How to Grow and Scale Your Startup with Josh Harris

In this episode of Agency Journey, Gray MacKenzie sits down with Josh Harris, the Founder of Agency Growth Secrets, to talk about building up your agency and standing out as a startup. Josh shares the steps that early-stage agencies should take to succeed, how to craft a great offer, and his strategies for avoiding vicious churn cycles. Stay tuned.
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Josh Harris is the Founder of Agency Growth Secrets, a company that helps other agencies grow using niche selection, lead generation, sales, and campaign fulfillment. Agency Growth Secrets leverages AI to optimize marketing campaigns and saves companies a fortune in customer acquisition costs.

Throughout his career, Josh has been recognized by Forbes and Entrepreneur for his successful work. He is also part of The Oracles, a members-only group of prestigious entrepreneurs. After facing countless achievements and failures during his entrepreneurial journey, Josh is now passionate about sharing what he’s learned so that others can enjoy the same success.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Josh Harris talks about his experience with Facebook advertising and reveals the largest growth channels right now
  • What are the top trends of successful agencies?
  • Josh explains the core elements of a great offer and shares examples from his past campaigns
  • How to effectively exit your business: maintain momentum
  • Josh’s tips for building a team for your agency
  • The pros and cons of different types of resource partners
  • Josh shares his integrated, niche-specific approach to marketing and sales
  • Agency Growth Secrets’ model for success
  • Where to learn about Agency Growth Secrets and its various offers

In this episode…

As a startup, how can you gain clients, stand out in the marketplace, and grow your agency? Josh Harris, who found big success after launching his small startup, is here to share his strategies with you.  

According to Josh, there are six ways to get customers: paid media, earned media, owned media, referrals, JV partners, and direct outreach. While all of these channels are beneficial to a business, Josh suggests starting out with direct outreach and referrals. As he says, these methods will give you the chance to work on your offer before you even have clients.    

In this episode of Agency Journey, Gray MacKenzie sits down with Josh Harris, the Founder of Agency Growth Secrets, to talk about building up your agency and standing out as a startup. Josh shares the steps that early-stage agencies should take to succeed, how to craft a great offer, and his strategies for avoiding vicious churn cycles. Stay tuned.  

Sponsor for this episode…

Oribi:

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To start your free trial, visit oribi.io/agencyjourney. Use the coupon code agencyjourney and get 20% off any plan.

ZenPilot:

And be sure to check out ZenPilot, where we help agencies optimize their operations using our proven systems and processes.

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So, what are you waiting for?

Go to zenpilot.com to learn more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Episode Transcript:

Gray MacKenzie  0:13  

Hey, as we're diving into today's episode of Agency Journey, let me tell you real quickly about our sponsor Oribi. Oribi is a super cool all in one marketing analytics tool. They've got Google Analytics squarely in their sights right now. And I can remember setting up Google Analytics as a sophomore in college and thinking this was just the coolest platform. And as its matured, it's still super powerful, but it's become so complex to deal with. And Oribi has a value prop totally aside from this. But what I absolutely love about my experience plugging Oribi into ZenPilot python is I didn't have to mess around with setting up what events I wanted to capture and tracking all my changes. And if I messed up with view, then it would, it would delete all the data that I had. I just plugged it in a crawl that captured all our all of our events made it super easy to see our funnel. And it just works a living. You'll see for example, how many people read the Definitive Guide to click up for agencies, a blog post that I wrote, I don't know six months ago, see where those folks come from how that influences the buying process, the funnel the way that it works out. So super excited to have Oribi as a sponsor, you check it out, go to Oribi.io/agencyjourney, it's all one word. If you spin up a free trial there, use the coupon code agencyjourney, same thing all one word, that'll give you 20% off any plan, which is super generous of them. Remember, they can track all of our conversions. So check them out. That's Oribi.io. We appreciate their sponsorship. And let's get on with the episode. All right, welcome into this week's episode of Agency Journey. This week. I have the pleasure of speaking with Joshua Harris. Josh, thanks for coming on, man. I'm great. I'm excited. I'm excited to dive in. Because we were just talking about, you're talking with a ton of agencies. And so actually, you recently connected me with an agency to talk to who needed help on the operation side. We got talking and he said, I was just asking, How do you know Josh, what's the relationship there? He's like, I saw this guy all over Facebook. And so I'm gonna guess. Because you've got the marketing side, pretty dialled in right now I'm gonna guess a lot of people listening are gonna be like, I've seen this guy met. So which I thought was, was super funny. We were kind of laughing about it on the call. But first question I have around your own business yourself. And maybe you can give us kind of a quick synopsis of the business itself. But then also, is Facebook a primary channel? Or what are some of the primary channels for you from a growth perspective?

Josh Harris  2:32  

Yeah, sure, man. So it kind of tackle this one at a time. So my background is like many people, I was born at a young age. And from there, you know, just kind of got right into it. So I start my first business at 12. I had my first taste of like value for like, not being connected to a time that you spent, right. So because of that, I was hooked. And after that, it was like, Alright, cool. This is the game I'm playing. I'm not going to get a job. I'm going to business, right and so funny story 15, I started a pooper scooper business called doo doo be gone. didn't go anywhere. And I learned a very valuable lesson I'll tell you guys about which is that you have to validate your market and make sure there's buyers before you build the whole, you know, build it and they will come type thing. So I've been, I guess the first question I can answer here is like, I guess like, is Facebook a big channel for us? Is that the most important one or?

