Johnathan Dane is the founder of KlientBoost, a PPC and conversion agency that has grown to almost $250,000 in monthly recurring revenue in less than two years. In this episode, we talk about how Johnathan is using content marketing to grow his agency quickly.
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Marcus: Hey guys welcome to Episode 3 of the 10x Show Agency Podcast. Today I’m joined by Jonathan Dane who is the founder of Klientboost a PPC and conversion Agency that Jonathan has grown to almost $250,000 in monthly recurring revenue in less than two years. Within their first year, they did almost a million dollars in annual revenue. So we are going to talk to Jonathan about how he’s built up the agency “so quickly”, some of his philosophies around using content to grow an agency as well as much more. Jonathan, it’s a huge pleasure having you here on the show, how are you doing?
Johnathan: Doing quite amazing and well, thanks so much for having me. How are you?
Marcus: My pleasure. Before we dive in I was just wondering if you can explain a little bit about what it is that Klientboost does?
Johnathan: The name is kind of awkward, thinking about it.
Johnathan: We are basically a PPC and landing page hybrid agency. So we deal with the traffic acquisition part and the conversion part for our clients. Most of them make up around the SAS industry or just lead-gen as well with some e-commerce sprinkled in. So that’s basically what we do in a nutshell.
Marcus: Interesting, what was it that made you go for that kind of PPC-conversion combination?
Johnathan: I figured out really early after one of my clients in the past had an unbalanced account just sitting there that said, “Hey we are sending traffic to these landing pages” and I started messing around with it and started to see that, “Wow this is pretty cool.” And we hit our goals insanely fast as far as what we had laid out. And I don’t that would have been possible without the CRO aspect of that. And since then I kind of figured out that they have to go hand in hand. Without it, you can still get results, of course, separated in silos. But if you do it together and have it all in one team like we do- having our account management squad and our CRO design squad- all of our clients get to work together on the goals with one from each team. From then I was like, “We have to have that.”
Marcus: Yes, nice. So, I read somewhere that Klientboost reached a million dollars in annual revenue within its first year of business but just before we jumped [sic] on this interview recording, you mentioned that you’re now doing $250,000 per month? Is that correct?
Johnathan: Almost,almost there. So in the first year of business we hit a run rate of $100,000 in monthly recurring revenue. And so if you obviously do the simple math, that’s 1.2. So I think we are really close. I think we have finished at around 800,000 in our first year. And then now we have the goal by the end by the year to be at 250 per month and that leaves us just, I think, about a year and nine months as far as the age of the agency. Yes so, it’s crazy. [laughs] It’s been a lot of fun and like I mentioned earlier too, as an agency owner you always kind of bite your lip because, what if you’d have kept some of these clients that have left, where would you be at now and that’s a dangerous thing to look at. Because with anything business-wise, things come and go and so what we’ve been really focusing on is [unintelligible 00:03:24] a lot of opportunities that come with it and saying what can we do to– You know if you have a bucket, like can we patch this up over time so that we just fill more [unintelligible 00:03:31]. And if clients ever leave, we know it was outside our realm of what we could control.
Marcus: That is insanely impressive.
Johnathan: Thank you.
Marcus: You can’t reach those numbers accidentally. I feel like there was a very solid strategy behind reaching that point and I believe you had a second agency before Klientboost, is that correct?
Johnathan: Yes, I got a lot of my learnings from that. And what we basically did differently here was– You know I was thinking to myself this is my second go around and Klientboost was actually not even wanting to get started being an agency again. I actually wanted to break from agency life and started building maybe some SAAS tools but I knew that I really loved content marketing. You know, ironically. I loved writing and sharing what I think some people would find funny, but they would be like “You have too many GIFs in your posts”. But so far so good it’s been working, right. So what I just started was just looking at things and it comes back to, before I even started doing this, I used to detail cars on Craigslist, which I’m sure you are aware of what that site is, and putting out my “Ad” for washing and waxing cars in Orange County in California which is a pretty prolific area where people have some fancy cars.
