Scaling Your Agency with Webinars

Sep 20, 2021

I sat down with agency owner Will Hanke of Window Treatment Marketing Pros where we talked about the value of inbound marketing and old school tactics to grow your agency. Will's love for digital marketing began with the postcard campaign for his mom while he was teaching web design classes at the local library. Will continues to grow his niche agency with a simple inbound strategy: using webinars to turn out endless content to build his brand authority. As a business owner who can't stand sales, Will has found an authentic way to help businesses reach their goals through the services his agency provides.


Transcript

Natalie: Will, welcome to the Amplified Agency podcast. How are you today? 

 

Will: I'm doing awesome. Thank you for having me. 

 

Natalie: Yeah, of course. For those of you who obviously didn't hear the last two takes on this. I could not say “Will” and “welcome” back to back. So glad we finally got that one so far. 

 

Will: We're past that hurdle now. 

 

Natalie: Yeah, let's see how the rest of this goes. What were you doing before hopping on this call today? 

 

Will: Oh boy! You know what? I  closed a new deal this morning.

 

So I was excited right off the bat. Great start to the day, eight o'clock. He called and said, let's get started. Ok, 

 

Natalie: Yes, we want to hear that's awesome. How long was this person in your pipeline? 

 

Will: Um He was in my pipeline about two weeks. So came in on a webinar that I did about two weeks ago, 

 

Natalie: awesome. 

 

Will: And had another SEO Company realized from my webinar that I did that he was not getting a lot of things done through his company and uh talk to them, gave them every opportunity to make it better and he pulled the plug on them last night and called me this morning.

 

Natalie: Yes that's the best. Do you run a lot of webinars? Is that a common way for you to bring in leeds? 

 

Will: Absolutely. I've been doing webinars probably for 10 years now but definitely the last three years very consistently every month. I don't call them webinars. I call them training or I call them workshops. What I've learned is yeah what I've learned is that um the word webinar has a technical kind of thing to do it you know especially in business owners minds that are not super technical. Uh But by using training or workshop they seem to be a lot more cool. Which is jumping, jumping on the training or jumping on the workshop. 

 

Natalie: Yeah I like that. That's a smart approach. 

 

Will: Yeah the webinar thing. Um Yeah I just found that they didn't like the word as much but uh as far as doing the training you know I (2:00) I love teaching. I've been teaching for 20 years now. Uh search engine related stuff. Web design, all these kind of things back in the day. I was teaching at the library here in town just to try to find a customer that would raise their hand but I love the webinar thing plus you can repurpose it, right, You can cut that thing up and use it all over the place.

 

So, uh, I just, I basically just do 12 webinars now uh every month, a different one. And then next year I just do the same 12 pull up that same slide deck, changed a little bit from whatever happened in the last year and uh, and ship it out again. 

 

Natalie: So that's smart. So what's your syndication method around that? 

 

Will: Um, so we, (2:42) I just changed it. So in the past I was always doing facebook live with the, with the webinar, so I'd have everybody on zoom and then I would also broadcast that to facebook live.

 

I've since changed that to Youtube live. Uh It makes more sense for me to make google happy, so pushing it out there makes more sense. Then I'll pull that down, Upload it to Youtube and then I have a video guy who slices that up into a bunch of different pieces. You know, we'll call it 8 to 10 pieces uh that we can then use on all the social media channels. We typically do that through buffer, which allows us to uh shuffle it all up. So the same thing isn't going out to twitter and linkedin and everything the same day.

 

Natalie: That's really, really smart. Do you use any other inbound tactics or is that sort of your big one. 

 

Will: The webinar is the big one. Um, I've, I've got a couple of joint ventures now, uh, that are really starting to finally pay dividends. Uh, I've, I've partnered up with the only magazine um, in our industry and kind of befriended them over the years and they were having, so they do six episodes or six issues a year and I was writing for half of them, so three a year.

 

But I give them really good content. And I just got an email from them this week saying, can you just right for us all six next year? Of course I can write. Uh, yeah, because of that friendship now, we're actually rebuilding their website. Part of the website rebuild. Is that, uh, they're marketing section for the industry is sponsored by us. So now we have an ad there that's not costing us anything. Uh, and then they're also doing an e blast once a month for the webinar that I'm running.