Gray MacKenzie  3:18  

Yeah, let's start. Let's start there.

Josh Harris  3:20  

Okay, cool. So I think I ran my first Facebook ad probably into like, when they first opened up Facebook, like I had an account. And this is before the pixel existed just to let you guys know, like, this was like, brand new, okay. And I think that that clicks for a penny. And I was like, dude, there's no way to track any of this stuff. So you know, I don't know, if I'm, you know, we'll see what we can do here. I that guy that was like, I messed around and spent a little bit but like, I've had a business manager for two. And you know, a lot of people if you got a business manager for agency, you can kind of tell, you know, based on how many accounts you've got, you can create like how old it is. And I haven't heard of anybody that has more than me at the mall. But that doesn't mean I've met everybody, but I've got 2500 accounts, I can have my dispatcher. So people say, Oh, I gotta get another account or whatever. You know, I have so many of them just sitting there that we've never used. Yeah, well, you know, I've been on Facebook for a while, the first time I got a customer from Facebook myself. Man, that would have to have been, I want to say back in 2015, maybe right when I was I was working with more direct agency clients. And you know, it was pretty magical, right? Because most of us are. We've got our agency and it's kind of in that startup phase. We haven't done paid advertising for ourselves. It's, it's really, that big thing that differentiates you from the men and the boys, right is that if you can't do the thing that you're paying other people you know, they're paying you to do, it's like, well, you're just one of those guys, that's, you know, like a fat personal trainer, you know, no offence to fat personal trainers out there. You know, overweight ones, but at the end of the day, it's like, you got to be in congruent with what you're doing because it's really hard to say, hey, let's do something that I can't do for myself. So you know, that was the first part of walking the walk. I got into it. And I mean, I've spent I, one of the accounts I have right now it's millions of dollars just in that one account that's been spent. And you know, I've never, never lost money on advertising, you know. And that's the cool thing is like, there's been times where things didn't work out as well. But it's literally been a consistent, I've never done less than two to one. And I mean, we've done some insane stuff where not just like one thing, but for you know, a period of time we had like a 25 to one cash ROI. On some ads we were doing, it was just like, it's crazy. It's like a slap to some degree, but it's like the game's rigged in your favor.

Gray MacKenzie  5:34  

If you understand the rule, is you're acquiring customers today, obviously, now you've got some of the benefits have you got a name, you've got a reputation and you've got referrals coming in? Is Facebook still what drives the the what's the largest growth channel for you right now?

Josh Harris  5:49  

You know, I would still say, Facebook is what I always like to break it down is like, there's six different ways to get customers. A lot of people they don't look at it, like they think Facebook, they think YouTube, like, they have to look at these things from like more of a like, holistic standpoint. And so the six ways to get customers ultimately are, you know, just go ahead, I actually have them here kind of broken down by the types of difficulty, and also how fast they work. So like, first you got paid media. And so in paid media like underneath that you've got all the different channels, you got YouTube, LinkedIn, TikTok, you name it, there's all different types of paid ad channels that you can use. Then you've got own media and owned media, I see that as like, any sort of lists, or customers or prospects you build from doing that paid media, right? So email lists, things like that, yep, then you got earned media and earned media, maybe you could say something like this is that I mean, I can't just show up and not have anything good to say and get attention on your podcast here. So I in a way have earned this media, right, this is more of it, then you've got below that. So those are the ones I kind of have a lot of my top row, those ones are kind of like more difficult and cost, you know, prohibitive, or whatever for people that are more starting out. then below that I've got referrals, right. And then there's two types of referrals, you've got client referrals, and you've got like network referrals, people that know you or know what you do, then you've kind of got JV partners, which I look at as like anyone that has your customer base, and they're complimentary. And do there's a ton of these, I talk to agents all the time. And I say, look, you know how many software companies work in your niche and sell a $20 thing and have 1000 customers that can introduce you to tomorrow, if you just had a good offer to put out to them. And most people, they just they don't even think that way. So it's like, you know, the thinking is important. And then the last one here would just be like direct outreach, which is just any sort of outreach channel where you're going direct to that person that you want to be in front of. So that's how I look at it from a holistic standpoint, our big one is one category, they've made a media but our earned media, or rather, our owned media, you know, our lists and stuff over time do well, but we always test our offers on cold because I have an audience that like literally, if I said buy this water machine, they would buy it, you know, there people like that. Right?

Gray MacKenzie  8:03  

Yeah, that makes sense. Yes. validating it to folks who aren't already predisposed to do whatever you asked them to do, you don't have that relationship is kind of the true form of validation. So as you're working with agencies right now, and you've connected with a bunch of them, one of the one of the things that I wanted to kind of walk through was just some of the trends that you're seeing in terms of what the best agencies are doing. So maybe let's start and I want to tackle that from three different vectors, where we can break your agency internally down into three main ones growth, that is all the client acquisition side of things, delivery, all your client services, and then operations come in what happens back end people culture, HR, legal finance, that type of stuff. From a growth perspective, as you're working with agencies, and I would imagine this, this varies. But we're going to kind of the norm, I don't know how to quantify this one, we should just pick some metrics, kind of but relatively early stage agency, our Navy fails, the main one that you're pointing them to.

