Why You Shouldn’t Forget to Treat Your Agency Like a Client

By Jason Swenk on July 21, 2021

Jason Yormark realized the job stability he always hoped to find behind a desk was waiting for him as an entrepreneur. That’s when he decided to take the risk and founded Socialistics, a B2B social media agency. Three and a half years later his agency, based in Seattle, helps tell businesses stories in ways that not only drive audience and engagement; but more importantly, real business results. Today, he joins the podcast to talk about how you should treat your agency, the benefits of long vs. short-term contracts, and more.

3 Golden Nuggets

  1. Don’t be afraid to disrupt. When Jason started thinking of ways to disrupt and help get his new agency noticed, he thought about offering clients an option that would get rid of something that they typically hate. Long-term contracts came up as something that clients don’t usually love about their experience with marketing agencies, and so he started offering monthly contracts and got good results. In time, many of his clients have opted to change from a monthly contract to a long-term contract.
  2. Treat yourself like a client. A lot of agencies don’t dedicate enough time to building their brand. They get so busy with business development and clients and that it is the first thing to get pushed aside. Building your brand takes time and consistency when it comes to putting out new content, blog posts, social media, etc. Jason’s advice is to make sure that somebody in your team is responsible for treating your business as a client.
  3. You can still outsource if you’re doing the content. Are you a good writer, or maybe a natural in front of a mike when it comes to recording a podcast? Great! However, that doesn’t mean that you have to take care of every step of the process. Get an SEO editor or a video editor that will take on the heavy lifting. This way, you can focus on your expertise and putting that content out there.


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Don’t Forget to Build Your Brand and Treat Yourself Like a Client

Jason Swenk: [00:00:00] What’s up everybody? I have another amazing guest coming for you in just a second. We’re going to talk about why you should treat your agency as the number one client. As well as we’re going to talk about long-term or short-term contracts, the benefits, the disadvantages. We’re going to argue back and forth.

This is going to be a really good episode. Now, before we get into chatting with Jason, our guest, I want you to do something. I want you to take a screenshot off your phone of listening to the podcast and upload that to Instagram and tag us because I want to thank you for listening to the show and do a big shout-out to you.

So let’s go ahead and get into the episode.

All right, Jason. Welcome to the show.

Jason Yormark: [00:00:44] Thank you for having me.

Jason Swenk: [00:00:45] Yeah, man. I’m excited. So let’s start fighting. No, I’m just kidding. No, tell us who you are and what do you do.

Jason Yormark: [00:00:53] My name is Jason Yormark. I’m the owner and founder of Socialistics. We are a B2B social media agency.

Jason Swenk: [00:01:01] That’s awesome. And so how did you get started? How’d you fall into this crazy-ass world?

Jason Yormark: [00:01:06] Well, I thought, I mean, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit my entire life. But, uh, I was always searching for stability in my life professionally, and I always thought that that was, you know, a nine to five or sitting behind a desk with my paycheck and my benefits. All that good stuff.

But, uh, marketing is a pretty volatile career path, I learned. And once I started to kind of see other folks experiencing the same thing I wasn’t. So I didn’t feel so bad about myself, you know, jumping around job to job, whether by choice or not. So that’s stability I was always looking for was right in front of me all the time. Which was doing my own thing, controlling my own fate.

And I just reached a point in my life. You know, I was a little bit later for me, where I could make that leap, take that risk. And get it right. And that happened about, uh, three and a half years ago.

Jason Swenk: [00:01:52] Awesome. I love it. Well, let’s talk about long-term contracts and short-term contracts. Tell us kind of how you started, where you’re at now and what have you seen work?

Because, you know, I have my own point of view and we’ll see is we come together. If not, that’s good. That’s probably… that builds interests.

Jason Yormark: [00:02:10] I’ve always been hesitant to admitting this to my other agency, friends. But, and this is going to be a little bit cringy, but, uh, we predominantly up to this point, we’ve done month to month contracts.

And for me, it was a couple of things out of the gate. Number one, everybody’s got a different agency story in terms of how they start and what they have to work with. I, you know, I had nothing, you know, I had to. And a lot of folks, I’m not the only one, a lot of folks, you know, start with nothing. You have to scrap and you have to get, you know, some clients up in the beginning and kind of make some decisions that maybe you otherwise wouldn’t later on. But, you know, I just wanted to disrupt, I was always fascinated by companies like Uber, who just disrupted transportation. All they did was create this awesome piece of technology to connect drivers and, and people that need rides.

