Craig Hagopian, Chalk Digital
Many have heard the notable business fable, The Chicken and the Pig, which explains the role of the sacrificial pig providing bacon and the non-committed chicken providing eggs for breakfast. In order to run an agency, you need people who are involved, like the chicken, and others who are sacrificial, like the pig. In Craig’s journey, he’s learned that building a successful business requires a lot of “pigs” — especially early on.
Chalk Digital offers a professional-grade ad platform for businesses of all sizes — from national brands to local, independent agencies. The CHALK platform can build and launch a highly targeted and personalized ad in minutes. This DIY platform grants anyone the power to create, publish, and track the results of a mobile ad campaign without human intervention or costly operational support.
Rob Heiser, WiredViews
The success of your agency is not all about data and numbers — according to Rob, your success is a direct reflection of the people you hire. Instead of searching for someone to fit a specific role within the company, Rob suggests looking for the right people. The right person will be able to adapt the role to fit the needs of the growing organization.
WiredViews is a full-service digital marketing agency that provides the strategy, people, and platforms necessary for successful marketing campaigns and sales enablement. WiredViews specializes in many different areas including web development, marketing automation, lead generation, and more, helping connect the dots to bring you more loyal customers.
Soren Ryherd, Working Planet
Maintaining company culture is vital for any business, but it’s an especially difficult challenge for companies working remotely. How does Soren work around this challenge in his business? Reiteration. Repeating your company’s values and overcommunicating across all departments is a must when it comes to remote work.
Working Planet has one goal in mind: maximizing profitability. This performance-focused digital advertising analytics and management firm helps companies make more money using paid online marketing. Through a highly quantitative process that structures programs based on bottom-line results, Working Planet reduces risk and increases return.
Cheryl Contee, Do Big Things & The Impact Seat
As the Founder of a digital agency, Cheryl knows what it takes to help your business succeed. To run a thriving agency, she advocates for confident, determined leaders who are attentive and communicate with their whole team. The answers to all of your hurdles cannot be found within one level of the organization; Cheryl says you should listen for solutions at all levels. In addition to this, Cheryl reminds other leaders of the simple but impactful advice that can save your agency: never give up!
Do Big Things is an agency that provides the world’s leading causes, campaigns, and mission-driven initiatives with the new narrative, new creative, and new tech they need in this era. They are women-owned, women-led, and have a staff that’s 50% people of color. The Impact Seat is among the most prolific US investors in women-led innovative tech startups — because diverse companies win!
David Littlefield, Littlefield Agency
The best salespeople are not always the most talkative — according to David, the best salespeople are the best listeners. When you genuinely listen to what your clients have to say, you’ll be able to serve their exact needs. The same goes for leaders and their employees; when you empathize with your employees and hear them out completely, you’ll be able to build stronger, lasting relationships that benefit your organization as a whole.
Littlefield Agency has been servicing B2B and restaurant businesses since 1980, with its focus on relationships, referrals, and strategy. They provide digital marketing services, customized to fit each brand’s needs. Littlefield Agency has helped various companies including Rib Crib, Francis Energy, the Tulsa Health Department, and eight Fortune 1000 companies across the state of Oklahoma.
Learn more:David Littlefield, Littlefield Agency, “[Top Agency Series & Spot On Series] How to Transition to the Next Generation in a Family Business with David Littlefield and Sam Littlefield of Littlefield Agency”
Jeremy Heilpern, Ammunition
Culture is everything for a business. And when it comes to creating that culture, intentionality is key. For Jeremy, establishing your company culture around a clear set of values and holding each team member accountable is a must. It can be a challenge, but creating a great culture is game-changing for businesses.
Ammunition is a full-service advertising agency that offers guidance in the areas of brand and digital strategy, storytelling, creative advertising campaigns, media connections, personalized CRM, and more. As a collective of experts, Ammunition will keep brands on the leading edge of an ever-changing marketplace. After its founding in 2017, Ammunition has grown to become one of Atlanta’s top and fastest-growing privately held businesses in 2021.
Micha Riss, Flying Machine
In today’s climate, things are moving faster than ever before — but don’t let these technological advancements leave your business in the dust. As technology changes, agency owners are forced to set a plan for every six to 12 months, rather than a five-year plan, and according to Micha, you can’t wait for a conference to come around once a year. To keep up with the developments, Micha suggests listening to the clients’ needs, supplying information more frequently in the form of webinars, and being open to the shifting environment.
Flying Machine is a New York-based branding and design company that specializes in brand development and marketing applications for products and services in real estate, technology, entertainment, and investment. Flying Machine focuses on growing markets and brands that live in the public domain above international borders, helping them define who they are, giving them a voice, and connecting them to the world.