Josh Harris  8:59  

So you know, it's hard to put people into buckets. You're like, I look at him as like stages, right? So the first stage of an agency, right? You're looking at evolution, right? So I like to talk to this is like, what is the start that someone goes through all the way up to the very end? So and then at each stage is a different problem. So I kind of like start by just like high level, it's like, Okay, do I want to have a online business? Then if I want an online business, which model then they say, Okay, well, I want an agency, right? And the agency idea is effectively saying, hey, I want to have a service based business that works with businesses. That's it, right? b2b service based business cool. And I think that it should be around growth marketing services of some sort. So then now we're into a whole different decision, which is, what do I sell? Who do I sell it to? How do I deliver like, what's what, what all those different questions so then that's kind of like that pre market stage. So then they're at that point where they're saying, Okay, now I have a strategy, and I'm actively trying to get clients and so they're doing some form of outreach, or some some form of appointment book. He attempts to some level of success. They're putting some sort of offer out there. And then the first stage is, can I get calls? Then? Once I get the calls? Can I close them? Then it's like, if I close them, then there's all sorts of economics of what the service delivery is, what is it? How well does it scale? How long do they stick? Do they ascend services? Can I scale my team, you know, and then once that has done that's kind of like you close that loop of, Hey, I can get someone on the phone, I can close them into a sale, and I can deliver a product that they have a level of satisfaction with, that they don't want to like, you know, report you to the Better Business Bureau or whatever it is that you did, and to say something right, as they say, the sales is a promise made, the delivery is a promise kept, you got to follow through. And then it's just building up teams under that. Alright, how do I scale the marketing, hire my first sales persons that I'm not doing all the closing, and then have a you know, basically a director or a service coordinator. And so those are kind of the thing. So it's hard to like, pick someone in those buckets, because then I also call it like the weird mutant agency that basically they sell anything they can sell to anyone they can talk to, you know, sure. Yeah. Like the

Gray MacKenzie  11:07  

salesman on the digital. Yes, man, right. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.

Josh Harris  11:10  

Likely, whatever you're buying, I'm selling. Yep. Though, if that and that, if they're at the point where they don't have a way to get clients because they have to have a way to get appointments, I always recommend to start with some form of direct outreach and referrals. And the reason I do is because those are the like, the most forgiving methods, and they give you a chance to really work on your offer. And that's really the thing that's overarching with those six channels, I say, all of those channels work, right. The great thing about a wonderful offer is if I stop you on the street, and you're my prospect, and I have a great offer, I can literally say it to you. And you're like, I want to learn more about that, right? And so it doesn't matter what the channel is, it's just understanding which channel you maybe have an advantage in and either knowledge, or something you can leverage. And then every channel works with a great offer. And the ironic thing is that people say, Oh, my Facebook ads aren't working, or whatever it is my direct outreach, it's like, it's really the offer, because it's like if the message is getting in front of your ideal prospect. Yep. And seeing it. They're not responding because they're not interested that is it. Right.

Gray MacKenzie  12:15  

From an offer perspective, what are the components? Is you're working with agencies that narrow in the offer side? What are the core things that they have to have? Right? And maybe if we look at a couple different things there your most offers would be we do x for y, obviously, what's the service that we do? And some people have different formulas, you want x y, but without the normal pain that you associated with it, or we do X, Y? And here's the social proof of it. What are the components you're looking for? Like, hey, here's a great offer.

Josh Harris  12:45  

Yeah, so like, to me, I always like to think like, what's the thing that if you just described it, someone was interested, you know, because like, I was looking at this way, like, you have to stand out from the marketplace in a way that's unique. Right? But also valuable, right? So like, you know, a perfect example, I've heard this one before is like a poker car is unique, but nobody wants one. Right? So you know, on the other hand, you have like a Rolls Royce, you know, ghost or Phantom. It's like, that's unique. And people want that, right. And the market response to that type of thing. Which is actually an interesting point I was making earlier is like, and when I talk to people who like, well, we got 30 clients, they're charging 500 bucks a month. I'm like, Look, I can be the top selling Ferrari salesman, if I could discount it. 50% like you're giving away a service that's usually double, or triple. Right? So are you good at sales? Are you just good at like, basically giving away all your margins and having a really, really high stress job? Yeah, that's, that's an important thing to face. So an offer I think it really comes down to is like it, you'll know it when you hear it. And like copywriting, it's something you have to practice and study, right? You have to like, look at good offers out there. And if you look, you know, when you studied direct response marketing, every great piece of copywriting, which is like I started studying that, that's kind of how I got into this a little bit. I was like, Oh, I'm gonna be a copywriter. And it was, well, no one sends out direct mail anymore. Well, I guess I got to work with websites. And they're like, well, I care more about the website being mobile friendly than the copy and like, what the copy. I was like, well, maybe I could do emails. And I was like, well, what's the point of a website? He knows, nobody knows it exists. I was like, like I say, figure out pay traffic. And you know, like, that's like the evolution will say, well, Oh, actually, this is the most incredible laboratory of real time feedback for direct responses ever existed. Yeah, was that and then it's like, Dude, it's You're like a kid in a candy store. So I think it's looking at the offers out there. And it's been First of all, where what else is being said, most people don't do this, right. As I say, look, if you have a client, let's say you want to work with personal injury attorneys, okay. If you manage a website or personal injury attorney, and let's say you've got access to their web forms, right. You'll see the offers that are being made every day. For sure. These guys, and I think that's the most that's the thing that most people don't look at, is that you need to know what else is being said. So you can say something that stands out because otherwise, as different as we all are, we're all the same in a different way. Right? And that we will naturally come to some of the same conclusions. So whatever you think's a great idea. Are you the one that has that thought? And is it actually differentiate it. So that's the first thing. And there's a lot of ways to do that, you can do that. You can look on LinkedIn, right? You don't have to have a prospects login. But let's just say you're you're working with personal injury attorneys type in personal injury marketing on LinkedIn, and look at who comes up. Because they rank those people based on relevance, who's getting the most like connections and everything like that. Those are the guys that are are doing something. And there may be things you can see they're doing right. But more importantly, you need to see how to stand out. Because if you say the same thing as everybody else, the only way you win is if you can say it louder and more often. And that's not a fun game to play when you're a startup and you don't have unlimited time resources.

