31:4 I need clients now. What do I do? - Rob Da Costa
31:4 I need clients now. What do I do? - Rob Da Costa

31:4 I need clients now. What do I do?

For many agency owners, Christmas a stressful time of year. Potential clients are gearing up for Christmas, projects are on hold or non existant and they still have staff to page. Rob shares with us both what to do if you need clients right now, and also how to avoid this situation in the future.

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

For many agency owners, Christmas a stressful time of year. Potential clients are gearing up for Christmas, projects are on hold or non existant and they still have staff to page. Rob shares with us both what to do if you need clients right now, and also how to avoid this situation in the future.

Rob Da Costa  - Da Costa Coaching Ltd.


Rob Da Costa

Da Costa Coaching Ltd.

He breaks down the three key areas of your business you should be focused on, and how much time you should focus on it:

  • Strategy – How I earn money in the future
  • Revenue – How I earn money today
  • Admin – Cost of running the business

Previous Episode

30:3 Unpacking value based pricing – click here

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Lee Matthew Jackson: Welcome to the Agency Trailblazer Podcast. This is your host Lee and on today’s show we are chilling with Mr Rob Da Costa. How are you today Rob?

Rob Da Costa: I am really good. Thanks Lee. It’s 9:15am and I feel like I’ve done a day’s work already, but I’m good. Raring to go.

Lee Matthew Jackson: That’s good. So based on that, just very quickly describe what your morning routine has been. What have you got achieved this morning?

Rob Da Costa: Well, I am a big fan first of all with having morning and evening rituals, which I’m sure is a subject for another podcast. But basically that means that I start and end my day in exactly the same way every day that I’m in the office because that puts me in a really good frame of mind and I really care about what my priorities are for the day. So number one on my morning ritual is make a cup of coffee and that’s the most important thing to start my day to get me going. Then I check my emails with a goal of trying to clear them down to zero. Then I schedule my day down to the nearest half an hour. And that would include things like walking the dogs and going to the gym, having lunch as well as all the tasks I’ve got to do and I have priorities for the week and the month. So I look at those to translate them into what my priorities are for the day. I think like a lot of us, we’re super busy and there’s a million and one things I could be doing. So I need to make sure that the things I am doing are moving me and my business forward.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Sounds like you’re starting from a position of being very grounded and I like that a lot.

Rob Da Costa: Yeah. I also think from a position of being very disorganised in the past and having, you know, not like a lot of people not having a great memory, so I forget things so if I don’t write them down and organise them. Then I will forget them and that’s not good.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Folks, if you want to learn more about Rob, he actually graced us with his presence on episode 235 where we talked about unpacking the value based pricing model. That was a really cool episode. We talked about value based pricing, what that is and how you can also apply that to the business. Cause I know it has a lot of stereotypical views of it. So I’m going to give you no more spoilers. But if you want to go and learn more about Rob and also value based pricing, then go ahead and check out episode number 235. Now Rob, today we’re going to be talking about agencies that need clients right now. But before we deep dive into that, I do have a very important question and that is how do you make your coffee in the morning?

Rob Da Costa: Okay, so listen, this is what I always say. If there was a fire in my house, first of all, I grabbed my coffee machine, then I grab my partner, then I’d grab the dogs.

Lee Matthew Jackson: I know someone who’d grabbed the dogs first, but carry on.

Rob Da Costa: Oh yeah, well maybe, yeah, they’d have to fend for themselves. So I have got one of those bean to cup machines that grinds the beans and makes the coffee and froths the milk up and yeah, I like a good cup of coffee, definitely.

Lee Matthew Jackson: That’s so cool. So that’s the one where the beans are loaded in at the top and then you press a button and it automatically does everything for you.

Rob Da Costa: That’s it. Yeah. But it ended up black Friday sale, not this year, last year. It was a good deal and I really liked my coffee, so.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Yeah and what sort of roast do you like then?

Rob Da Costa: Oh strong basically.

Lee Matthew Jackson: So number five on the richter scale.

Rob Da Costa: Number five, don’t know what the beans are, but strong.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Yeah, that’s good. I like a good Colombian roast personally as well. So, welcome to our new coffee podcast.