Richard Shanks, UpShift
Richard has straightforward — and ageless — advice for running a business: deliver exceptional, honest work and extraordinary value. This is oftentimes easier said than done, however, as a successful agency owner, Richard knows how to get there. He says you have to be a bold, visionary leader, yet remain humble and approachable.
UpShift is a full-service boutique agency that specializes in strategic communication solutions for businesses in multi-family, hospitality, and luxury consumer brands that seek a cohesive, creative brand and marketing strategy. UpShift is able to combine the strategy and account services of a large agency with the innovation and responsiveness of a boutique, allowing clients to create powerful brands that are integrated tightly across all touchpoints.
Jamie Schwartzman, Flux Branding
Jamie has an unbeatable strategy that helps his company drive inquiries and leads: on the first Tuesday of every month, the team delivers original thought leadership content in the form of an essay to followers. They’ve done this for the past two years, without fail, and now Jamie’s company is reaping the benefits!
Flux Branding’s team of dreamers, problem solvers, strategists, and creatives work together to develop compelling stories that bring brands to life. They use the four-step IDEA Method to reduce risk and improve results for corporate branding initiatives. From strategy to design, Flux Branding guides companies to help create brand advocacy, push awareness, and drive business growth.
Peter Beshay, Boss Creative Agency
There are many steps that go into building an outstanding business. But what’s the first step? For Peter, it’s vital that you start with branding and identity. Your brand has to be well-defined, structured, and designed with your targeted audience in mind. This allows your audience to appreciate the reason why you exist and fall in love with your business.
Boss Creative Agency is a people-first branding, marketing, and digital advertising agency. They build results-oriented brand strategies and continually refine campaigns for the best outcome. Boss Creative Agency helps owners embrace their brand’s vision, guiding them every step of the way.
Shannon Mackey, Roadside Dental Marketing
The leading approach that helped Shannon grow her business is centered around love. She says that before anticipating the development of your company, you have to love yourself and love what you do, that way you show up every day at 100%. Your family, your clients, and your team can feel that energy. When you lead with love, everyone will be drawn to your brand. Plus, Shannon points out that people desperately need love — today and beyond.
Roadside Dental Marketing serves others by simplifying the complex world of online marketing. They have created easy-to-understand tools for doctors and dentists, allowing them to undertake a DIY approach to social media marketing. Roadside Dental Marketing prides itself on enabling others to grow and achieve their ultimate goals in business and in life.
Darren Magarro, DSM
Over Darren’s 14 year career (and counting) at DSM, he’s learned that the company’s people are their greatest resource. Darren’s job is to ensure that his team has everything they need to be successful, because, according to Darren, DSM is nothing without their team. The people at DSM are the reason for the company’s success, and Darren is proud to lead, support, and uphold the visions of his team.
DSM is a collective of marketers who share a steadfast conviction to innovation in marketing. They believe wholeheartedly in partnership, and they’re all in for their clients. DSM takes client success personally and operates with brutal honesty. DSM’s goal is to become their clients’ “in-house” marketing firm to help them manage all of their advertising, marketing, and public relations initiatives.
Johnie Hampton, Hampton Creative
Honesty and dedication are essential for Johnie’s business. He says that all agency leaders and owners should tell the truth — even if it costs you. This advice also holds true for working with clients; your business will thrive if you fulfill what you said you would, for the price you established, in the time you promised. You don’t have to be perfect — you just have to be sincere and committed to your business.
Hampton Creative is an independent branding agency that loves to tell a great story. They’re known for their world-class creative, marketing, web, and environmental design. Hampton Creative has been named the Top Ten Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies by the Tulsa Journal Record for the past two years.
Michelle D’Attilio, Sōsh
Having a solid plan for your business is admirable, but what do you do when those plans take an unexpected turn? Michelle has learned that even if you have the best plans in place, everything can change in an instant. So, you need to be prepared to let go of your plan and pivot. In Michelle’s experience, the greatest way to thrive is to look for opportunities in the chaos.
Sōsh is a creative marketing and advertising agency specializing in data-driven strategies for brands. They focus heavily on culture and building relationships, and they believe brands grow by creating meaningful connections with their audience. That’s why Sōsh cares more about having meaningful conversations than putting out content.
Robert Manasier, In Focus Brands
A collaborative culture of action is always Robert’s methodology. His team aims to work smarter, faster, and stronger to get positive and successful results. As a driver of focus, passion, teamwork, and strategy-to-execution, Robert is proud to be a trusted resource partner for clients and create value-added solutions.
