Objectives and key results – OKRs – are a key part of a planning system that helps your team work in an organized way towards a common goal, explains Garrett Mehrguth, co-founder and CEO of Directive.

Accountability is a key part of this strategy, with regular check-ins to make sure you’re on track to meet your quarterly goals.

Garrett says it’s the perfect process to apply to his company’s work in SEO because OKRs provide strategic and deep-thinking consulting work for clients with long-term impacts, while still allowing for quick action on day-to-day tasks related to optimizing SEO or paid media work.

Involving your team is key because understanding the bigger goal behind their work allows them to be more effective. Plus, longer timelines for much-needed deep changes allow for more creative and effective solutions.

We take a deep dive into this topic, including…

  • The reason quick “wins” lead to lukewarm strategic plans and long-term outcomes
  • A strategy for organizing your team member’s time for better client results
  • How to make sure agencies guide, not serve clients
  • Factors beyond SEO you must consider – and will surprise you – to create an effective SEO strategy
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:

 

Transcript

Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success Podcast where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. Today we’re going to talk about how to advance your search marketing with OKRs and quarterly planning. Here to speak with me about the topic is Garrett Mehrguth, who is the CEO and co-founder at Directive a next-gen software performance marketing agency headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Since its establishment in 2014, Garrett has led Directive in its expansion of five new locations starting from Orange County to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Austin and London. As a thought leader, Garrett speaks at numerous digital conferences, including Digital Summit, Search Marketing Summit and General Assembly to mention just a few. Garrett, welcome to the show.

Garrett Mehrguth: Hey, Steffan. It was a crazy intro, but thanks for having me, man. Glad to be here.

Steffen: Well, you know, it sounds like you’re a busy person. I don’t know how you can, you know, open up five new offices talking to, going to all these conferences and then finding topics to talk about. I had to actually cut down I think there were 13, 14 or 15 conferences listed. So yeah.

Garrett: I think I had over 30 I think scheduled this year right around there. But you know, COVID made that a little bit more difficult. But yeah, I do travel quite a bit, but I try to keep them, they’re always usually less than 24 hours. So I always try to get home really quick.

Steffen: In and out basically.

Garrett: Yeah, man, just get there, speak, you know, shake hands kiss babies, network a little bit and then get home, you know?

Steffen: That makes sense. So Garrett. how did you start, or did you get started in advertising?

How Garrett Became an SEO Specialist

Garrett: Fiverr. So I saw social media calendars on Fiverr and I tried to figure out their algorithm and I got my $5 gigs to be, like number one in marketing at the time. And I thought it was kind of fun. And then I wanted to go into consulting. So I tried to apply to places like Boston, Bain or McKinsey and didn’t work. You know, the university I attended Azusa Pacific out in LA. And the, I got pretty much an auto-response.

And so I said, you know what, I’m just gonna build my own consulting firm. I didn’t really have any skills. So I just looked in the mirror figured people with money who were older than me though I knew the internet. I should just learn internet marketing. And from there I, you know, kind of dabbled in a bunch of them email, social SEO, PPC, and I found SEO and PPC to drive the most value, so I figured I could charge the most for them. And decided to get really good at them, and that was kind of it.

Steffen: So that sounds like the origin story of your agency. Did you ever work for an agency not your own?

Garrett: No, no., I never really had like an official I’d say like, career-type job. I was just, you know, I did my degree in three years in economics and then I did my masters in a year I was, you know, playing soccer. I was leading that team. No, I was right around my little 19, what year was it, 1978 Peugeot 103 SP moped. Got a little shoarma shop, helped him with his Yelp, his Facebook handed out flyers.

Did that for about 30 days, came back on the 31st day, whole place was boarded because I went to get my contract, he said, Come back tomorrow, and then the whole voice was gone. But never got paid. That was the first client. Yeah, then I got a hooka shop. He asked me to build them a website. Said hey, I’m not very good at it but I’ll try. Kind of taught myself the Genesis Framework on WordPress, built him a site then he asked me to rank it. I said I’d never done it, but I’ll try. Ranked it number one. All of a sudden he had his hooka shop was busy, I was like, this is pretty cool.

