29:8 It’s time to be frank - Lee Matthew Jackson
29:8 It’s time to be frank - Lee Matthew Jackson

29:8 It’s time to be frank

We need to be having frank conversations. With so much noise, with so many courses, with so many “experts”, with so much social media…. how can an agency owner catch a break and reconnect with reality?

Lee Matthew Jackson
Lee Matthew Jackson

We need to be having frank conversations. With so much noise, with so many courses, with so many “experts”, with so much social media…. how can an agency owner catch a break and reconnect with reality? In today’s episode I share some of the frank conversations we’ve had on YouTube that I think this industry needs to have. Let’s cut through all the crap out there and help build an industry that values family, mental health, work life balance and healthier lifestyles.

Here are the YouTube videos we reference in this episode. Be sure to join the conversations.

Lee Matthew Jackson - Trailblazer FM ™


Lee Matthew Jackson

Trailblazer FM ™

It’s time to be frank

How do you measure success?

Is it me, or are we being bombarded with fake messages about success?

In this new series every Friday, I’d love for us to start a conversation.

Join the conversation and comments over here.

STOP selling templates

If you are selling templates as solutions without the necessary skills to back up what you are delivering, you need to stop now!

This practice is damaging the industry and making it very difficult for others to succeed.

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

“Full Service Agency” – Dumb or genius idea?

Is it even possible to be a full service agency, provide amazing services across all disciplines and maintain a profitable focused business with a clear message?

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

Why do I feel like a failure?

Do you feel like a failure? Is your agency not where you feel it should be?

Today I share with you what is likely at the root of your feelings and I encourage you to go and listen to this week’s podcast on failure that provides you with a framework for how to deal with it.

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

Stop redesigning your agency website

Are you happy with your agency website?

Have you gone through multiple versions and are STILL not happy?

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

Stop roasting Squarespace

Agency owners need to stop ribbing Squarespace and other providers and start looking at what is right for their clients, and what clients are right for them.

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

Stop moaning, start b*tching

Feel like you don’t have time to create content?

Here’s what you need to do about it!

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

Latest video:

Stop buying lifetime deals, sanity check your subscriptions

How many lifetime deals do you have? Do you go crazy like me as soon as another Appsumo deal pops up in your Facebook feed?

Do you have multiple SaaS subscriptions taking money from your bank every month? Do you have plugins you pay for that you don’t need?

Join the conversation and get involved in the comments over here.

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The Podcast:



Lee Matthew Jackson: Welcome to The Agency Trailblazer podcast. This is your host Lee and on today’s show it’s you and it’s me. Well actually it’s mainly me and you’re listening, but that’s all cool. You can talk back if you want. You know like a mad person shouting at the speaker, you could say no, no, you’re wrong Lee and if you think that I encourage you, you need to come onto the comments of the relevant videos. You can find all of the links in the show notes because today I want to be frank with you. You Listen, oh, that sounded a bit aggressive that didn’t it? I’m only messing, calm down, calm down. Please don’t punch me. But this is going to be a frank podcast because I want to do two things. I want to push some frank conversations and make sure that we are all talking about these things as a community. Then number two, selfishly I want to promote the YouTube channel at the same time because that’s where I would like these frank conversations to happen. So before we continue, don’t do this if you’re driving. Can I encourage you to go to trailblazer.fm/youtube and if you have not already subscribed then please subscribe to our YouTube channel. We are putting out three pieces of content a week and in this episode I want to talk about Frank Friday.

We’re going to be covering some of the topics that we are discussing on a weekly basis. We want to disrupt this industry because frankly there is a lot of misinformation out there. There are a lot of people out there who are talking about things that they should not be talking about that they are not qualified to talk about. There are gurus out there telling you how to make millions of pounds and yet they can’t even do it for themselves and it frustrates me like crazy. Equally, there are people who are doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So what I want to do in this episode is I want to encourage you, I want to inspire you. I also want to hopefully annoy you as well enough so that you will go in and jump on one of these videos and come and engage in a conversation because we need to change things in this industry. We need to have these sorts of conversations so that we can help each other out. So without further ado, I want to unpack some of the following Frank Friday episodes. Don’t forget if you want to come and join the conversation for each one of these, then you can click on the link in the show notes and then come and join me in the comments and let’s talk about this. Share your opinion. Am I right? Am I wrong? Or do you have more to add?