Rob Da Costa: I’m a one cup of coffee person a day, so it needs to be a good one.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Really? Oh wow. I’m on my third, so I think I have a problem anyway, now that we’ve got the niceties out of the way, we do have a serious topic to talk about. So, this is something Rob, that’s happened a lot really over the last few years, especially in our community where we’ve got this lovely community, it’s a nice private space for people to share their frustrations, et cetera and I’m seeing this a lot, especially over this time of year, which is why I think this is a real important conversation to have, but people are freaking out. People have got literally no clients. There’s a lot of month left at the end of the money as it were, and they are looking for new clients. They’ve got to fill that space. There’s people who have either personally contacted us here, Agency Trailblazer, asking for help and advice or you’ve seen people posting inside of the groups. I wanted to get someone like you, an expert who can help us, I guess unpack why we find ourselves in that situation and then also see what we can do about that. Can we start with that why? Why do you think people find themselves in a situation where they suddenly need clients? We need to get clients right now there is no money, there is lots of in a month left and we got nothing. We need clients. Why do you think people find themselves there?

Rob Da Costa: It’s definitely a good way to start this conversation to take a step back and consider why and I think we have all probably been me included, been in that sort of feast or famine cycle in the past. So feast where you win big projects, you get super focused on delivering great works, keep happy clients. Those projects come to an end and then you’re looking at an empty order book and you go, Oh my God, now what am I going to do? At that point where you’re in the famine place, you usually make bad decisions. So those bad decisions would be one of two things really. First of all, they would be to take on any old client, which means take on the wrong kind of client. When we take on the wrong kind of client, we end up having a really hard time keeping them happy. So we ended up over servicing them because they don’t really get you and you don’t get them. So that’s the first thing is we take on the wrong kind of client. The second thing we do when we’re in a famine place is we discount the work. So we take on work at a lower price because we think that is why we’re going to win or how are we going to win that piece of business. Then we fill out all the book with undervalued work or difficult clients and of course that leads to more stress in the agency and you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and then you don’t have any capacity to take on the right kind of clients. So we end up in this feast or famine cycle and we have to find a way of breaking that. When we’re in famine place it leads us to, Oh my God, I need clients now. What can I do? So I think the first thing you have to think about is how do I break this cycle? I’ve been coaching agencies now for the past 14 years and I’ve been in that cycle twice. After the second time it happened to me, I had to have a conversation with myself, which is like Rob, you know, how many times do you want this to happen to you? Because it’s just not very pleasant. It’s stressful. You can’t pay the bills, you worry, you know, blah blah blah. So I had to put some strategies in place myself to stop that. One of the most important strategies anyone can put in place if they don’t want this to happen. So if you’re in this place right now and you have some time, then obviously you need to get some clients to earn some money. But you also need to think about putting this strategy in place, which says, I’m going to look at how I split my time and I’m going to make sure I allocate enough time to three areas. It doesn’t matter what your business is. Everybody has these three areas. So first of all, strategy and strategy is basically how am I earning money in the future? So when you hear these highfalutin banks, descriptions of strategies, forget it. Strategy is quite simply, how am I going to earn money in the future? So that looks like marketing, business development, sales, all that kind of stuff. The second part is revenue and revenue is quite simply how I’m earning money today. So that’s all the project work you have ongoing. Then the third part is admin and admin is a cost to your business, which is everything you do to run your, to run your agency. So that would be things like invoicing, credit control. It could be managing staff. If you have staff recruiting, you know, freelancers, whatever. And you need to look at those three parts and work out how much time you should spend in each of them. It’s different for everybody. But roughly speaking, you want to be thinking about, say, let’s see if I can make this add up to 100. . So 55% in revenue, 40% in strategy and 10% in admin. There we go. That’s about right. The point is that you can do an exercise to obviously work at how you’re spending your time. And if I do that exercise with clients, invariably I will find they don’t spend enough time in strategy and they spend too much time in admin, so they’re spending too much time running their agency. Really, you know, 10% is half a day a week. So that is what you should be aiming for.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Ooh, before you carry on, this is really good. So right now you’re saying half a day folks, just have a look at what you are doing. Are you spending more than half a day in your CRM system messing around with data or your accounts or organising, all that sort of stuff. That is such an amazingly good example of where you may be going wrong. That’s something we were doing in my old agency. Across all three directors, I think we were spending about two days each on general administration of our company, which was awful. It was just destroying anytime that we had available. Carry on mate.