So went to my best friend, his dad was a plumber, he had one truck. I gave him a pitch, my friend thought that was really good. Told him not to go to law school, join me. He became the co-founder, his dad had three trucks within three months, I think. And we just were good at doing it the right way and just kind of slowly built it from there, I guess.

Steffen: That sounds like a great story. So Garrett, jumping into today’s topic, which as I said earlier, is how to advance search marketing with OKRs and quarterly planning. So before we go there, I want to make sure that everyone who listens has the same understanding of what OKR means. Can you elaborate a little bit?

Objectives and Key Results

Garrett: Yeah, so OKRs are objectives and key results. All it is is really a goal planning system that allows for better executive management. And so, you know, my passion is really around leadership and team building and culture and just organizing groups of real sophisticated men and women to a common goal.

And one of the difficulties I always had was when you first start an organization, speed is your greatest strength. And so you get very used to quickly moving, adapting and pivoting. But in doing so, your ability to think big and create, so essentially, what happens is that when you get to a certain size, there’s less little things that you can do that have big impact.

And so when you’re still operating on a seven-day time window, and essentially you’re meeting as an executive team, every week, you’re planning what you’re going to do that week, you start to think small on accident because your window for change and then your follow-through is really poor because every week there’s a new fire and you pivot to put out that fire and then you only halfway put out the previous fire and so in three weeks you have two fires instead of one, or none.

And so as we grew and built out the management team, it became really important to set up goals and objectives for the quarter, and then open up our time window to say, instead of what we’re doing this week, ask ourselves if we focused for 90 days, what could we build that could have a material change on our clients and our organization? So the whole concept is to think bigger and go deeper and do that in a structured manner that still has objectives, the big thing you’re trying to accomplish, and then key results, the inputs, the smaller things you’re going to do to get to that objective. And so that’s kind of what it means.

Steffen: Interesting. Basically, it basically helps as you said to the company, every person in the company, not only management, to focus on what they have to do in order to contribute to the greater goal, which is, you know, growing the company, maybe step before that helping client accounts grow, performance increase and then subsequently that leads to growing your agency or growing your business.

Garrett: Internal team members at directive or pretty much all objectives and key results for the most part, except for maybe one person, the admin staff. But essentially, if you’re working for directive on directors, brand or stuff, unless you’re like client-facing, then you have separate objectives that are all client objectives, and not necessarily as much Directive objectives. But if you’re working, you know, for  Directive, whether in management or internally, then you’re gonna have objectives and key results for the quarter and then you know, we’ll do bi-weekly one on ones to check in to see how you’re progressing towards those.

Steffen: So today, we want to talk, take that in and talk about that in regards to search engine marketing or search marketing basically. How does that look like that planning process for search engine marketing? Are you applying that or do you apply that on a kind of a, on a top-level solution level? Or are you breaking it even further down on an account level? Client to client level?

Garrett: Yeah, great question, Steffen. So, you know, at Directive we service primarily software companies as well as enterprise organizations in the mid-market or enterprise space. So either large organizations like Cisco, Samsung, Tencent, Allstate, things like that, or mid-market to enterprise SAS firms in the b2b space primarily. And when you’re working with larger organizations that have talented marketing teams internally, most of them operate on quarterly budgets and quarterly plans. And so it’s important that as an agency, you fit in with their internal operating model.

And so what we do is we have quarterly strategies for our clients that allow us to have timelines, plan and future. Like, here’s what we’re going to not only do this week, but next in the following seven weeks in that example. And that also allows us to have the weekly spreads. So we essentially do bi-weekly updates, monthly data analysis, and then quarterly business reviews plus strategy. And that cadence allows for really deep strategic forward-thinking consulting, while also having immediate action to the day to day aspects of, you know, managing someone’s paid media or SEO.

