Audience Targeting with Digital Marketing Video

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Audience Targeting for the Digital Marketing Agency


Audience targeting is no stranger to Jason Swenk in digital marketing. You can’t afford to go after everyone and anyone. Audience targeting is key.

Jason Swenk is a digital marketing agency professional and hosts the Smart Agency Masterclass Podcast.  Jason grew and sold his own digital marketing agency and now trains other owners of digital marketing agencies to develop the systems they need to overcome the common refrain, “I’m do busy” to do . .  .”  A critical issue is to know where your business is going, and that includes audience targeting to know your ideal clients.

It’s important to stop and answer: Who do you want to be your perfect client? What do you actually want to do for them? What are you really good at?

Once you know who your market is, you can use audience targeting to respond to what they want, and what is their biggest challenge.

In This Episode, Cheryl and Jason Discuss:

  • How to customize your business to work with your strengths.
  • Using audience targeting of your ideal client.
  • Developing systems necessary to free up time

Key Takeaways:

  • Figure out where you want to go with your business.
  • Only you can identify your own niche.
  • A good digital marketing agency asks the right questions.
  • It’s about building relationships.

So how do we put it all together…We solve problems and we connect, but you create this raving community and these people that want in… that have your similar values. And I just really think that’s the brand.Jason Swenk

Connect with Jason Swenk


Today on the Brandaide Podcast:

Jason Swenk [0:01]

And so you spend years and years just reacting to the market, and you don't have that clarity of where you want to go. Now, the true problem is, when you're reacting to the market of what's coming to you and basing everything on referrals. You just keep getting the same type of business or lower, you never get higher.

Intro [0:21]

Welcome to Brandaide where we answer the question, what does it take to launch your own brand (R)evolution, create Evolution, and who are the people that help you foster Connection, Community, Contribution, and Currency for a Brand built to last? You will also meet brands changing the world and the lives of those they serve. Here's your host, Cheryl Hodgson.

Cheryl Hodgson [0:47]

Hi, everyone. I'm Cheryl Hodgson. Welcome to the Brandaide podcast. I'm here with Jason Swenk, my guest today, who is the host of the Smart Agency Masterclass podcast, as well as having sold his own successful digital marketing agency. Jason now coaches and runs Master Classes to help other digital marketing agencies scale and grow their businesses to profitability. We're going to learn today a lot about the digital marketing business as well as how a digital marketing agency fits in today's world of building a brand, and how necessary they are to the success of reaching others in the online world. Hi, Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason Swenk [1:38]

Hey, thanks for having me on.

Cheryl Hodgson [1:39]

So, Jason, tell me what is the biggest challenge that you find that digital marketing agencies face in growing their business?

Jason Swenk [1:49]

I think the biggest thing is they're too busy. Every time I talked to an agency owner, they're like, "Don't look at my website, we're too busy," or "I've been too busy to do X, Y, and Z." And I think being too busy means you don't have the right systems set in place. You don't have that clarity of where you're going. You don't know who you're actually going after. You're not charging enough. And we all need more time, but we can't create more time. And so the only way to help you prioritize different things or assist you, with growing your business is creating the right systems, and so being too busy is probably the number one challenge most people have.

Cheryl Hodgson [2:32]

Well, I think that's true in many businesses. I know I face that on my own from time to time. So what have you found has been the greatest teaching you have been able to share with some of these agency owners to help them overcome that problem?

Jason Swenk [2:48]

It's probably starting out with the simplest. The concept is the simplest, but it's probably the hardest thing to do. It's to get that clarity of where the business is actually going. I work with agency owners and agency owners are notorious for being accidental entrepreneurs. We knew how to do something cool and someone paid us money to do something. And then we're like, "oh, cool, this is great". And then the whole business is based on referrals and being reactionary to what comes to them versus, being able to create it. And so you spend years and years just reacting to the market, and you don't have that clarity of where you want to go. Now, the true problem is, when you're reacting to the market of what's coming to you and basing everything on referrals. You just keep getting the same type of business or lower, you never get higher. So then you keep looking, you're like, "Man, I've hit a plateau, I can't go further." And so the first thing I tell people is, "you have to figure out where do you want to go? What kind of organization do you want to create? Who do you want to be your perfect client? What do you actually want to do for them? What are you really good at? What do you suck at so we can say no to, don't work on your weaknesses, work on your strengths. Start there, and then you can get a lot of momentum."

