In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Brent Weaver. Brent is on a mission to help 10,000 digital agency owners achieve freedom in business and life by helping them own their market. Brent is the founder and CEO of uGurus, a business training, and education company dedicated to this mission. He also hosts one of the leading podcasts in the business niche—The Digital Agency Show and is the author of Get Rich in the Deep End: Commit to Your Niche, Own Your Market, and Audaciously Scale Your Agency.
Brent Weaver is known for and on a mission to help digital agency owners own their market – whatever that may be. Too many agencies rely on word-of-mouth referrals or waste advertising dollars to grow their business. In this episode, we dive into Brent’s framework that can help you attract the right customers, establish your authority, and build a marketing engine that will help you acquire a solid, growing client base.
Questions I ask Brent Weaver:
- [1:32] Are you all in on the idea that you must pick a niche?
- [5:31] How do you define scale, and how does it differ from growth?
- [7:59] In the agency world, there’s a lot of conversation around retainers versus project work — what’s your take on which path to go down?
- [12:49] Can you dive into your 5 A framework from your book and also talk a little bit about how you see the role of content today?
- [16:09] Can you give us a 10,000-foot view of what uGurus is and what you offer?
More About Brent Weaver:
- Get a copy of his book – Get Rich in the Deep End: Commit to Your Niche, Own Your Market, and Audaciously Scale Your Agency
- Learn more about Brent’s business – UGURUS
- Brent’s Podcast – The Digital Agency Show Podcast
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John Jantsch (00:00): Today's episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by blissful prospecting, hosted by Jason bay and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network host Jason bay dives in with leading sales experts and top performing reps to share actionable tips and strategies to help you land more meetings with your ideal clients. Recently, they did a show on the four day work week. I'm a huge fan. I think everybody should be looking towards trying to create that, Hey, we get most of our work done in like two hours every day. Anyway, so let's try out the four day work week. All right, listen to blissful, prospecting, wherever you get your podcasts.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Brent Weaver. He's the founder and CEO of you gurus a business training and education company in the digital agency space. And he also hosts one of the leading podcasts in that niche. The digital agency show he's the author of get rich in the deep end, commit to your niche, own your market and audaciously scale your agency. So Brent, welcome to the show. Awesome. Be here, John. Thanks. So did I say niche, right? What do you think
Does it? So let's talk about that. However you, uh, pronounce it. Let's talk about that, cuz that, that is certainly common advice. Now I narrow down to, to a niche get really good at serving that niche. I find a lot of people's particularly people that are starting out or trying to grow, they get really focused on thinking, oh, I have to pick dentists or whatever it is. And you know, I have to only work with them and then they find out six months later, they hate it. So, you know, how do you, are you all in on that, obviously it's part of your ti title of your book, but are you all in on that or do you temper that in any way that that would be more helpful? I think, uh, to particularly people getting started. Yeah. I, I mean, there's definitely pros and cons to, to being a generalist versus a, a specialist, right?
Yeah. I mean obviously if we are thinking about analogies, I mean, I have a, a general practice doctor that I go see on a regular basis and it's really easy to get an appointment. I can just kind of pop in there. He kind of knows a little bit about a lot of things, but you know, when it comes to like getting heart surgery, I'm obviously not gonna go to him. And I have a, a sneaking suspicion about which one is a member of the better country club. Yeah. But, but you know, I think that when it comes to agencies, if you don't, if you don't love the market or the type of business, I mean, I think it's, it's good to separate like the market from the client. I mean, if you work with 10 dentists and you realize like you just don't like seeing pictures of people's mouths, like that's totally cool.
I'm on my 13th market working with digital agencies. So this idea that you're gonna find the one, you know, the first time you go out there, I think is, is probably not a good expectation. So I think people should be willing to, to try it. But the reality is if you do work with, uh, a specific market, that's a lot more repeatable, you can build processes. Yeah. You can find team members that understand what you're doing. You can create fixed offers. Yeah. There's a lot of upside to having a, a fixed market. Yeah. And I think something, you said there's an important distinction. I mean, what I always kind of bristle at is when people, I work with a lot of folks starting, you know, jumping out of corporate and wanting to start an agency and they've been told you need to pick a niche.
And so they, they try to, but they don't don't have the experience yet to do that. Mm-hmm
Yeah, yeah. Concept. So like one of my clients, he, he actually does focus on dentist. I don't have a lot of clients that focus on dentist, but he has 27 clients in the market. Right. Yeah. They all pay him about three grand a month and he gets most of his clients from one Facebook group that has 38,000 members. Now I I'm, I don't know what 27 over 38,000 is, but you know, he has a thriving business with 27, like it's tiny little like sliver of the market. Right? Yeah. So I think ultimately what happens when people start to focus on a market is they do find themselves drilling down even further, either through a channel or a type of client, a range of clients. And I think if you are the type of person that likes variety, you can also look at a horizontal market, which would be, you know, if you were, let's say an expert at Shopify stores.