Gray MacKenzie  15:52  

Right? That's an that's an expensive place to be in. Nearly. So you get the offer. Right. And you're working on the offer. I think that's one thing or one common temptation is you're running a business, it's crazy, it's hectic, you if you have some leads coming in, you're trying to work leads, and you're trying to deal with it on the back end the delivery side. But it is really easy to leave that offer kind of untouched or

Josh Harris  16:15  

like just let it it's it's the one thing that doesn't and I can give you a couple examples that that'd be helpful, too. Yeah, yeah. I look at it like an example of this would be like in fitness, right? So in fitness, it's all diet and exercise. Like this is like this is your physical body hasn't really changed. yet. It's all about how do we package the work into that, right? Like I remember years ago, one of my first people that I really like studied and learned from was Eben Pagan, actually, when he went under the the sinner name David DeAngelo, with double your dating, and he built a massive info business. And it's funny as you went through this product, because I mean, I was like, I couldn't even have a conversation with a woman. So I was like, I gotta figure this out. Someone's figured this out, I gotta learn from this guy. And I learned a lot more about his business model in the info space than I did. You know, I learned a ton for what he taught. But like, it's funny as you went up the ladder is like end product was like, hey, if you want to get a 10, you got to be attentive. I was like, Wait, what? I was like, wait. So you basically get what you deserve, is kind of more or less what it came back to is like you can get less than you deserve. But you never really get more consistently, like you have to be more valuable. And like when you realize that's the case, and it's not about like tricking somebody. And that's what everybody teaches is like, oh, trick somebody to pay you, well, then they're not gonna pay you the next month. But if you just completely defang the offer, don't make it exciting, well, then you're not gonna close the body. There's a mix between there. So let me tell you a couple offers that we put together. So the first offer that I put together years ago, was, you know, I would say was around LinkedIn. So I figured out how to book like 20 to 30 calls a week, like, if anyone's getting spammed on LinkedIn, I was probably part of Sorry, guys, I was part of what really brought that a lot more mainstream in the agency space, I can trace a lot of people's stuff to like what I taught them years ago, and that thing worked insanely well because I can make an outcome. promise that was specific. Okay. Now, on the agency side, what I really started realizing is like, right before Cambridge analytic and they started stripping away a lot of data targeting from Facebook, I started getting into like, behavioural data, identity graphs, and and, you know, basically contact based marketing, because, you know, there's all these different ways we're starting to access the internet. And so it's less about a demographic bucket, but a person across different channels. So I basically started getting to that experimenting with it, and then bringing that to the agencies I work with. So they talk about that. And that was like a selling point, because they weren't just like me do Facebook ads, it was like, hey, if we can actually identify the specific people, regardless of what channel they're on, would that be valuable to you? And so then that would be a conversation starter. And the one we're doing right now, that's working insanely well, is it's funny as you as you grow, you, like get into different things, right? So I had to read a $300,000, check the IRS, and I was like, This is getting out of control. Like this is crazy, right? I'm like, how is this possible? And then at the same year, I read Amazon paid zero in federal taxes. So I'm like, Alright, somebody knows something. Because I don't know that and I'm writing a check big checks here. So I went down that rabbit hole to kind of figure things out. And along the way I like discovered this whole world of tax credits, where like, literally the government in their in their code, they'll say, look, there's certain behaviours that if you do them, we're going to reward you with tax benefits. So solar, a lot of people familiar with that. There's so tax credits. So if your tax bill, let's say you get a solar roof, it's 20,000 bucks, there's a 26% tax credit, so you get 5200 bucks off your tax bill. And here's what's crazy about tax savings like that. If an average margin of business is 10 to 20%. That means when you save someone five grand in taxes, that's the equivalent of giving them 25 to $50,000 with a stroke of a pen and no extra work. So I got to think I was like, Is there some way I can get working with me to qualify for some sort of a tax break and went down the rabbit hole I found something, which you know, I can't give all the details of here. But effectively, I can get any client that works with one of my agencies $5,000 off their taxes. Working with me if their tax bill is like 10 grants, I hate five grand back in your pocket just for working with me. So it's like, well, that's a pretty exciting advantage. We can say, Hey, listen, I've noticed XYZ. But you're also like probably noticing that you're probably like paying more than you need to. And you're not taking advantage of a couple tax breaks that you quantify? Well, it's like, well, now as a business owner, how many people have heard that? Very few. Why? Because well, tax planners are terrible marketers, they're very nerdy accountant type people. And marketers have saturated offers. So for me, I'm always thinking like, what is the advantage? And how can it be communicated with just the thought of it? And the sound of it? Right? If you said that to someone, like, I'm listening, I haven't heard this before, right? And then if you can show it and prove it, if it comes down to a coin toss, I'm gonna work with a guy that can save me five grand on my taxes, if everything's the same,