And all, you know, I can imagine them sitting in a room and thinking like, what, what are the things that people hate about this? And I thought about that from an agency perspective. Like, what do clients really dislike about what they experience with agencies? And I thought, you know, long-term contracts and I knew this would be a way to disrupt.

And I knew it would wait to create some momentum. I knew there’d be some risks with it. You know, the value of an agency is obviously can be dictated by that. But at the time I was like, I didn’t care about that point. I just wanted to create something that would allow me to never sit in a car for two and a half hours, three hours every day and sitting behind a desk.

I just wanted to create something with some momentum. So we launched with month to month, and it definitely created some instant momentum for us. We were able to maybe win some, some projects that we otherwise maybe wouldn’t get. And my theory, my philosophy with it has always been a couple of things.

Number one, if you do great work, if you treat clients well, if you deliver results, they’re going to stick with you. And if they can’t, it’s going to be for reasons out of your control. And the pandemic was a perfect example, right? Some clients, look, I don’t want to be the reason why an agency has to let go of some of their employees.

Like, if they have to press pause on something, then I’m okay with that. So it really worked for us out of the gate to kind of create the momentum that we needed to build a foundation to stick. And to be able to have a business that I could have for the rest of my life. So it worked in the beginning.

Jason Swenk: [00:04:11] I see that point and I really do agree with it because at the end of the day, like, think about it this way. Selling agency services is very different than like coaching someone, right?

So a lot of times when I’m actually going to someone and saying like, well, you got pretty big goals, right? Like over the next year, it’s going to take us awhile in order to accomplish that. Because I’m always looking, like I want to be what I call the chasee or the, I want to be the one getting chased, right?

Rather than pushing sales, I want them to be pulling me towards you. And a lot of times what I’ll do, and agencies can do this as well. Going, all right, well, we want to make sure you’re the right fit for us. And for what you need to do, we believe it’s going to take a long time to do, a year. We want to see your commitment level in order to do it.

And so that’s why I’ve always talked about doing longer term, and then it’s more predictable, right? But I also agree with you. You know, it’s easier to sell something that’s out. Because it’s less risky, right? You can make a decision. All right, I blow a month, two months here. Okay. But like you were saying, if you deliver amazing work, they’re not going to want to leave.

And then if they get in a situation like we just went through with COVID, right? Let’s say you’re going after the restaurant industry. The whole industry was shut down for months. Are you really going to stick it to them because you have a contract? No, you’re going to let them out.

At the end of the day, it’s kind of like. You’re just trying to figure out, do you really have that commitment level to me? Because I have a commitment level to you and I need to know that. That’s the biggest thing I look for.

Jason Yormark: [00:05:54] Yeah. And for us, I just feel like. We’re growing, you know what? Even at the time, it’s like, look, if somebody doesn’t want to pay you, they’re not going to pay you.

Like, even, even the best contract language in the world doesn’t mean you’re going to see that money. And like, you know, in the beginning, especially the first year, like where are we really in a position where we’re going to hire somebody, a lawyer and go to court? I’m like, no. If somebody doesn’t want to pay you, they’re not going to pay you.

And I think in the entire history of our business, one client didn’t pay, uh, an invoice. I, you know, I tried going after it and it, we didn’t get it. So at the end of the day, it’s not, it’s just semantics almost. Because, again, if you do great work, they’re going to stick with you. And if they can’t, then they’re probably, they weren’t a good fit to begin with.

We’ve had plenty of clients that would come into a relationship with us and I vetted them out the best I could. I think they’ve got good potential, but they get in and either they treat my team like crap or they weren’t ready. And we didn’t know that. And there w it wasn’t a good fit. I’d rather grow a scalable business with the clients that makes sense for us then just trying to trap people into long-term contracts. Because even if they do sign a long-term contract and they’re not a good fit, I’m just the kind of guy that’s going to be like, look, this isn’t working and we’re going to go our separate ways anyway.

So it really hasn’t impacted our agency not having that. And certainly, you know, it’s evolved for us, you know. Now we, my, it was funny, an interesting story. My, my team came to me and they were a little bit frustrated because some clients left because they weren’t a good fit. And they said, well, what if we, you know, we think maybe we need to reconsider this.

We kind of had a back and forth with the team. And ultimately what we decided is why don’t we just create options, right? Let’s give them the option of, okay, here’s, here’s your month-to-month price. And here’s a long-term contract price discounted.

