8-Steps to Hiring Amazing Digital Agency Talent
Not sure how to find and hire the right digital agency talent to help you grow? Here’s the 8-steps one successful agency owner uses to build a team that fits within the existing culture. He is also diving into reasons why niching down was a good decision and the most important kind of profit.
- 3 reasons your agency must niche down.
- The only kind of profit that matters.
- 8 steps to hiring culture-fit digital agency talent.
Today, I talked with Chris Martinez Co-founder of DUDE! — an agency that provides unlimited web designing for other agencies. Chris has been through the ropes as an agency owner. And he’s worked hard to figure out how to nail pitches, niche down, and hire that perfect prospect. Plus, he wears a wrestling mask sometimes. What’s not to love?
3 Reasons Your Agency Must Niche Down
Chris said the single best decision he made in order to help his agency grow was to select a niche. And if you haven’t yet, you need to niche down, too! Here are 3 reasons:
- Clients will come to you. Niching down accelerates word-of-mouth. Now, I don’t want you to rely on referrals to grow your business but when you are able to generate a buzz as a specialist within an industry or a specific skill set that establishes authority in your niche.
- You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. If you’re taking on any and every client, it can be tough to build processes. When you choose a niche, you know exactly what you have to do. You can build simple, effective systems and processes to become efficient.
- Targeting clients is easier. Building a buyer’s persona gets 100x easier when you identify a niche. You know exactly who you’re going after, where they’re at, and how to speak their language.
Besides, your clients really only are about 2 things:
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- What results can you give them?
That’s it! So why not start thinking high-level. Be specific in who you serve and create processes that give you an edge over your competitors. Use your successes and case stories to win even more business in the same category.
The Only Kind of Profit that Matters
Everyone wants the big clients, right? But bigger clients aren’t the key driver to agency growth. It’s profitability. For example, when your first big client comes in with a $50k contract, you’re going to want to say YES! But, how much of that $50k is really hitting your bottom line?
You might be a 7-figure agency but if your margins are single digits then gross revenue doesn’t mean squat. Conversely, you might be a $300,000 agency who’s really learned how to tighten your belt and coming home with 40% profit, then you’re doing really well for yourself.
If your bottom line isn’t where it should be, you need to pivot. Carve out your niche, determine where your expenses have gone askew, and then go lean and/or raise your prices. Do whatever it takes to put you where you want to be. Sure, you may be taking some losses when you first startup. But, if your agency is established and you’re margins aren’t at 30% or better, it’s time to change courses.
And that change may start with learning how to say NO!
8-Steps to Hiring Culture-Fit Digital Agency Talent
Hiring someone who has the skill set to do a job is easy. Hiring someone who wants to do a job in the environment and with the team you’ve created can be a bit tougher. Chris says to hire people for their culture-fit, not their technical-fit. You can teach someone a skillset but you can’t make them change who they are.
Chris has an amazing culture-first hiring process inspired by the way they do things at Zappos.com.
Here’s his agency’s 8-step hiring process
- Post the position publicly. (Obviously.)
- Identify candidates’ soft skills and hard skills from their resume and application. Chris always puts more value on soft skills. You want to see who a person is — not just what they can do.
- Send the best candidates a questionnaire. You can find out a lot more than just their answers to the questions… like, how fast do they respond? Do they pay attention to details? Can they meet the deadline? Do they follow direction? Are they going above and beyond expectations? If you ask them to send you 5 examples, did they only send 4?
- Schedule a phone interview. Talking to someone can help weed out applicants early. Are they polite or rude? Authentic or fake? Aggressive or grumpy?
- Send a technical skills test. Do they actually have the basic skill set they’re hiring for?
- Send a psychometric test. This helps you figure out who they really are deep down. These aren’t perfect, but they can help you get rid of a bad fit fairly early on.
- Schedule an in-person interview. Chris has a round-robin interview style with 4 – 5 people. Each person talks to the potential hire. Then, they meet afterward and see if all parties are in agreement for hiring them. They ask each other: “Would you work with them?” and “Would you work for this person?” Everyone must answer in the affirmative or they pass on the candidate.
- Give the candidate a final job-related task. Make sure they know how to perform and can do so on deadline. For Chris’s agency this is particularly important because they’re hiring developers and designers.
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