Rob Da Costa: Yeah, no really good point. The question you’ve got to be asking yourself is, is this moving my agency forward or is it just something that’s nice to do? Like I, I’ve, I’ve just finished writing my December blog, which is about my top 15 productivity tools that I’ve used in 2019. The reason I wrote that is because I probably played with about 40 tools and wasted loads of bloody time to find those 15. So I just wanted to not have other people waste time too. So we can really get sucked down that rabbit hole of doing things that are tweaking your agency around the ages but not really moving you forward. So if you took a rough idea of saying I should only spend 10% of my time, it’s half day a week doing my admin then you can say, okay, I’m going to spend whatever I said, 55% delivering great client work and then the rest of the time on strategy. Now one of the reasons why people don’t spend enough time in strategy I think is because they don’t know what to do. So they think it sounds complicated. So one thing you should all do is get a sheet of paper, write down three sheets of paper, write down on the top: admin strategy revenue, and just start making a list of all the things that you do in your agency and all the things that you could do to help you work out when I’ve got strategy time, what should I be doing? Now you can actually translate this into your diary. So you can actually, there’s a thing called a contextual diary, which is where you sort of take the perfect week and you map onto that where I spend admin time, where I’d spent strategy time and where I’d spend revenue time, and obviously you can’t say to a client, sorry I’m doing admin stay, I can’t meet you. But it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. You move the pieces around and so that you can get a sense of what my ideal week looks like and how I make sure I’m spending enough time in strategy particularly so that I’m going to have enough new business coming in in the future. So when a project comes to an end, then I have the next project lined up. Or if a client suddenly ends their working relationship with me, I’m not going to fall off a cliff. I have something in the queue waiting to come on board. So I think that is so important. I think the way people need to think about this is that when they’ve worked out how much time they have for revenue, that’s client work, that becomes their capacity. Their capacity isn’t five days a week. Their capacity is three and a half days a week. So when I’ve got three and a half days a week of paid work, for example, three days, whatever it is, that is my maximum capacity because I have to have that time to work on my strategy, which is my business development, my marketing, my networking, all the things that you know we need to do that will deliver business in the long run.

Lee Matthew Jackson: As a business as well, we’ve got a responsibility haven’t we to be there for our clients in the future. I always say to people that you have a responsibility to your clients to charge them the right price that allows you to run a business that is profitable because you need to be the in the next five years to continue to support them and that the element of strategy as well as something that really should not be optional because it’s your responsibility to be there for your clients.

Rob Da Costa: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s a whole discussion to be had there really about, I’ve just been helping a couple of clients write some letters to increase their rates with their clients, which I think we should all do as a matter of course every year and sort of helping them get the positioning of that right. Because people are quite fearful of putting their rates up because they don’t value enough of what they’re doing for their clients. So I know that’s a different topic.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Sure. But it was more the idea of strategy not being optional strategy, just like pricing or other elements of your business that you’re not looking at and not dealing with is actually one of the most important areas of your business that we should not be neglecting. I mean, you’ve said we should be focusing I think 35% on our strategy. So that’s, that’s at least a day, isn’t it?