Yeah. Hey, cool. We're gonna build websites for a lot of different Shopify stores. Right. Could be jewelers, could be, artists could be, you know, clothing manufacturers, right. It doesn't have to just be a vertical. Yeah. I think I kinda like the variety
Well, you know, that's a great question. So I think that, you know, you used that term board yeah. Earlier, too, which I love. Right. So, so to me, scale is we're actually creating systems and processes that are repeatable and that we're growing the business by getting the owner out of the stuff that they're getting bored of. Right. And, and I know a lot of agency owners that are in really successful growing businesses, but man, like I have a lot of gray hair, but like they're stressed out, they're overworked, they're involved in every meeting they're involved in every client. Right. Like they have growth, which is awesome. Right. But they don't have anything that's really scalable. Right. They're still like the wizard that's spinning all the plates. Yeah. And so I think within whether it's, it's choosing a market vertical or horizontal or a fixed offer, like you have to find that element in your business, that lows, common denominator, that atomic unit for scale.
And I don't think that's as necessary if you're just interested in growth, but if you're trying to create something really scalable and get yourself out, I think that you've gotta find some common denominator. And I think most people, you know, you start getting 10 team members and, you know, 25 clients or something, if you don't have those systems or processes, I mean, it's just gonna be growth will actually be a problem. Won't it? You know, I've talked to a lot of agencies, I've done a lot of field trips and, and, and site visits and hand on interviews. I mean, you know, we were at effective UI. Gosh, it, it probably seven or eight years ago. And they had, you know, 120, 130 team members. They worked with corporations across a huge myriad of the fortune 500 and fortune 5,000. They had a very diverse set of people that worked there.
Their lowest common denominator, I guess, was kind of two things. One, it was around the UI UX of, you know, these different businesses and that kind of problem solving. But the other was Deb billable hour. Like they were unapologetically focused on maximizing the billable hours that, that business sold, you know, they weren't confused on their model. They knew what their model was. They knew generally how much clients needed to spend for them to be a client of their business. And so I think that, you know, they achieved insane growth, but like, it was really complicated. They had to have a lot of really smart, a lot of really expensive salaries. And so while I saw they, they got a lot of growth. I don't know if I would've looked at their business and said, wow, that's a really scalable system. I could see that growing to a thousand people.
Right. Yeah. Like it was impressive, but like, I don't know if I would consider that to be scale. So there in the agency world, there's a lot of conversation around retainers versus project work. I mean, where do you fall on? I'm guessing, you know, if you're gonna own your market, if you are going to, you know, brand and package your offerings, you know, you're probably going to be more towards the retainer. I mean, I, I think it depends what your goals are. I mean, there's some pros and cons, you know, you know, usually a retainer relationship ends when there's, you know, some unhappiness
Yeah. Yeah. And you can really create a choreographed experience for your clients in that space. What I would level it up to without even thinking about whether retainer is best or whether, uh, project best, I think there's different types of, of, of work that lend themselves to both. But I think as an agency, it's how do we create a killer offer? How do we make something that when we're sitting in front of a customer, it's like, it's so good. You know, it's like, it can't be refused. And so I think that should be always be the goal, right? Whether it's, you know, a, a, a big $50,000, you know, pitch, you know, how can we remove risk for the client? How can we mitigate risks? How can we promise or show proof of results to where we're gonna really blow 'em away and just make them so excited to move forward.
And so I think once you figure out like what that offer is, and, and I think that's one of the reasons why I love people that are focused on a vertical is because we get to really understand that customer mm-hmm
You know, I mean, or, and, and one of my friends, he actually even will write a check for five grand. He says, I'll give you all your money back and I'll pay you $5,000 if I don't get this result. And I think if you're gonna get to that point of being able to get with create offers, like you need to know your customer, like better than they know themselves. Yeah. You need to know your processes and your results better than, you know, anybody else. And you need to be so confident to be able to offer something like that, where it's truly an offer that somebody can't refuse. So I always push people to focus more on their offer and, and also build the model. That's right for you. If you want peace of mind and you want that consistent cash flow, then you know, it's probably better to be on a retainer kind of model. You know, sometimes people say that that projects are easier to sell the retainers. I, I don't know.
Yeah. I tell you, the model that I love is you sell a project that leads to a retainer, you know, because they it's lower risk.
And now let's hear from a sponsor, running a small business means doing it all. You deserve an online marketing platform that does the same. Semrush is an all in one platform that will lighten the load, handle SEO, social media, and advertising all in one place, attract new customers, save time and money on marketing and get ahead of the competition. If you need online marketing, no problem. Some rush will get you started. If you're ready to grow online, try some rush free @ Semrush.com/now that's Semrush.com/now. So you have a framework in the book, five A's, you know, every good book has to have a framework. I will say, when I was reading about the, kind of the layout of your framework, I was very happy to see that you were telling people they actually needed to think about content differently. That it wasn't about more content.