I mean, I was looking at the competition, I’m like these guys have text based Ads, they don’t have any pictures of themselves, they don’t have any before and after shots. So I was like let me figure out how to put images within a Craigslist Ad. I remember getting calls and emails saying, “How did you do that?” And some of these used to be my competitors. And eventually I would get them to change their Ads that said,” Hey, don’t let a college kid detail your car and all stuff.” And truly I sucked crap at it. Like I was really bad, I don’t think I ever got anybody to call me back to come back and watch [unintelligible 00:05:17] detail their car. But there were some days where I’d be making like $300, $400 a day and being that young, that really good money and obviously exhausting at the same time. From then, I just realized there’s just—a lot of it comes down to execution and so from the focus and outset of what we were doing even before we want to be an agency, again, I was hiring a designer. I was saying hey,” I know that there is no bare to entry to what we do. Anybody can say they do it. But not a lot of people have their design shops to be good at executing it. So we wanted our site to be different, we wanted our content to be different, we wanted to show that we care about the details and invest more. And you can’t measure some of those things because some of them are gut-related but I truly feel like that’s one of the things that has been able to help us differentiate ourselves in a very short period of time and then get to where we are- being able to make the money that we are making and little things sprinkled [unintelligible 00:06:05:]; we are just not going to take small clients. Like we only want to take a certain minimum and if they can’t make that happen, we are not going to dilute ourselves and get to “horny” just to make a sale.
Marcus: And what’s the minimum?
Johnathan: Right now it’s around $4000 a month.
Marcus: Okay, if we, sort of, look at the 250,000 a month that you say you almost are, how much of that is ad-spent?
Johnathan: None of it, that’s our money that we’re making.
Marcus: Wow, okay, awesome. I kind of assumed that some of that would include ad-spent.
Johnathan: [laughs] No. So the four thousand minimum a month is what people are paying us has nothing to do with the ad-spent. So it’s a cool thing too and it’s funny because with other agencies a lot of people are tied to charging a percentage of ad-spent. But in all reality it’s not the best way to go about it; it’s not beneficial for either parties. As an agency, you don’t know if it’s going to go down and you don’t know what you are going to expect. And it also forces you to invoice after the month is over. And from a client perspective, them spending more money doesn’t necessarily mean that they are making more money. And they also have that slight nervousness of feeling like you might be pushy for that so what we decided to do was we’re going to invoice before we even get started and it’s going to automatically charge them on that date every month. And they are going to get an automatic receipt. So being able to have that cash-flow and then have really good margins at the same time, because we are where we’re at , monthly revenue-wise but we have a decently not that big team. I think we are almost 20 now. That has helped us be very very smart and being able to do that and being able to be “aggressive” with what we want to do. But the cool thing is, I knew from the set that there is no real, I mean of course, there was a market-share but in the agency life, clients and opportunities come and go all the time. So I feel like it’s impossible to think how you are going to lay and grab everything that you can so I didn’t [inaudible 00:07:52] much about putting money back into the company to be honest. I was actually very greedy and wanted to be very profitable and that has been able to keep quite a bit of money in the bank too that if we want to go out and start out own PPC campaigns, which funny enough, we have never really done, other than a little bit of marketing, then we can go do that. But actually most of the investing, so to speak, is in snacks for the office and content pieces that we are going to push out and be more aggressive with and things like that because that’s been working so far so we are going to double down on that.
Marcus: Awesome. And do you think that’s way up the conversion part also bolts on and is a bit of an advantage. I guess, when you look at, as you say, there’s tones of PPC agencies out there and they are all charging around the same model. Whereas, with you guys, it’s how you are positioned, how Klientboost is positioned, is so, so differently [sic]. I think you guys have done an incredible job with that. I guess like when you’ve got the conversion side as well, it makes, the clients I guess would feel a lot better about paying upfront because it’s more normal to do that with conversion whereas PPC–
Johnathan: Yes, I think so. I think that’s definitely a part of it and I think they see the value in that too. The funny thing is that at the same time is that we go so far down the [inaudible 00:09:07] rabbit-hole that when I actually mention that, “Oh yes by the way, we have a contract with a minimum amount of months plus you have to pay upfront”, there’s no way that they are going to say no at that time. I feel then we allow to be invoiced we are checked for example. But the money is still required before we even get started. May be that has something to do with it. I also just think that it’s just a negotiation and sales tactic at the same time that on the website you can’t see that that’s what we say. That would be a stupid thing to have on there obviously. And from that point on, we give them so much value in the evaluation process as well and I think our proposal too kind of [inaudible 00:09:42] other part. It gives them a ton of ideas where we say hey by all means, take this yourself and do it, if you want to, that’s what this free proposal’s for. That’s what you signed up for. But you are not going to be better at executing it than we are. And that’s why we are in business. So when I drop that hammer people were like,”No, I honestly don’t have that time either so I do want to work with you guys. Okay sweet so we have a three month minimum commitment and you have to pay in advance too. So that just, again, has helped us out at times.
Marcus: So it kind of sounds like you’ve got the monetization stuff, a lot of thought has gone into that side as well. And so you are using the content marketing tide to keep the top of the funnel full and then some kind of clever–like combining conversion with PPC as the service I think it’s a very smart move and then it seems once clients are in then there’s definitely a lot of thought that’s gone into how the clients monetize and the operation size as well.