Rob Da Costa: Yeah, that’s a day and a half day and I think, as I said earlier, I think one of the reasons why people don’t do this, well, two reasons, really. One, they feel they win too much client work so they don’t have time to do it. So over capacity and then if you do that, what’s going to happen? The project’s going to come to an end and your order book’s gonna be empty and you’re going to panic. And then we’re back in this feast or famine. The second thing, as I said earlier, is that people don’t know what to do when they have strategy time because it sounds complicated. So it’s not complicated. You just have to work out what are the three or four things that are going to deliver best value for you. What are the three or four activities that will deliver the best results and then have a short, medium and long term business development strategy in place. So for example, if you go to that networking event every week you have a great bacon sandwich and you talk to some really interesting people, but you’re not really mixing with your target audience, you’re just mixing with great business people. Then you know it’s that networking thing, really a good investment of your strategy time and I see that quite a lot. I have my local chamber down here is fantastic. I really like them and I do quite a few things with them, but I don’t get along to a lot of the networking events because it’s not necessarily full of my target audience. So you have to work out the one, two, three things that you can do that will deliver results for you in the short, medium, and long term.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Absolutely. Okay. So far we’ve talked about strategy, revenue and admin. I just want to kind of recap for people. We’ve got strategy, that is how I am earning money in the future. We’ve got our revenue, which is how I earn my money today. So that’s the work that we’re doing in the day to day. Then we’ve got the admin, which is the cost to the business that’s the running the business and I think we’ve already kind of highlighted where I was going wrong in my old business years ago where we were spending at least two days each on administration. So that was doing all the invoicing, updating the, so we had a system called stream time. So we were in that all of the time, reorganising data, exporting stuff and putting it into the account system. We were just doing so much that we didn’t need to do. We were doing HR stuff with our teams. So we work meeting with team members, we were putting out new ideas to try and help our team feel happier et cetera. So we were, you know, spearheading initiatives, planning outings and all sorts of stuff. But all of that added up to an awful lot of time. Then with regards to the revenue that you were talking about, which is our capacity, we were filling that. We were not considering it as the three, I think you said three and a half days of capacity. Along those lines, we were not filling that. We were filling five days if not more with the capacity. We weren’t charging enough, which is obviously a different subject, but we were filling it with as much work as we could do. So whomever wasn’t working on admin was then having to just go flat out working on the revenue element. Working on that capacity, which was to the detriment of any strategy. There was no time left for strategy and strategy would be something that we would pull all the owners out of the business for a meeting once a quarter. So our strategy session was one hour once a quarter.

Rob Da Costa: Really? And Lee that is so typical isn’t it? Then the question is, when you had those sessions, what did you do with the information?

Lee Matthew Jackson: Well, we had no idea what to do. That was the thing, we would have these meetings asking things like what’s our strategy for the next quarter? Or what are we going to do? And then we’d just say more of the same things and have no accountability to getting it done either, which was always frustrating.

Rob Da Costa: So can I just give you an analogy to help sort of bring that typical scenario to life. Let’s imagine that our agency have decided that for Christmas we all going to go to the South of France. So the vision for our business, our agency is to get to the South of France. So we have two choices at that point. We can either all jump in and just say go and see what we kind of know that the South of France is South of here. So we need to go South and we probably could get there in the end, but it will be quite painful journey and some people are going to get lost. We’re all gonna arrive at different times. Some people who can be completely demotivated by the time they get there. Or we could say, let’s sit down and work out a strategy of how we’re going to get to the South of France. So the strategy would be, well, we’re going to drive down to Dover and we’re going to then jump on a ferry and then we’re going to drive from wherever that ferry gets in down to the South France. So that’s sort of a broad, big picture strategy. Then we need to take that strategy and turn it into a plan and a plan looks like, well, okay, we are going to book tickets on the ferry at half past four, we’re going to stop for the night in Paris, we’re going to book this hotel, we’ll then go and eat here and all those. That’s what our plan is. And so you can have a vision, which is the South of France. The strategy, which is the broad strokes of how we’re going to get there and then the plan, which is the specific detail of what we’re going to do and every business needs to be doing this. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a one man agency or a 50 man agency you need to be doing this and if you’re not, you’re just going to be too impacted by external factors that you couldn’t see coming in. You know, that will impact your business and impact your, your agency. So we all need to have a vision strategy plan and as we’re in that quiet period now where you know, which has sort of led to us talking about this topic. It is a good time, I know obviously we need to get money in to the agency, but it is a good time to be saying, okay, let’s sit down and do some planning for 2020 let’s take that one year plan and break it down into quarters. Let’s flesh out the next quarter in detail. Let’s translate that quarterly plan into a monthly to do list or a monthly plan for our business. And then let’s allocate actions and then translate them into our diaries. That’s how you take your vision and turn it into a strategy and turn it into a plan and then you get to the South of France all together happy when you expect it to when you have a great time, when you’re there.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Now you highlighted during the conversation earlier how people will often take on the wrong type of client in the feast and famine scenario because of the fear and the fact that we just don’t have the money coming in. So I am now going to take you, Mr wrong clients or Mrs wrong client on. I’m going to also bring you in at a discounted rate and we’re both going to work together, but we’re probably not going to get on right because we’re not really the right fit for each other. But right now frankly we’re desperate for money so welcome. Again, this is describing a scenario I was involved in 10 years ago where we were getting in multiple clients who would not the right fit, but we just needed clients and we went in the right fit for them. They weren’t the right fit for us. We were heavily discounting so that we could keep filling again, not charging the right price and we were filling those five days. Now I think that kind of highlights a problem. If people have got some time now of a Christmas, the work’s dried up. We’re worried about 2020 we want to start planning for 2020 we want to start to build our strategy. I would be suspicious that a few people listening to this podcast right now don’t even know who the right clients are for them.

