Get Your Agency To the Next Level By Focusing on Who, Not How

By Jason Swenk on October 27, 2021

Do you know the importance of focusing on the who, rather than the how? Did you know this one detail could be the key to getting your agency to the next level? Dallin Cottle has a degree in political science and was heading to law school when he started working at an agency and discovered a knack and passion for advertising. He quickly felt he couldn’t continue to grow at that company and decided to branch out and start his own business, Roar Media. Now, after scaling his agency and getting through many difficulties recent economic difficulties, he sat down with Jason to talk about how he got his first clients, how getting his agency to the next level meant focusing on the who, rather than the how, and how he realized when it was time to start transitioning from his role of agency owner to being a CEO.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Making the first $100,000 from unqualified leads. Coming from many years in the agency world, Dallin already had some contacts and an idea on how to get his first clients. He reached out to some of his connections in local agencies and asked if they could refer some unqualified leads. “There’s a lot of them and they were just throwing them out like garbage,” he recalls. And that’s how he got the first clients for start building his agency and made his first $100,000 from calling up leads that nobody wanted.
  2. Focusing on the who, rather that the how. When building and starting to grow an agency, many people focus on how to get to the next level and start to work more and more. Dallin believes that the more you learn, the more you’ll realize that you have no idea what you’re doing. “This is a pivotal moment for any agency owner,” he says. It is at that point when you have to look around and realize where the business is at and where you are going and you have to surround yourself with the right people that are going to help get you there at that moment.
  3. Transitioning to the role of CEO.  Agency owners typically have many capabilities. They can wear a lot of different hats and this can result in a failure to recognize when it’s time to look for experts that can help you scale to the next level, as well as the time to transition to the role of CEO. In his case, our guest understood it was now or never and organized a 6-week vacation. Just the thought of leaving for a long period without answering calls or emails forced him to start delegating tasks he would normally do for his team. At this point, part of your role will be setting the vision for the company and coaching and mentoring the leadership team.


Sponsors and Resources

Ninja Cat: Today’s episode is sponsored by Ninja Cat, a digital marketing performance management platform where you can unify your data, create beautiful, insightful reports and presentations that will help you grow your business. Head over to to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners.


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Focus on The Who To Get Your Agency To The Next Level And Transition To The Role of CEO

Jason: [00:00:00] What’s up, agency owners? I’m excited to have another amazing guest. We’re going to talk about the who, not how, which is real important when you’re growing and scaling your agency. So let’s go ahead and jump into the episode.

Hey, Dallin. Welcome to the show.

Dallin: [00:00:21] Thank you. Thank you. Excited to be here.

Jason: [00:00:24] Yeah, me too. Tell us who you are and what do you do?

Dallin: [00:00:27] Yeah, so I’m Dallin Cottle. I own a marketing agency in Salt Lake City, Utah, Roar Media. We specialize in Facebook ads, Google ads for the real estate niche, fitness and personal development spaces primarily. So, yeah, excited to be here.

Jason: [00:00:47] Yeah! Tell us, how did you get started? Like why create an agency? Because, you know, as we all know, it’s, it’s a hard life for a number of different years.

Dallin: [00:00:54] Yeah. So my story is actually really, you know, unconventional. I actually got a degree in political science and I thought I was heading straight to law school. And, you know, I got, I graduated and I was looking around and I’m like… Man, I don’t really actually see the type of job that I was thinking I was going to have right here at the end of the road here.

And looking at a lot of years ahead with law school I’m like, man, I don’t know if this is it for me. So I took this job at an agency and, you know, day one, I was like, man, I, I’m home. Like, this is what I love doing. And a lot of parallels from just human psychology and everything I’ve learned, I learned in political science of how people vote is very similar to how they respond to ads and different things.

So it was kind of a, you know, it’s definitely a match for me. And from there I, just about a year later, I realized that I had I’ve reached my destination at that company. I had… making the six figures. I bought the Beamer. I bought the house. Bought the 4runner. I mean, we had a kid, I felt like, wow, this is, this is a great life, but I’m like, man, I’m tapped out in here. I can’t continue to grow.

And so I decided to jump and to branch out on my own and start, start my own thing. It was the dumbest thing I ever did. No, I’m just kidding.