Gray MacKenzie  20:58  

for sure. Yeah. Finally, unique angle and like most good ideas, some combination of a couple things that nobody's combined yet, or nobody's figured out how to say. And that's

Josh Harris  21:09  

also important. It's like, you've got to be able to deliver on that. So for us, like, I always look at it from a deliverable stamp. I'm like, hey, what would you do with 1000s of clients with this, because our agencies use as their back end. And so, you know, that's always part of it. So there's really like, our business works with three stages, we have a lab we testing is everyone's like, what about this tool that, like, we test just about everything? Okay, so if it's good, we're using it, or we tell you use it or it's not. And we told you, then we test them on a retail part of our business, and then we give it to the agencies to wholesale through us. And it's like, at that point, they don't have to be constantly wondering if something's actually good, or if it's just another shiny object. Yep.

Gray MacKenzie  21:47  

Yeah, that makes sense. So you get the offer in place, what are you seeing? There's this tricky point for agencies trying to handoff sales from the owner of the principal early on. And you'll hear advice across the board from I was listening to a podcast last week. And someone said, for most agencies, under 100 people, the principal is still the main business development person, and didn't really qualify what was meant by business development person, I was like, 100, that's not been my experience. Like that's an awfully long ways. that's a that's a real long haul for somebody to take to get to that point, especially if sales isn't their jam. But what are you seeing in terms of where the principle hands off sales, onboarding someone, principles, and being able to hand that off and keep the agency going without the drop momentum that often goes along with it? The tendencies either agency understanding, I do it because they never believe anybody could take it, or they hire somebody, and they just abdicate our responsibility, and they want to be out of the picture and the whole thing crumbles.

Josh Harris  22:43  

Yeah, man, it's, it's a tricky thing to get to try to exit your business. Like I always like to think of that. That scene from I think it's Endgame. Or maybe it was Infinity War and Avengers where Thor is like hanging on to try to hold that that star forge open. I mean, that's like literally what it's like when you're an agency owner in the business startup. And it's actually a lot harder in the beginning. Because you have to do all that stuff. And you have to, like, maintain that momentum. So I mean, the one thing I can always say is like, you must maintain momentum, like momentum is when it's gone. It's so hard to get it back. It's just, it's just the spinning plate. When the plate is spinning, it's easy to keep it spinning. But to get something going from a dead stop. It's so difficult, right? So here's what I'll say. And I this may be a bit of a controversial opinion in the space, because there's a lot of different people that talk about sales stuff. But sales is the hardest thing in any service based business to hand off to somebody else. It is the it's the one thing that has the least forgiveness, because I like to say, Listen, if you screw up for a client, right, you can run interference. You can you can do things like that doesn't happen in real time, when you're doing marketing or outbound things to grow your business. Also, right that's, that's not as touchy like, it's not like, you can't wait I Oh, I did an error in something like an ad has a good, there's time to pause and Google, there's no time to pause and Google in a sales call. There's no time to pause and say, What should I say here? sales a lot more like a sport than it is anything else. And it's something that I personally, I'd say in the agency space, like myself, and my principals and my companies, like, we probably do more of this stuff from the billion dollar companies all the way down to, you know, smaller businesses that want smaller packages, like we know what works across the spectrum. But that's the hardest thing to hand off. And so to me, I found a couple things. Number one, when it comes to sales, this is the one thing you as an agency owner, bite the bullet and learn it. Because if you can sell you will never ever, ever, ever, ever go hungry, right? Because that will never go away because it's such an important skill. And it's a skill that by the way, it's it's like a sport like you get rusty. So you have to keep that skill sharp. The worst thing you can do is if you're like a closing beat Don't sell for three months. And like, don't do that, right, you can't do that. So I mean, I have a whole, I can talk for a long, long time. And we can be just a sales training organization with what I've learned the hard way. But what I can say is like, that's a huge mistake is that you take yourself off, that's easy to hand off marketing, it's easy to hand off customer service. But having a conversation with a business owner and getting them to feel comfortable saying, alright, I believe you, I trust your promise, you give yourself a lot of advantages with a great offer. But you need to like that's the last thing to hand off. And so for me still, even with our teams on anything, I train with our team and our every day, like they need that. Like they're like, it's like a coach, you can't take the time off as the coach, you have to coach them. And you got to coach from the front. And you got to demonstrate how to do it. Yeah.

Gray MacKenzie  25:46  

So it sounds like the first role, maybe not the first role that you're looking to bring on in an agency or one of the first you got initial service, you've got a couple people who are helping from an individual contributor level. But the first piece when you as an owner start to hit that bandwidth that you pull in would be helping you call them like director or service coordinator. person, is that accurate?