Steffen: Interesting. Who’s involved in that? Because it sounds like there are several stakeholders that need to come together in order to deliver what you said, bi-weekly information, monthly data analysis and then obviously, quarterly strategy review, new strategy development or adjustment, etc.

Garrett: Yeah, so the director and the lead, a directive would be on that and then the CEO would still approve it, as well as the actual team on the client. And so we only have, you know, five accounts per person at Directive and most only at four. So we have a really, really low account to employee ratio. That allows us to offer a premium service. And, you know, we do in-person working sessions with our clients up to six times a year We are very highly involved in our clients’ accounts and their businesses doing, you know, I think truly high-level SEO and PPC consulting as well as execution.

And so to do that, you know, in the weekly, in the day to day stuff, you still have that dedicated team for the account. On the monthly stuff, you have executive involvement. And on the quarterly side, you really have the entire team driving strategy for that account, being involved, hearing through the clients’ feedback, goals, objectives, and then building out that strategy as a collective group. So yeah, it’s a highly involved process for sure.

Steffen: I mean, at some point, you made the decision to apply this approach, right? What have you seen the improvements from adopting this planning approach, quarterly planning and then the process that you mentioned, compared to what you guys did before?

Garrett: Yeah, and there’s some weaknesses in the traditional agency model that we had, and I think most other agencies had at the time. Or still have, frankly. Strategy does not come as natural for most mid-level to even senior-level employees, as many founders of agencies might assume, first and foremost. And when I say that it comes natural, it’s not a smooth, quick process. And so if you don’t have dedicated time set aside for strategy and a cadence from which your team operates, they actually spend a lot more time than you probably realize strategizing and reporting instead of executing client numbers and growing revenue.

And so there’s always this, they treat, historically what I found as a team member in the search marketing space treat strategy and execution as a zero-sum game, that they can either do strategy or do execution but not in the same day and not in the same moment. And so if you don’t have a cadence that involves strategy, value strategy, and sets time aside for strategy You get fragmented strategy or you get fragmented execution, and it kind of falls apart. Does that make sense?

Steffen: Absolutely. Yeah. I couldn’t agree with what you just said. It’s actually something I have just a conversation, one of my partners here, I think two weeks ago, and that we’re encouraging people that do execution, to think beyond the numbers and what the numbers mean. And what is the next step after looking at the numbers, and how can we improve performance, etc? And I think it’s, from my perspective, it’s a mindset thing.

But I like what you said that, you know, setting time aside for doing specific things, in this case, you know, the strategic part so that, you know, there are, I don’t know, two, three hours a week, every other week where the team goes to get together, and then, you know, talks about how can we improve things further. You know, we’ve seen ABC in the data, what does that mean? And how can we take actions based on the insights we collected first?

Every Truly Big, Impactful Idea Takes More Than a Week 

Garrett: Yeah. And I think the other value to quarterly planning when it comes to search marketing is big ideas. It is really hard for people to think big when they have the concept that they have to write an update, either that week, next week or that month. In other words, the concept of what will I put in my report or my update to the client, if you don’t have three months, crushes your ability to drive deep change for an organization. In other words, if you think you only have one week to do something, you come with, you traditionally come up with ideas that can be executed in one week.

And any idea that’s truly big and impactful can’t be done in a week. And so what happens is, is when you work with large organizations and large accounts, sometimes if they’ve got all the basics checked, well, you’re not going to get material change to their organic MULs or the paid MQLs or to their goals, unless you can come up with a strategy that’s deep enough, creative enough and impactful enough, that frankly, takes enough time.

And so by opening up your window to say what are we going to do this quarter, you can become exponentially more strategic and in-depth than if you’re gonna say, what are we gonna do this month? Or even, frankly, what a lot of agencies do and what I did historically, which is, what are we gonna do this week? And so by opening up your time window, it’s really powerful.

Steffen: Yeah, it takes you away from kind of the short-term view. And I think you said earlier that you usually chase your tail, so to speak. You know, there’s a fire here, oh, I got to get to it. You need to extinguish it. And then somewhere else, a problem pops up. So you have to take care of that. And all you do is chasing all those little problems that doesn’t enable you to have more forward-looking approach.