Cheryl Hodgson [4:05]

Well, I think you touched on several things there. One of which is, who's your target market and your perfect client? I think we all struggle with that even as an attorney, sometimes I go through that, who do I really want to serve? But then that's foundational to the success of an agency and for any entrepreneur. I would imagine you would go through that process to some extent, as the agency trying to render services for your own clients, right?

Jason Swenk [4:34]

Yeah. But it's sometimes hard to look in the mirror. You can do it for other people, but you sometimes can't do it for yourself. And it gets really challenging. I remember years ago, I was trying to figure out an image on the homepage. Literally, I was like, "do I take the cheesy photo of me just like this?" And I remember spending three or four days on it. One of my clients was like, "Well, what do you want the homepage to do?" I was like, "I want it to show authority," and they're, like, "show a picture of you speaking on stage." I'm like, "ah, So easy!" I could have done it for one of my clients in seconds. But, we all have that mental block a little bit because it's us. We're standing too close to it. It reminds me, my uncle had one of the coolest jobs. He used to work on fighter jets. And one of the fighter jets he worked on was the F-14, the jet from Top Gun. And one of his jobs was testing out the canopy for bird strikes. And so he has this chicken gun and he would shoot dead chickens. Dead chickens, not live chickens. And it kept breaking the canopy. And he's like, "Man, what, like what's going on?" His whole team just kept breaking canopies. So they were like, "let's write a letter to NASA”. Because obviously they're really smart people. They faxed the letter or telegraphed, I don't know, it was so long ago, deedeedeedeedeet! Faxed the letter back and it was like, "unfreeze the chicken." They were shooting frozen chickens. And I think that's what we are all doing. In our business, we're shooting frozen chickens, and it's breaking the window. But we just unfroze it.

Cheryl Hodgson [6:18]

I want to ask a couple of dumb questions there. But one of which is what was the canopy? I don't even understand what you're talking about.

Jason Swenk [6:23]

Oh, so the windshield on the fighter jet.

Cheryl Hodgson [6:25]

Oh, okay. Well, I think it sounds very exciting. I'd love to go on a fighter jet. I've never had that opportunity. So thank you for clarifying that. But now back to the agency issue. I think that identifying your market and being proactive. So what is a way for an agency owner and also the clients you've represented to be more specific and targeting their ideal client?

Jason Swenk [6:51]

Well, the important thing is no one can tell you what your niche or what you need to be doing. Only you can do that. There's no course out there that is like, The Most Profitable Niches You Need to Pick The only one making money is them. So don't buy a course that tells you the most profitable niches but what you can do is you can figure out, it's basically through a process of elimination. That's how I came up with it. And just really kind of looking for the signs and not being in a rush to jump in.Think about going to a Vegas buffet, you're going to try out everything. The first round is like little bits, right? And then you go, "ooh, I don't like that", or "I like this". And so through a process of elimination you can be like, "man, I really like those crab legs, I guess everybody else does as well." So it's about figuring out "what do you like, what do you have passion about, what do you have knowledge in? What would you do, if there was a particular industry that you would work in that you were only going to be paid after they had success? Which one would you have the quickest success in?" And once you kind of go through those kinds of mental blocks and exercises, then it will start to be a little bit clearer for you. And then once you figure out who your market is, now it gets a little easier, because then you can figure out "all right, what do they want? What's their biggest challenge? What's the impact on their business? How does it make them feel?" And then then, you know, "okay, well, where do I need to go? What kind of content do I need to get their attention?" And everything else starts to get easier. But when you try to go after everybody, then it's kind of just like, "let me just throw up a ball and see if someone catches it."