Josh Harris  26:07  

that's accurate. I mean, here's what I can just tell you like, just like from a high level linear thing. Here's what I look at. Okay. So when it comes to delivering services, I think that's a losing game, the last thing you should do is try to become a service like expert, you want to be a Facebook ad expert. We're dealing with a globally flat marketplace, like anyone in the world can run your Facebook ads. And that's not a real time thing. You can hand off a lot of that to somebody else, like one really skilled person can oversee a ton of accounts. Because with all the automation, everything, you've got things in KPI, something's out, it can be kicked up to someone that smart, and they can look at there's there's forgiveness on that. So I do not recommend building out a service delivery infrastructure. For any agency that is probably doing less than 50 grand a month. Like it just it's not worth it, because of the fact that you are marketing and sales are going to be built around the service offerings you have, that is the hardest part to get right initially. So when you limit what you can do, based on what you've got access to offer, that's a huge bottleneck. And that like basically sends you off on this, this rabbit trail, and then they fall in the trap where they're doing all the work, they can't hit it off to somebody else. So just never fall into that trap by doing that. So from day one, I recommend like get a cert like a resource partner that can do the work. And then you focus on the marketing and sales. So first, you have to crack away to get calls, then you got to crack away to close them. And you can build a one man agency that's doing 3040 grand a month, you know, very easily. I mean, when I was doing 40 grand a month with my agency, before I even did any teaching with anybody, I literally worked three hours a day, I had maybe one part time VA system, I had a fulfilment team, I play golf, a lot, like I just chilled out, you know, so it was easy to maintain that. So from there, I recommend, once that's working, then you hire the coordinator, the person that basically just their job is to coordinate between the service delivery vendors, and the client, and then you've been patched in when necessary. From there, I'm going to hand off the marketing and make sure that there's this whatever we're doing on the marketing side, I want to make sure we've got other channels, other offers, and that we've also make sure we've got an ascension path or attention path for the people. Then what I'm going to do is once I've gotten to the point where that I'm literally taking mostly sales calls, the crazy thing is like if you're a sales guy, and you're taking five calls a day qualified as your agency, like Dude, you can be bringing in 10 clients a week, that's a lot. For most organizations, they don't realize that. So like, that's the most valuable piece. So I see often is these big bloated companies, they have a sales team, like there was a there was a group I was looking at, they're bringing in their sales teams, like four or five people, they're bringing in 150 opportunities, we're closing like three to five of them, I'm just like this is, you know what I mean? It's like the efficiency was terrible. Across the board. I'm like this can be done with one guy with some qualitative optimization. So that's kind of and then from there, you start to build up those those things. But the last thing I work on is the salesperson. At that point, you've got to have scalable lead flow, right? You got to be patient, it takes a long time to train, but those people will be the most valuable assets. Because if they're bringing in $100,000 worth of business a month, that person's a million dollars a year, your business,

Gray MacKenzie  29:13  

yeah, sounding into the resource partner side of things, because most of the folks that we've had on the podcast, you know, it's more of kind of the traditional agency model where you come into it with a specific skill set or a specific industry expertise. And you figure it out, you build out the word. So you're saying resource partner. Best case, in your mind, is that a white label partner who's doing the fulfilment for you, and it's so run through your agency? Is that a partnership where you're acquiring the business and sending it off in that, that resource partner is directly executed? What does that look like?

Josh Harris  29:48  

There is a diverse ecosystem of resource partners that are available, you know, and there's kind of there's multiple different methodologies to this, but on one level, you have what I call whitelist. companies. And unfortunately, a lot of these guys are like the McDonald's of the world, because what's happened is because their customer base are agencies. And because they don't have a way to market, white labels, it kind of grows by word of mouth, other agencies share them, or their agency asked them to do things, they grow a lot like these other Frankenstein agencies where they're the Yes, man, they'll literally do whatever you want. And what ends up happening is, the service gets so watered down. And they focus so much on the margin, they lower their prices significantly, they got the effectiveness of it, that they basically are setting up their clientele to turn their clients, but they never turn the agency. So it's like they maintain their client base, but they never have a way to go out and really direct the development around what's really good. Alright, so that's, I think that's the biggest fallback of white label companies out there, then you have, you know, basically what I call the contractor sellable marketplace, and you could go to Upwork. Or you can go into a group like the guy, it's like, this is not a company, this is a guy who's good. And there's a lot of guys like that do there's there's never been more guys that know how to do this stuff. And they can't talk themselves out of a paper bag, like they can't talk to a client, they don't know how to have a conversation, they don't know how to create a bridge of value. And I think this is where a lot of people have that imposter syndrome, because they feel like they don't do the work. They're an unnecessary layer of cost. But that's like that, I got over that, because I finally looked at it from the right perspective in which is this if that person who can offer that skill set has no way of getting in front of that business owner and then delivering on their expectations and managing his expectations, well, then, that doesn't happen, right? It's not like I'm standing in front of a Walmart, I'm selling blocks of cheese for $10 or $5. Inside where it's like, there's literally almost no value add there, the value add is you're going out and finding people that are good at something, you're then picking the companies that you believe you can help with that and doing it that way. And that's really how I solved that problem initially, for myself, instead of selling something and trying to find someone, I found the people that were good, I asked what they could do with their eyes closed, and I sold that result into my marketing. That's where a lot of people got it wrong.

