How To Grow Your Agency With A Laser Focus Niche and Exclusivity
Would you consider having a laser focus niche in a way that you create such a demand you have a waiting list? This agency did just that and has grown more than they ever imagined. When Ryan Redding and his agency DP Marketing.Services built a website for a plumber who suggested that he should only work with other plumbers, he could have never guessed how that would change his business. Today he joins the podcast to talk about how having a laser focus agency makes everything else easier. Ryan also shares why he has felt bad about turning away business and the customer loyalty that has helped him grow his agency.
3 Golden Nuggets
- Laser focus. Once Ryan’s company found its niche thanks to a client’s suggestion that they focus solely on plumbers, they’ve only become more and more focused on this particular side of the industry. Ryan even mentions that a lot of his fellow agency owners freak out at that level of exclusivity. However, in his opinion, that very streamlined laser-focus, even with the way they do referrals, absolutely makes everything else easier.
- Benefits of saying no. When it comes to being niched the way this agency is, you’ll probably end up turning down companies that want to work with you but don’t fit into the model of business you’ve committed to. How to say no? Ryan explains that taking those clients at this point would break the agency’s process and momentum. He’s never found that turning away business is bad and argues that it actually gives him the clarity to maximize that momentum moving forward.
- Taking care of clients. Exclusivity has become a very important part of his agency’s model. The agency only works with one contractor per service area. This has created a waiting list of people wanting to work with them. In many cases, they have to reject candidates and they cite their clients’ interest as the reason. This creates a sense of respect for the way they do business and loyalty from their clients, who get notified when a competitor in their service area contacted the agency and reassured that the agency will not work with them. This has resulted in more referrals for them.
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 ninjacat.io/masterclass to enjoy an exclusive offer for podcast listeners.
Improve Client Loyalty With a Laser Focus Niche and Exclusivity
Jason: [00:00:00] Hey, what’s up everybody? I have another amazing episode coming your way. We’re going to talk about how one agency owner had a pivotal moment where a client actually told them something changed everything for him. Where, you know, he was kind of figuring out no one’s opening up my emails. But now everyone’s calling them, which is pretty cool. We all want that.
So let’s go ahead and jump into the episode.
Hey, Ryan. How’s it going?
Ryan: [00:00:33] Hey, man. It’s going good. Thanks for having me.
Jason: [00:00:35] Awesome. Well, thanks for coming on the show. So, uh, tell us who you are in. What do you do?
Ryan: [00:00:42] Dude, I am Ryan Redding. Most people probably don’t know or care, uh, but I, uh, have founded and run DP Marketing.Services. We are a full service digital agency that specializes, uh, for home services companies.
Jason: [00:00:56] Awesome. And so take us back about how did you start the agency and why did you jump into running an agency?
Ryan: [00:01:04] Yeah, it was entirely not on purpose. So I, uh, I have a background working at a big boutique advertising agency in St. Louis. Did that for a while and learned a lot of experience, but kind of got out of the marketing world for almost a decade.
Um, it was just kind of out of sight, out of mind and moved on to a different life. Got more into business consulting and in the process started realizing that all these guys were like main street, small businesses. And so think of any main street USA, you know, bakers and chiropractors and whatever. They all had really crappy websites. They were like awful.
And some of them just didn’t have the knowledge. Some of them didn’t have the budget. So originally it was, hey, we’ll just do websites that don’t look crappy for a really affordable price for these guys. And so it started off doing web design, um, and trying to do like super, super low, low dollars.
And frankly, I’m embarrassed to say it out loud. Like, our, our, we still have some of these guys in the book at a hundred dollars a month to get…
Jason: [00:02:07] For, for hosting or for maintenance.
Ryan: [00:02:09] For, well, there’s not really much maintenance cause these are guys are gonna like set and forget. So it essentially becomes hosting and nothing?
Um, but yeah, a hundred bucks a month and these guys got a website that didn’t look awful and just really basic, but it’s something for them. Um, so yeah, for a while, that’s all we did.
Jason: [00:02:31] And so how did it, how’d you kind of pivot and, and start doing more and more outside of websites. You know, because, you know, that was kind of my start.
Like I started designing websites and then we started adding on other services.