Cheryl Hodgson [8:40]

Well, I think that's true for many entrepreneurs. I know even for myself in younger years, I was like, I would never go far afield from my specialty. But even within that, people say, "Oh, what does an entertainment lawyer do?" or "what does an IP lawyer do?" Well, within those labels, there are many specialties. Many areas you can focus on. And someone who might be in film and television clientele is not someone who's going to be in the music industry clientele. They're not going to ever even overlap that often. Also, I really relate to what you're saying about the fact of being somewhat haphazard, and depending just on the referrals, because then that's where you land. As opposed to being proactive. So how does that translate? Because you ran a successful agency. How many years did you have your agency?

Jason Swenk [9:35]

12 years.

Cheryl Hodgson [9:37]

And what was your niche? Did you have a niche? Did you have a certain industry?

Jason Swenk [9:40]

We did, but it took us a while to do that. So ours was around technology. And so ours was around a content management system called Sitefinity. And another one called SharePoint, which was Microsoft's product. Then we layered on top of that to separate us, but also, I started my agency in '99, and this was a digital agency, so there weren't many specialties back then. There wasn't Twitter and Facebook. There was nothing, it was just starting to create websites. Myspace wasn't even around. And then over the years it changed and we can kind of grow and stuff like that. So it's actually easier to reach people now. But it's harder to make a decision of where you need to go, because there's so many different things. And there's things being added every day. VR is coming and it's amazing.

Cheryl Hodgson [10:37]

Well, and I think that goes to, one of my passions about having launched the podcast here is, I think it's a challenge for clients who come to a digital marketing agency. And so maybe you could share just a little bit because you touched on it. But to go a little deeper on this concept of where it was in '99. And the types of services someone would go to a digital marketing agency for back in '99 versus where we are in 2020, which is, you've come a long way, baby.

Jason Swenk [11:10]

Yeah, A huge mistake agencies make is they're giving away a lot of the strategy, if they even do the strategy, or they say they might do it. But they're more just getting paid on execution. So like you were saying, there's thousands of things for a particular brand to do. But they need an agency to ask the right questions in order to figure out. That agency needs to position themselves as the Yoda. And the client is Luke Skywalker. And so Luke needs some help in order to figure out how to face Darth Vader and what does he need to do? What's the plan? How do I call this person to action? So you need to kind of be Yoda and figure out "how do I position this?" And let them know , "here's the problem, and we can do a strategy and let us get paid to do the strategy. And then we'll take care of everything else."

Cheryl Hodgson [12:08]

That's actually fabulous, because I see that in my own field of trying to help brand owners and people who need to register. And when they don't protect something, when they don't let me do a strategy, or they come and they don't care about the strategy, it's a huge problem. The strategy, in many ways is foundational to everything. And I would imagine, how does a brand owner, not necessarily the first startup with no funding, but let's say somebody who's had some success, and, they get their round of VC funding, and that's when people tend to get serious about brand building, because their investors come along and go, "Well, you need to protect your IP", or they ask the question, "What do you own? What is your IP?" And they usually go "Well, nothing." "If we're going to invest in you, you better get some IP protection." So that tends to be the inflection point where people start at some level and grow a portfolio of intellectual property. A good agency that does that strategy, is that something they're going to help develop? How do we choose where to be seen and heard? As a brand.

Jason Swenk [13:27]

They should if they're a good agency, but there's 1000 that are not. Or they're still trying to figure it out on the client's dime. I mean, that's why I always say, there's so many Me-Too agencies out there, and all they talk about is themselves. I interviewed a couple this morning, on the podcast, that won't be airing, just because it wasn't good. Just because I interview doesn't mean you're going to make it on the show. It's got to be a good interview for people. But they'll come on and all they'll talk about is their awards, and how cool they are, and like why they're different. But everything they say is horrible. Versus, just ask questions. Your job as an agency is the middleman. Agency means agent. And literally an agency forms because back in the old days, with radio, even before TV. An agency would sell a radio spot. And they would come up with the commercial, they would be the middleman. The same thing is with car dealers. They're the middleman. And so the car manufacturers didn't know how to go directly to people and say "you need a car rather than a horse." So they needed great car dealerships. Now, with Tesla. They don't have dealerships, so they should be worried. Same thing is happening with agencies now around Google or Facebook. Facebook says "let me use the agency to reach people.” Now, Facebook and Google have tools where you could skip the agency altogether if you want. They're like, "we don't need you anymore." So the only way to protect yourself as an agency or a business, you got to look at that and say, "How do I control the strategy? How can I get my customer from where they are now to where they want to go and build that bridge and show them the bridge? Show them the plan." And I think a lot of people don't show people the plan of how to get from A to where they want to go. I used to teach people how to race cars, and I would always joke with them in the very beginning. "The first thing I'm going to teach you is how to go around this corner right here. It's like a 90 degree corner at 100 miles per hour." And they'd be like, "no, I'll die." But then I would explain to them the plan. I would demonstrate it to them. And then they would start gradually getting up to the speed and then they'd obviously wind up beating me. I was a better teacher than at racing cars, I guess. But it's the same thing when you're selling services or strategy, you have to show them the plan. Same thing with you. If you'd be like, "here's the plan of how we're going to register this mark or protect you from this asset from this happening," and they'll be like, "okay, cool, I get that" versus now you can put an R on it or a TM on it like, because we used to just go into Photoshop and be like, "R!"