Rob Da Costa: Yes, well absolutely. I mean so there’s two other at least two other discussions there. First of all, the more niche we are, the easier it is to describe our ideal client. When we are generalist, we achieve the absolute opposite of what our intention is, which is being able to sell to everybody. So if you’re in that space and you’re not really clear about who you’re right or who your ideal client is, you need to do two things. You first of all need to make sure you are clear about your niche and that you realise, especially for small agencies being a journalist never ever wins over being a niche.Then you should do some work on your customer personas, your custom advertise, your ideal by whatever that terminology you want to use this. But it is really useful to work out who your target customer is. If you do some work on your custom avatars, then you really understand what makes them tick, what their pains are that you can solve, where they hang out, where they digest content and all that stuff. So you can start to think, okay, I now better understand who my target customer is and therefore I can build plans to engage with them in the future and reach them and you know, do that know like trust thing where you can show that you understand them, you can build empathy with them and trust so that they will then come and buy from you eventually. Now that’s all you know, medium to long term. It’s not suddenly not going to get you clients in the short term, but what it is going to do is stop you getting into this feast or famine cycle.

Lee Matthew Jackson: That becomes a party or strategy, doesn’t it? So revisiting that and making sure, in fact, the first part of your strategy set up could be very much, you know, the whole, the who, the why, the what, the way that you know, all of that sort of stuff. Getting that nailed so that your strategy then matches what you’re looking for.

Rob Da Costa: Yeah, and I think it’s worth saying because you, and I have obviously both experienced this as probably many of the listeners have, is that when you take on the wrong client, one of the things you’re going to know straight away is in your gut that they’re the wrong client. But you might be ignoring that gut instinct because you really need the money. They are just a pain in the backside and it’s not necessarily their fault, but you just don’t get them. They don’t get you. You may have kind of shoehorned your service to convince them to buy from you. So it’s really difficult to delight the client and it usually ends up in a difficult relationship. It definitely ends up with over-servicing and it also ends up in a short term relationship, which puts you right back to square one in terms of having no clients and needing to fill your order book.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Now what I’d love to do with you is explore how somebody right now might be sat there feeling rather desperate saying this sounds amazing. So I’m going to spend 35% of my time on strategy then go, I think you said 55 or so on on revenue and 10% on admin. I get all that. That’s going to allow me to build up my business over a period of time to put myself in a strong position to avoid feast and famine. But right now, how does that answer my glaringly obvious problem that I actually have no clients coming in and I just need to find someone right now. So they’re stuck in that rut as it were. Have you got any advice or help on how to kind of, not coast cause that’s the wrong word, but you know kind of just survive that enough to be able to put the rest of the plans in place?