Ryan: [00:02:45] Yeah. So, this is kind of crazy and it’s actually, it kind of dovetails into how and why we’re niched like we are. So, uh, we early on did any main street small business. So literally think about bakers and chiropractors and self-storage places, and…
We, to this day, have a lot of those guys still on our books paying a hundred bucks a month. One of the guys who picked up in this time was a plumber. There was nothing special about him. He was just another one of these guys. But in a matter of about six months, um, he went from a guy working out of his garage, making 150 a year to the first page of Google in his target market.
Um, I think right now he’s got 16 trucks on the road. He spends his time golfing and on his boat with his, uh, on the lake with the boat, with his family. And he doesn’t work anymore. And he, he was literally the first one to say, uh, Bro. you only need to work with people like me because we don’t know what we’re doing. We’re comfortable paying for it.
Uh, you can obviously do what you say you’re gonna do. You should totally do it. And he kind of lumped in HVAC. But the crazy part is, is as he grew, he literally started paying me more money without me asking for it. So we start off with a hundred bucks a month and then he’s like, bro, I made whatever I made $80,000 off you this month here, here’s 300.
And I’m like, well, crap, here’s 300 bucks. What am I going to do for 300 bucks? And then it turned into here’s 1,000 and it turned into here’s 2,000 and just kept paying me more. Without asking for more. And so as he kind of raised his voluntary contribution for the impact it made on his business, I started having figured out ways to add value to the services that we were doing.
So then it came into like real SEO, real social, real reputation. Like all the things you think of like a full stack digital agency would. So that kind of became the way that we… Well, I started building out our services that we do now.
Jason: [00:04:57] How long did it take you to, because there’s a lot of us that struggle with, well, I don’t want to turn down all this other work. You know, if I’m just going to dedicate it to this particular, you know, market. Um, how long did you struggle with it and what were some of the things that allowed you to kind of make that decision and go all in?
Ryan: [00:05:20] So I, yeah, there’s a couple of layers on that. Because early on when, when this plumber was like, bro, just work with plumbers… It it’s not a, you know, I keep saying it, it, it wasn’t sexy. It wasn’t appealing. It was like, who wants to walk around being like, yeah, I do marketing for plumbers. Um, and it, it maybe took three months of me just kind of wrestling with is he crazy or is he onto something?
Um, once he, once I kind of swallowed the pillow. Okay. I think he’s onto something. It was kind of all in. So we kind of rebranded. We started like building out collateral for that specific niche. Um, and then that made it where it was much easier for him to refer plumber number two.
Because when plumber number two came and visited our website, guess what? All he sees is language that he identifies with. Um, when he sees our social and our reputation, all he sees are guys like him, like sharing their own personal experiences.
And so it, it really quickly came from, and I say quickly, maybe within six months came from something where we’re trying to talk to anybody who wants a website on Main Street, right? You get crappy ones and you get the weird ones and you get the crazy ones and whatever. And guys who think a hundred bucks a month is too much for their budget.To in most markets in the US we have guys on our waiting list, because we work with one contractor per service area.
So we’ve got guys wanting to work with us who we can’t, cause we’ve already got someone there. And they come to us, we don’t go to them. So it’s, it’s kind of in a really fundamental shift. But to, to answer the question about like, how do you say no?
If we, at any point would have said, hey, we’re going to start taking on this chiropractor or whatever in a meaningful way to build it out. It would absolutely break our processes. It would break our, our strategy for actually attracting new clients. It would be a significant, um, it, it would disrupt the momentum that we have in a really difficult to describe way.
I’ve never found that turning away business is bad. In fact, I feel like it gives you the clarity to maximize that momentum moving forward.
Jason: [00:07:36] Yeah. And talk about the waiting list. What I found is when we’ve created waiting lists, it literally makes them want you even more. And they’re constantly, always like, hey, you guys, you got any opening? Got any opening. Hey, I want in, I want in. So, and obviously it’s, it’s real too, right? Like you can’t fake it.
You know, a lot of people are like, oh, I’ll just fake that part. But, um, talk a little bit about how do you do that? How do you remember that? Because a lot of agencies will be like. Oh, yeah, who reached out to me in this particular marketthat now we have an opening?
Ryan: [00:08:13] Yeah. So it starts with like scarcity and exclusivity, right? Because we have really big competitors who will work with anybody. They don’t really care. So you can pay someone $3,000 a month and you’re like, man, this is amazing. And then you realize, well, they’re working with the guy right across the street. And then the guy two buildings down. And it takes, it makes a lot of friction for these guys because they feel like who’s getting the best efforts?