Cheryl Hodgson [16:32]

And that's a good point not to get too diverted. But I think what people don't know, and I think this is what impacted me in my practice and my profession at trying to be of value and service to people. And I can see a little bit of what you're saying in a digital agency world, which is, everything has changed so much. For example, everything I ever did changed dramatically once it was online. Protecting a brand used to be something like a box of cereal in a grocery store shelf, and you had a young MBA, who'd come out of school and he would get a job for Kellogg's and that was his or her job to be the brand manager for one box of cereal. All of it. Well, now, you've got to bring the public in. And I've been playing a lot in my own thinking with what does it mean to really have a brand? And the words I've been fixated on are like, Connection, Contribution, Community and Currency. And it goes to the little bit about what you're saying a minute ago to me is, "what is your contribution to your client? And what is your contribution as a brand? To the greater good?" In terms of what you're doing. And Community, customers nowadays are on the front lines. Boy, if you make one misstep as a brand owner, they're right there to tell you what you did wrong in real time on social media! So I think all of those elements go into what it means to really be a brand owner and having an agency that can help you create that experience that consumer experience is what you're really talking about.

Jason Swenk [18:15]

A brand to me is basically what your audience you're serving, what do they think of you? That's all you care about, to be like, "how do you want them to perceive you? And are they going to recognize it when they see it?" So like, Marriott, you would think they would have a really good brand, with all their chains. But if you go into a different Marriott and switch out the logos with some other different hotel chain, you would never know. And if Mariott was going to create a sneaker, you wouldn't know what it would be like. Now take the flip side of it, let's say Apple was going to create a hotel. You would know exactly how that hotel would look. You would know how it would feel. If Nike was going to, you can use the iconic brands, you know what they represent. You understand their values. And so, that's what people really need to be thinking about in building this. Or like Starbucks, it's like getting together and just enjoying a cup of coffee or whatever it is. I don't drink coffee, so I hardly ever go there.

Cheryl Hodgson [19:32]

Personally, I don't like their coffee anyway. But that's just me, it's too strong. But no, I think you just hit on something very important. And I think it's kind of funny you bring them up because I've been on the road so much the last two years, I've stayed in a lot of Marriotts at a lot of conferences. And I just happened to have been in Seattle this weekend, and I was at a Sheraton and now that they bought the other entity which I was a huge Westin fan, not too much of Westin, but the Sheratons, in a Marriott they're so inconsistent. You don't know what you're going to get when you get there. And it is a challenge to know what's going on within those.

Jason Swenk [20:13]

And you gotta stay true to your brand. So like I was telling you, I was a racecar driver and all the cars I've ever really raced were Mustangs, so I've always been a huge Ford fan. Now Ford just came out with an electric car, an SUV car and they're calling it a Mustang.

Cheryl Hodgson [20:31]

Oh, that's got to be brutally hard.

Jason Swenk [20:32]

And I'm like, "stab me in the heart, you just made, not a Mustang you made a Mus-take." I'd be like, "hey, Ford, I'm all for hybrid cars and electric cars. But don't take the most iconic thing that people know you for,' and I know what they're trying to do. There's a ton of generations that are not old farts like me. And they're trying to appeal to them that, like I'm not trying to kill the environment like I recycle and all that kind of stuff, but I still like to hear my motor and smell the oil burning when I'm ripping down the road.