It was about content that was strategic and it wasn't just blog posts. So I, I guess maybe comment on kind of how you see the role of content, and then maybe we can get into the five A's. Yeah. Well, I think that something that should be thought about with any content is distribution. Yeah. And I look at, you know, if you are trying to get into a new market and you gave that example earlier of, you know, people leaving the corporate world and, and not having the experience. And so I think a mistake that a lot of people make is they, they start their business and they start their agency and think, oh man, I need to do content. Right? So they create a Facebook fan page or, you know, a business page and they create their website. They start to blog on their own site.
And, and in the book, I kind of talk about this garage band effect, right. It's like, imagine if the Beatles, like, they're like, all right, we're gonna, we're gonna make it big and night after night, they play in the garage. Right. And they just like hooked people with like, come and watch. 'em obviously they were all good musicians and they had a plan, but they, you know, what made them big was they went and pitched themselves to like the local clubs, the local venues. And that's what differentiates them from like the hobbyist bands that just get, get together on Friday nights and jam and, you know, smoke weed and drink beer together and have a good time. Right. Which there's nothing wrong with that. Right. They're probably having a really good time, but if they wanna make it big, then going out and putting yourself in front of a judge and a jury is really important.
It it's so important to get that rejection. And so when you're thinking about content for your agency, I think it's equally, if not more important to think about that distribution component, right. I've got an idea. I have something to say and I need to go out there and find somebody who's willing to put my stuff on their platform. And I think every time you then get a blog, post published, every time you show up and do a webinar on somebody else's platform, the amount of credibility, right. The amount of refinement, right. You have to show up a little differently when it's somebody else's, you know, somebody else's stage, right. They're a filter, but they also have higher expectations. And so I think if you're gonna approach content as a new agency, you know, and it's harder, cuz you're not gonna, like at first, it's gonna feel like you're not getting anything out there.
You're like, oh man, wouldn't it just be easier if I could just tweet on my own account. Right. So you're not gonna get a lot of stuff out there, but what's gonna happen is when you do, you're gonna build audience like that. So within the first six months of launching you gurus, you know, we were a nobody. And we had a list of over 10,000 people, a hundred percent organically because we went and got articles and content published on other existing platforms that have been around for 10 years. Yeah. Yeah. I'm a huge proponent of being guests on podcasts. That, to me, that's one of the best solves so many issues on top of getting your word out there and getting somebody else to say, you have something to say, it's great for SEO.
And that'll be a nice link
You do, you're doing, obviously you're doing consulting with agencies and helping them grow, but you also do events, pretty good size events. You have an academy there. So maybe just, uh, obviously invite people to check it out, but also kind of give a little, uh, 10,000 foot view of what you do at ERs. Yeah. I appreciate that. So, so we're a coaching training and community program for digital agencies to grow their business. We use that, you know, that market driven model that we kind of talked about with five, a framework and, you know, finding your market is kind of our baseline to help agencies scale. And we have a, a one year program it's kind of a three year vision that people sign up for a year at a time. And I always tell people, you know, it took me like, it took me eight years to like uncover all of the really big mistakes running an agency.
And then it took me five years to really, you know, fix accelerate and kind of grow a successful business through it. And so our vision from day one with you Guus is always to see how, how can we take that? You know, that 12 year grueling, you know, experience right. And shorten it up into a much smaller learning cycle and also give you some friends and some peers to enjoy that journey with, I, I had no agency friends except for my business partner, which he was in the boat with me. Right. We had no agency friends for the really the first eight to nine years. We ran our business. I mean, I didn't know, I didn't regularly meet with, have lunch collaborate with in any meaningful way, really, any other agency owner for the first eight years of my business. And it was lonely and it was hard.
It was stressful. And in entrepreneurship was a lot more fun when you have friends. Yeah, yeah, no, I think there's no, you know, especially the world we working today, you know, COVID aside. I mean, people, you know, don't have offices that they go and sit in, you know, with the 20, even if they have a team of 20 people, it can be kinda lonely. So, so having, just, as you said, somebody else who can say, well, here's the mistakes I made, you know, maybe you can learn something from that, you know, just kind of shortens the, uh, the curve for, for sure. And it's just you gurus.com, right? That's right. That's right. All right, Brent, thanks so much for something by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we'll run into each other one of these days out there on the road. Awesome, man. Thanks John. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it@ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketingassessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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Running a small business means doing it all. You deserve an online marketing platform that does the same! Semrush is an all-in-one platform that will lighten the load. Handle SEO, social media, and advertising all in one place. Attract new customers, save time and money on marketing, and get ahead of the competition. New to online marketing? No problem! Semrush will get you started. If you’re ready to grow online, try Semrush free today at semrush.com/now