What we’ve learned about this particular niche is these guys are very jealous and very territorial. Um, so, okay, cool. So when we say, hey, we’re going to protect their service area. We’re only going to work with one contractor per service area, that gets us a lot of loyalty from them.
When guys in their market reach out to us. We notify the guys we’re already working with, hey, so-and-so reached out. Don’t worry about it. We’re not going to talk to them. We just want to let you know, you’re getting noticed that creates a sense of loyalty with the guys we’re already working with, which strangely results in more referrals to other markets and all these trade groups.
But the guys who would say, hey, we can’t work with you. And they’re like, well, what if he did this, this and this. Sorry, we, we really want to protect our client’s interests. We hope you understand. I know it’s not fun to say, but that’s the reality. It absolutely creates a sense of respect and integrity with these guys coming in that everywhere, everyone else feels like second place, right?
Cause they don’t really have that sort of value in the client. So we I’m, I’m a digital hoarder. So I literally track all this in just Gmail. So when someone comes in, it gets logged into our system. But when I talk to them, I note that the email record that has all the chat, the lead information, and I say, hey, waiting lists for whatever the city is.
And so I just kind of can search my Gmail archive pretty quickly to find whatever’s there. It’s. And it just goes back to me being a digital hoarder.
Jason: [00:10:11] Now a lot of people may be thinking to be like, well, Ryan, why don’t you set up a separate brand? You know, in order to do the others, what do you say to them?
Ryan: [00:10:22] Uh, that’s a good question. And it’s something that we’ve actually are actively debating doing. Probably what we would do, uh, is not a separate brand. Just to kind of do the same model, but just with a different logo and design and whatnot. We’d probably subdivide our niche even further. So, uh, into like an enterprise-level or somebody that actually is a franchise. That now we’re going to have different rules because we do have to cross markets.
So we’ve had like alpha tests in the work of how do we actually structure it, where we can cross markets? Uh, we’d probably work without the appearance of conflict. Um, but part of it comes up to even, how do we structure our teams? Like how do we let her SEO guys be separate and not share practices or insights? How do we let our PPC guys be separate and not share insights on who’s doing what?
Um, yeah, but it’s, it’s a legit fair question that we’re trying to figure out how to do.
Jason: [00:11:24] Do you feel like you have to comb through mountains of data jumping between multiple platforms to spreadsheets, to slide decks and back again, in order to create performance reports for your clients? It’s a constant drain on your agency’s time and resources. And that’s where our friends at Ninja Cat can help.
Ninja Cat is a digital marketing performance management platform that really unifies your marketing data and empowers your agency to automate insightful, beautiful client reports at scale. Now, Ninja Cat keeps your marketing performance and presentation tools in one place, freeing you up from manual data wrangling. And it really gives your team more time to focus on strategy and growing your base.
And for a limited time, my Smart Agency podcasts listeners will receive $500 ninja credit. When you go to ninjacat.io/masterclass to claim your offer and schedule a demo. That’s ninjacat.io/masterclass.
You know what we talk about in the mastermind that you’re part of too, that you may want to look at, or people listening in. If you get this exclusivity and you have this, this opportunity is find strategic partners that can help with these people. And so you refer them, the business, since you have exclusivity, but you also get a commission from it.
So you’re not losing anything. So let’s say, you know, like, uh, Chris in the mastermind, he’ll refer out. He’ll get 20% and he’s like this is awesome. Like, and he just any refers it to, you know, let’s say three people. And, you know, he always would talk about it,he’d be like, hey, we don’t want to refer it just to one. Because if they have a bad experience, then it’s on them because you referred them.
But if you refer to them more than one, you know, more than one, well, it’s their choice. If they picked the wrong one, well, they can’t really blame you because you gave them options. So I always thought that was pretty neat when some of the members were going through that strategy. You may want to, you may want to steal that too.
Ryan: [00:13:39] Yeah, we do that to a certain degree. Just not quite, uh, it’s more selective. It’s like the ones that we refer, we, we really believe like, hey, these are really great clients that we want the people referring to have good success with. Uh, the ones that were like, this is a problem client, like nobody wants them. We really don’t pass those on.
Jason: [00:14:00] Yeah. Oh yeah. Definitely. Definitely. Yeah. I remember when, uh, when we got to a point where we couldn’t take on some calls. I would always just be like, look, here’s what to look for. Well, we even came up with a packet that we were like, here’s all the questions to ask people that we’re referring to.