Cheryl Hodgson [21:07]

Okay, so You just took away one of my favorite things on the show. So we're going to divert for 30 seconds here, because I always like to ask people that I interview, "what is some one thing people might not know about you" and I was going to talk to you about being a racecar driver. So here we are. So do you actually have a Mustang? Do you still have one?

Jason Swenk [21:25]

I sold it. When I had my second son, kind of the dream squash, my wife made me kind of stop racing. Which was a smart move. I like being married better than I did like racing cars.

Cheryl Hodgson [21:40]

Yeah. Well, that's probably a good idea. But you're right, finding that truth. The words I was talking about a minute ago were Connection, connecting to the consumer. And then, somehow there's a Community of some sort, whether it's a Facebook group and a coaching program, or it's a community that is based upon people who really like a brand and the last word I like is Contribution, which one of my guests on the show said that's the word he would make is how are you contributing? What is your contribution that you're making? And giving so that people recognize it's a give, give give before it comes back? And then Currency and to me, that's metaphorically both it can be literal as far as revenue coming in, but currency is also that reputation you're talking about, what kind of currency are you building with the consumer? So anyway, that's my new working words for building a brand, for what that's worth. So when you think of how things have changed, what do you see is the challenge not so much for just for agency owners, but for people who are wanting to build a brand? What advice would you have for people who are looking for an agency, at what point in time is an agency an important part of their brand journey?

Jason Swenk [23:12]

It matters when they get serious about their business or not. You should always be building a brand, and you don't need an agency to build your brand. You just need to create content for those types of people, whether it be five people, and just like put a name on each of those people and say, "I'm creating this for Cheryl. I'm creating this for John or Jason or Timmy" and say, '"what content would they want? And how do they want? Where are they?" and just start there. It's all about, like Gary Vaynerchuk talks about is getting their attention. That's all I've done over the past six years. When I was at the agency, we were more on execution and technology. And then I realized, after I sold the agency and got into this business, I was like, I don't need hundreds of people like we did. We have two, and we create way more content than everybody else. It's just having the right systems and we know our audience, and we just know what they want. And if they don't like that, perfect. I'm perfectly fine for people to be like, "You're an idiot." No problem, I'm not for you.

Cheryl Hodgson [24:29]

Well, there is that theory about repelling the people you don't want by speaking to what you don't do. You've heard of that.

Jason Swenk [24:39]

A little while ago too, it's about building a community. So once you find the right people, and you know who you're going after, and you develop, and I realized this maybe a couple years ago, so I'm not into racing now, but I'm into offroading...

Cheryl Hodgson [24:57]

Oh, okay. Your wife is okay with that?

Jason Swenk [25:01]

Well, she thinks it's safe but we're on cliffs, she doesn't see how far down stuff is. So it's probably actually more dangerous. But I just don't take her.

Cheryl Hodgson [25:14]

We won't let her see this episode of the podcast.

Jason Swenk [25:20]

But what I realized is, I have a great passion for the offroad and Jeeps. And Jeep does an amazing job about creating a community. Of getting people out, and they know who they're going after. The people that own Jeeps are usually adventurous, they like to go explore. They like to see what is possible, all that kind of stuff. And so they create this passionate community. And so a couple years ago, if you have ever owned a Jeep, you had the Jeep wave. Everybody driving by, and no other car I've ever owned is like that.

Cheryl Hodgson [25:55]

I didn't know that.

Jason Swenk [25:56]

And it's really crazy.

Cheryl Hodgson [25:57]

What is the Jeep wave? Is there a special wave?

Jason Swenk [26:00]

It's two fingers up, when you're driving down like this on the wheel. It's like this. And if people don't do it, they haven't modified their Jeeps, Then they get the one finger when they go by. But I realized I was like, "wow, there's so many passionate people about that. And everybody's always checking out your Jeep and that kind of stuff, and you have an instant bond.” So I was like, "well, I like what Jeep did, how can I do this around my community?" And so we started doing that, but I wanted to do something a little bit different than everybody else. So people run Masterminds and stuff like that. I was like, "well, I like adventure. I like the outdoors. I like agencies and solving problems. So how do we put it all together?" And so we created a Mastermind where we meet twice a year at my house in Durango and then half of it's just the experience where we rent out steam engines, we hike up mountains, we ride ATVs through ghost towns, we solve problems, we connect, but you create this raving community and these people that want in, and have your similar values. I just really think that's the brand.