And you just look from week to week or even day to day, and then you get lost in that. And then I think it sounds like a great approach that you guys have to enable everyone to be focused on how can we push things forward over the next 90 days instead of the next seven days?

Garrett: Yeah, I mean, agencies, we’ re notoriously reactive. When you serve that many masters, it’s very easy to become a servant of the client, instead of a driver or a guider, and then your whole value proposition becomes marginalized. And so it is really important to take these moments to really think, to go deep and to drive strategy, or else you really can’t charge a premium for your services because you’re really just a transactional provider. And so this has been pretty important to our organization.

Steffen: Yeah. How have you seen your clients adopting this approach? I assume for enterprise clients, that’s probably not so much of a challenge. I have worked for big agencies, global agencies and managed accounts across Africa, across the US, and usually, they have dedicated people that are there and want that information, that proactive strategic thought.

But when you work more with mid-market, companies where they might be in a position where they’re just building up their marketing team. So they are not that many people that can participate in this conversation and then can kind of take up the information you share. How have you seen these companies approach your planning idea?

Garrett: Yeah. So I mean, larger organizations love it. It fits of how they do budgets, it fits with how they need to report to, not all CMOS get reported to monthly in larger organizations. A lot of its quarterly or even annually. And so at the quarterly level, this plan is huge. Now, to kind of get your point on the startup side, this idea sometimes creates friction, because a lot of them want to grow 5% weekly, or they want to do XYZ on a very short-term basis. The truth is, is I don’t know any agency in the world that is a good fit for them.

And so we try to take all our experience. Because it wasn’t like I started with mid-market enterprise accounts. I mean, I had to grind out startup after startup after startup for years. And the truth is, is short term planning equals poor long term results universally. And I try to use that experience and that knowledge and our portfolio and our track record or expertise to help change their perspective. But if we work with a client who wants quick sprints all the time, we probably won’t be successful with that client. And they probably won’t be a long-term partner because it just, it actually conflicts with reality, unfortunately.

Steffen: I totally agree with what you just said. Again, it takes you back to the day to day approach and not to the mid to long-term view approach.

Garrett: Yeah, they’re better off hiring a full-time employee at that point. You know, you might as well save the agency fees, get a full-time junior to mid-level employee and then dictate their work and have them sprint weekly. But if you’re going to bring in a consulting organization who can do strategy, manage it and execute it, you need them to think big because they’re going to charge you big. And so if you marginalize the upside and you focus on the day to day, you marginalize the entire ethos of why you brought that organization in.

Steffen: So let’s talk about when you guys get together to develop this three months quarterly plan for a client. How does this quarterly planning look like? I assume you design objectives and then you design key results that you’re planning to hit. Is that right so far?

Garrett: Yeah, I mean, we call it something different on the client-facing side. It’s the same concept. So, you know, we have what we call our Northstar Metric. And so, for the client that’s got to be a financially validated business objective that if we accomplish, we couldn’t get fired. So think of that as director demand Gen comes to us and says, I need 3 million in pipeline from organic in q4, or by q4. We say perfect, that’s our Northstar Metric. Then we’ll back herself in this do reverse funnel analysis. Say cool. What’s your close rate? What’s your average order value? We can come up with your LTV cap.

We can build all financial models for budget allocation. You know, we have a really sophisticated team. And then say cool, based on that, here’s what our target is going to be, here’s what our traffic goals are. Looking at your total addressable market, here’s what’s reasonable for traffic based off of what we should frankly, even be targeting for based on how many people are even in your audience. And, you know, back ourselves into a really strong strategy and then just execute.

Steffen: Okay, during the three months, so during the quarter, how often are you revisiting your KPIs, the goals that you’re planning to add, or to the milestone for achieve the overall objective?

Garrett: Yeah, whenever we meet with the client, so we get the client every two weeks, enterprise, we meet with weekly. You know, a lot of our enterprise clients will be managing their media campaigns or their APAC, or you know, and then North America and so we might have multiple meetings, maybe they have multiple product lines or business units with separate POCs. So it just depends on the client.