 

They did that three weeks ago. The webinar was two weeks ago and I had 100 and three sign ups, brand new people that I didn't know. So these weren't people that were already in my pipeline. They were brand new people That, and then out of that comes the client that signed this morning. So very much worth my time. 

 

Natalie: Yeah, 100% for people that haven't explored JV relationships at all. How would you explain that to them? 

 

Will: So, um, It's just a partnership, it's, it's a way that you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

 

You know, if if you can structure it that way, that's the best way. Um you know, there's also another way where um, I've partnered with a pr firm here in my town and we send each other checks for $500 just so we keep it legit, right? Yeah, but then he does work, He does pr for me, I do SEO for his website. It's a great fit. But you know, just building those relationships don't get in a hurry. Don't get upset when they ignore you for the first six months.

 

Uh just keep providing value. That's really my my way to go is just a dump massive value. Uh and I'm going to get people's attention. So 

 

Natalie: that's really, really smart. 

 

Will: Yeah, I like that way. The best. Uh I'm not a huge aggressive sales type person, you know, more of uh overwhelmed you with stuff that you could possibly do. And you're most likely going to say, can you just do this for me? 

 

Natalie: Right? Like you clearly have a grasp of this, You do it. 

 

Will: Absolutely. And that's where the webinar thing really plays in as well. Yeah.

 

Natalie: What got you into this? Why did you start an agency in the first place? 

 

Will: So, um, I was teaching web design back in the late nineties when we had Microsoft front page and we had hard code. Html, right? If you wanted to change an image, you typed it in differently, right? Uh So I was teaching those classes And just a quick story 2003, I heard a story on the radio called another postcard. It's by the Bare Naked Ladies and it's about this guy who keeps getting postcards in the mail with pictures of chimpanzees on them.

 

Very strange song. Okay. But I'm kind of a strange person. I looked at my wife, we're driving down the highway and I said it would be cool if we did that to somebody. Uh so the next day I launched postcards for mom dot com. I figured I'll just everybody send my mom postcards. But we put a little twist twist on it where nobody could say how they found out how they got her address or anything like that. So I started a blog and I would say, hey mom's gonna cut down some trees in the backyard.

 

So she spray painted the ones read that she wants cut down. So then a couple days later she would get 10 or 20 postcards from all around the country that said, Hey Celeste heard you're cutting down some trees. Here's some tips on how to season would or you know anything, just all these random things. Uh it was super fun, right? And nobody spilled the beans. So that went on for about eight months. Yeah. Um The post dispatch here in town. The ST louis post dispatch got wind of what I was doing, came and interviewed me, went and interviewed mom and didn't tell her that they had talked to me.

 

So like, hey, we hear you're getting all these postcards, tell us about it, right? So then on Mother's Day of 2004 I'm on the front page of the post dispatch with my mom on this big article. So all of that to say that because of that, I got this huge, my five minutes of fame, right? I was on all these radio stations. I was in the front page of all these papers, all this stuff and at the end of that, I didn't make any money off of it.

 

I certainly wasn't trying to, but it, it awoke that whole thing into me that oh wow, there are ways to generate traffic to a website and then probably monetize it. Well, that's what got me into starting an agency and I fought it for years--I just wanted to have it as a hobby. But the agency world sucks you in. I guess so, kind of a crazy story. But that's how I got into it. 

 

Natalie: That's amazing. How did you land your first clients then? 

 

Will: Oh boy. Most of my first clients were from my classes that I was teaching at the library.

 

I really enjoyed that and I started getting some speaking gigs around town at different conferences. I started my own MeetUp page, which still exists and I'm still paying the MeetUp fees, although I haven't done one in years. Right. Once you got that audience, you don't want to let it go because somebody else is going to get it if you stop paying. Uh, so yeah, meet up speaking gigs. That was probably my secret sauce for many years. 

 

Natalie: I love that. That's amazing. What would you say are some of the biggest sales hurdles that you've encountered over the years, especially as digital media has shifted so much. 