Cheryl Hodgson [27:10]

Absolutely. That's my point, because I think it's about finding your tribe too. The product or service is foundational. If it's a shitty product or shitty service, you're not going to hang out. But when you can feel that connection, because you've got a great product or service, whether it's a great agency, or your program or an actual consumer product, but then you find other people who share similar value, your shared interest. And then it's fun hanging out with those people. My current thing right now has been the last six months learning to launch podcasts. And, I've gone to a couple of conferences just on launching a podcast and I've met the most amazing people. And I'm like, "wow, this is my tribe." I've met so many cool entrepreneurs who are doing things that are completely unrelated to me, but at the same time, there's kind of a commonality there that makes you...

Jason Swenk [28:13]

If you can find that commonality and then the values match up, because you're not looking for your identical twins. It's just people that have that common thing that believe in the same things that you believe in. Then it's fun. If I drink wine, like that could be a whole other one, right? I don't drink wine, but you can find like, whatever people like, bring them together. And then you've got an amazing, raving community. That is your sales people, your representative, your brand managers, you don't even have to pay.

Cheryl Hodgson [28:56]

Absolutely. Well one of my favorite people, I was obsessed with his books a few years ago, a guy named Allen Adamson who wrote a book called BrandDigital, BrandSimple. He's had several New York Times bestsellers. And he was always at the top of the food chain representing the top 50, the top Fortune 100. But one of the things he talked about in an interview with me a few years back, which is, it's about building a game of Telephone. Remember when you were a kid in school? Did your teacher ever do that? Mine did.

Jason Swenk [29:26]

I don't remember that. I didn't pay attention in school.

Cheryl Hodgson [29:30]

This wasn't hardcore, but it taught a very valuable point I never forgot. She whispered something in the first student's ear. And then you had to repeat it down the row. And the last person at the back of the row had to stand up and repeat what it was the teacher told the first person and it was never even close.

Jason Swenk [29:53]

If I was in the middle, I would totally mess with that teacher.

Cheryl Hodgson [29:57]

Even as a first grader or second grader?

Jason Swenk [30:01]

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Cheryl Hodgson [30:02]

You were a bad boy, huh?

Jason Swenk [30:04]

I never liked following the rules. I could have never been a lawyer, a doctor, go to school like,

Cheryl Hodgson [30:12]

Yeah, well, sometimes it's hard to follow the rules. It's not easy, you know. But at the same time, being a different kind of person that's willing to be different and speak out. That's people who create great things. You started out at Arthur Andersen, didn't you?

Jason Swenk [30:33]

Yeah, a whole six months.

Cheryl Hodgson [30:36]

What was your job there? Were you a financial guy?

Jason Swenk [30:40]

No, I was a computer programmer. But here's the problem. I used to outsource. I used to pay people to do my computer programs in college, so I had no idea what I was doing. It's kind of like, you paid someone your whole school to take all your law projects, and then someone paying you to be a lawyer.

Cheryl Hodgson [31:05]

Actually, that's a lot of what happens nowadays, I'll tell ya.

Jason Swenk [31:11]

When I look back at that, the greatest lesson I learned is, I don't have to follow the rules. And I just was more resourceful to figure out a different way. And I could never work for anybody. I'm unemployable.

Cheryl Hodgson [31:30]

I would say I'm the same way. Going back to your Mastermind, where you guys are like racing ATVs and hanging out in Durango, which sounds kind of fun. I would guess, and I'm speculating, and maybe you can share with me a little bit about that, has that made a difference in your retention rate and your people and how they bond?