At the end of the day, we’re gonna serve them, so whatever They need to, frankly, feel serviced, you know, is going to be our focus. But yeah, every time we meet with them, we’re going to report on progress to our Northstar Metric. And so we’ll have a quarterly objective that we update, you know, weekly or bi-weekly.

Steffen: Okay. There might be a more generic question I have, but what are three actionable steps that search marketers can take to hit their OKRs? Is there anything specific that you would say you know what, you should definitely do these three things that get you closer, doesn’t matter what your OKRs are?

Garrett: Yeah, I think there’s some universal laws that I truly believe in with search marketing that are helpful. Let’s go over those real quick. First and foremost, the site speed, that is one of the very few things that you can do that affect all your channels. I think that’s really important. Simultaneously brand, I think brand is hugely important. What I mean by that is like design and copy and how you communicate your value proposition. All your channels are once again codependent on that. A brand is competitive in the sense that, you know, I call it the three-tab test.

So if I took you and then your top two competitors, put them all in three tabs and decide whose form to fill out, would I choose yours if I just looked at it with no other information? And if you can’t win that test, it’s very hard to grow because nobody’s MQL and their pipelines goals or the revenue goals exist in a vacuum, right? And then competition is always derived not on who your global competitors are across all channels, but who your channel-specific competitors are. So go look at the three other people who advertise primarily under your keywords in Google Ads.

Go look at the three other people who ranked near you in organic. Go look at the three other people on review sites. And so treat your competitors as channel-specific and then ask yourself if I looked at all three, do you have the most reviews? Do you have the most compelling messaging? And is your brand the strongest? Because if you are everything else doesn’t really matter. And it’s frankly pretty easy to be the agency. If you’re not winning that battle, there’s not a lot of agencies in the world that can put lipstick on that pig.

Steffen: How do you deal with clients in that situation that are pushing back on changes? I mean, your approach, I would assume requires quite a big remit in regards to, you know, SEO, paid search, landing page build, maybe even potentially CRO’s. So you know, conversion optimization, optimizing existing pages and running AB test there, how do you deal with clients that push back and say, Hey, you know what, I can’t make those changes, or I’m hesitant doing this and this? How do you deal with them?

Make Sure Clients Remember Why They Hired You

Garrett: Well, first, you have to love on them, right? I mean, they’re hiring you for a reason. And that was to create a goal and to create change in their organization. So you got to remind them of that. I think that’s really important. I think a lot of people forget why they hired you in the first place. And I know I forget a lot of times why I hired somebody in the first place. Because goalposts move a lot more fluidly than we’d like to admit in the marketing world. And it’s important to always bring people back to what the initial goal post was so that you can make sure that they’re bought into what they initially wanted to accomplish with you.

And then you have to be real in the proposal process, not after, but before you sign an engagement with somebody with one of the codependencies, right? What are the dependent variables that really, really they need to be aware of, you know? And we also at Directive design services to overcome that without increasing internal resources. So we have a world-class creative team here that only specializes in landing pages and ad campaigns. So we don’t do web design. We don’t do web development.

But we do do landing pages for all our campaigns. That’s included in our retainer, fully customized, and all the display ads, all the creative, everything we need to be successful is included in the retainer. And so when it comes to the ad side, we don’t actually need the client to do a ton on their side, we need their buy-in on our strategy, which should ideally be their strategy, right? So we need to build it with them. So all we’re doing on the ad side is really taking the creative control with their approval and then mitigating internal resources so that there aren’t bottlenecks and we can move fluidly.

On the SEO side, you know, we’re going to be more codependent on, you know, CMS changes if we need infrastructure changes to the site, or if we need content created because we don’t offer content creation. But once again, we just communicate that in the proposal phase, make sure they understand the incurred cost, what that means. And we don’t struggle as much with buy-in because it’s easy to get people bought in when they’re paying you a premium or else, because if not they’re gonna waste the money. And so we don’t have as much struggle and all transparency with buy-in as we used to a small businesses, for example,

Steffen: Garrett, I mean, pivotal for your approach to be successful is that your team follows the process. How do you empower your team to hit their goals and come to the table with new ideas when they, like every employee, has several things on your table?

