhere and thinking. It sounds funny and it sounds silly, but it really is true. Eventually, if you are the visionary, you’re paid to think. You make money when you’re thinking. The quicker you get out of the day-to-day rut and the more time you have free to just express yourself and think, the quicker the business is going to grow.

If you’re not the visionary, if you’re not there, can you find a business partner that is? Can you find someone, again, a consultant or a mentor, someone who has been there, done that, grown to that level? How can you get around them and incentivize them again to help you? Maybe they make a percentage of growth. Maybe you’re paying them high hourly to get that. Maybe that’s a skill you’re going to work on. “How do I study some of the best visionaries and thinkers in the world?”

So I don’t want you to get stuck if someone is really good operationally on stuff to be like “That’s not me, I’m screwed.” It’s like, no, find someone who – essentially, understand what you’re good at, double down on that, and then surround yourself with people that can pick up the slack on the other level, is really the key.

I think the reason I’m so good at what I do is because I know what I’m really bad at and I’m okay with that. So I don’t need to wear 50 hats. I don’t need my ego to be stroked. I don’t need to be right. In fact, I want to be wrong. How can you find people that will tell you you’re wrong and can help get that to the next level?

And it doesn’t have to be hiring someone full-time. You don’t need to have a $100,000 a month payroll to do that. I’m telling you, there are shortcuts. There are people that want a mentee in their life because they get a ton of value out of mentoring someone at any stage of a business. Are you reaching out to those people on LinkedIn? Are you direct messaging them on Instagram for a conversation? Again, are you hiring a consultant? Are you paying someone an hourly rate to come in? Are you finding a part-time CFO that can at least get the ball rolling so you can start seeing the value or start making somewhat of your investment back? Understand the value of a CFO or something like that at a limited facet before jumping in and hiring someone at $100,000 salary, $60,000 salary.

ROB: A lot of gold there, Anthony. We will get Clarity.fm into the show notes as well. You’ve been looking back a little bit on some really good lessons along the way. What are some things you might do in building Siteflood that you would do differently that you’ve learned? If you said, “If I were doing this all over again, I would change…”

ANTHONY: I had a few key moments for me. One was I remember I sat in this all-day learning thing, and they go, “If you can’t sit here all day without having to go – if you can’t step away from your business for a full day on a workday, there’s a problem.” I think that pain point really hit with me. I felt successful, I felt good enough, I was making good money, and I felt kind of like an idiot. I was like, damn. I got four or five calls throughout that thing. I had to literally go outside. I was like, “Holy crap, I have not created a business. I’ve created a job for myself.” The second I woke up to that, I started really understanding, again, some of my pain points.

Some of the things that I would do differently is niche down in the specific industry and focus on that. I hear it over and over again; it did not ring with me, and now I can say, thank God, it finally did. In hindsight I can look back, and like I said, healthcare and financial industries – it’s not I just focus on plumbers or something like that, so I’m not even there yet, although I’d like to be one day. Even just this focus around finance and healthcare – we don’t work with ecommerce clients. Even just cutting that off, it sounds funny and it felt funny at the beginning because you don’t want to turn away business.

There’s ways to do it. Refer someone and get a referral fee to an agency that does work on ecommerce clients. Then it doesn’t feel like you’re turning away money. Stuff like that. But niching on one industry I think allows you to not just think about – if you’re an advertising agency, not just advertising all day, but really helping you read on the financial industry or read on the healthcare industry, whatever it is. If it’s legal, law firms, read on that. You start learning the conversations. You start seeing trends in what’s working and not working, even as osmosis, even outside of running ads.

It also allows your team to focus. Now they know how to run a law firm’s account versus they’re working with a car guy and then a plumber. They’re learning new industries all day long. There’s a compounding effect to just focusing on the same industry. So that’s number one. I heard it, but I wasn’t listening for probably 2 years. I heard niche down specific on one, and I was like, “Yep, sounds good, but I’ve got this auto guy who’s about to sign up, and then I’ve got this DUI lawyer that’s about to sign. That’s money. I want money.”

I’m not necessarily telling you turn away money. Find ways to monetize that or do it at a limited facet, but start gravitating towards which client are you performing the best for? Who do you have the best results for? Then go find more of those people. Go find more of those to essentially enroll more in your program or bring on as a client. That niching is the number one change that I would make. Can’t stress that enough. I didn’t listen.

Number two, again, is find what I disliked the most, like what didn’t I like in my day-to-day the most, and hire for that immediately. There is a massive cost that people don’t see to their brainpower, to you spending time on things that you’re not good at and you don’t like doing. It drains your energy.

Looking at your energy as a currency is a really big deal. People don’t look at their energy and time as a currency. Is something energizing you and getting you excited, or is it draining you? If it’s draining you, find someone who it does excite.