Rob Da Costa: Yeah. So I just need to be talking a lot about paper today but I would get three sheets of paper and write short term, medium term and long term because you need to do all three of these. I always say to people, if you don’t start the long term strategy now, it will never deliver anything. So even when we’re feeling desperate, we need to start thinking about sowing the seeds for the medium and long term strategy. So if we focused on short term, I think there’s two really obvious things to do and I’ve done both of these before because I said earlier on I’ve been in that famine place myself and panicked about and I did when I had that conversation with myself like Rob, stop doing this. What am I going to do in the short term? I did two things. First of all, I looked at my existing client base and I thought where are their upsell opportunities? So what happens with a lot of us is that we sell a specific service to a client and they get to know as only for that service. If we provide other services as well, we have to make sure during our relationship or even the prospecting stage that we are communicating with them about the other services because there’s nothing worse than let’s say you sold, I don’t know, you sold a website to a client and you also have a whole SEO division in your business, but the client only sees you as a web developer or a designer. Then day you hear that they’ve just taken on an SEO company and you’re going, Hey, but didn’t you realise that we could do that? Or Hey, by then it sounds too late and also you don’t sound very convincing that that’s a core service of yours. So we need to make sure that our clients know the full breadth of services that we can provide, even if they’re only buying one specific service from us. So that we can try and get some new business from any existing clients. So that’s one thing. So you have to think about the conversations that you have with a client and you know, sometimes take a very consultative view. One, again, a bit of a different topic, but at every stage of the sales process and our relationship with our clients, we need to be positioning ourselves as consultants, being consultative, being advising so that we are not just going, yeah, I can do a five page website for you. But rather than that saying, yeah, let me go and look at your analytics and learn more about what it is you’re trying to do and why you’re not happy. So we can be consultative, which means we can be proactive. It’s suggesting things to our clients that are happy with us so that we can upselleto them and get new business from existing clients. So that’s what number one obvious thing to do.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Just to add to that as well mate, that also means that we are also working with the right type of client out of the box rather than trying to attract new, not right for us clients to fill a gap. We’re actually selling to the people and helping the people that we already have a good relationship with.

Rob Da Costa: Yeah and if we have that good relationship, we can be consultative and you know it’s a conversation I’m sure you’ve had tonnes of times Lee, but we have to value the most valuable part of what we do. The most valuable part of what we do is the consultative part and yet I see that given away so often. You know, people putting tenders, proposals together, but giving away a lot of the strategy for free and the proposal, which is crazy because you don’t know enough about the client at that point. So we have to be, if we have the right relationships, we can be consultative, which means we can go in and be proactive or suggesting things they might want to change to get better results for them. So that’s the number one strategy. The number two thing, which is something that I’ve done when I’ve been in this place is this is a really simple one, but it does depend on what you do, which is send an email to all your old contacts or your old clients, any prospects that you did some work for but never actually won the business and send them an email that says catching up with Rob Da Costa in this case, or catching up with whoever you are and send them an email saying, I just thought I’d touch base with you, want to let you know that we’re expanding and taking on more clients. So if you happen to know of anyone that’s looking for blah, blah, blah, then please let me know. Now in the space of sending an email like that, you’re not putting that specific client under pressure by saying, I need work. Can you give me some work? But of course you are opening the doors to them to say, well, actually we need some help in that area. I almost feel like if I sent an email to everybody that I’ve ever known, and trust me, you will, will know a lot of people. If you sit down and actually make a list, if I sent an email like that today, I almost guarantee I’ll pick up some work from it. So that is a really simple strategy. Send an email to all of your contacts, all of your old clients, anybody that knows you, and make sure you put your name in the subject so it doesn’t look like spam because people are much more likely to open it. So you wouldn’t just say we’re expanding or something in the subject. The subject needs to be catching up with Rob Da Costa or whoever you are. Then just say, you know, we’re expanding, you know, exciting times. Just let you know what we’re up to. If you know anyone that might be interested in our services, please let me know. I think that is a good, simple strategy.