Johnathan: Yes, Absolutely.
Marcus: Interesting, I think I read in another interview that you did when I was doing a bit of research that you currently have a waiting list.
Johnathan: Yes. We have a few people when this is mostly something that [inaudible 00:10:53] and flows depending a company being here and being just full as well. So right now, what we’ve been very very fortunate to do was actually have a very honest conversation with clients and tighten their expectations even more and being sure that we kind of– hey, if we go down the sales cycle and they are not excited with the fact that it takes two weeks to built things out for us and things like that and want it faster, then we don’t need to push forward and say,” Okay we’ll speed things up on our end.” It’s like you come to us because we have a process that works really well, you are going to have to be okay with the time and execution of that so some of the clients will come through where they might be solely focused on Facebook only and no so much ad-words and if they have a certain size of ad-spent, I’d want them to work with the account manager that has the most experience and deals with some of the bigger clients and sometimes they may not be available for that. So sometimes we do put people on a waitlist. And it sounds sexy but most of the time it doesn’t work out that well because people do think that a vendor like us and anybody else is kind of interchangeable in some ways so that’s why the content piece that we focus on so much is still important for us because we can scratch so many more backs in different ways and give value where I think a lot of other agencies struggle to keep up just consistency of posting a blog not to mention how good is that blog post or any type of content.
Marcus: So is the waiting something that you kind of mark it, is it something that you are quite open about with potential clients?
Johnathan: I think it’s super cocky to say, I don’t think that’s something that they but if it is actually true, I will tell them that. Sometimes the responses are, “Okay let’s touch base in a couple of weeks or next month.” And then sometimes when you reach back out to them or they reach out to you or they won’t reach out to you but they already have found a solution. So it’s not something that’s not great. I care a lot about our team, the workload and their stress levels and making sure that they are enjoying because a lot of these guys that are on the team have been part of other agencies and in the interview process I was asking like what was good and what was bad about that other agency and I want to make sure that we panacea to that. So it’s like a balancing act a see-saw so to speak. But it doesn’t bode well. I would not recommend anybody telling potential clients that you have a waiting list unless it’s just your reputation. So that at that point we would love to get to but I know that takes a lot to manifest.
Johnathan: Yes the reason I mentioned that is because I sort of discovered something a little bit unusual a couple of years ago with [unintelligible 00:13:18] because we kind of stopped consulting for a while and so we set up an automated email sending list kind of saying we are not taking on any clients and we’ll put you on to a waiting list and we actually noticed that we kind of have more demand, more lead and more start going through when we have the waiting list because I think it’s always something that not many agencies do. When you are communicating with your clients and pushing back a little bit, it has that weird adverse effect where the clients sometimes actually want to work more with you but it can obviously go both ways.
Marcus: Did you put that on the website so it’s prominent?
Johnathan: We didn’t put that on the website but we put it an automated email. So 50 minutes after they submitted our inquiry form we sent an email saying, “sounds great but we are currently at full capacity”. And we have emails back that say, “Guys is there anything that you can do to—People kind of wanting enough of that”.
Marcus: I want to buy your idea but on an actual website with a regular button crossed out and then a link underneath that says join the waiting list and then the reason why obviously at the top and see what happens. Because I think it’s just like playing hard to get in the dating world that makes you go nuts if you can’t have what you want so let’s see. I’m curious and that’s cool. I don’t doubt that it works but it’s awesome.
Johnathan: Yes. Definitely a resource that I’d recommend for anyone listening that would want to try that out. There’s a really great book by, I forget his name but the book’s called Oversubscribed. And he talks about applying economics to marketing and one of his key principles is that to create demand you always need to have more demand than supply. So if you have infinite supply or you are communicating that you have that infinite ability to take on clients, which obviously no one does, you can’t ever produce more demand than supply. It’s an interesting way of thinking about it.
Marcus: No 100%. It is economics when you take it back that way .I mean, it is very simple and it makes sense.
Johnathan: And again I think one of the things that we’ve been really good at in the so long climb up the hill but it is to build brand equity and I think with brand equity I think people’s affinity and love for a brand that eventually they might not be ready to work with it now but once they come around—and again that builds up overtime too. And I think you have to either the reputation and I think a lot of designers for that matter are seeing the fact on their webs that they are not taking in any clients for the entire year, something like that. And that’s kind of badass at the same time but it works.
Marcus: One of the things I’ve kind of got the impression from reading up about Klientboost is that you seem very aware and conscious of the importance of getting clients to a point where they are successful as quickly as possible when they sign up with you. First of all is that true?