 

Will: Yeah.

 

So not a sales guy hated sales and that was a big aversion to me saying I wanted to be an agency owner, right? Because I didn't want to have to go through the sales process. Um, and this is recent up until maybe 23 years ago I fought with this a lot. I still got people to raise their hands and somehow got them to give me money, but it was certainly not something that I structured and made happen, you know, with a plan, but within the last couple of years really have structured that all the way down to the discovery call.

 

As soon as somebody gets on my radar asking the right questions, uh, filtering out the tire kickers, the craigslist shoppers, right? There's a process for going through that where you still make them feel good, but we're just not a good fit for you at this time, You know, that kind of thing. Uh, and that's something in the past I'd be like, hey, they got a heartbeat, you know, I don't care for 300 bucks a month. I'm gonna take it, right. I don't care how much of a headache and it usually was a pretty bad headache, but that's no longer the case.

 

Natalie:  yeah, I think that is a tricky part, especially when you're getting started and trying to figure things out is saying no to clients and it's just like, but I need the revenue. I have to make that happen. But also how that can hold you back and that can be really hard for people. What are some of your tactics for vetting people is they're coming through your pipeline? 

 

Will: Um, so a couple of things I like to ask them what they think the marketing budget should be. Uh, and if they're typically, they're not sure.

 

I don't know. I don't know what that should be. Well, it should probably be, you know, 7-10-12% of your revenue. What is your revenue goal for this year? “Well, I'm hoping to make, you know, $200,000 this year.” Okay, well, we're probably not going to be a good fit for you because we're going to be 25% of that, you know, just just to engage with us or something along those lines, right? But letting them down easy. But I think getting into that revenue conversation can be really tricky. Another thing that I was always afraid of, right, asking anybody anything about money was always something I was really afraid of.

 

But now, you know, now I just come out and say, you know, what is your marketing budget? What are you thinking of spending this, you know, this year or per month or something like that? Well, I'm hoping to spend $500 a month. Okay, we're probably not a good fit, you know, or they might say, uh well, you know, we've, we've probably got $4,000 or $5,000 a month to work with. Okay, now you've got my attention right? Can make this work. Yeah. And then the other thing that I like to ask is back to all the content that I create.

 

Um, (12:08) did you have an opportunity to look at our website or our Youtube channel and in most cases they've done that or they admit that they haven't, and then that gives me an opportunity to pitch, you know, the training, the workshops, those kinds of things. Uh, this is a great place, you know, on how to get started to understand what exactly, all the things that we do and how we could potentially help you. 

 

Natalie: Really smart. So even if they haven't been through that, you still have that opportunity to establish your authority with them.

 

Will: (12:40) Yeah, for sure. And most of them are going to say yes, they've checked those out because between the time they scheduled that Discovery call and we have that call, they've already got a couple of emails from me, you know, with a link to the Youtube channel or a very helpful video or, or different things like that. So warming them up prior to the call is a big piece as well. 

 

Natalie: The beauty of automation. 

 

Will: So nice. 

 

Natalie: I love that. Well I do like to ask every agency owner three questions.

 

So the first one I'll start with particularly because you're not a fan of sales is what's the worst sales call you've ever had. 

 

Will: Oh, this is an easy one back in the day before I really niche down. I had a, A meeting um, here in my town and I get to the meeting, so it's about 45 minutes away. I drive to the meeting, can't find a place to park. Finally find a place to park. Get up there at the last minute. Right? I go into the meeting and the lady says something along the lines of uh, hey Mark, can you and I talk for a minute and you know, this other guy looks at me, he says, okay, can you step outside?

 

You know? Uh so I do, I step outside in about two minutes later. Mark comes out and says, uh yeah, they changed their mind, they don't want to do this. So I'm like, oh gosh, so I got kicked out of a meeting 30 seconds after it started, 

 

Natalie: wow, no. Oh gosh and you've already gone through all that adrenaline for the meeting and 

 

Will: nervous. Don't like doing the sales thing anyway, preparing prior to that, right? You know, doing research, all the stuff that we do. Um yeah, that was a big letdown.