In Focus Brands is a go-to-market acceleration firm that provides results. They focus on the operations, staff, and disconnects within a brand to build great companies that achieve success. “Creatively practical” is their tag, and client pull is their expertise.
Paul Rakovich, Clicks and Clients
According to Paul, pricing properly is key to running your agency. He uses the concept of first class, business class, and economy to manage his clients — and he likes having a mix of the three. Because his agency is customized for each individual client, one client could spend $50,000 a day, and another client could spend $1,000 a month. Not all clients need the same service, and this is where a great pricing model comes into play.
As a digital marketing agency, Clicks and Clients partners with businesses that face complex marketing problems. The team at Clicks and Clients is experienced and results-driven, providing their clients with fresh strategies. They believe that the way to get more sales from your digital marketing efforts is through partnership and transparency.
Scott Couvillon, Trumpet Advertising
Your organization’s purpose is one of the most important points of connection between you and your clients. Today’s consumers want to do business with companies who share their values and speak to them on a more emotional level. It’s easy to talk about your purpose, but in order to win over potential customers, Scott says you have to live out your purpose across all departments of your company.
Trumpet Advertising is an agency that builds believable brands. They help companies align elements of culture and customer experience with their unique purpose. Trumpet Advertising believes that real value comes from creating relationships and conversations between brands and communities, and the first step towards this goal is looking for creative solutions to bring them together.
Sydney Feipel, iFocus Marketing
Sydney and the team at iFocus Marketing have never wanted to be just another marketing vendor that clients get a bill from every month. That’s why they’re committed to building solid, trusting partnerships with their clients. The secret behind their success? Sydney says she has an ambitious, proactive, and naturally curious team who are dedicated to making their clients happy.
iFocus Marketing is more than just a marketing firm — they’re a strategic partner who helps clients grow their business. The team at iFocus Marketing believes in curiosity, treating clients like family, and using data and insights to influence their future plans. The company is built on the philosophy of melding cutting-edge technology with a boutique service mindset.
Lee McKnight Jr., RSW/US
Lee’s past retail experience has helped him in ways he never thought possible. The summer after his freshman year of college, Lee worked at a store in Nashville that sold music — including Elvis merchandise. One woman came close to hitting Lee with her purse when, upon asking Lee if he believed Elvis was still alive, he said he did not think so. Luckily, Lee was able to talk her down and even sell her some merchandise. Lee had many experiences like this in retail, but it taught him about the inner workings of people and helped him learn how to communicate effectively. To this day, he still uses the lessons learned to better serve his company!
RSW/US is an outsourced business development firm that works solely with ad agencies, marketing services, and PR firms. Their Cincinnati-based team is at the core of each program, driving client success. RSW’s goal is not only to get qualified meetings with right-fit prospects but also to get their clients closer to closing business.
Ivan Vislavskiy, Comrade Digital Marketing
Specialization is key for a prosperous business. Ivan advises others to be a known expert in one service, industry, or specialty. When your business is not specialized, you’re trying to support multiple industries and services, which can take a costly toll on your organization’s growth. Specialization allows for solid, powerful marketing and business development efforts.
Comrade Digital Marketing helps small businesses flourish with their combination of digital marketing services, including content and email marketing, SEO, and PPC. Comrade Digital Marketing guides e-commerce stores and businesses to increase targeted traffic, generate qualified sales leads, and improve brand visibility.
Nick Skislak, SSDM
Of course, it’s important to know your customer, but Nick is taking it one step further: he says you should get to know your customer’s customer. At Nick’s agency, it’s their goal to know their client’s customer better than the client does. Why? This helps you gain as much knowledge as possible about your client, which in turn, builds trust.
Beginning in 2008, SSDM was just Google AdWords, with Nick cold calling businesses to ask if they wanted to be on the front page of Google. Now, the 22 person shop specializes in B2B businesses, helping with the entire customer journey. SSDM is a top revenue-builder and lead generator.
Alvaro Psevoznik, DM Agency
As your agency grows, it can be a challenge to keep the same top-notch quality. When you begin expanding, you start closing more and more deals, and it becomes difficult to manage your clients and staff in the same way as when you were a smaller agency. Alvaro says that to keep your company’s merit, you have to implement strong systems and processes that can develop with your growing organization.
DM Agency started as a graphic design studio in the 90s. Since then, they’ve expanded their services to include website services, email marketing, paid ads, branding, and traffic improvement. DM Agency works with local service industry customers in Miami, such as roofers and contractors.