Johnathan: Yes, I’m a little intense when it comes to figuring out internally like what we can do to say what’s the rent time? If we tell clients that it takes them 2 weeks to build things out, what do we have to do to get that to one week for example. It’s like shipping times with Amazon in a sense. I just want to like make sure that people would get—because there’s a time from when they sign up to when they like you to and there is a different time to when they actually trust you. So in between those two points is usually the build up phase, the rent phase until you get results. And so, in the proposals that we give , we give them the starting action plan that the account manager then executes on. And in my mind that’s the fastest way to get from point A to point B and considering the goals that we talked to and set with the client. So the faster that that happens it means that we are paying for ourselves, they know that our work is great now we just going to keep bringing on the value. There’s another science behind that I want to eventually emulate. It’s kind of like the whole apple approach. Meaning, Tim Cook might already know what the iPhone 10 is and what it’s going to do but he’s not going to release anything yet, like he’s going to take it pretty slow and still give people value. I guess people could argue with the iPhone7 not being that transformative but it’s the same thing with us. Like we might know that hey this week we are launching this, next week we are launching that but we don’t tell the client, we only give them what we are doing for the week that we are working on. So we know that we can keep putting on value but if we [inaudible 00:17:34] sprint and try to build everything so fast, that we don’t have anything to launch later on or tweak, then why work with us? And so it’s a way of kind of teasing but also giving people what they want but as fast as possible getting to that first goal and then keep bringing value on top of that. So that’s kind of like my obsessive nature that I like to have and that means that I don’t ask our lead designer Josh like hey, ” What do we need to do to have this happen? Do we need to hire more people?” Because if so, then let’s start doing that and let’s make that the norm for us. It’s like when a SAS company rolls out a new update to their product to make people happy based on their feedback. That’s exactly what we do in a service based business.
Marcus: As far as they go, it’s a good obsession to have I think? So what are some of the specific ways that you’ve been able to consistently across various clients bring that time to value back to as little as possible?
Johnathan: Yes, when people have heard my rants and things that I often refer back to two things that are within the PPC world and another thing that’s within the landing page world. One this is granularity within an account, and that means lowering the discrepancy ratios between audiences that you are building up in Facebook and the individual ones to make the ad-sense as small as possible and still have enough volume so you can know what behaviors or interests that you are actually targeting perform at what way, right? And the same thing goes with display if you have contextual key-words targeting and you have a lot of automatic placements, well are you extracting those placements to target them directly and same thing with search words and key word discrepancies. So that is often a very very big low hanging fruit that we then use and it doesn’t matter what industry the client’s in. The same thing with shopping campaigns for that matter too and become different search streams they have per product group. When we make that ratio closer to one to one, we can control things a lot greater scale and that means that we can also pause or lower the bids on things that aren’t working as great now that we’ve exposed them. And then the second thing is in the lead-gen and SAS world are basically multi-step landing pages and I know you know a lot about that too. And basically it just means that know that the bulk of your traffic is made up of generic and general search streams that are not brand related to you, people have no loyalty to you. There are seven ads on Google.com that when they click your ad and they go back, it’s because they didn’t get a great experience. So what can you do to get their foot in your door? And so a lot of times it just means that we need a lower the threat of what we are asking people to do, And so one of the things I talk a lot about too is like the PPC thermometer; meaning matching the intent of the visitor with what you are asking them to do. Because if you are a lawyer and you have a free consultation as you are called to action, because people are searching for you on Google, for that, right? Then sure that’s easy. You can easily get conversions that way but if you try to do that with retargeting even that or regular display advertising, or social, it’s going to be hard because people aren’t looking for that like you might demographically and interest wise and topic-wise target them that’s great, but it’s a far stretch to get to think that are going to put in their information. Their personal contact information which in the minds of a visitor is some of the most threatening information they can give away minus credit card information. So knowing that and kind of operating on those truths, so to speak, we’ve seen again and again that’s it’s performing super well for all different clients and is usually one of the quickest ways to get from point A to Point B. So that’s kind of what we stick to and also the variations of that and if they run more Facebook campaigns and things like that, like where do we see those opportunities. It’s also unique to each client.
Marcus: Got it. And that brings me nicely to the next point because that was what you were speaking about when we met at Digital Elite Camp in Estonia earlier this year. The kind of PPC thermometer and optimize using multi-step landing page. One of the things that I found really interesting from your talk in Estonia was how you are using these multi-step landing pages to cement people into different [inaudible 00:21:35]. I think one of the things particularly what we found from the data Leadformly and it was really refreshing to hear you talk about was everyone in the conversion industry is saying shorten your forms. Expedia are famous for- they deleted one field in their form and made an extra million dollars. It’s not bad advice, generally it works because most forms are so bad and shouldn’t be asking that information in the first place but your kind of point was that by extending the form actually making them longer, you were seeing better results. Can you explain how you came across that and what led you to focusing on these multi-step forms?