Garrett: Yeah, well, first off, you got to take some things off their table. That’s the most important part. So, you know, when I first started the agency I had a capacity of 25. Then I had 20. Then I had 17. Then I had 15. Then I had 12. Then I had 10. Then I had seven. Now I have five. One of the issues I ran into back in 2019 is we were really, really successful.

You know, we onboarded 1.5 million in total contracts. In one month, I think we close 13 accounts. And we got our first bad review. And the only bad review that we got in the history of the company. And ironically, it was a client we did really well for but there were others that we didn’t do perfect for during that time. And there’s an inverse quality between volume and good work.

In other words, the more clients that your team works on, the less good their work is. And unfortunately, the less clients you have means the bigger clients you have to have if you want to pay your team really well to only work on a few accounts. And so what I did is I just really set high minimums, high expectations and low capacity. And so if you charge a lot for the value you create in a fair market, decrease capacity, and then pay your consultants very well, everything gets a hell of a lot easier.

And so for us, I mean, the smartest thing we ever did was say, do we want to be the best or do we want to be good for our price? And we decided we wanted to be the best. And if you want to be the best, you can’t have a lot of accounts. It just doesn’t work that way. And so, you know, we had to choose to do, to scale through having larger accounts, not more accounts. And so that’s what allows us to hold the team accountable because they’re judged on their retention rate, they’re judged on their ability to grow the accounts.

They’re judged on those abilities, but they’re executives, you know? They’ve got 5, 7, 8 years experience, I prospect, razorfish, I crossing, you know, those types of agencies that are in the search marketing wave, and we give them fewer accounts than they had at the other place. We pay them a little better and give them a ton of freedom. And then we have a lot of executive involvement when it comes to strategy creation and approval. So they still have essentially support rails but they have a ton of autonomy and they don’t have too many accounts. And so people can be smart if they have enough time to be smart.

Steffen: That concept sounds great when you have an agency with several people, right? From your experience, how would you tell a small agency owner that has just a handful of people to apply a similar approach when they are potentially not able to just say, Hey, you know, what, unfortunately, don’t have 20-plus thousand dollar accounts or we’re not in a position to just allocate five, six accounts to an account manager when we have to give them 10, 12.

Because A, the average revenue we get from a client is lower, but also we are a smaller company and that means they are probably more heads that the revenue needs to be allocated across. So how would you suggest these guys to move more in your, in a direction that you can have advocating in regards to having less accounts therefore creating better results and just be better.

Stick With What You’re Best at

Garrett: Missed a couple of points here. So I’m starting to do acquisitions of other agencies right now. And I’ve talked to quite a few. And one of the metrics that I obsess over that I find, frankly, nobody I’ve been talking with even knows off the top of their head really is gross profit. So gross profit is the, you know, how much it costs to deliver your services to your clients. It’s not your office, it’s not your own salary as the owner, it’s not your distributions, it’s not your admin.

It’s just how much does your team cost versus how much are clients paying you to deliver. And small agencies fall very much victim to something that crushes them and makes this concept very difficult and their gross profit erodes. And that is that they serve Marketing Mary or Do Everything, Tom, okay? I’ll just give a couple different names to this person. And what I mean by that is smaller agencies, you know, like what I was, because I started there.

I mean, I had clients that I, so just to give you context, I started the company like 20 bucks, and my clients paid us like 250 bucks a month. So I had no capital, never raise money, have no debt. And all my clients when I initially started paid me 200 to $400 a month, and that was six years ago. And we have clients who pay upwards of $40,000 now a month. So everything I’m saying here is totally doable. Couple things you have to avoid. You got to decide what you want to genuinely be the best at, okay? And you can be the best at a lot fewer things than your ego or reality allows.