So the first Frank Friday episode premiered on the 18th of July and we were talking about success. Now you heard me in this intro ranting about the quote on quote gurus, and we are frankly being bombarded with messaging through Facebook, through social media, through all of these different channels we’re being re-targeted etc, by these gurus who are trying to sell us systems. They are portraying a particular type of lifestyle, which makes you feel bad already because you’re thinking, well, I don’t have that lifestyle. I just live in this terraced house in a village and they’re showing you how they’re constantly travelling the world and working on the beach and driving an amazing car. So they are bombarding with this sort of messaging and then they are also telling you that they have these systems that will allow you to completely transform your life and now achieve what it is that they are doing. I find that frustrating because that is promoting as far as I’m concerned, something that I don’t need to do for me.

What is my measure of success? Well, my measure of success is to make sure that I am running a business that is profitable, that is not taking up my time and that I am not trapped in and that is allowing me to be able to spend time with my family. That could be either here in the village that we live or that could be going for a holiday, that could be a UK based holiday or that could be somewhere abroad. It doesn’t really matter. What is most important to me and what is the measure of my success is that I have a good, happy family life. A good happy business life. What I don’t want to create is a series of children that resent me because I was never there because I was focused on becoming a millionaire. So what are your opinions? Go ahead and watch this episode and then let me know what your thoughts are. How are you measuring success for you personally and also success for you in your agency. Also, are you comparing yourself to other people? Comparison is one of those robbers of your joy. You could be running an agency that is making you happy, but the minute you start to look at what other people are doing and other people’s journeys, that is going to rob you of your joy. If you listen to the episode where I talk about why do I feel like a failure, that’s one of those things that’s driving it. People are portraying this exciting lifestyle or this ideal agency that you apparently should be creating etc, and that’s giving you that feeling of failure, that feeling that you must have to work harder to in order to achieve what it is that they are portraying. That was actually born out of another Frank Friday video that we did about why do we feel like a failure because of us being bombarded with all of these messages. So if you were touched by anything in that, please go and join us, there is a link in the show notes, come and tell us how do you measure success? Are you sick and tired of being bombarded with messaging? Have you established what your goals are? Let’s have a conversation in the comment section on YouTube.

Now, the next Frank Friday I want to talk about carries on with that theme of comparison and it actually became an entire episode encouraging you to stop redesigning your website. So I’d like to put a link in there for you. So check out the show notes. You can jump in and listen to that episode. If you have been struggling with your agency website and you’ve gone through multiple iterations and you don’t feel happy with what you’ve got, then not only will that Frank Friday video help inspire you and encourage you with what to do, but that actual podcast that you’ll listen to will actually give you the framework to ensure that you get your website nailed and you stop comparing yourself to other people.

Again, it’s that whole comparison. Comparison at least to the feeling of failure. Equally it’s also leading us to look at what we have and think that we need to start changing things. So I would encourage you, go ahead and watch that episode as well as consume that podcast and take some action. Now, a few weeks ago we covered the topic of full service agency. Our title essentially was ‘Is a full service agency a stupid idea or a genius idea’. So let’s just set the scene, a full service agency will often be offering services within as many marketing verticals as you can possibly imagine. So they would be offering web development. Web Design would be offering SEO. They’d be offering pay-per-click, they’d be offering Facebook marketing. If you think of it, they’ll be trying to offer absolutely everything wrapped up inside of one agency and I challenged that idea in the video. Is that a good idea? Now, I think it’s not, I don’t think it’s possible for an agency to be an expert and to be really good on multiple verticals to actually be able to offer a really good service in each one of those specialist areas. So who am I as a business to say that I could give you your Facebook marketing strategy when actually my superpower is in web development and design. I should not be trying to sell other services that frankly I am not equipped to be offering. However, what is okay is if I am starting to partner with other people, so I would have a preferred partner who would be offering content creation or social media management etc, social media strategy, SEO, all of these elements that I can’t do. There is no reason why I can’t partner with other people and offer that preferred partnership to my clients, but I don’t believe that I should be trying to offer a full service agency.