It’s your choice. We give the client the choice. What do you care about most? And a lot of what’s happening a lot is some of them will take us up on the month, a month. And then after a couple of months, oh, these guys are awesome, actually deliver results. I like these guys. Hey, could we switch to a long-term contract? And then we kind of move into that.

So we give them the option. So that has really actually worked really well for us. And now our balance of clients is shifting. Whereas like, you know, a hundred percent of them are month to month. Now that those numbers are changing. It’s becoming like 70/30. I expect it to be half and half, which is good for us because, you know, I want an exit strategy.

I’m not ready yet. I’m a couple of years away, but I know by the time I’m ready for that. I think that a good percentage of our clients will be long-term contracts.

Jason Swenk: [00:08:18] We’ll get you there quicker than you think. Or so you have the option. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of hard to interview, cause I know so much already I’m being in the mastermind.

But that’s a great point, Jason, too, of what you were saying about we give the option. Because at the end of the day, you got to think about how can I remove friction from them, making a decision? And then whatever, if, if they’re like, hey, I still don’t trust you yet. That’s kind of why, you know, like in the mastermind and the playbook, we always talk about the offering ladder. Do the foot in the door, then a project.

Show them value, and then they’re going to want that retainer, but I like how you have, hey, if you want short-term contract. It’s kind of like a SAS model, if you think about it, like on a technology, it’s like, it’s this, if you pay month to month, it’s this. If you pay, you know, if you commit to a year… And I like to hear that a lot of clients are going to that, because that was going to be my next question for you.

For people listening, going well, do you have an exit strategy? Because I know as a buyer of agencies, that’s one of the things we look at. Because we need that predictability.

Online Training for Digital Agencies

Jason Yormark: [00:09:31] Well, plus, I mean, for me it was, I felt like, well, if they look at the history, if they see. Because honestly I could go back to a good percentage of our clients right now and say, hey, you know, I want, uh, for the, you know, I want to kind of solidify our agency a bit, build the valuation up. You’ve been on month to month for a year or two. You okay with just sliding into a year-long contract? Most of them are going to say yes.

So I think that it’s just building those foundational clients over time. I’m not worried whatsoever that when I start thinking seriously about an exit strategy, that I’ll be able to transition a good percentage of the ones that we have. And this new approach that we’re taking, you know, we’ll get there. But as a, as a young hungry… If you’re just starting out and you don’t have anything, that’s a great way to disrupt because it eliminates a lot of the barriers to saying yes.

And what’s interesting is it’s almost kind of like a foot-in-the-door offer by itself. Because the whole idea of in my opinion, the foot-in-the-door is to get them to say yes, more easily. Like the commitment’s lower, they get a taste of who you are.

And that month a month approach… I mean the first month is strategy. So they’re in essence getting a foot-in-the-door offer in some capacity. But ultimately I’m just trying to get them to yes more easily and more quickly.

Jason Swenk: [00:10:39] Yeah, I love it. Well, I love that strategy and there’s so much to take away. So if you guys are listening, we’d love to know your comments on that. You know, because I think all of you should do that offer if, uh, if you’re charging month to month now. See about giving them the option at a, I wouldn’t say at a discount, I would just say, we’re going to charge you more if you’re on month a month, right?

Jason Yormark: [00:11:00] Exactly.

Jason Swenk: [00:11:01] Let’s change, focus a little. Because I feel a lot of agencies don’t dedicate enough time to building their own brand, their own marketing, treating themselves as a client. So what have you found working for yourself?

Jason Yormark: [00:11:14] Yeah. So I, you know, it was interesting. Every agency it starts out and like, you’re just, you’re so busy with like business development and selling and getting clients.

It’s, the first thing to get pushed to the side is your own stuff. And it’s very easy to do and most do that. And we did, to a certain extent, we didn’t take it serious. We just kind of dabbled, oh we’ll put a blog post out. Then, you know, a month later, oh, we probably need to put another blog post out. And it just doesn’t work.

I found that. You know, we were… as a startup, I didn’t have a tremendous amount of money to just throw out stuff. And I knew I had the luxury of creating a runway. I created the brand when I had another job. You know, I, I knew that it was going to take a couple of years for the name and our website to permeate on the web and kind of start to get some organic reach.

That takes time, you know, it just takes a long time for that to happen. And I just consistently made a commitment to putting know blog posts out and putting content out and putting social media content out. And it gets frustrating because it’s like, it’s the sum of all that effort over time that really eventually gets you to a good place.