 

Now, the funny thing is uh three months later they ended up firing that lady and hiring us to do redo their website, 

 

Natalie: you just have to be patient, 

 

Will: right patient, it'll come around. 

 

Natalie: So that was a win for you. Now, how do you deal with failure? 

 

Will: How do I deal with failure? Uh So, um this is probably not too terribly difficult either. I started a niche agency about 2. 5 years ago. Uh and I started in a niche that had absolutely nobody marketing to. So I had to start from ground zero.

 

It's not like roofing or dental where these guys are getting calls every single day. This is a niche that has just just nobody's even marketing to them because they think there's no money there. Uh So I kind of went two years before I started getting clients and there was a ton of, you know, depressing times in there where I'm like, man, I'm just not going to do it. But I think my wife was really what propped me up and said, you know, what will make this happen, It'll, it'll keep going now. I was lucky enough to have my legacy agency, right? It was bringing in revenue during this time. So that's kind of a lucky situation, not something everybody gets to to have, but that was enough to fuel me to the point where I stopped failing and stop selling, right? I'm also pretty upbeat guy, you know, it's pretty hard to get me down and bummed out or if I do, you know, it's really short, I'm right back up at the top. Uh so I think that helps as well.

 

Not really, mm uh kind and uh huh plenty of, plenty of business out there. Yeah, so you know, just get in there, get busy and you know, things will come to you if you keep, if you keep putting out positive vibes, 

 

Natalie; yep, I agree with that. So how do you stay focused then as an agency owner, 

 

Will: how do I stay focused? Uh so I have a google calendar that keeps me focused, I think that's a big piece of it. Uh as we grow with an agency, you know, you kind of shift from being in the agency to being more of a management role and making sure all the pieces are going in the right way and all the everything is being built and everything is being taken care of, but at the end of the day, it's my google calendar, I know exactly what's going on in my day, I can schedule it out ahead of time and uh and try not to look at too many shiny objects, I think a lot of us fall into that too, right.

 

Uh Actually, if you go to these conferences and you learn all these great things and you come back and you just got to do this, we got this, we got to this, you know. But writing down a list of, okay, here's the three or four rocks that we want to get done in the next quarter. And then if, if the shiny thing does not coordinate with those rocks, then the shiny thing gets put aside until that until the appropriate time. 

 

Natalie: Yeah. Really staying focused across the board for the business for your day.

 

Really making sure that you're just zeroed in on what matters. 

 

Will: Yeah, and we've implemented us and I'm sure other people on your on your podcast and talked about that, that really helps. Right? You know what your rocks are for the corridor and what you need, what you need to start working on. So that keeps you in line as well. 

 

Natalie: That's really smart. Yeah, I think the sooner agencies can implement that the better, especially as they're growing and it's just like focus on the key things and like you said, that shiny object syndrome, I feel like we are all just, it's crippling for all of us for like, oh, but maybe we should be using this, especially in sales where it's like, oh, this will do sales for me, okay, what do I need to do, 

 

Will: Right? Absolutely. Yeah, for sure. Uh and then automation that always creeps in and there's ways that I can automate the sales process, but at the end of the day it it typically doesn't feel very personal when you do that. Uh and that kind of, it kind of works against you in that particular situation, 

 

Natalie: yep. Yeah, that is definitely true. I've experienced that myself, you know, when you got a form letter, no matter how well it's written yesterday. Oh, oh, it's been two days, exactly two days since I signed up for this some sort of operation, 

 

Natalie: You just hope they don't realize it. 

 

Will: Yeah.

 

Natalie: Yeah, Well, Will, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. This has been so insightful, I've loved hearing about your history in this space and the inbound really has been a goldmine for you, particularly those webinars in the syndication, I think that's something so many agency owners overlook and that you can create this one piece of content run that live and then really just use that over and over and over again to build that brand authority, 

 

Will: Yep, so much easier. Right, bill, make one piece of content and it turns into 20 or 30.

 

Natalie: So much. So smart, I totally love that. Well, thank you for joining us and I hope we'll have you back again sometime soon, 

 

Will: awesome, thank you so much. 

 

Natalie: Thanks