Johnathan: How did I? I don’t know how I came across this. What I think actually happened was, we had an education client, in the education space, like an online university and we noticed that the bigger players in the PPC like University of Phoenix, I don’t know if it was on purpose but they have such insanely long forms because they deal with so many leads that they probably have to have a lot of points to decide on which ones to focus on first and which ones to prioritize. We noticed that hey,” doesn’t it look good when you have a form that extends from the top of the fold to all the way to the bottom?” That just looks like a daunting task, right? What if you split it up and give people micro chunks? And what we found out was interesting. So we did it and it worked for the educational client but I’m like, I wonder if people- because we found out that most people, the biggest elephant in the room that people have no matter what the [inaudible 00:23:10] that you are advertising is what does cost, what’s the pricing? So if I know where at least your pricing starts at cool, now I can compare you to other options. That’s what the visitor wants to do but the advertiser wants to capture everything they can as fast as possible so it’s like a mix of the marketing horniness of the advertiser and the enenimity [sic] of the visitor that they want to keep and how do you marry those and so we found that through different types of businesses. Usually if it’s lead-gen people default and say let’s just ask the most minimum amount of fields as we possibly can but in the eyes of a visitor they know that’s also the most threatening information that they can give because there has to be [inaudible 00:23:47] information. There has to be name, email and phone number. And a person also knows, being a visitor, they are not going to get a question to their answer right away if they have to give that up as a first impression, right? So with multi-step, what it basically does is we are just asking the client, “Hey when you get this lead and all you have is a name, email and phone number what questions what questions do you ask then to figure out if it’s a good fit?” And so for example, let’s say that we have a client that does flooring, right? Some question that they would ask a visitor or a lead once it comes through would be how many square feet or square meters to you need? What type of flooring are you looking for and how soon do you need it, right? Those might be some qualifying questions that they figure out if they are a good fit or not. Why not just ask those questions as a first impression that a visitor gets? Because now the visitor thinks that they are probably going to get a dollar amount or at least a quote on the next page. But instead it says, hey thanks so much for filling this out, we are putting in your quote together, where can we send it when it’s ready? So because they macro-committed and again something we get frustrated and still believe there’s not 100% conversion right here but they are much more likely to finish what they started and go through that. So it doesn’t lead to a balance either back to Google because [Inaudible 00:24:59] as a requirement. It’s not sleazy, but it’s kind of like, “Hey got you. You thought you are going to get it a quote but you are not.” And it goes through and it’s the same thing that we built our entire website around. So we have a three step process where we start with questions that are very easy to answer, usually in drop down form and then progressively get some more threatening to ask the some more specific questions that reveal who they are and their identity. And I definitely did not do these studies, and I’m not the psychologist behind it but I read a lot about the pressures in the brain that mount; that once you start something you want to finish it. But that doesn’t necessarily apply to me when it comes to working out, for example. I don’t stick to it but as far as things where you see an end, you do want to finish it. So that’s when it might make sense to do and that’s kind of what we were like, “Aha.” And then started doing that for our clients. Now, it only works in a sense for people who are looking for a quote or anything like that or even a demo or a trial of the software. If you are promoting an e-book as you’re [Inaudible00:26:01] then for example, I wouldn’t recommend having a multi-step form in that sense because the threat levels are not that great in a sense to need to do that.
Marcus: Can you share how your form is doing for your client based website, like did you have like a before and after or was it A/B tested?
Johnathan: No, it’s actually very shameful the lack of A/B testing that we’ve done on our website in its entirety. It’s been that proposal flow since the get go. It’s just having a different mask and a different branding and look over time but it’s the same questions that we’ve been asking.
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Marcus: I think it’s fair to say that you are quite prolific when it comes to producing content around PPC conversion optimization. I think you [inaudible00:27:18] a lot of the big, major blogs in the space. Can you give any insight in how you think, like what is your philosophy around content marketing as a method for growing an agency?