Then, now we’re three and a half years in or so, and we’re getting about 20 to 30, you know, inbound, organic leads. Just from people searching. And that doesn’t happen overnight. You have to treat yourself like a client. You have to prioritize. And the, the minute that we realized that, you know.

I just, you know, I got someone on my team, Socialistics is their client just like anybody else. The accountabilities are there, the expectations are there. We don’t let it slide no matter how busy that we get. We do not, you know, we just don’t move away from what we need to commit to.

And now that consists of, you know, weekly blog posts, right now, bi-weekly podcast episodes. Certainly social media every day. But it’s just, it’s just the sum and the consistency of that. Or, I mean, yes, it’s got to be strategic and you need to pick keywords and phrases and work that in and, and be smart. But it’s just that consistency that you have to kind of stick with it.

And the best advice I can give is, you know, if it’s just you, then it’s gotta be you. But when you start to build a team, make sure that somebody is responsible and accountability is around your business, as a client.

That’s the best thing that you can do if you’re serious about, you know, building a pipeline for yourself that doesn’t require you shoveling money on paid ads all of the time.

Jason Swenk: [00:13:34] Yeah, I look at it as if it’s just you or you’re going all right, Jason and Jason. Which, uh, we’ll call it the J&J show, I guess. Then we’ll be like, all right, that’s all good, but I’m already too damn busy or anything.

And I always go back to my motto. If you’re saying you’re too busy, you’re not charging enough. It’s the leading indicator for most challenges. If you can charge enough, then you can start hiring the right people. And most of the time we hire the wrong people. I want you guys to start thinking about you in the center and thinking about all the stuff you do, right now.

The $10 tasks, the $100 tasks, the really cheap tasks. And think about who can you hire to do that stuff, to get some stuff off. And do only like, you know, Jason’s talking about like he’s doing content development. He can only create that if he’s doing the podcast, right?

That’s what he should be doing and that’s what I want all of you to focus on. Because it has to be like three pillars, inbound, outbound, strategic partnership for building a sales system or a lead generation system for your agency. So hopefully you guys get that.

Jason, this has all been amazing. And I actually agree with you. I was hoping we would disagree. So I guess I hooked people in on the intro, but, um, is there anything I didn’t ask you that you think would benefit the audience?

Jason Yormark: [00:14:58] You know, just based on what we talked about and you kind of touched on it just now. You know, just because when you’re doing the content, that doesn’t mean that you can’t outsource, whether it’s somebody internally or whether you hire somebody.

And a perfect example of that is like the podcast, which I love doing podcasts. It’s easy. It’s easier to me, right? You’re just getting in front of a microphone and blab for 20 to 30 minutes with somebody. Not to mention it’s awesome to just to meet other people in that way.

But I don’t do the editing. Like I don’t do the editing. I don’t, you know, I don’t want to do any of that technical stuff. I did it at first just to kind of get a feel for it. But you know, a couple hundred bucks a month. There’s plenty of resources out there that’ll take on all the heavy lifting. So literally all you have to do is put the microphone in front of your face. Talk for 20 minutes, send it to somebody else they’ll edit it. They’ll publish it.

It’s fantastic. You know, it’s a really low investment in time. The same thing with blogs. Like if you’re a great writer, then write it, then send it to somebody to edit and SEO optimize it and publish it on your website. Like don’t spend your time doing all of those extra things that make it feel too heavy.

Like you can outsource a lot of that and really just focus on your expertise and putting it out there. And the minute that we kind of got those systems in place, it becomes a repeatable process and we’re able to make it work. Every day, every week.

And it’s worked really well.

Jason Swenk: [00:16:07] What’s a website people can go check the agency out? And what’s the podcast name that they can search to go, uh, listen?

Jason Yormark: [00:16:13] Yeah. Well, our name’s unique, so just search for Socialistics. But you can find us at socialistics.com. The podcast is called Socialistics, social media agency stories. And, uh, you know, just type in the name, you’ll find us.

Jason Swenk: [00:16:26] Awesome. Well, go check that out. And if you guys enjoyed this episode, I would love for you to do me a favor.

We haven’t asked for going to iTunes or whatever platform you have and review it. And then also, if you want to be surrounded by other amazing people, I want to invite you guys to go to our free Facebook group called the Digital Agency Owner Insiders. You can go to jasonswenk.com/insider. So that should direct you right there as you a couple of questions and only agency owners are in there.

So go do that. And until next time, have a Swenk day.

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