The Cloudways Mavericks have been in amazing form lately as their free, fun webinars cover ever more ground. Recently we’ve learned about WordPress cyberattacks with Akshat Choudhary (BlogVault/MalCare); mental health and inclusion workplace with Dan Maby and Diane Wallace (Big Orange Heart); and selling tech-focused courses online with Dave Foy (Design Build Web) — and that’s just from June and July.
Their most recent guest was Brent Weaver from UGURUS, and wow. Brent is a bundle of brains and energy who runs “a business school for digital agencies. We do coaching, training, and community programs to help agencies attract more leads, win higher value deals, and deliver delight for their clients so they can achieve freedom in business and life”.
If you have any interest in acquiring new leads, simplifying and streamlining your marketing, and building a stable, successful business, then grab some popcorn and get comfy.
Brent shares great advice, real-world examples, and templates for adopting his ideas. He’ll even send his exercises and templates straight to your inbox – just drop an email to [email protected] and mention this Cloudways Mavericks webinar.
Now to the wrap-up. Brent pulled together target markets, content creation, project planning, and marketing engines and much else, organizing all this with “Five A’s” – audience, awareness, attraction, authority, and acquisition. In his own words (which I’ve cut together from different parts of the full discussion, and edited for clarity), here’s how the Five A’s play out.
Your Agency’s Route Away From Referral Dependency: The Five A’s
Brent Weaver: This is my thesis for how owning a market works: Five specific A-words that help you to own your market and think about your strategy.
You can simply identify the five A’s on a piece of paper and check yourself when you’re engaged in marketing: “am I hitting all five A’s?” You can also go really deep into each of the A’s and your tactics and strategies around these.
1. Find Your High-Value Audience That’s Easy to Reach
BW: One of the questions I get asked all the time is, “Where do I find high-value clients?”
Once you identify who you’re going after, the where is super-easy to figure out. We know where people hang out once we know who we’re looking for.
There’s a lot of markets out there beyond just the typical restaurants, lawyers, doctors, and dentists that everybody thinks of. Expand your horizons beyond the markets that you interact with on a daily basis. Look at your interests. Look at areas where you know you can get the results. Look at areas that have money and are willing to spend it.
Scale within a niche
BW: Why would scaling in a niche help your agency? It immediately clarifies who to reach out to when you want to get new leads, and it helps you structure projects in a way that your ideal client understands.
A lot of people think of niches as verticals. That’s one way to niche. Revenue is an important constraint too, but there are a lot of other constraints: industry, geography, job function, and psychographics (like a mindset or a belief set, like “I’m struggling to get leads”).
Go out there and talk to 20-30 people. After 20 hour-long or half-hour long conversations with people in your market, you’re going to start to be able to think and talk like them. You’re going to start to understand what they’re experiencing and then you’re going to start to see how your services and your expertise can solve those problems.
When you scale in a niche you can have the same process for every client. People tell me, “if I only work on dentist websites the rest of my life, I would be miserable.” That’s not what your day looks like. What happens is you start to get consistent projects that all kind of look and smell the same, and you realize, “oh wow, I can start to build some frameworks. I can start to build some intellectual property. I can start some processes and systems, so I’m not doing the same thing over and over”.
There’s a good chance that you’re not going to marry the first niche that you go after, but once you understand how niching works and how scaling works, you’re going to be able to repeat the success. Just work the system, and understand how it works, so that you can repeat it and ultimately find the market that you’re going to want to own.
And then you start to work on more interesting problems like how to grow your team. How to scale a business. How to grow in your market. How to become the number one agency within your space. Those are more fun problems!
2. Build Awareness with Existing Marketing Infrastructure
BW: ‘A’ number two is awareness. I give the example of the Beatles.
The Beatles didn’t play in their garage. They got famous because they went and they gigged for over a year in every club, every venue that would have them. They just gigged and gigged, sometimes playing three or four sets in a night, seven nights a week. They gigged. That’s what you need to do.
Build awareness with existing marketing infrastructure. Think of yourselves as the Beatles, not the high school garage band.
Once you understand who your market is, figure out where they hang, and start gigging. Stop blogging on your own site. Stop Facebooking on your own fan page. Go out there and get in the market, because it’s going to give you that feedback, that validation. It’s going to tap you into audiences that already exist. Find blogs, podcasts, associations, publishers, influencers. Hang out with competitors.
Most of you should have one, maybe two marketing engines that generate leads. You shouldn’t be blogging, doing social media, emailing, and everything. There shouldn’t be a list of 30 things that you’re doing an inch deep and a mile wide. You should have one or two proven marketing engines. That’s going to make you happy. It’s going to give you the freedom to work a lot less hard.