Jason Swenk [31:51]

Huge. Because we used to do the event in a boardroom, like rented out a boardroom, or rented a ballroom in a hotel. And it was good, and then we'd have like one activity. We'd take people to Braves games or something, or maybe to dinner. The Braves game was the most exciting thing. And then when we built the dream home, I was like, "man, I'd love to share this with people. We see like moose and elk and deer walking by, hopefully not mountain lions or bears. And then we can do different activities on the property that connect people a lot better." And like you're in this great room, rather than in a boardroom. So you're just totally disconnected from the world. And I didn't know how it would go. And then as I was watching the video back of what people were saying about the event, I could see a connection. And then when we started doing that, and then we publicized that video of what people were saying, then we started attracting more of that type of person. And I was like, "cool, these are people that," And I always tell people, "Look, I'm not gonna let anybody in because they're going to be at my house for three days" And it was awesome just to be like, "hey, you're perfect. You are the exact thing of why we're doing it. Come on." And you know, the retention's been amazing. You know, knock on wood, everybody'll probably cancel tomorrow now, but...

Cheryl Hodgson [33:24]

No, no, I don't think so at all. But that's great. So you have found a way to build that community for your own training that you've got going for you in marketing.

Jason Swenk [33:36]

Yeah. And the thing is, I would do it for absolutely nothing. And that's what I tell people, pick something that you do for free. And it's unbelievable. My kids, they're nine and 13, and they always are like, "Wait, you're getting paid to go to your dream home." I'm like, Yes.

Cheryl Hodgson [33:54]

I really like that. I guess maybe that's a motivation for launching a podcast because it's not that easy to build a community with lawyers. How many of your clients want to hang out with their lawyers?

Jason Swenk [34:06]

Criminals might want to keep them close. Like in the movie?

Cheryl Hodgson [34:15]

People have asked me "aren't you dating anybody?" I'm like, 'Well, yeah, but I kind of don't meet any guys except lawyers, and I don't date lawyers!" But anyway, what advice do you have for the entrepreneur who really wants to build a brand and is looking for an agency? What's important for them?

Jason Swenk [34:45]

Well, make sure you jive with them. Make sure they're asking the right questions. You should be the one talking them up. If they're the ones talking about themselves, think about it this way. Let's say you're at a conference. And I come up to you, and I'm like, "hey Cheryl, my name's Jason. I'm the best agency mentor in the world, had a big agency. I'm just the shit. You need to know me." You'd be like, "Get away from me creep!" and that's how a lot of agencies act to brands. Versus if someone came up like, "Hey Cheryl, why don't you come to the event? Anybody I can connect you with? What's the biggest challenge you're having? Oh, have you thought about x, y and z?" The telltale sign is, "are they asking the right questions to figure out how to solve your problem?" Not like, "do they just want to take orders from you?" I think that's probably the best way to evaluate an agency and I'll also tell you the biggest is not always the best. A lot of times the biggest is the worst. Because there's 1000 people working on the account, there's total disconnect and disarray but also the smallest is not always the best way to go either. It depends on the organization and depends on you. The best agency for me if I was going to use an agency, would probably be a five to eight person shop that has a really good specialty at x, y, & z. And then I would go with them.

Cheryl Hodgson [36:19]

Well, that's actually great advice because I see the same thing in the legal world. It's not always best. If you're a multinational corporation and you're fighting multinational lawsuits with unlimited pocketbooks, then those kinds of firms are great, but if you want to be priority and get some real attention for what you're doing, and also have somebody who's responsible and takes ownership of your business.

Jason Swenk [36:46]

And they should have a track record too, and they should be able to, and I think the most important part is, "Do you understand the plan?” Going back to the racing analogy. Do you understand the plan for them to take you from A to success? If they can't explain that, then I would run because they're still trying to figure it out.

Cheryl Hodgson [37:13]

Well, that's a pretty serious thing to think about really. I think that's true in a lot of fields. And that also goes to the client not knowing necessarily, or having a clear vision of themselves.

Jason Swenk [37:32]

They don't know what they don't know. And, this is even more apparent, I think more in the agency world than any other industry, just because there's no barrier to entry. Literally, you could be a 12 year old kid that says, "I'm an agency, I can help you out." Now, I'm not saying that 12 year old kid can't do an amazing job. I've had a lot of teenagers reach out to me, I'm like, "wow, like incredible work. I mean, like, You're amazing, like, keep going." Because it took me a while to figure it out. You know, I was like, 22 when I started my agency. I'm like, "you're 13. Wow, like you've still got to go to school." As I knock over Darth Vader...