Gray MacKenzie  32:15  

Interesting. So those are you get the white label side, which you've seen less success with, and then kind of the tapping and building your team, the sole freelance route,

Josh Harris  32:26  

which I mean, you know, there's, there's inherent issues with that, right? There's inherent issues because you know, people are unreliable. Sometimes people just disappear, right? So like you need to, it's, it's not perfect, but then it's better than doing it in house because you like being good at one of these things like being good at Facebook ads, it's a full time job. Like, it's changing rapidly. I mean, there's like the huge updates with iOS, like, all this stuff happens, like if you're not in there every day, right? having issues like for me, like the skills that I continue develop that are the most important is like the vision and viewpoint of the marketplace and understanding my clients. And then copywriting and sales, which are really two sides the same coin, right? It's like how do you speak in a way that gets people interested? How do you build those bridges? And that really, you know, if we have time, I'll kind of explain like how that led to really the model that we've developed, I think solves a lot of those issues that they run into.

Gray MacKenzie  33:18  

Yeah. So I want I want to come back to that in a second. Let me ask you this, though, what I see primarily with agencies who are doing it, you know, the agency itself is kind of the front of the house. And then freelancers make up the back house, or doing the execution. They're primarily selling relatively an agency space, relatively low ticket offers, you know, somewhere between 15 103k 30 504 grand a month, but there's very, I don't know if I've bumped in anybody who's crossed in five figures on a monthly basis with that model, which, to me kind of makes sense. What do you say, figures on what they build on what they build? Correct? Yeah. to the to the client?

Josh Harris  33:55  

Well, we got a part of our business that does, like so our agency part of our business, we work I mean, that this is how we developed a lot of our data and the tools and stuff is we've worked with a lot of very big clients, I mean, so we'll give you an example of a niche drug rehabs, perfect example, like this is a niche where these guys spent a ton of money, like we're talking, you know, a new patient in their bed can be worth $30,000 a month paid out by insurance, but they have very specific criteria. They needed people that basically, were looking to go into rehab. And they had this specific insurance so that they could cover without massive amounts of pocket to get into these rehab. So we run ads for them on you know, Facebook and Google across the gamut. But I mean, those retainers are that start at 20 grand a month, go up to $100,000 a month, just to run their thing, but we're hardly doing what you could even remotely call a run of the mill, paid media or you know, organic SEO, Search Engine Marketing type of stuff. Like we're doing some pretty advanced stuff in that scenario, like we're doing all sorts of advanced targeting. We're doing a lot of different copywriting stuff and then you know, we've been built one of our tools That actually is now our our API call booking setting tool. Right? So the hardest pill to get in touch with, as you can imagine, are addicts. So we had to get in touch with addicts and then get them scheduled. So we built a tool that effectively does all that. And then our second evolution of it is that literally, it will suggest dates and times based on availability. And then we'll get right conversationally as opposed to like the recounted link. And so you know, we've built tools like that by working with our bigger clients that then get filtered down, and then when you bring it to like a local business, it's like, flying saucer going back to mediaeval times, it's just so. So it's doable. But it's, it definitely requires a specific clientele, which is really how much their clients work. And this case, there was a lot, right.

Gray MacKenzie  35:42  

So just to just to clarify, on that said, I'm assuming like is from an average person, I assume that's an outlier. On the upper side, though, right? Where most clients are probably the average client, who they're starting with,

Josh Harris  35:53  

really, in that niche in that nation, we would work with them. I mean, the average drug rehab, none of them paid less than 20 grand a month, because they'd be they'd have a budget, right. But in other niches, if you're working with h back, you know, we're in companies, like, the average size of business there, yeah, it's gonna be hard to probably tap out and hit a five figure monthly billable with those guys, you know, unless you're working with the top tiers, you know, I've worked with talking with the guy that they're one of the biggest in their industry to do 100 plus million a year, they've got a multi seven figure marketing budget. So like with them, yeah, they're they're paying out, you know, multiple, five figures a month to their agency to manifest, right. Yep.

Gray MacKenzie  36:33  

Yeah, there's probably depend on how it's set up. I'm just curious, if you were saying something different in terms of averages, kind of in house versus, versus external. But

Josh Harris  36:42  

yeah, call me, I think, just to talk on that point, a little more, like we're, you know, I've got a lot of different vision components that I see in the market and where it's going. But like, really, what we're seeing is a more integrated, niche specific approaches, ultimately, I think, where these things are gonna go, like, let's just take a track, for example, I've got clients I work with where you know, their consultants as base or markers that space, and it's like, once you take that ball down the line, and you solve the marketing problem, then you start getting to sales process, once you have a marketing sales process in place, like you effectively can grow any of these guys. So some of them like, you know, we work with them, and they'll go out there. And, you know, their goal is basically the next year here to effectively acquire a stake in these companies in exchange for doing that. And then you know, merge, you know, 10, electrical companies, 10, Plumbing Companies, 10 h back companies together, and it will roll up. And you know, they can actually walk away with a very, very large exit, I think a lot of people they don't ever look at it that way, is that as you move up that chain, there's a lot of other ways to really be in a lot more control your destiny, and not just have to go like brah just be a service based thing, because that puts you in a situation where you're really forced to be the very best and it's, your client is such a big variable. I mean, I put it this way, eventually your clients become the barrier and the bottleneck to you growing your business. Sometimes you get to that point you decide to cross that line. Yeah. Well,

Gray MacKenzie  38:00  

so as we're kind of wrapping up here, you mentioned I kind of distracted you away from talking a little about the model. But let's talk briefly about the model kind of what things look like, now. And then we'll we'll wrap up there.