Richard Agerbeek, Sweden Unlimited
As someone who works with a variety of brands and creatives, Richard knows that to be successful, you have to learn to adapt. With a growing team and pool of clients, you can expect to encounter unexplored territory. This means that you have to be flexible, have great processes in place, and hire really good people to help clients reach their vision.
Sweden Unlimited is a full-service agency formed by Richard Agerbeek and twin sisters Leja Kress and Alex Kress. They began in the mid-90s as a New York collective of creatives working on projects in music, art, photography, video, and design. Now, the team creates interactive projects for brands in the fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and entertainment industries.
Heather Johnson, Kudzu Brands
Heather came out of corporate marketing and knew that she wanted to be her own boss. Along with her partner, Heather grew her agency double digits each year. When the pandemic hit, Heather and her partner began thinking about their goals. Ultimately, Heather ended up buying out her partner and has been thriving on this scary — but enjoyable — entrepreneurial journey. Heather says she couldn’t do it without her agency’s employees, who are the backbone of the company.
Kudzu Brands is the best branding agency for growing businesses, and it’s a staple in the South. They help with services such as SEO, PR, social media management, and print and media purchasing. Kudzu Brands is here to help all of its clients put down deep roots, tell their stories, and grow.
Rick Rhyner, Rhycom
When building out your agency, giving yourself leeway is crucial. According to Rick, it may take more time and money than you had initially planned, so you need to make sure you have enough runway to take on the unexpected. Even when you’re an accomplished owner, you need to pay attention to expenses. Throughout his 30 plus years in the business, Rick has seen once-successful companies overspend on unnecessary items, like furniture and cars. Don’t let your agency’s accomplishments get the better of your future goals!
Rick founded Rhycom in 1999 as a full-service, traditional, and interactive marketing agency focused on strategic planning and development, creative execution, and commitment to clients. Rhycom services B2B and B2C organizations and has deep expertise in healthcare, technology, franchises, and professional and financial services. Since the agency started, they have created integrated brand communications for companies both nationally and internationally.
Matthew Thibodeaux, Klout 9
Matthew started his digital marketing agency 10 years ago without a marketing degree and less than a year of actual agency experience. What began as a one-man agency has now expanded to a team of 14 who are dedicated to helping businesses make an impact. Matthew says that if he can do it, anyone can do it! It just takes hard work, a little luck, and great people.
Klout 9 is a digital marketing company that elevates brands’ influence in their respective communities. They offer a kaleidoscope of digital services, including social media marketing, graphic design, and production. Klout 9’s hands-on approach and personalized strategies help maximize a business’ impact while reaching the targeted audience.
Jeff Hunter, VA Staffer
Finding the right people for your team can lead to great success, but it can also be a challenge to seek out those people. Jeff has many stories from his career, but one of the most valuable to his journey was learning the difference between recruiting versus hiring people who are actively searching for a job. Make sure you figure out the right hiring process for your business, that way you can continue building an impressive team.
VA Staffer provides companies with a remote team of over 100 virtual assistants. They’ve helped over 1,000 clients scale their business and gain more freedom through services including lead generation, email marketing, and social media management. VA Staffer also offers resources such as podcasts, blogs, and courses to continue helping businesses find success.
Mike Belasco, Inflow
It’s rare that an agency owner achieves their biggest goals alone. That’s why Mike emphasizes the importance of having a good support network. The demanding tasks of running a business won’t seem so daunting when you have people encouraging you through the tough times and celebrating your wins. Whether it’s a business coach, mentor, therapist, or another member of your community, it helps to have people supporting you and your agency’s journey.
Inflow is an e-commerce agency that focuses on data-driven, human-powered custom strategies for clients. Their many services include SEO, PPC, conversion rate optimization, and paid search marketing. The team at Inflow prides itself on successful, long-term partnerships with a 97% client retention rate.
Andriy Boychuk, Flowium
Andriy scaled his own agency by building a strong team. His strategy? Andriy developed an organizational chart and slowly filled the necessary roles. He even hired someone who started out as an account manager and eventually rose up to become COO. Instead of rushing into the hiring process, Andriy found greater success taking his time and making sure potential employees were the right fit for the company.
Flowium provides email marketing for online retailers. After learning about digital marketing at a nonprofit, Andriy quit his job as an engineer to become an email marketing consultant. Now, Andriy and the team at Flowium know email marketing strategy inside and out, and they use that expertise to help other businesses reach their full potential.
