The new SharpSpring Agency Growth Series features an awesome curated lineup of the top influencers in digital marketing. We could not be more excited about the group of great minds we were lucky enough to pull together to make this agency-focused series happen.

The free series is made up of 14 unique web sessions, all with a livestream Q&A segment, and all focused on helping agencies accelerate their growth.

Sessions feature digital marketing superstars speaking candidly about the industry topics they know best and are most passionate about. And we want to make sure to share the love – so, in addition to providing recordings of the sessions and live Q&As, we’ll also be posting key takeaways here following each session.

Here’s a look at a few key highlights we pulled from our recent Agency Growth Series session “What SMBs Want From Agencies” with NYT best-selling author and marketing industry giant, Chris Brogan.

Chris Brogan on the Importance of Contrast

So the moment we start copying somebody else’s agency, the moment we start copying somebody else, people tune out magically, it’s just a power. They knock it right out because they decide, I don’t have to pay attention anymore because you’ve just indicated to me that you’re going to say things that I’ve already heard before. So, the first thing you need to really do is have some sense of contrast.

You have to have some sense that in your message, in how you’re communicating on behalf of small and medium businesses, that you’re not saying the same thing you would say for other businesses and you’re not saying the same thing similar industry businesses would be saying. That you’re saying things in a way that really connects with the people that you’re hoping to reach on behalf of the client. So, let’s start there. So contrast is important.

Chris Brogan on Reach and Exposure

What any business wants with regards to marketing, is also a combination of reach and exposure. So reach and exposure are kind of what we think of as primary marketing and advertising tools, right? So if you see the same ad a bunch of times in retargeting, then that’s a lot more exposure to the ad. If you see it on pretty much every site you ever go to, that’s reach, right, so reach plus exposure are two things that we always want to see in everything we do with the customers and the people we have the opportunity to serve.

And so examples of that are just the mechanics of marketing and advertising, meaning spend on ads. Definitely spend on ads. It’s interesting. People have me pegged as one kind of a person because I do a lot of content creation and because I say a lot of good things about social platforms and social networks. And I still think there’s some great value and some great opportunities in doing so. But I also think that if you’re not looking at the number one and number two search engines in the world, Google and YouTube, then you’re missing out on an opportunity. Why wouldn’t you want that kind of ROI?

Chris Brogan on Articulation

Articulation matters. And articulation is, you know, clarity and brevity. Your message has to be tight. Simple, repeatable. And so when you’re helping market a small or medium business, your job is to be really clear, be really brief. People can’t stand all the backstory. You know, there’s jokes about, if you ever want a recipe off the internet, get ready to hear about that person’s dog and how they had a really weird front porch growing up. Because you don’t ever just get the ingredients and how long to cook everything. Every blog post about a recipe is like a 20-minute ordeal now. And that’s not what people really want. Right? So articulation is clarity and brevity. Can you say it simply and tell it to me like I’m six years old? Clarity and brevity, they so matter. So that’s what articulation is all about.

Chris Brogan on Trust and “Echo”

The last two thoughts of what small businesses need and medium businesses need are trust and what I call “echo”. And those kind of go together, as well. They want to trust and understand who you are. We talk a lot about this concept of authenticity. I’m doing quotes because, and if you’re not watching, I’m making air quotes. I’m doing quotes around “trust”, because a lot of times when we talk about authenticity, we don’t really mean that. What we mean is we want to appear authentic or we want to appear like we care or we want to appear like we are exactly who we are all the time. But the other part of business, the other way that makes authenticity actually happen is integrity.

Now, the word integrity gets used wrong all the time. But integrity really just basically means the integrated-ness of what you’re doing, what you say is what you do and you back it up.

And then, echo is the thing that people think they’re saying when they say authenticity, which is sort of that “I’m a lot like you” kind of a thing. I’m a person of the people. I’m in this space. We ran into this at the very beginning of coronavirus, if you noticed a lot of celebrities and a lot of people that we gave our attention to. We suddenly had that feeling of, wow, I’m home eating kind of the back of the fridge kind of stuff now. And they’re complaining that they can’t go out somewhere fancy for their award show. You know, that sense that they’re not like us. As much as those trashy daytime, you know, news things at the grocery store want to say they’re just like us. No, they’re not. Echo is, “I’m like you”.

Chris Brogan on Being Yoda

I’d say there’s sort of a relationship change that we need to talk about. There was a time where a lot of companies looked at their agency as, basically, you do all this work and then hand me the Glengarry leads and let’s call it good. And that’s how that worked. And it’s not that way anymore. Agencies now have to serve as kind of a guide person. So we were talking about our mutual appreciation of the book and the system StoryBrand with Donald Miller. And he says that, you know, you got to remember that your customer is always Luke. They’re Luke or Leia, and that your job as an agency is to be Yoda. Your job is to equip them with the technology tools and skills to get going.

Chris Brogan on Avoiding Attrition When Budgets are Tightening

In some ways you have to look at how people are going to work with and/or manage their budgets, anyway. So, for instance, some people are, you know, they’ve got their payment system set up that they’re gonna pay every six months or pay every year, or whatever. Well, one quick, easy way to keep the same budget going is have them pay quarterly or monthly or whatever you want to do. Now, that can make you freak out as an agency because you’re kind of counting on certain revenue. And when you break that number down a little, that scares you because you’re like, well, what if they cancel or something? Or what if they just choose not to pay the next one? Well, if they can’t pay, they’re not going to pay. That’s not a thing to think about. But making it easier to pay is one way, which you never would expect that would be my answer. But it is.

Chris Brogan on the SMB Advantage

And so working with some of the biggest guys, the problem that they always have is that everything is so systematized, everything fits a spreadsheet. So everything is absolutely uniform and they just cannot turn so fast. It’s like having a big fleet ship in the Navy compared to a small gunboat. The gunboat doesn’t have as many resources, you know, it doesn’t have any of the stuff that a big giant ship has. But boy, can it move fast. Dodge things, redirect and realign and take on the environment.

I think there’s so much more benefit to being small or even medium, but with a small look. Because then you can get that boutique look and feel and, you know, look what everyone’s trying to copy.

Interested in watching Chris Brogan’s entire Agency Growth Series session? You can find the full recording on our website.

If you missed our previous Agency Growth Series sessions, you can check them out here:

Optimize Conversion Rates for Clients with Neil Patel

Positioning Your Agency with David C. Baker 

Turning Conversations into Clients with Tom Martin

Driving Momentum for Your Agency and Your Clients with Shama Hyder

How Agencies Can Successfully Sell in 2020 and Beyond with Drew McLellan

It’s not too late to sign up for all of the rest of our Agency Growth Series sessions. You can still catch top influencers like Ann Handley, Ann Smarty, Seth Godin, and many more!