So then when we would, you know, um, you know, whenever they kind of made it upscale and they would come back to us, then we would crush it. Uh, cause they were always like their goal was to get back to us.
Ryan: [00:14:30] Yeah. Interesting.
Jason: [00:14:31] Kind of like what you, what you set up because you’re like you elevate them so high.
Ryan: [00:14:37] Yeah. It’s, um, it really is crazy how I know a lot of other agency guys, when I talk to them, are they freak out at the exclusivity. They freak out over like being very niche into it. You know, when we say, hey, we’re home service. It’s like, okay. But we go, yeah. But right now we don’t do landscape. We don’t do pest control.
We literally do plumbing, HVAC, we have a handful of electrical. But usually the electrical is part of plumbing. To have that sort of like very narrow, very streamlined laser-focus um, even with the way you do referrals, like it absolutely makes everything else easier.
Jason: [00:15:15] And you can charge a lot more too with exclusivity. I mean, you could charge really whatever you want. Do you find that sometimes, um, people come to you and then you’re just like, oh man… Like this happened to me one time, we were doing, what was the client? I won’t say the name, but they did the buses to the airport. So they would re restructure all the buses, you know, like with the TVs and all the things.
And we were working this with this one client, I think they were paying us like 5K a month. And I remember the big competitor came along and was like, hey, uh, we want to work with you. So then they were like, we’ll pay you 10K and we want this. So what we did was we went to our original client, said, hey, if we can grow your account to 10K and we’ll do this, this and this, we’d like to help you.
Um, but if not, we’re going to have to cancel and go this way. And we were able to kind of keep elevating, you know, doing that, you know, over and over. Um, which was always a, you always had a backup, right?
Ryan: [00:16:25] Right. Yeah, and that’s something that we’re, we’re also trying to figure out how to do. Even like, uh, like one of the weird complications too to that point is, as these companies grow, these are not literally all the time, but their service area businesses, right?
So they have a physical brick and mortar, and then they have a service area that they do their work. If we do our job well, their service area expands, right? It gets bigger and bigger. So if they’re in Denver and they get bigger and bigger and they go, you know what, let’s go up to Fort Collins. And they start another division of the company, or they go down to Colorado Springs.
So their territory, it keeps expanding too. And it’s creating weird logistical things of guys growing into our competitors, right?Of guys we already work with, but now they’re competing. Yeah, so we’re trying to figure out, like, how do we even start threading that needle?
Jason: [00:17:14] It’s good, it’s a good problem to have.
Ryan: [00:17:17] It’s a good problem.
Jason: [00:17:17] Right? Like, you know, a lot of times I find that the different stages of where people are in their agency. It’s like in the very beginning, it’s like, how can I work on lead gen and close as much business as possible? But then it starts switching to, you know, kind of like operations, like, how do we deliver? You know, how do you know, how do we pick and choose? How do we get selective?
And all of that, which is a, a testament of, uh, scaling and growing in the right way. Well, this has all been great, Ryan. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience listening in?
Ryan: [00:17:52] No, other than… this sounds really dumb. I’m, I’m really old school with like the value of exceptional experience with the clients. Because I would say, I think in 2020, 92% of our growth came from our clients referring us to other people. Like, so it’s just kind of nuts sort of thing of… Yes, we charge a lot. Yes, we’re proud of what we do. But taking care of our clients to the degree at which they feel like they want to help us in return.It’s, it’s pretty crazy.
Like the amount of social proof that’s available for us anywhere these guys look. I mean, it’s, it’s a lot of fun. Um, yeah. Yeah. But I think this is a really cool opportunity for me beyond here. So thank you for the invite.
Jason: [00:18:42] Oh no, I’m thrilled you came on. Um, well, uh, what’s the website people can go and check the agency out?
Ryan: [00:18:50] Yep. dpmarketing.services.
Jason: [00:18:52] Awesome. Well pretty easy. Well, everyone go there and check it out. And if you liked this episode, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to do a couple of things. I want you to take a screenshot of it, upload it to Instagram or any of your favorite social media.
And just tag us and say, what you liked about that episode is what we’ll give you a shout-out back and thank you for listening. And then other thing is, is if you want to be surrounded by amazing agency owners like Ryan and so many other mastermind members, I’d love for you guys to go to digitalagencyelite.com.
Request an invite. And, uh, we’ll, we’ll put you through the paces, make sure you’re the right member that we’re looking for and that we can actually help you out.
So go to digitalagencyelite.com. And until next time have a Swenk day.