Lee Matthew Jackson: That’s two really good pieces of advice there mate. So number one, existing clients you are consultants. Can you consult? Can you offer more value? We should be talking regularly with our clients anyway, learning what their problems are and finding ways that we can help solve those problems and that’s going to create clients that love you and stick with you forever because you’re that person who cares about them and talks with them and finds ways to help them and to help them achieve their dreams, et cetera. So that’s definitely a great source of you know, of revenue of income, especially when you’re desperate and I love that idea. It’s something that I’ve done myself few years ago when we were having that famine, which was I didn’t put my name in the title, but I did send a message out to a whole lot of people saying we’ve added a new service and we were looking for clients, potential clients who would value from the X, Y, and Z. And we picked up a whole load of leads really quickly just from one email blast to two people. So that’s a really, really effective and practical way.

Rob Da Costa: Can I just mention two other things?

Lee Matthew Jackson: Please do.

Rob Da Costa: Really briefly. So two really important strategies, whether you think these are short or medium term, I don’t know, but one of them is you’ve got to build your mailing list. This is something that everybody should be doing from day one. If you have no mailing list, get an Excel spreadsheet, put everybody you know in there and then grow that list. Because the bigger your mailing this, the bigger, you know you can monetize that and the more immediate you can get sales when you need them. So I think that would be a really important strategy. It’s something I ask a lot of my clients. Do you have a mailing list? If they don’t, what’s your strategy? Start building and obviously you can use your website to get new people subscribing and then nurture those lists so that they can eventually turn them into clients when they’re ready to buy. So that’s, that’s the second thing. The third or fourth strategy really, which is a really important one, is partnerships. Because when we are small businesses, one of the smartest ways to win new businesses have partners that we nurture and manage really well who refer business to us. Because if I manage one partner then it might refer, it might help me win five pieces of business in the year and managing one partner really well is much easier than finding those five customers. So the partnerships that you have should be people that probably are targeting the same audience as you but offering a different service. So we call that shoulder niche, but partners that are selling something different but to the same audience as you or are your ideal partners and all you need to do in any one time is find two or three of those partners and manage them really well. So you have to keep nurturing those partners so that they deliver you three, four or five clients a year. So if you had three partners that could be 15 clients a year that you win just from three partnerships so that those perhaps are medium term strategies, but really, really, really important strategies. If you don’t have some kind of partnership strategy in place, then you should definitely be thinking about putting that in place.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Well definitely. I know that something that’s worked for us, especially in the events industry, so we’ve got a small group of us in the events industry that provide very specific service to event organisers. But the group of us as businesses, our friends, we hang out, we meet up when we go to different events, etc and we pass each other good leads. So we’ll have someone who will approach us for event registration, which we don’t do, but we obviously have a partner business that we’re able to then pass that lead over to them and vice versa. If someone needs the actual web platform, that’s something we do really well and they’ll pass it back. So yeah, like you said, it’s a medium term strategy, although it can quite quickly produce results as well. So we found that when we started that we actually start very quickly, we’re getting leads in as a result because we were offering something that was very attractive to the the niche that we were in. Again that goes back doesn’t it? The strategy that you were talking about earlier about understanding, understanding who it is you’re serving, understanding your niche, et cetera rather than being a generalist.