Jason: [00:02:13] Oh no. That was probably the best thing. Yeah. So how did you land your first client?

Dallin: [00:02:19] All right. This is a, this is awesome. So my first clients came from… Being at an agency, I realized there’s a lot of unqualified leads. And they were just throwing them out like garbage, right? At least the agencies that I was familiar with here locally.

And so I was just, I mean, I had made really great connections. Even the, you know, the place I previously worked, like I was, you know, all on good terms and everything else.

So I just started reaching out to some of these local agencies and the people that we had partnered with or worked with. And I just said, hey, I’m just kind of doing my own little thing here, freelancing. Would you mind if I just shoot me like 10, like crappy, crappy leads that I could just call and just cut my teeth out on, right?

And that’s how I made my first a hundred thousand dollars in like six months, right? It was from calling all the leads that nobody wanted to work, right? And just put in some serious time to learn the ropes and started from there. So…

Jason: [00:03:14] Did you find that the first couple of clients that you got that made the, you know, the first hundred thousand… Do you still have those clients or did you, did the agency outgrow them?

Dallin: [00:03:24] Yeah, that’s a great question. So it’s really interesting because the first out of my first four clients, the three of them I’ve had up until this last year, one sold their business. One, unfortunately, had a partner in the business passed away and they actually kind of just shifted gears and decided not to do advertising anymore.

And another one, we stopped working together a couple of years ago, right? And I think that for that person, I think that, yes, that one probably was a little bit of a we’ve, we’ve kind of outgrew that modelers the expectation at the beginning of, you know, what you’re charging and what you’re doing. It’s hard for that kind of growth.

But for the most part, there’s kind of a little bit of everything there, right? From the ones that we saw kind of continue with us. And then there’s the other set kind of fell, fell off. So…

Jason: [00:04:20] Well, let’s talk about kind of the who rather than the how. Because a lot of people are always kind of focusing on, well, Jason, how do I get over the million?Or how do I get to the multi-million? Or how do I get to the eight figures? How to get to the next…? And I always tell them, you’re kind of focused on the wrong thing.

So tell us a little bit about what that means for you.

Dallin: [00:04:41] Yeah. Well, when you first start out building an agency, there’s so many things that you are learning. And there’s so many things that you start to realize there’s kind of that unconscious competence at first, where you are like the… where you feel like you’re kind of there. And you are, you kind of have that ego in you and you’re like, yeah, I can do this. Like, I’m good at this, right? And the more you start to learn, the more you start to realize that, wow, I really have no idea what I’m doing, right?

And it’s at that point where you realize you actually have no idea what you’re doing is, I think, a really pivotal moment for most agency owners. And it’s in that moment that I was really grateful that I’ve had mentors and coaches that, you know, I’ve spent a lot of money to surround myself with those people.

But in those moments, that was the counsel that I was given, right? The council was, hey, perfect, you recognize that you don’t have it all figured out. And what you need to do is start looking around at who’s done this before. Cause it’s not an impossible task. Like I’m not a surgeon, I’m not, you know, working on someone’s brain or whatever it is, where I’m going to have, have, have to know the how of all of this.

I just have to know someone who’s actually done it before, or who’s done something similar and go and find that person. And that principle is served me, so, so well, and… I mean over the years and when COVID hit, we’ve had the seriously change the who. Like we had to change a complete who. I had to let go of 12 employees at one point.

And it was like the hardest decision I ever had to make in the business. But, you know, you, you look at where the business is at, where you’re going… And you have to surround yourself with the people that are going to help get you there at that moment.

Jason: [00:06:28] Yeah. I always tell everybody kind of what got you to the point you’re at right now is not going to get you to the next level.

Like for example, getting to the million mark, you can get there by referrals and marketing. But then, you know, that’s not going to get you to the next level, which you really need kind of a system in place where, you know… All right, I put this amount of money in. I know if I can get this amount of people through this. This is how much we’re going to, you know, build in the pipeline.

Or even looking at kind of on the sales part, right? A lot of times what got you to a certain point is a person. And that person could be you doing the sales or maybe one salesperson. But you need to build a sales system, a sales team that can operate without just one. And it just goes on and on and a lot of people don’t realize that. They go, I’ve grown really quick to this one point and then they go, well, I’ll keep going this way.