Grant Johnson, Responsory
Before starting his own agency, Grant worked with someone who was all about the money — there was no passion or commitment to client success. That showed Grant what not to do when opening his business. Now, Grant is the CEO of a thriving agency built on his passion for helping people and his desire to be a resource for clients. Along with his enthusiasm for the business, Grant strengthened his agency on the concept that if you’re not failing, you’re not growing.
Since 1988, Responsory has been guiding clients by using data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and testing to achieve goals. The team at Responsory has heartfelt affection for promising clients measurable results. Their strategies use a variety of tactics that work together to reach B2B and B2C audiences, reveal meaningful insights, establish deep engagement, and deliver ROMI.
Kevin Miller, GR0
According to Kevin, employees are the most important asset of a business. That’s why communication and transparency are vital to developing your agency. Kevin says that you have to make sure all employees are involved and aware of what is happening in the company. Another timeless tip from Kevin? Listen to your clients’ and employees’ feedback to continue improving!
GR0 provides digital marketing and SEO services for businesses. With a hyper-focus on organic search, the team at GR0 helps clients make more money and empowers them to build influential online brands. GR0 helps businesses with content writing, performance PR, and on-page optimization, and they’re constantly striving to help clients reach their goals.
Daniel Snow, The Snow Agency
As your agency grows, the infrastructure constantly changes. According to Daniel, it’s valuable to have great leadership in place as you grow. However, it’s not all about upper management — middle management is just as important. Additionally, when you have effective communication between all management levels, that’s when your agency is able to scale exponentially.
The Snow Agency is a full-service digital marketing agency for businesses looking to grow. The team delivers through targeted Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat ads, data-driven YouTube and Google ads through pay-per-click campaigns, email and SMS marketing, and human-centered content creation. Their expertise in the e-commerce space drives their results and sets them apart from other agencies.
Henrique Driessen, Elephant Skin
According to Henrique, if you want your agency to thrive, you need to have a great product. At the start of Elephant Skin, Henrique faced frustration, feeling as though he couldn’t convince people that he was good at what he does. He quickly learned that he needed confidence in an outstanding product in order to sell it to consumers. Once he focused on the product, Henrique was able to build his business into a top-notch agency.
Elephant Skin is a marketing and advertising agency that began in 2017. The agency grew from two employees in 2018 to 80 employees in 2021. Their team does everything in-house, with a unique background set of architects, landscapers, and designers. Elephant Skin helps other brands tell impactful stories through 3D rendering and animation, film production, and virtual reality.
Mac Frederick, Momentum Digital
When it comes to hiring, Mac knows the best practices for agency owners. Your team can greatly impact the success of your business, so you want to make sure you hire the right people. For Mac, it’s not about hiring based on skill set, but on culture and work ethic. You should be hiring problem-solvers who want to work for you — not just someone who wants a job. Another tip to ensure you’re hiring the right candidates: always call the references!
Momentum Digital helps small businesses build their online presence while increasing their digital traffic. They can acquire more customers through lead generation and SEO, help companies rank higher on Google, and run paid advertising campaigns with Google, Facebook, and other digital partners. Momentum Digital’s core mission is to empower entrepreneurs and small business owners by providing them with online resources to succeed.
Markel Lee, AOE Creative
A big challenge that Markel faced while starting his agency was knowing his worth and translating that to potential clients. That’s why he advises other owners to learn their worth. Once you understand that, you’ll be able to manage your time better and figure out which projects you should take on — and which ones you shouldn’t.
AOE Creative offers brand design, marketing, and content strategy for brands in the gaming and esports industries. The team at AOE Creative believes that the best possible work is done when everybody involved is on the same page. That’s why they focus heavily on their client partnerships to allow for greater team integrations and constant feedback.
Sean Boyle, Momentum 360 & Momentum Digital
For Sean, running an agency requires self-awareness. You have to know what you’re good at versus your areas of weakness, that way you can operate in your zone of genius and surround yourself with people who can fill the gaps. Having self-awareness can also help in your hiring process, as you decide which areas of your business are strong and which ones need more support.
Momentum 360 was founded by entrepreneurs who were tired of false advertising and lackluster property marketing. They began offering high-quality, cost-effective virtual tour and property marketing services to eliminate this pain point and help other businesses grow.
Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
Reid has been through the ups and downs of agency life, from losing employees to big wins that push the company forward. After learning what works for the business, Reid says that all leaders should clearly understand the value they provide to the customer and how it aligns with the people and structure of the agency. You also have to figure out what kinds of clients you serve and how your culture fits into the agency-client partnership.
Red Door Interactive is a full-service marketing agency with resources all over the world. With a focus on data-driven results, Red Door Interactive has been nationally recognized for its success. The team is eager to learn and grow, and they expect to expand beyond San Diego and Denver in the near future.