Johnathan: I think in the beginning, we didn’t have an audience, I still think we have a very small audience to be honest. I knew that in order for us to shock the system and grow a little faster, we need to piggyback off of other people’s well established audiences first. So that comes from marketing props and unbalance [inaudible 00:27:52] and all these other areas where we can see that people that might be interested in what we do are hanging out and then from that point on it was just, who am I as a person? If I think I’m funny enough and help people out to give the valuable content that’s actionable and educational at the same time, can I do both? And so a lot of people that come back, who edit my blog post from that specific website will be like ,” Hey, you probably need to tone down the humor a little bit or just something like that.” And I’m like,” No, you asked me to guest post on your site and now you want me to change it? No I’m not going to do that.” There’s a little back and forth where they are like,” Okay fine you get to do what you want.” Honestly, I think and I tell this a lot to our team members too, I’m like, “You are the same person at home with your friends as you are with your clients.” Obviously there are things that you are not going to say to your clients but I really want you to have the same relationship. Because I tell people, you see me on client calls, you see me interact with you, you seem me beat you at [inaudible 00:28:48] which happens quite often. Am I not the same kind of person across all those different scenarios? And they are like, “Yeah”. And I’m like okay so let’s work on that with you. There was not much strategy in the beginning of what we were doing because we had a distribution of the guest post and then for the longest time, and this is in our blog post when we hit the first $100000 monthly recurring revenue, I show the screenshot of like there’s nothing as far as traction in our Google analytics account when it comes to traffic. And so it wasn’t really until we focused heavily on the promotion aspect and I think we can still do a lot better than what we are doing now to get more people to see it. I kind of see it as a T.V. commercial that you are actually creating and you are spending all this money and time making it but then you have no distribution. You have no channel that’s actually going to air it. And so that’s the same approach that I take with the content. So we’ve been kind of snowballing that and wanting to get more aggressive with having more content and then more quantity of that content while keeping the quality high. And then honestly, the reason why is because [sic] I know blog posts and even other types of content whether they be videos, slide share and other things, the thing that we care about is trying to give value without any expectation. And obviously, now we have the expectation because we know it works, but there might be some blog posts that are not doing that great and we spent a lot of time on it and it didn’t never really give us leads or it didn’t rank for example. Sweet, we are on the next one, we are not going to waste our time trying to scratching our heads like it’s very like Frankenstein over here. Believe it or not. It looks like we have our crap together but there are a lot of things that we have got to learn and it’s just a matter of executing and then adapting and pivoting if you find something doesn’t work. So you figure out why does it not work and let me exhaust all the options that I have to figure that out. That’s what we did to begin with.
Marcus: So, kind of like throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.
Johnathan: Exactly and then take that and try to make more of that stickiness depending on how you cook it. Anyway, I was trying to be funny but it didn’t really work out.
Marcus: Would you say then that the blog posts are what seemed to be working quite well so that’s where you are doubling down at the moment?
Johnathan: Right, so we just hired like a month ago, two other people to join our team full time and the content that we put out is the only way that we got our leads and clients. And so we are an agency that has around 60 clients right now. The crazy part is that we are getting around 30 -40 leads a week. And that also shows you that either, one, we are terrible at following up because we have too many that not good fits or some of them are gems in that haystack. And so we are being more selective with who we bring on and things like that. So yes.
Marcus: That’s really impressive numbers in less than two years.
Johnathan: Yes, thank you.
Marcus: Cool, Jonathan, what I want to do before we wrap up I’ve got a couple of quick fire questions.
Marcus: First of all, what’s your number one book recommendation for business owners or agency owners?
Johnathan: Oh my God. I’m going to go a 180 on you. It’s like don’t read, don’t consume any content, you don’t have time. [Laughs] For me, I’m a big fan of Gary [unintelligible 00:32:00] like what he does. I probably have seven books that I’ve read half way and then given up because something looked like a shinny object when I went on to that. But honestly as an agency owner, as a business owner in general, if you have time to read, there is something wrong with how you prioritize what you want to execute. To be honest, like we have a never ending list of ideas that we want to push forward with so, my answer is don’t read, stop reading. To be honest.
Marcus: So how do you get better, how do you learn, what’s your go to–?
Johnathan: Yes, great question. So when you have to explain something to other people and you [inaudible 00:32:33] sound eloquent about it, that is the best way to retain an [sic] information. So every time I write a blog post I go and find the best performing post around that subject. I completely steal, it’s completely shameless as well, what they have, obviously change it into my wording and all that stuff and add more to it which is kind of the sky scraper technique that Brian Dean from Backlinko has [inaudible00:32:54] done. But that forces me to learn about it because if I sound stupid or somebody says, “That’s not true.” I’m going to be pretty embarrassed, right? So from my perspective, all my reading comes in preparation to write content for a guest post or our own blogs so I kind of lied, I guess I do read. But it’s only with the end goal of being able to sound smarter than who you are trying to compete with so that has helped me out tremendously and also when people have questions that I might not answer I usually pull something out of my butt that’s semi-eloquent until I figure out what the true answer is.