I’m like, no, no, no, you got to constantly adapt or you’re going to reach a level. And then you’re going to constantly go up and down. And when you’re going through that roller coaster, which gets you through that is luck and determination. Depending on how many times you go through that, you know, that takes away a lot of energy and sometimes it puts you on a downward spiral or you’re like, I’m just tired, man.

And I, I can’t tell you how many people I talked to that just like… Can you just by me? I’m like we don’t buy dying businesses.

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Dallin: [00:08:01] Exactly, yeah. No, exactly. Well, and then, you know, what’s interesting with, with all of that, I mean… Being an agency owner, most of the time, the agency owner started the agency because they’re really good at marketing. And if you’re really good at marketing, chances are you’re really good at a lot of different things, or you can wear a lot of hats.

And so you’re typically good at sales because you know how to write copy for a great ad to get sales, right? You know how to do a webinar. So you’re great at presenting things. And so you help do sales presentations, right? And you can kind of do a little bit of everything. So it’s one of those things where if you’re, you know, if you’re selling real estate or you’re doing something else there where you’re like building a house, like… You may not know how to do all of the, you know, you may not be a good electrician, there’s plumbing.

Like there’s so many other factors where you’re going to have to rely on the who and not, you know, just the how to do all of that. With an agency owner you’re kind of in this like really awesome pocket where you have so many capabilities. It’s really hard to just be like, you know, I’m not going to do that myself.

I’m going to find an expert that can actually help me scale it to the next level.

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Yeah, and I find a lot of people get to a point where they’re okay at everything. That’s what I’ll put. And they go, well, Jason, I don’t want to become a big agency and a big agency to them might be 40, 50 people. They are like, yeah, I already have 10 or 20, and that means I’m going to have double or triple the amount of pressure on me.

Or, and I’m like, no, no, you don’t get it. The more people you hire and the more of the right people you hire, the less you have to do. Like one of the things when I’m working with mastermind members or clients, is once they get the right system set up, I tell them, take a month off. And then don’t even pick up the phone, don’t check, email.

And then come back and what you’ll find a lot of times is now you’re ready to kind of change your position from an owner to a CEO. Because the CEO role is really going to setting the vision for the agency, communicating that to the team, coaching and mentoring and leadership team. And really being the face of the organization and a couple other ones, but that’s really it.

Then you can have all this free time to do, like we were talking pre-show… We were joking around about I’m researching building a teepee and putting on top of the mountain. And then you talked about buying real estate, all kinds of stuff. So, you know, it’s like you have time to do other things. So I want you guys to have time to research teepees and go buy your own teepee.

Dallin: [00:11:55] We’re going to wait to post this episode, right? So you can get this teepee.

Jason: [00:12:00] I’m going to corner the market. I’m going to corner the market because I’m checking out these websites and they do a piss poor job at marketing. So there might be, if you could be the number one agency in the world for going after the teepee niche.

Dallin: [00:12:16] That’s right. If you learn one thing from this episode today, it’s that. Um, no, but to your point, I, this last summer, we’ve been an agency, route four and a half years now. And so, you know, it’s always, it’s been a grind, a huge grind. I haven’t done a lot of vacationing, okay? But I told my wife that that’s the danger it’s like next year, next year, right? In a month or so. And then pretty soon I was like, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to force my hand here.

And I said, we are going to go to Hawaii for six weeks this summer. So we left the first part of June and got back the, the end of July, um, this summer. And man, the lessons I learned from that, just exactly what you were saying. It was absolutely insane because the preparation, knowing that you’re leaving in a couple of months.

Everybody, at least most people that I know. And I’ve talked to you about this. When you go to leave on vacation, even if it’s for a weekend or a week or whatever, the house is clean. All the, you know, the bills that were on the counter are paid. All the things are kind of cleaned up and you kind of leave… You try to package things as nice as you possibly can cause you’re leaving.

And so that same principle, like when I’m thinking, leaving for two months in my business or six weeks like that. Man, I, all these certain things that I would have just normally done, I started handing off. And I couldn’t believe the difference that it made in my business. And then just like you said, just stand back and like put my hands up and be like, Hey, it’s on you guys. Like, keep it going, right?