Now, I actually based this on experience that I’ve personally had where many years ago we were trying to be that full service agency trying to offer all of those services and frankly it was stressful. It was really hard to try and be amazing at everything and we still did a good job, but the things that we weren’t specialists at were taking us so much time, sure we were winning contracts because we were presenting ourselves as a full service agency, but the impact of those jobs were actually harming our bottom line. They weren’t profitable because we were having to put more energy and resource in to deliver at a high level on something that we would not specialist at. Where as when we were focusing just on those things that we were really good at, those were the things that we were profitable on. Those were the things that we could really fly and we could really shine on. That was the point where we realised we needed to stop trying to be all things to all people and actually focus on just being a specialist agency, offering a specialist service to a special group of people. That was our whole agency reset. We realised we needed to niche our service, our offering, our messaging and who it was that we were servicing so that we could service that group of people to the best of our ability.

So in my opinion, I think a full service agency is a really bad idea and could actually be harming your business as opposed to you actually focusing in on something. But again, this is Frank Friday and we want to have a conversation. So if you agree or disagree, go and join me in the comments on that YouTube video. What are your experiences? Have you actually been able to offer a full service agency in some sort of way that allows you to specialise in all those areas and removes the stress? If you have, I’d love to know how you’ve done it because I frankly could not do that and it stressed me out. So go ahead, check that out. Let’s have a conversation.

For our next Frank Friday we’re going to switch gears and we’re actually going to be talking about selling templates. So this was where I shared frustration in the race to the bottom. There has been for many years in fact a race to the bottom in the web and the graphic design industry. So the cost of entry to build a website has gotten so low that agencies are trying to compete on price rather than offering a premium service to a very specific type of client. What you’ll also find in the industry is that there are a whole load of people who are setting themselves up as agencies and what they’re doing here is they’re selling templates. They’re going to say Envato, template monster or wherever, and they are essentially selling to local businesses a template made WordPress website. Now in its own right, that’s okay as long as it’s very clear what’s happening. As long as it’s clear to the end user that they are being sold a template which is going to be changed and this is what they’re going to get, whatever level of service. My concern, however, is that there are many people who are selling these templates who simply do not have the education to actually be able to service and to support those clients once it gets into say code errors or anything like that. Also, a lot of these templates are super bloated and then not great platforms. So I know I’m probably preaching predominantly to the converted on this podcast, but it’s definitely a conversation that needs to be had.

Also, I would encourage agencies who do not specialise in web design to stop building websites. I think if we go back to that full service agency idea, if you are pay per click, if that is your superpower, then partner with somebody who can build websites and then stop putting the pressure on yourself to be delivering these sorts of things. So what do you think about this concept of people setting up agencies and selling templates without the necessary experience or indeed agencies, just simply shifting templates because they are competing on price? Let me know, let’s have a conversation. This was one actually blew up and we had tonnes of views and tonnes of comments back in July and I would say let’s carry on this conversation because this is something that is worth tackling now. I do hope this entire episode doesn’t sound like a rant. Bear in mind that this is Frank Friday, I get to rant once a week. You are getting the benefit of all of that in one episode. But again, I do feel like these are all important conversations that we should be having. The biggest reason Frank Friday exists is that I feel like some of these things get talked about privately or they are frustrators, but we actually don’t have these open conversations and by not talking about it, we just let things happen that shouldn’t be happening or we struggle with things that we shouldn’t be struggling with as a result.