Ryan Christiansen, Ntooitive Digital
At the core of any business are people and culture. It’s easy to address culture in a five to 10 person company, but what happens when you start growing? According to Ryan, it’s important to reinforce the mission and invest in your people as you develop. Ryan’s vision for his agency is to have over 200 employees while keeping the culture and values of a startup company.
Ntooitive Digital goes beyond the traditional sense of a digital advertising and marketing agency. Through AI-driven data platforms, Ntooitive allows businesses greater control over sales, marketing, and customer acquisition teams. Their mission is to empower businesses to improve every digital touchpoint of the customer journey.
Arla Lach, Grant Thornton
For Arla, your network is a vital part of growing your business, and you should always be looking to build your network. Arla recommends being thoughtful and proactive when reaching out and maintaining contact with those already in your circle. By extending your help to others, they’ll want to help you in return.
Grant Thornton has auditing, tax, and advisory teams to help businesses tackle their biggest challenges. The team believes in making business more personal and building trust into every result. They challenge the expectations of business, and they help others do the same.
Judy Schramm, ProResource, Inc.
According to Judy, business is a human-to-human matter. Her agency thrives by focusing on client relationships. Years ago, Judy worked with a client who didn’t want lead generation services anymore but instead came up with a whole new way to use the agency’s process for job searching. The big lesson there? You want to make sure you’re listening to clients — because they may have great insights and innovative ideas.
ProResource, Inc. helps industry executives create a powerful online presence. The team at ProResource, Inc. are executive media experts who build personal brands for those looking to showcase their talent. The agency works on social action plans, thought leadership strategies, and LinkedIn profiles to help CEOs and leaders connect with more people online.
David Finberg, Peaks Digital Marketing
Through his agency, David is constantly thinking about the peaks of the business world. When he first started, David packed up his car and moved to Colorado without any clients. Now, he’s helped countless brands expand their online presence. This feat reminds David that there are different levels of success, and the landscape is always moving, allowing you to impact many different businesses and individuals.
Peaks Digital Marketing is a full-service SEO and digital marketing firm. They offer SEO and lead generation campaigns in a scalable, repeatable, and data-driven manner. Peaks Digital Media primarily works with mid to large-size companies, providing strategic and measurable results that increase value and ROI.
Eric Baum, Bluleadz
One of the biggest hurdles agency owners face is trying to do everything themselves. This can lead to owners only sticking to what they know and avoiding everything else. To overcome this barrier, Eric suggests hiring people early on who can handle the tasks you aren’t very good at. That way, it takes the pressure off you without sacrificing your agency’s process.
Bluleadz is transforming the way companies market, sell, and service their customers. Their digital marketing services drive leads and fuel revenue using the HubSpot platform. The Bluleadz team doesn’t just think of you as a client — they think of you as a partner.
Jeff Freedman, Small Army
Maintaining culture can be a challenge, but it’s an important part of a budding agency. For Jeff, seeing his business partner get sick from stage four cancer put life into perspective. It helped him form the structure and culture of what his agency is today. Now, the culture that Jeff built up fosters an environment where everyone can be open with each other, allowing for a supportive agency community.
The team at Small Army helps brands find their story and authentically share it with others. They’ve been sharpening their storytelling skills since 2002 and have been named one of the top agencies in Boston. Through services such as brand messaging, content creation, and audience optimization, Small Army helps companies connect with the heart and soul of their brand.
Denis Kreft, Imaginasium
Since co-founding Imaginasium, Denis Kreft has been in the agency business for nearly 30 years. However, he says it feels like he’s owned four to five different companies and held eight to 10 different positions in them. This is because the world is constantly changing — and Denis says that if you don’t change with the world, your business will not survive. Adapting to the changes can be difficult, but the more transparent you can be as an owner, the more trust and rapport you’ll build between you and your team.
Imaginasium is a marketing agency for manufacturers, focusing on lead generation that delivers results. For over 30 years, they’ve been helping clients attract and retain talent, nurture company culture, grow sales, and create authentic brand experiences. Imaginasium’s goal is to help clients generate revenue and build the company they want.
Brad Kugler, DirectMail2.0
Brad’s tip for new agencies is to find a niche, rather than trying to do it all. When you want to attract clients, you need a unique selling proposition. And when you want to retain those clients, you need to be an expert at what you do. It may be a learning curve, but working in your niche will help you reach those loyal customers.