Rob Da Costa: Definitely. Yep. So I guess if we put all these in place, then hopefully we’ll be able to get out of that feast or famine cycle for good and then not this time next year, not have the same concerns about sort of lack of business.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Well, let me see if I can do a recap just to make sure that I’ve understood all of this cause I want the people listening, especially if you are listening right now, when you are in that position of just feeling absolutely crap because you’re worried about money then what we’ve learned today is that we, we need to be thinking about the long term, even when we’re feeling crap right now. There’s those three areas of our business that’s three pieces of paper that we can be putting down. A, if there’s our strategy, B, there’s our revenue and then C there’s our admin. So that strategy is how I’m earning money in the future. There is the revenue, which is how many of my money today or the capacity, etc. Then there is the admin, which is the cost of the business that’s running your business, et cetera. Rob was talking about spending 35% of our time on the strategy, which is about day and a half. You’re looking at three and a half days worth of actual capacity, which is you know, earning the money today, building your websites, doing your designs, providing a consultancy, all those services. Then finally there was the half day, 10% of your time, which is the administration time. So having a look at those and then what we did was we learned about what we can be doing right now if we are absolutely desperate. The first thing is do those pieces of paper, write down what you’re doing right now so that you can work out how your time is being used up. Because Rob said that we do need to be still looking at the long term strategy regardless of how desperate things might feel right now cause otherwise we’ll always be stuck in a rut. Then Rob shared a great range of, of ways that you can start to generate some leads. Right now if you are feeling desperate and those two main ones, the short term ones would have been connecting with your existing clients. Having conversations with them and seeing if there are opportunities that you can help them there. Obviously that’s with people that already know, I can trust you, et cetera. So that’s a good place to start and you’ll probably find some leads in there. Then the second one was the catch up with your name and sending it to all of your contacts saying, Hey, we’ve expanded. We’re looking for some clients who would be in X, Y, and Z. So it’s kind of the soft sell. You’re not putting your contacts under pressure to give you money or actually saying, Hey, do you know anyone that’s looking for X, Y, andZ ? You’re probably going to pick up some leads that way. Then we talked about some more longer term partnerships or medium term, sorry strategies, which included partnerships, et cetera. So folks, hopefully you are armed now with what you’re going to do for the long term and how you’re going to reorganise your business. Also if you are in that position of looking for revenue, et cetera, then hopefully you have some short term tips for how you can turn things around. Now Rob, how can people connect with you? How can they engage with you? If they have more questions,

Rob Da Costa: You can email me at robert@dacostacoaching.co.uk and you can check out my website, same URL. So that’s dacostacoaching.co.uk.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Also, when you were last done, you were, I think you are launching the Agency Accelerator. Is that something that’s opening again for new sign-ons?

Rob Da Costa: Yeah, definitely. So we’re right we are two thirds of the way through the programme at the moment it’s going really well. Some fantastic engagement and we are opening the doors again in may next year. So if you go onto my website, click on the link at the top on Agency Accelerator. If you’re interested you can read more about it and register your interest so that you can be the first to hear about it when the doors open in may next year.

Lee Matthew Jackson: So folks, make sure you, you jump on that as well. And just quickly on that, I believe that’s a kind of a course that you’ve got going through, but then there’s the weekly calls, isn’t there?

Rob Da Costa: Yes, it’s a 12 I guess it’s a 12 week sort of mastermind programme. So we take calls one to one coaching with me plus 40 plus hours of online content.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Nice folks, check that out as well. Make sure you register your interest and also be sure to check out his blog where he has loads of really great content in there as well, including nine strategies to grow your agency with a positive mindset part two which must mean there were some other nine, I dunno previously I literally just jumping on your blog, but there’s some good ideas in here and also some great recommended resources like other books as well.

Rob Da Costa: Sorry to interrupt you. There’s also a blog, a few blogs back on feast or famine, so on the exact topic we’ve been talking about yesterday.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Go check those out folks as well. Further back, actually, where’s the search button? Is that missing?

Rob Da Costa: Oh no, don’t even go there.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Yeah, so at some point Rob’s going to add a search button as well so that you’ll be able to go ahead and find, but top tip, if you just type in site colon Da Costa coaching that credit UK and then type in feast or famine. It’ll come up that way. Anyway, so a nice one. All right Rob, great stuff. It’s been wonderful. Thank you so much. I really, really hope that we have helped some people today. I know Christmas, it definitely the worst time for this and it’s something we experienced nearly every winter about 10 or 11 years ago. We were going through this regularly. It was a horrible feeling. And just knowing that there are ways that people can get out of that role is helpful, but also knowing that people can plan for the future as well is phenomenal. I know you’re coming back on the show, which is wonderful. So folks, watch out. Rob will be back in a couple of months. He has a whole plethora of subjects to talk to us about. Also you’ll be telling us if some new exciting things that you have planned, and I will not release any spoilers yet, but I know I can’t wait to tell the community what you’re up to in the near future. So we will take a pause on that one and we will see you soon buddy.

Rob Da Costa: Cheers Lee, cheers guys.

Lee Matthew Jackson: Alright, Cheerio. Bye bye.


PodcastSeason 31

Lee Matthew Jackson

Content creator, speaker & event organiser. #MyLifesAMusical #EventProfs