Marcus: Interesting, I think there was actually a really cool, I think I remember seeing a few years ago a study that found that information that you retain from reading books is something like below 5%. The information you retain from teaching something to someone else is above 90%.
Johnathan: Yes, exactly. And that’s why, we try to get even our account managers and our designers to write for the blog on a topic that might be not the strongest at but they are also so busy that they haven’t been able to but I know it’s one of the ultimate ways to retain information is that when you have to teach it to others, so I agree.
Marcus: Next question, what is your favorite tool right now?
Johnathan: Favorite tool? This is again ironic. For me as far as being in the marketing and sales department of the company it’s Hrefs or as some people call it, Ahrefs. It’s just a way to see the health of our domain and what we are doing if it’s going in the right direction. So we recently just signed up with that and I was very intrigued and impressed with what it does. But it’s all a concept and SEO related, funny enough, nothing to do with PPC. So we use other tools like Spyfu what runs where things like that for account expansion options for our clients but Ahrefs is what I personally use and spending a lot of time on right now.
Marcus: Nice. What’s one piece of advice that you’d give to an agency owner who’s looking to go from six figures annual revenue, up to seven figures.
Johnathan: The biggest thing is, take a hard, long look at your current site and your brand and decide what are the micro improvements you can make just to polish your look? I think a lot of things that we’ve done, again it’s very subjective at the same time so it’s hard to say, right? Do you have an eye for design, if not can you find somebody to help you with that? Because once you focus on having and caring about brand equity and caring ,for example, that we go out and we have a professional photographer take our about pictures and put them on our site even though people might say that’s cheesy because we have a picture of our dog and I’m like FU I don’t care, he’s my son. Things like that. It’s been working well for us and I think like I said earlier, a lot of it’s gut but a lot of it is also the intuition that I have has been working really well. And for an agency owner, understand that there is no bare to entry for somebody else to start a business that you already have. So you have to go out there and care about your design, care about what you are putting out and the only to win in the long term is to build the brand equity through constant marketing. It truly is. You can’t do and be relying on [inaudible 00:35:59] and client referrals. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen agencies die and people that are on our team now that have been part of those sinking ships. So think about that and be in it for the long term and also plan for everything and I’m still adjusting and recalibrating my brain around it, is to fall I love with the shit- meaning fall in love with the conflicts that you might have with the clients, fall in love with the lack of months that we don’t have great sales numbers because, if you feel like you are building your brand and you are building your equity over time that stuff will follow. So you have to be obsessed with just building something. And I think that’s why I’ve been pretty obsessed in my earlier days playing role playing games on PC because I feel like I could level up my character, everything is like that- to get stronger and bigger. And that’s the real life scenario that we are in now. So those are the recommendations that I would definitely give.
Marcus: Awesome. What has been the biggest cause of client churn for you and what’s one way that you’ve been able to try and tackle it?
Johnathan: It’s not so much the execution and not necessarily about a lack of results it’s more so, building people’s confidence up and being able to have them talk about anything that’s under the sun when it comes to PPC and CRO which is a big challenge, right? If I could clone my brain into everybody, I think we’d be doing much better than we are now. But also know that people have different strengths and different weaknesses so I think that the two things that have been most challenging for us is having clients at the individual account manager level fall in love with you. And not just like you but actually fall in love with you and have that trust be built very fast and then honesty happens and if anything can rock the boat, you can have that honest conversation say, “Hey, I know you guys are [inaudible 00:37:30] up your internal team, my biggest fear is losing you guys and then being able to still work with you. So what’s the timeline look like, what’s your idea for that?” Again some clients are really surprised with that but it’s an honest conversation and communication is such an X-factor that it’s really hard to put your finger on it but it’s such, such a big deal. And a lot of job posting says and now I realize it because when I was looking for jobs in the past, job postings would be like, “Hey you need to be good at communication.” I’m like, “Of course, I’m good at communication.” I mean I can read and write I can talk. I’ve got that, that’s easy. But it’s not that, it’s being able to actually get to the point and when you feel the client is not happy about something or like we missed something in the [inaudible 00:38:11] checking process, something like that? Don’t shy away. Tackle it head on, call them. And that’s really scary for some people to do. So I think that’s one thing. The other thing is people building their internal teams and I can’t blame them because eventually everybody will want to have everything under one roof and having them do what we do. And the cool thing is we feel that we make PPC so profitable for our clients then that’s inevitably that’s going to happen at some point where they want to build people up or they may have a cloudy vision thinking they can actually clone what we are in-house, which I’m going to be very cocky and say I don’t think they can. So those are the two biggest things: communication with clients and then there’s just the risk of people building up their internal teams is the biggest reason I think for why I think we’ve lost a lot of our clients.