DirectMail2.0 was created to improve the effectiveness of direct mail. Their marketing-based solution tracks the value of your direct mail campaign while enhancing results through the integration of digital platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Informed Delivery. The team’s knowledge of direct mail and digital platforms helps printers and agencies alike develop top-tier direct mail campaigns.
Steve Smallman, Fifteen4
As a boutique agency, attracting and retaining top talent can be a struggle. However, when you do accomplish that challenge, Steve says your business and clients will benefit if you take care of that top talent. In addition to this, Steve advises that you shouldn’t get too big too fast — take your time building up your agency and finding the best people to join your team.
Fifteen4 is a creative agency that builds brand experiences through messaging, design, brand strategy, websites, animation, and video. They design experiences to connect clients with their desired audience. The Fifteen4 team has also cultivated a detailed content schedule that includes a podcast, thought leadership articles, and other digital platforms.
Ellyn Davidson, Brogan & Partners
Ellyn has been learning every day of her life, especially from her employees and mentors. The biggest lesson she’s learned? Problems are conquerable, and there’s a solution to everything. When you lead with transparency and honesty, you’ll be able to take on the challenges with confidence — and your business will be better for it.
Brogan & Partners is helping people make a positive difference in their lives through strategic marketing. They offer the branding expertise and metrics of a big agency with the agility and entrepreneurial mindset of a small agency. With services including website development, marketing automation, and social media strategy, Brogan & Partners help businesses maximize their potential.
Prashant Puri, AdLift
When you’re investing in your personal profile, you normally pick and choose between a number of stocks, that way you diversify risk. The same goes for starting an agency. Prashant says you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, and you shouldn’t have more than 20% to 25% of revenue going into one client. When you diversify your client profile, your agency will be more secure.
AdLift is a marketing agency that helps businesses accelerate growth without breaking the bank. Running in its 11th year, AdLift is continuing to grow with over 200 employees. Their team offers a rich and diverse background in internet marketing, sales, management, SEO, and more. The agency’s mission is to provide customized digital solutions that drive ROI.
Aaron Baer, Baer Performance Marketing
Early on in his agency, Aaron was eager to grow. He tried to get a team member involved in business development in addition to working within his specialty area — which didn’t work. From that mistake, Aaron learned to put people in positions that they are comfortable with and eager to learn more about. When people are genuinely passionate about their role, your business will get better results.
As a full-service marketing agency, Baer Performance Marketing enables other companies to focus on growing their business. They offer brand development, search engine marketing, social media marketing, content writing, graphic design, and more. In their partnership with clients, Baer Performance Marketing promises to be connected, focused, creatively effective, straightforward, and fun.
Cody Jensen, Searchbloom
Cody’s agency has won many awards based on the results they get for their clients and the pace at which they’re growing. How do they do it? According to Cody, agencies should focus on ROI. Your goal should be to provide more value than you receive in payment.
Searchbloom collaborates with clients to develop digital marketing strategies that are predictable, repeatable, and yield strong returns. They offer solutions in local, national, and e-commerce SEO, as well as PPC management. The team at Searchbloom has made a commitment that they will never bring on a new partner client unless they know they can generate ROI.
Benton Crane, Harmon Brothers
According to Benton, every startup should have the goal to be a household name. You should focus on value, be passionate about your business, and build a deep and lasting culture. When you start with the end goal in mind, your agency will be focused and driven towards achieving that vision.
Harmon Brothers helps a wide variety of clients scale their business. The team provides insight and direction drawn from some of the largest and fastest-growing e-commerce brands on the planet. Harmon Brothers also offers resources for those looking to scale in the form of a podcast, a writers room, a blog, and online courses.
Katrina Padron, North Star HQ & Not the Marketing Girl
For Katrina, running a successful agency is all about showing up for your team, your clients, and yourself. However, you shouldn’t overwork yourself. Setting boundaries can be a big challenge, especially as an agency owner, but it’s vital to keeping your business afloat. That’s why Katrina started Not the Marketing Girl, to help entrepreneurs avoid burnout while scaling their company.
North Star HQ was started in 2011 and focuses on marketing, sales, and lead generation programs. They are process-driven, results-oriented, and deliver solutions at the intersection of marketing and technology. Not the Marketing Girl is a 4-month training program that teaches effective marketing strategies to entrepreneurs and teams who want more sales. They provide expert-level strategy blueprints to help entrepreneurs find long-term success.
Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
Joe grew up watching his mother try to build a successful business, but like most owners, she never got past the million-dollar mark. Inspired by his mother, Joe started Ajax Union, and the agency grew to be on the top of the Inc. 500 list. Joe wondered what he did right — was he just lucky? Looking back on his endeavors, Joe learned that hard work is not enough. You need the right mindset, strategy, and relationships, and you need to adapt and learn as you go.