Now off the back of that template discussion, it kind of segues perfectly into the next Frank Friday where we talk about people roasting or ripping on SquareSpace and there are even say Wix or any of those other website providers. So yep, pull over if you were shocked at me saying that, but I actually created an entire video defending the likes of Squarespace and saying that there is a time and a place. As I mentioned earlier, the cost of entry for getting a website or for getting graphic design, etc is plummeting and it is practically impossible to compete with that when you are looking at offering somebody a WordPress website. Frankly, a lot of people don’t have the budget to be able to pay for the ongoing keep, let alone the actual development and design of that WordPress website. So when you have a potential client who is not in that right space yet, it’s actually the appropriate time to encourage that person onto one of these providers where they can select from something that’s a pre-done layout. I know i’ve already just said stop selling templates. But what we’re saying is encourage people who cannot yet afford you to go and have the basics done via one of the services such as Squarespace or as Wix, so that they can start with a website. They are at least supported by that third party service. It’s a low monthly or yearly fee, whatever that be, and they’re going to get their basic needs covered whilst they begin and grow their business.

Whilst they can’t afford WordPress, whilst they can’t afford your services, etc. At least they can get started and then they can come back to you when they are ready, when they are your ideal client, when they do have that budget to be able to invest in a custom WordPress web build with all of the services that they’re going to need to have with that to make sure that that WordPress install is a healthy WordPress install beyond its initial build as well as all the other stuff they’ll want to do to evolve that WordPress website. So instead of that race to the bottom, instead of trying to provide people rock bottom prices for what should be a long term investment, we can encourage those people first to use services like Squarespace before they eventually move on to us. So you can still foster that relationship. You can still be there as a friend etc and then when they are ready, sure, let’s bring them on. Now there is another idea as well that you could look at, and we actually linked to this in the video as well. So if you click through and check that out, we show you a course from Matthew Rodella and he actually helps people to build niche wordpress websites as a service. So he talks you through how to essentially create a Turnkey website environment for your niche. This means that you could in theory become the Squarespace or the Wix for your particular target audience. So that means that you don’t necessarily have to send people off to Wix and lose them as a customer, but instead they could be paying you a low monthly fee and you would then be providing them the pre-built websites setup that you’ve designed.

Now this is actually something that we do very successfully in my other agency Event Engine. We have a entire platform that we’ve developed with custom software that allows event organisers all around the world to pay us a monthly or a yearly fee and then run their event websites with us using all of the services that come with that. So that essentially means instead of as building a unique website for each and every person, we actually utilise multi-site and that’s WordPress multi-site to allow them to spark up as many websites as they need for all of their events. And we’re not having to do any code. This is just all a one stop shop. So that is at least another alternative. So the result of that video was stop ripping on Squarespace. There is a space put unintended for that, offer other services like that and equally this could be something that you might want to look at where you could provide that entry point for potential customers. So you can take them through the journey by creating your own niche style of Squarespace for the lower end of the market and then slowly move them up to the bigger and the better products. So let me know your thoughts, go ahead and check out that video.

Alrighty, we are coming into land folks. This is the last Frank Friday and this was the Frank Friday we did last week where we were talking about lifetime deals and subscriptions. I apologise if you are a massive fan of AppSumo because I’m about to say something that you may not want to hear. That is to stop, please, please stop buying a lifetime deals. Before you get offended, this is actually me telling me to stop buying lifetime deals as much as it is encouraging you to stop buying these lifetime deals as well. So in the video I actually talk about why it is not necessarily a great idea to have A all of these lifetime deals and B also all of these other subscriptions to all of these different pieces of software and I shared how we actually saved, I think it was £4,000 pounds a year or so ago where we were looking at all of the software as a service solutions that we had. We had all of these solutions for lots of different elements and we were spending about £4,000 pounds that we didn’t need two per year, so we saved that. That was £4,000 pounds back to reinvest in the business or as profit and that’s probably something you’ll be able to do if you look at what you’re subscribing to. But equally with the lifetime deals is we were spending money on lifetime deals that we were not using. I would say that about 10% of everything I’ve ever bought through AppSumo or any of these other sites that offer these lifetime deals, I only use about 10% of any of those, which means I’ve been spending a lot of money on deals that I never needed.