3. Attract Your Ideal Clients By Speaking Their Language
BW: You don’t attract clients by talking about stuff that you care about. I used to care a lot about content management systems and WordPress and Drupal and Business Catalyst and all these cool tools, and guess what? My clients didn’t care.
As Dave McClure says: “Customers don’t care about your solution. They care about their problems.”
Go fill out a diary for your client – a day in their life. Trust me, they’re not thinking about whatever you think about. They’re not thinking about your services. They’re not thinking about your business. Maybe like 0.01% of their day, they think about you. The 99.99% percent of the day they’re thinking about other stuff.
Never talk about your services without talking about the problem that they solve for your clients. With the ‘authority content grid’ we take your top three services and the top three problems that exist in your market, and we make babies with them. We make really beautiful content babies by bringing these things together.
For example: service = web design; problem = get more leads. Any time you’re talking about web design, pass it through the “get more leads” lens. Everything is about getting more leads.
We can use this grid to create a myriad of headlines and topic ideas, super fast. Then any time we publish content it’s going to have these three components: a hook to grab their attention, a build to create some tension, and then a payoff. What’s the benefit? What’s the call to action?
Brent is happy to share the diary exercise and content authority grid with you – email [email protected] and mention the Cloudways webinar.
4. Build Your Own Authority
BW: ‘A’ number four: Build your authority. If you’re waiting for somebody in your market to put a crown on you, tell you that you’re amazing and say “we’d love for you to come and share your content”, you’re gonna be waiting a very long time.
So I’m going to crown you now. You are an authority. You’re an expert. You have plenty of value to give your markets. You are officially crowned!
Then it’s about proving your own authority. If your website is not covered in success stories you need to fix that. Talk to your clients, ask them what results in you’ve got. Build alliances with the awesome people you know in your market, and feature them on your website so people can see that you’re trusted.
Many years ago I wrote an article, ‘Never say WordPress When Selling a Web Design Project’, which went to #1 on Hacker News. We got 10,000 leads. Not 10,000 page views, but 10,000 leads from one well-placed article. If you were to ask me if this article was going to go viral ahead of time, I would have said, “I have no idea, probably not”. But it got us leads because we established ourselves as a credible authority. We went from unknown to close to a household name in our market within a couple of months.
With our clients, we build a list of potential publishers and reach out to them. We build partnerships and we help them build their authority. One of my clients works with registered financial advisers. They’ve been featured in Adviser Perspectives and Wealth Management, and in this market [these two websites] matter a lot. It says a lot about this client that they’ve been featured and they get that third party endorsement.
For every piece of content, you have to anchor it with some kind of authority. Create proof points, basically brag points. Every time you go and speak, write, or create content you’re always going to include some proof points to tell your audience why you are a credible source.
5. Acquire Leads With an Appointment Funnel
BW: I’ve seen people go up and give presentations. I’ve had people on my podcast who I know need leads from my audience, and when I ask them at the end of the episode, “hey, how can people learn more about you? How can people find out more information?” they’re like, “umm, yeah, just like check out our website.”
Give people a compelling offer. Give people something of value that’s free, so that they can move to the next stage with you. Then have a dialed-in and tight backend behind that.
We have this marketing engine system. We build traffic with 1-3 traffic sources. We have those people go to a ‘Strategy Call’ landing page that speaks to our audience’s pains and needs. We move them to a call scheduler, then we move them to a sales process that’s uniform across all our clients.
I have a client whose full-time salesperson walks in every morning and sees a booked call scheduler. Another client came in on the first day of the year when everyone talks about not getting leads. On January 1st he had four new prospects in his inbox.
When your clients start to be a consistent type of client, you get benefits like being able to prioritize and systematize your sales process and create SOPs on the back end and create some predictability in the business.
That’s the (Very) Short Version – Get All the Gold From the Full Webinar
The Five A’s are a great structure for the many lessons that Brent Weaver has learned about running an agency. They fit together in so many ways that no quick-fire summary article could possibly do justice to the whole thing.
When we launched the Mavericks we wanted to get brilliant people together and deliver truly valuable stuff to you, the web-building community. This one’s for everyone out there in agency land wondering how you could spend less time and energy on marketing, win more business, and make your projects easier for everyone to understand.
If you’ve read this far, do yourself a favor: scroll up and hit Play on the full video. And keep your eyes peeled because there’s always something new on the way from the Mavericks.
Customer Review at
“Great performance for the price, and plenty of control”
Sean P [SMB Owner]
Max is Cloudways' Director of Content. Based in New Zealand, he is a digital content strategist with experience in markets from software to higher education. He has spoken at industry conferences in Australasia, America and Africa. When he's away from screens he can be found with his young family walking in New Zealand's native bush, or helping out at his local toy library.