Cheryl Hodgson [38:11]

Oh, let's see Darth! Are you a Star Wars fan too?

Jason Swenk [38:15]

Yes, I named my firstborn Luke. So I could say, "Luke, I'm your father."

Cheryl Hodgson [38:21]

So there is where the Star Wars Luke Skywalker analogy came from. I'm going back to something you said a moment ago, which probably I was guilty of that at a younger point in my life, but it's true. A lot of people, when someone is not talking or engaging with someone about what they do and what their needs are as opposed to selling. It comes from a couple of places. One is insecurity I think, and number two, just not having enough people skills. I think in any business, whether it's me as an attorney or a podcaster or a digital marketing agency, it really comes down to how you relate to and connect with your potential clients and your existing clients.

Jason Swenk [39:19]

Oh, big time. That's the one thing I did learn in college was people skills. It is so important. Everything is people! The biggest mistake a lot of people do in building a brand or growing a business is they try to automate everything. They try to dehumanize the experience versus, "how could I actually do the opposite?" Like if everybody's sending out a welcome email for when you're a client? What if I actually create a custom video that welcomes them and gives them a personal message every time? Because no one else is doing that.

Cheryl Hodgson [40:03]

Well, that's powerful, because the automation thing is, there's such a push for the world to be automated, whether we call and you can't get a person on the phone because you have to go through 15 voice prompts, and then you give up, hang up, or they have the canned script on the other end of the line, and they can't deviate from the script. So no matter what question you ask, they repeat the same answer. Have you ever had that? All the time. So I think you're hitting on something that's very important because we need automation to be more efficient, but then how do you maintain that personal relationship and contact? Well, that's another story. I want to thank you for being on the podcast. And before we go, I do have a question since we did talk about something someone might not know about you, I always like to ask, is there something that's on your bucket list for either 2020 or beyond, either personally or professionally that you've not yet gotten to achieve but you're dreaming of?

Jason Swenk [41:10]

It goes back to one of my first stories. I'd love to fly in a fighter jet.

Cheryl Hodgson [41:16]

Oh, you left that part out. Now I know . I thought that was just your uncle.

Jason Swenk [41:22]

I've always been fascinated. I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but at the time, I'm 42, so when Top Gun came out, I was like 12 or 10, or whatever it was, and I was like, "I am going to do that". And so it was so popular, every kid wanted to be it. So they had such a hard, you had to have perfect eyesight to fly those jets. And when I went to apply, I've worn contacts since I was 12. And they were like, "you can sit in the back" and I'm like, "Goose dies. No, thank you." But now they take anybody.

Cheryl Hodgson [42:01]

They do?

Jason Swenk [42:02]

Yeah, you don't have to have perfect eyesight.

Cheryl Hodgson [42:04]

Oh, yeah, but you probably have to pass the physical now and I can't do all of the physical stuff that you're required to do now, at a certain point you're not just strong. Thank you so much, and is there something you'd like to share with the audience where we could send them for a free gift or link or something you would like to share...

Jason Swenk [42:23]

We give away something like about 85% of our knowledge for free through all our shows, and the best way to go check that out is just at So go to, reach out, go to the contact page. If there's something I can help you guys out with, let me know and I wish you guys the best.

Cheryl Hodgson [42:43]

Awesome. And I will place the link in the show notes. And if there's any other content somewhere along the way you want to share, we'll put that in the show notes for everyone. And I want to thank you for joining me and I look forward to catching up again soon. Thank you so much, Jason.

Jason Swenk [42:58]

Thanks a lot.

Jason Swenk is the agency advisor and mentor that guides marketing agencies through a proven framework for growing their agency faster. Jason has literally written the book for growing an agency from nothing to an eight-figure business. He is one of the most sought-out advisors to agencies in the world, by showing them an eight-step system framework for growing their agency, working with brands like AT&T, Hitachi, Lotus cars, and eventually leaving to sell his own agency, now training others to do the same.

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