Marcus: So what’s next for Klientboost?
Johnathan: A new-look office actually. So end of next year, our goal is to be at $500000 a month in recurring revenue and if that happens we are going to start being in other time zones and obviously you know the U.S. is a pretty wide country and we’ve had before a lot of clients ask us where we are located and if they are in New York they are not too excited about working with us over here or they just don’t let us know either. So it’s kind of like and ego thing at the same time I think that’s very badass to create a second office. And it’s then being able to, again, make everybody stronger, invest in more training for individual account managers, give them a path of success and growth themselves whether that be promotions or raises or things like that. And so I think we are doing a really good job with that so far. But as we expand and have different time zones, it’s going to be more to deal with. But that is our goal for next year, is to double what we are at by the end of this year which should be at 250.
Marcus: Awesome. I have no doubts that you will smash your targets.
Johnathan: [Laughs] I’m excited. I’ll let you know, it will be very fun. Thank you so much.
Marcus: Yes the next stop London.
Johnathan: Yes, exactly, that is following the footsteps of Gary Vaynerchuk I think who just recently opened one up there.
Marcus: Yes he seems to be doing quite a lot of stuff over here at the moment.
Johnathan: The guy has like 600, 700 employees so there’s a lot to catch up to.
Marcus: Well, Jonathan, it’s been awesome to have you here. Amazing insights. Really appreciate your time and sharing all these stuff with listeners. So a huge thank you for coming on the show. If people want to learn more about you or check out Klientboost, what’s the best way for them to learn a bit more?
Johnathan: I mean go to our website that’s started in a very weird way it’s client like a customer but with a K, we own the C version and I just [inaudible 00:40:43] because I just wanted to be different that way. But that’s the best way and then you can see and find our twitter handles, my twitter handle, whatever you prefer. Follow us on dribble or Instagram as well.
Marcus: So that’s Klientboost spelt K-l-i-e-n-t-b-o-o-s-t.com?
Johnathan: Yes. Awesome
Marcus: Jonathan, again, thanks for coming on the show and see you soon.
Johnathan: Thanks so much for having me.
Marcus: Thanks for listening to the episode of the 10X Your Agency Podcast. If you are interested in acquiring more leads for your business I’d like to invite you to a free webinar that I’ll be hosting on how to acquire 300% more leads from your website without increasing the traffic. In this webinar, I’ll be sharing how you can turn your website into a lead generating machine, four strategies on how you can boost your form submissions by 300% and much more. So if you are interested, all you need to do is go to Google, type in, Leadformly acquire more leads. That’s Leadformly spelt L-e-a-d-f-o-r-m-y acquire more leads and the landing page to register for the webinar should appear at the top. As I said it’s completely free and we run this webinar every single week. So once again, thanks for listening to this week’s episode and stay tuned for next week’s episode of the 10X Your Agency Podcast.
Episode 1: How I Grew an Agency That Built 8 Online Ventures & Led to a TEDx Talk (Marcus Taylor, Venture Harbour)
Episode 2: How an 18-Person Agency Built 64 Startups With an ROI 10X Higher Than the Average European VC (Tim Morgan, Mint Digital)
Episode 3: How a PPC Agency Reached $250K Monthly Recurring Revenue in Under 2 Years (Johnathan Dane, KlientBoost)
Episode 4: How to Hire a Great Team, Attract Leads on Autopilot, and Scale an Agency (Eric Siu, SingleGrain)
Episode 5: How to Grow Your Niche Agency & Avoid Common Hiring Pitfalls (Danny Ashton, NeoMam Studios)
Episode 6: The Mindset & Beliefs Needed to Build an Agency (Paul Rouke, PRWD)
Episode 7: How an Agency Reached 100,000’s of Marketers by Building Software (Dan Sharp, ScreamingFrog)
Episode 8: From Selling an Agency & Burning Out to Launching SaaS & Giving Away $1M Worth of Free T-Shirts (Sujan Patel, Web Profits)
Episode 9: Agency Culture Hacking: How to Set Values, Work Remotely & Retain A-Players (Jonathan Anderstrom, Creed Interactive)
Episode 10: How to Scale & Sell a Multimillion Dollar Agency (Jason Swenk)
Episode 11: Running an 80-Person Agency After a Multi-Million Dollar Sale (Tim Grice, Branded3)
Episode 12: Building a £4M agency with 270 clients in 2 Years (Mark Wright, ClimbOnline)