I don’t want to get that phone call, right? And so that was an awesome experience. And coming back, just like you said, I was able to really shift that direction. It also forced the team to be able to do that. And I think sometimes we don’t let the people that are, that could step up and be leaders in the company, we don’t really give them an opportunity to step up and be the who. We just focus on them always being the how, right?

And so in that moment, we’re like, hey, can you do this while I’m gone? Because if I got hit by a car and I was out for six weeks, they totally would’ve, right? They would’ve stepped up in a big way to make sure that things continued on they’re on that path.

So it’s, uh, it was a huge lesson for me this year. I’m like, man, should’ve done that a lot sooner. Just planned it out and did it.

Jason: [00:14:31] Yeah, you should never look at like tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. It’s like. You know, it’s like today living today, don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the future either. I make that mistake.

I, I make that mistake all the time. You know, it’s like, we’ve always done it that way. And then I’m like, I quickly slap myself in the face going that’s the kiss of death and… Or I’ll say, oh, I’ll do that tomorrow. And be like, no. I’ve always been really good at executing if we have an idea… And my team always laughs.

They’re like, oh, Jason has another idea. When’s it going to be done? Probably in like two seconds.

Dallin: [00:15:08] That’s right.

Jason: [00:15:10] Like buying the teepee. Uh, I think that’s what the title is, how you can grow your agency to afford a teepee. That’s right.

Dallin: [00:15:18] That’s all you need, is the teepee.

Jason: [00:15:21] Exactly. Perfect housing, right? That’s all you need. Well, this has all been great. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience?

Dallin: [00:15:31] No, I just, I mean, just to kinda summarize that. I think that, you know, you, you look around and like where you want to go, right? Find the people that have that have done it, you know, keep continuing to listen to this podcast and, and see all the, you know, all the different stories and learn from that.

And you’ll find the people that are around you. It’s so crazy how close those people really are. If you don’t mind, I’d love to share one more thing with you.

Jason: [00:15:58] Go for it.

Dallin: [00:15:59] I recently was watching, um, Undercover Billionaire. I don’t know if you’ve seen that show on the discovery channel. But, uh, man, what an awesome, just like…

Jason: [00:16:08] The second season or first season?

Dallin: [00:16:10] Both. I watched both of them. But I thought they were both amazing in their own kind of way. But yeah, no spoilers, but Grant Cardone in the second season, you know, agency directions, right? And so looking at kind of that whole approach, there’s no fear in, well, I don’t have money to hire, I don’t have money to find the who.

I don’t have, like, you know… There’s no resources that are like they’re building, you know, a million-dollar evaluation business in 90 days… With literally they have no contacts, no resources, no nothing. It’s literally just asking people and trying to find out what their passion and their drive is and how they can help contribute to the, you know, a greater vision, right?

So you sell that vision and you build the life and the agency that you want. So I highly recommend plugging that in there. No, I wasn’t called to plug that in from the Discovery Channel or anything. But it was a pretty cool, um, you know, kind of looking at it from a, just a straight-up business standpoint. But it’s good entertainment too.

Jason: [00:17:13] It was really good. I, I just think, you know, people are like, I remember watching something, um… A Tony Robbins video and Al gore was in the front row. And I guess that beforehand, he was like, if I had the Senate or Congress, I don’t, I don’t know the, uh, you know, I would’ve won the presidency. And Tony was like, no, it’s never a lack of resources, it’s about a lack of resourcefulness.

So I just want to leave everybody with that of going, if you can dream it, you can build it. You just need to figure out the who can actually help you and just build that community, build those relationships and that’s really everything.

So what’s a website people can go and check the agency out?

Dallin: [00:17:59] Yeah,, and basically you can find us anywhere on on social media as well.

Jason: [00:18:08] Awesome. Well, cool. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. If you guys enjoyed this episode, make sure you go check out their website. Make sure you subscribe. And if you want to be around amazing agency owners that are constantly challenging you and constantly motivating you to push harder and be more resourceful. I want to invite all of you to go to

This is our exclusive community and mastermind for only the experience agency owners that are really wanting to change the game and really take it up a notch and have a lot of fun and share what’s working with other amazing people.

So go to and until next time have a Swenk day.

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