Now, the big issue here, and I think there’s a common theme, is this whole idea of comparison. So what will happen is we will be comparing our agency to other people’s journeys, to their businesses and to what they’re doing. Then we will be excited by the messaging that comes from, say, these lifetime deals where they’re saying, hey, I was, software is going to change your life. It’s going to allow you to do this. It’s gonna allow you to be the best designer, the best developer. It’s gonna save you hours of time. It’s gonna help you become a millionaire. It’s going to help you generate hundreds of leads. They make all these wonderful and exciting promises and because we’ve had that journey with comparison, we’ve had that relationship with comparison and then we’re looking at software like this and we’re thinking, oh, this looks great. This is gonna really change my life. We quickly buy it and before long, always $49, $99 etc. All of these add up. The problem is as well as when we go into AppSumo, they’ve changed it now where you can stack your code. So you’ll very often say, oh well I’ll buy the $49 deal, but wait, if I buy two lots, then I’m going to get more logins or more whatever it’s going to be. Which means with the good old fear of missing out we’re going to end up buying two or three codes to stack so that we can get more lifetime for this very low price. Again, if you’re thinking of all the money we spend and only 10% of that ever gets kept, it’s not necessarily the best idea.

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a time and a place for AppSumo. AppSumo does help startup businesses to get a capital injection. So I get that that’s a good setup for a lot of these people who are going through AppSumo, so I’m not saying the AppSumo shouldn’t be there or the other systems like AppSumo shouldn’t be available and I’m not even saying don’t buy lifetime deals necessarily because you might actually be contributing and investing in that startup. What I am saying though is that you should be carefully purchasing your software, that’s your subscriptions, all your lifetime deals, whatever they are. Consider your purchase by first looking at how they will help you with your processes. If you don’t have any processes in place, then any amount of software in the world is not going to help you with your business. What you need to nail first are your systems and your processes. How do you build? How do you deliver? What do you need to do? What do you need to track? For example, with regards to your leads, how are you tracking your leads? How are you keeping top of those communications etc. So create your processes, your procedures, and then find the right solutions that will help you. That means then if Plutio is going to be the CRM for you, that’s going to allow you to outwork your systems and processes than wonderful. Grab it on a lifetime deal if it ever comes up, that’s a good investment. It’s a good purchase and that works because it’s going to match with your systems and your processes, but don’t just buy things because of that fear of missing out or because of that promise that this whatever that you’ve never heard of until now because it’s $49 is going to completely change your life. This though is my opinion and I could be totally wrong and again, that purpose of Frank Friday is, these are conversations that we need to have. I need to be told if I’m wrong or if you think I’m wrong or if you think I’m right or I have not thought of something.

So again, please check out the show notes, click on the link, and if you have an opinion on this, then please do share it. Also for this particular episode I’m definitely interested in what lifetime deals or what subscriptions you have that you think are absolutely the best for your agency and why as well, because you’ll have read over here that I’m not necessarily saying stop buying altogether. I’m just saying sanity check before you make your purchases, but come on, let’s jump on YouTube and let’s have this conversation.

All right folks, that is a wrap on this episode we have covered some key topics that I think this industry should be talking about and if you want to be a part of that conversation, then go to trailblazer.fm/youtube or check out the show notes and click on the specific topic that had you going and come and join that conversation in the comments. Now, if you like having a conversation with others in our industry, then you can also be a part of our free Facebook group. You’ll find that over on trailblazer.fm/group. Hey guys, if we don’t see you on YouTube, if we don’t see you in the free group, then we will see you in the next episode.


PodcastSeason 29

Lee Matthew Jackson

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