Ajax Union is a B2B digital marketing agency based in New York. Using market funnels, they help clients generate revenue and leads. Combining strategy, tactics, and technology, Ajax Union innovates and executes concepts that have powerful results.
Chris Dreyer, Rankings.io
Chris had three pivotal moments with Rankings.io. At one point, Chris realized they were overhiring and didn’t have a good handle on numbers. The agency was in an SEO niche but then decided to expand outwards. The business ended up losing momentum — and its identity. However, Chris and the team turned this around by creating a sub-niche. From that point on, they’ve seen exponential growth.
Rankings.io specializes in SEO for personal injury lawyers. From content creation to technical optimization, they rank personal injury firms for the most lucrative keywords in their industry. Rankings.io’s partnerships are built on transparency and trust, with a team of experts leading their success.
Jeremy Schwartz, Truth Collective
Early on in your entrepreneurial journey, everything feels like a risk. But by comparison, Jeremy says that you’re already taking the largest risk possible by starting your own firm. Once Jeremy realized this in his agency, the decisions to scale talent, technology, and their space felt less risky. Instead, Jeremy and his team perceived them as necessary investments to reach the company’s goals.
Truth Collective is an agency that offers exceptional storytelling services and a business growth practice to transform your bottom line. They utilize successful, boundary-pushing projects to help you expand your brand and reach your goals. They’re changing businesses — and the world — through emotional, distinctive, and measurable work.
Scott Goodson, StrawberryFrog
From building a community of monks in China to growing the Pampers brand, Scott has plenty of stories from his entrepreneurial voyage. So, how did he find strength to not only grow his agency, but support other brands and cultures? For Scott, having valuable experience is key for a startup. From there, you should focus on building a good reputation for your brand, that way when it comes time to scale, your agency will already be in good standing.
StrawberryFrog is a full-funnel marketing, advertising, and design company. They create breakthrough campaigns — or Movements — to help brands, organizations, and employees grow. The team has served clients including Walmart, Truist, Northwell, and Woody Creek transform their business through purpose-driven storytelling and data optimization.
John Gumas, Gumas Advertising
John challenges agencies to ask themselves ‘what can you become famous for?’ Once you find the element that differentiates you from other firms, be sure to share it with the world. However, John advises you to stay true to who you are and what you do best. Don’t sacrifice your company’s values for fame.
Gumas Advertising is a full-service branding, advertising, and interactive agency that specializes in Challenger Brand Marketing. The team’s goal is to help clients build a unique brand through research, strategy and web development, award-winning design, and digital media. They’ve written extensively on the subject of Challenger Brand Marketing, with two books called Marketing Smart and Challenger Brand Marketing, as well as blogs, videos, and podcasts to further market their expertise.
Flynn Zaiger, Online Optimism
Once you have a team, Flynn says the most important thing is to listen to them. Oftentimes, your employees talk more to the clients than you do, so you should listen to their feedback and insight. This will not only benefit your relationship with your team but will aid in client happiness and agency growth.
Online Optimism is a digital marketing and design agency, made up of top creative and digital marketing talent. They are proud to craft digital work that brings exceptional results to clients, with offices in Atlanta, New Orleans, and Washington, DC. Online Optimism offers services in social media and SEO management, video production, web design, branding, and more.
Timothy Smith, Catalyst
According to Timothy, grit and determination are a must to expand your agency. In its beginning, Catalyst had 15 employees, and now they’ve grown to 70 employees. Timothy never thought he’d be doing business in Canada, either, but he didn’t let barriers discourage expansion. Because of Timothy’s drive, the company now succeeds through a large partnership network that knows no bounds.
Catalyst specializes in implementing technical solutions and revolutionizing the business process. For 16 years, the team at Catalyst has provided IT solutions, mainly for government agencies. While their solutions leverage multiple platforms, their team is intimately familiar with using Salesforce and other cloud solutions to solve challenges.
George Lee, Snap Agency
If you want your agency to thrive, George says you need to continually evolve. In order to do so, you need to evaluate your agency. Who are you? What do you do? What value can you bring to clients? And why should someone choose you over your competitors? When you have a clear vision of your agency, the culture, and how you can continuously improve, your business will flourish.
Snap Agency helps people achieve digital success. Through SEO, web design and development, social media strategy, and more solutions, the team at Snap Agency can help you tell your story and drive traffic. Snap Agency also provides blogs, videos, podcasts, and seminars to guide clients toward reaching their goals.