Josh Harris  38:12  

Like the model what we do with with agents, yeah, right. Yeah. So I kind of call this like the wishbone effect, right? Because I look at the market as you have two different, like factions that are not connected, you have the service providers that are these white label companies, individuals, people that do the work, you know, I call them, the workers that are in there, whatever this deliverable is, they're in there actually doing that work. Then you have this whole side of the market that's like the I call them the business development people. And they're talking about all these different ways to market and sell and get clients. And there's this fundamental disconnect between these two things, right? Because the service delivery people are very much clinical about what it is it's like, it's like an engineer specifications, right, not the other side here, then unfortunately, because they're not connected, they go more and more down this route, where they talk about making all these crazy, outlandish promises, right over selling things over marketing things. And then the delivery, you know, it creates this cycle of churn. And it also creates this what I call this fake guru cycle, where what you see is, guy goes out, makes a bunch of promises, gets a bunch of money for businesses doesn't deliver on it. And then he looks and says, hmm, what's the one thing I know how to do? Oh, I know how to make promises that I can't keep. So now I can sell other people on how to do the same. Instead of them figuring out how to keep their clients, they say, well, maybe I'll just charge $10,000 for training collected all upfront, because I knew about a payment plan, no one would pay the second month. And that's the cycle that you see. It's unfortunately vicious. And so I saw a way to break that cycle, because inevitably, there had to be a connection between those two. So we have services in house that we do for our agencies, right? So we didn't we have our agency that does that work. And so when people work with us, they get an integrated marketing sales and product piece that's actually connected. So we test different offers, we validate them. And when you're in as an agency, you come to us you're basically able to augment your business with either new offers. As you can take your existing base, or differentiated ones that you can take to that marketplace to get new clients. And so because they're connected, there's like a real revenue model. And the incentives are actually aligned to work together, right, because the wrong incentives, great, the wrong behaviours, I think the right incentives, create, you know, a win win. And so instead of you having to like be responsible to try to constantly sleep with one eye open, when you've got align incentives with your partners, it's so much easier to be on the same page. And so for us, our training is very much like, here's exactly how to do it. Whereas if you're selling training, the incentive is to just continue to make more and more and teach people what worked as opposed to what's working, because they're selling products that we are selling, has to be working. And then because we're not just creating products that agencies ask us to sell, like most white labels, the stuff we actually bring out is really sharp, it's really differentiated, it actually works. And so that's really the model we've created here is like a non franchised and non branded franchise industry. But you know, we let people it works in a variety of different models, and we get guys that are doing 50 million a year that use this as their back end, and we have guys that are pre revenue, so you don't have to help them regardless of that stage. And it really does come back to that offers is what's what's a promise you can make that's different. And then our team can help you deliver on.

Gray MacKenzie  41:14  

So I'm assuming than the model would be when you're talking about incentives, there's some cost for a training component early initially, but then there's also a revenue split.

Josh Harris  41:26  

On top of that, like, we wholesale, the different services that we can, yep, like the tax one, for instance, like that cost about 500 bucks a year for us to provide them everything, they need to be able to get that tax credit for their client. Yep. And, you know, get that that on a regular basis, you know, we were white label campaigns, there, you know, most of our agencies, they're gonna get a 40% or more margin on what they're selling. So, it but it's a lot more scalable, right. So like one of our products where we can, we literally can guarantee the cost, like personal injury, we can guarantee a cost of application, because we run so many of them. So they can come back to their client say, look, here's what we're getting. Here's a projected like number. And here's our sales close right on these things across the boards. Now you have a projection based conversation, how to pay us to try, it happens right away. And it's so much easier to sell someone basically a spreadsheet, breaking down the ROI that they can get if you guys work together. And so that I think takes a lot of mystery out of it is just from a data point standpoint, having that but you know, go out and sell that for five grand, they'll pay us like maybe a grand to white label it, they'll put 2000 to adspend and no profit $2,000 to manage that client. But 10 clients like that you're netting 20 grand a month, that's a pretty nice business that you basically can run with a part time VA, you know, so it's just about what they want, how aggressive they want to go,

Gray MacKenzie  42:43  

right? Make sense? Awesome. Josh, where's the best place for people to learn more connect that type of thing.

Josh Harris  42:50  

So I've got an offer right now, where if you go to AGS as in Agency Growth Secrets, because that's that's our company, but you go to AGS2021.com. Currently, there is a survey on there. So if you're interested in learning about some of these offers, and put them in your agency, you can go there. And there might be a survey there or there might be a video there when of the time you listen to this. But for now, it's just a survey talking about the stuff we talked about here. And on that on recall. And we kind of go walk you through something that makes sense and then make sense engage with you in some capacity. But that's the best place if you want to get an offer here. I'll kind of keep that thing up for a while. Is that just AGS2021.com. Awesome,

Gray MacKenzie  43:28  

guys. Thanks for coming on and sharing with us today. This is fun.

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