And I struggled with this a lot, not from a service perspective, but from an industry perspective. So let’s talk about both. Services, when you service Marketing Marry or Do Everything Tom, and that’s traditionally what small agencies do, right? They get a small business and they’re either working with the owner or with an individual marketing person, and their value to that person is how many things that they can do for that person that are slightly better than what that person is doing, okay?

And the problem is, is the more services you offer, the worse your margins become because you have to constantly have enough work for every service line. And so what happens is you really always struggle with capacity and resource allocation and efficiency. You also never get good enough at anything because you’re always doing so many different things across so many different verticals and industries. Does that kind of make sense?

Steffen: Oh, absolutely.

Garrett: So for us, our little secret power is we’ve only offered SEO and PPC for six years. We’ve never done anything else, really. We did a couple websites here and there. We never did email. We never managed people’s organic social. We’ve done paid social, but really just on the b2b side. So primarily LinkedIn.

Everything we’ve done has pretty much been through the lens of those explicit SEO or PPC services. And then even when you get to the big level, you lose your competitive nature if you don’t like, verticalized it. So what I mean by that is like, if I were to go up against an ecommerce agency right now and try to win like but say, the Tommy Bahama account, I don’t know. Just a random account.

I would get my butt kicked because I couldn’t show them 10 other similar Tommy Bahama accounts with similar spends, similar internal teams, similar restrictions that I was successful with. Does that kinda make sense. And so I couldn’t charge a premium. So the only way I could win that account is by undercutting everyone, and then slowly building up my competency in that vertical. But if I don’t focus my efforts, next thing you know, I have to undercut all of my RFPs and all of my new business.

And then once again, I erode my gross profit. So the easiest way to grow your gross profit and thus be able to hire more talented employees and have fewer accounts per person, is by charging a premium. And the only way to charge a premium is to be truly better at the service than the competition. In other words, de-commoditizing yourself. And not just by saying you are, but being able to empirically prove it. And so if you can de-commoditize your agency and have a true competitive advantage, you can charge a premium. And as long as you can charge a premium, you can lower capacity and hire better talent.

And if you can lower capacity and hire better talent, you’re going to be able to grow your number one metric, which is retention rate. As long as you have a strong retention rate, you have enough capital left over that if you can find channels with an LTV CAC of greater than three, you can allocate it and then grow profitably.

And now you have a flywheel effect. So everything has to go back to talent in your agency. And the only way to have world-class talent that does world-class work is to have fewer accounts. And the only way fewer accounts that have really focused services to specific industries where you have a competitive advantage. If you get that game right now, you can build something really special.

Steffen: That’s a great point, Garrett. I’m sure we could find more topics and more questions to extend this conversation. Unfortunately, we’ve kind of come to the end of this podcast episode. Again, thank you for joining me on the Performance Delivered Podcast and sharing your knowledge about advancing search marketing with OKRs and quarterly planning and the information shared beyond that. And if people want to find out more about you, and Directive, how can they get in touch?

Garrett: Yeah, no thanks for asking. So if you want to learn how to do what we do, so want to learn how we do SEO, like our approach, our systems, our process, PPC content CRO, any of those kind of search marketing services, you can check us out at directiveconsulting.com/institute. It’s only $99 a month. And we have, I think over 13 hours of video across 40 lessons, and we’ll get you certified.

We have a full certification process. It’s a really cool course. So that’s our institute. That’s for training if you want to learn. We have a data product called directiveconsulting.com/pulse. That has over 25,000 software companies with all their organic spend as well as their paid spend. So you can actually benchmark with our Directive score who has the best search marketing and over 800 verticals.

And then if you want us to take a look at your campaigns, consult with you or help grow your account whether you already have a full SEO team in house, or you just have an internal marketing team and you want to outsource SEO or PPC, we’d love to partner with you. So that’s just directiveconsulting.com. And, yeah, I’m involved in all the proposals right now in the strategy creation process, and I think I can help partner with you to build something truly special. So, love to do that. And yeah, let’s chat.

Steffen: Great. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered Podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.

Share This