I remember my bookkeeper, I kept apologizing when I needed her to do stuff because I hated it. One day she goes, “Anthony, why do you keep apologizing? I love doing this stuff.” That clicked with me. Just because I don’t like to do it, doesn’t mean other people dislike to do it. So that was a really big learning point for me too.

Really, those two go a long way, the focusing, doubling down on a specific thing, and then essentially – there’s a theme here – hiring around things you’re not good at or you don’t like doing.

ROB: That’s a great takeaway to get rid of those things. Really, it takes your mental energy to think about doing it, then to not do it, and then to do it. It’s a bad, bad thing. Anthony, as you’re looking ahead, what is coming up for Siteflood or the industry in general, marketing world, that you’re pumped about?

ANTHONY: I think marketing world in general I’ll touch on – because I think it’ll apply the best to everybody – I really do see a shift in the market where brands are not going to put up with just writing a $5,000 or $10,000 a month check and be okay with it. I think the companies and the agencies that are good at what they do are going to move to more and more performance-based. I think that’s very healthy for the space.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here with both brands and agencies. They’ve gotten burnt by the people overseas that said, “I’ll get you to Google No. 1 for $500 a month” or “I’ll do this.” The overpromise, underdeliveries I think are keeping a lot of brands from working with the right agencies. That’s challenging, and I think we’re moving that friction point of tying in performance bonuses or becoming more performance/CPA driven agencies versus, again, these big agencies that come in and get big contracts and say “Look how many eyeballs you’re bringing out!”, which some people are excited by, but most brands are ROI focused, CPA driven. At some point they are focused on revenue.

I see that as a shift over the next few years. It will become more and more prevalent for marketing agencies, and I think it’s going to squeeze out the low-performing ones, and I think it’s going to put the high-performing ones on a rocket ship to the moon because brands are going to be a lot more excited to work with agencies. There’s not this dirty feeling around it.

I look at it as like buying a car. I hate going to buy a car because I feel dirty about it. Even when I need a car or even if I want one, I’m like, “Nah, I don’t really want to go deal with that process.” I think brands probably feel that way to an extent. They’re like, “I know I need a marketing agency, I know there’s good ones, I know I can use it, but man, I don’t really want to get jerked around for another 6 months and thousands of dollars and this and that.”

I’m hoping the overall viewpoint and feeling around marketing agencies increases in a positive light versus “I’ve been burnt 50 times” or “I’ve just given up.” They’re too jaded. So I’m really hoping for that.

The other thing that’s interesting is we’re in a great market right now. Everybody is a little bit more lenient with spending money and things like that, and as we head towards, eventually, the economy correcting itself – I don’t know when it’ll be, but that’s something interesting to focus on, too, for a lot of agencies. Are you working with recession-proof businesses? That’s interesting to think about on the horizon. Are you working with want-to-haves or need-to-haves? Are you working with people that sell trinkets? Are they going to be the first to get cut when it comes to a recession, or are you aligning yourself with businesses that are recession-proof?

That’s not everything, but it is an interesting thought that I think a lot of agencies may not be looking at. Because things are good, people forget the ’08s or ’06s of times. Or may not have been in business or around then. I fall into that too, being younger and not really being mature in business when the recession was low. So I’m really preaching to myself. Just look out for the horizon. I don’t know what that exactly means to you listening, but it is an important thing that I think when times are good, everybody forgets and doesn’t necessarily prep for. So apply that however you want.

ROB: That’s real solid, Anthony. When people want to find you and they want to find Siteflood, where should they go to track you down?

ANTHONY: I’m most active probably on Instagram. It’s just my first and last name, @anthonysarandrea. Just google me and reach out on one of my sites. I’m happy to answer any questions for anybody, too.

Any way I can help. If you’re an agency looking to grow, I’d be more than happy to help point you in the right direction or give any feedback. Or if you’re a brand that’s struggling to decide which agency to work with, I can help, give you some pointers as you’re going through that process on some of the best people or best things to look out for or questions to ask, things like that. It does feel a little bit like brain surgery. Really, on either respect, if you’re the agency or you’re the brand, having third party clarity, I’m happy to jump in that facet.

ROB: That’s great. Thank you, Anthony Sarandrea, Founder of Siteflood. It has been great to hear your own story and journey. Congratulations on everything that y’all are doing.

ANTHONY: Thanks, brother. Thank you guys for having me. I really appreciate it. I had a blast.

ROB: All right. Be well.

ANTHONY: Thanks, bro.

ROB: Thank you for listening. The Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast is presented by Converge. Converge helps digital marketing agencies and brands automate their reporting so they can be more profitable, accurate, and responsive. To learn more about how Converge can automate your marketing reporting, email info@convergehq.com, or visit us on the web at convergehq.com.