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 insights from our recent Agency Growth Series session with “The Zen Master of Marketing,” agency owner, TV personality and author Shama Hyder.

Shama Hyder on scaling your agency the right way

I know people get really excited by it. They want this growth. But I realize I don’t want growth for growth’s sake. I’m working with some amazing clients, doing some great work, and then all of a sudden I kind of had this epiphany and was like, you know what? I don’t want it. This is too much. We’ve got to scale back. And now, funnily enough, once we scaled back, I was then able to, as I got older, have more skills. Right? To deal with growth and leadership.

So now we’re again scaling up again, but doing so much more strategically, much more thoughtfully. It’s not sort of haphazard, like you know, “the clients need us and we’re gonna be anything they need us to be,” but much more, you know, maybe be partner with other agencies, maybe partner with the right platforms.

I wanted to give you an honest answer, because I know people always want to glamorize it, like, oh, “scaling and getting big,” but you know, it’s not so sexy. It’s a lot of hard work and you have to do a lot of soul searching. 

Shama Hyder on “engineering virality”

You’ve got to hone in on what you’re the best at, right? So, we don’t make websites anymore. We have great partners. We work with them for that. We don’t focus on that anymore. One of the things that we really excel at is helping our clients find these key moments and then building momentum out of that.

Essentially, these moments can look like anything. It might be a launch. It might be an internal leadership change. It might be something that they’re really excited about. But it’s kind of using something like that to create almost an inordinate amount of marketing or buzz around it in our work. In a lot of worlds that’s called “virality,” right? How do you engineer virality? So that’s kind of what we’re good at.

Shama Hyder on “walking the talk”

You know, for me, it’s very important that we always walk our talk. So, that’s why when you see when you go to our site, you’ll see the accolades, you’ll see the case studies, you’ll see, you know, the awards. And it’s not just because it’s this kind of glorification. For me, it’s much more about…I always do a lot of self reflection. I feel like I can’t in good conscience ask our clients to do something that we aren’t doing.

So, I mean, we’ve been blogging since ’08, right? And we blog regularly. Produce content, regularly do videos. So that everything that I’m talking about, then, doesn’t come from theory. You know, we’re talking from, like, actual in the trenches for our clients, but also for ourselves.

In today’s world the, you know, “the cobbler’s children have no shoes”…it doesn’t fly. Because, you know, it starts with you, right? It starts with what are you doing for yourself. We’re so lucky. We have an amazing roster of clients,, Chase Business, the U.S. Navy. Just amazing leadership. Great brands. But to be able to do that, all the stuff that we’ve attracted and built in the last decade, you know, so many times clients will come say “do for me what you’ve done for you guys,” and I love that!

To me, that’s the ultimate compliment because I feel like it starts with, you know, we’ve got to walk the talk. I can’t tell clients, hey, you’ve got to do more video and then I never do video, that doesn’t work for me.

Shama Hyder on deciding what agency services to offer

I think you have to find what you’re good at and where the demand is, right? Because there’s times where you’re really good at something, but the demand may not be there. There’s just too many people offering whatever it is. Well, on the flip side, there might be a lot of demand for something that’s just not your jam, right? That’s not where you excel and your team excels. And so there’s a disconnect.

For us, yeah, it took years. And, you know, it’s funny because I feel like in the agency world, the more dynamic you can be, the better. So it almost works better to constantly refine what you’re offering because then you’re able to keep up, not just with what you’re good at, but like with what the market needs, right? How are you meeting market demand?

Shama Hyder on the fun of an “agency ecosystem”

So much of our business now comes with agency partners. Because, again, for example, we don’t do e-commerce websites, so we partner with a firm and then they, in turn, don’t do media relations, etc.

And so it’s kind of fun, too, because when you figure out what you’re really good at, you then realize that you don’t see other agencies as competition. You start to see it as part of this ecosystem where you’re like, “wow, we all did what we’re really great at” and we could serve so many more people, more clients, and serve them at a higher level.

Shama Hyder on self-honesty

You know, I think at some point, every agency owner stops and goes, “should I be doing this”? And you have to be honest with yourself. I mean, the answer can be “no” sometimes. And that’s an acceptable answer.

You know, I had this one gentleman who sent me a very meaningful note on LinkedIn saying that he’d read my books and he saw what we were doing and then he started his own agency. And after three years, he closed it because he realized, he was like, “I just want to tell you, it’s not as easy as it looks.” And, you know, I appreciated the candor and I appreciated the fact that he was reflective, to be able to, you know, say that.

Because at the end of the day, yes, we’re agency owners and we have companies, but we’re also people. And you’re allowed to be multifaceted and multidimensional.

Shama Hyder on tackling challenges in an evolving business landscape

There’s no magic bullet, but you know, all challenges require you to up your creativity. You know, how do we deal with challenges as humanity? We get more creative. It’s how it works. So, you’ve never tried outbound? Hey, maybe this is your opportunity. If you know you’ve been just sitting on your list for a long time, this is the time to dust it off.

It’s time to rally the troops and get more consistent with it. You know, there’s no magic bullet, creativity doesn’t work that way. It is a little messy. You’re going to have to try new things. And I can tell you, again, being completely candid, we’re trying new things every day. We’re also making sure that we’re staying really consistent with the stuff that we know has worked. Right? And we’re not giving that up.

Want more marketing insights like these from industry icon Shama Hyder? 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

Plus, it’s not too late to sign up for the rest of our Agency Growth Series. You can still catch upcoming influencers like Ann Handley, Rand Fishkin, Seth Godin, and more!

Rebecca Wentworth