599: How to Stay Lean & Drive Growth w/ Kevin Gibbons

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Kevin Gibbons, Co-Founder & CEO at BlueGass.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevingibbons/

There's a ton of noise out there. So how do you get decision makers to pay attention to your brand? Start a podcast and invite your ideal clients to be guests on your show. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the be tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be tob executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the BB growth show. We are here today with Kevin Gibbons. He is the CO founder and CEO at Blue Glass. Kevin, how you doing today? Yeah, pretty good. Thanks for invites me on the show. Jones, who problem at all? Me and so so, Kevin, we're going to be talking about staying lean, to focus on great work and to drive growth, which is what the shows all about. So before we get into some of the specifics there, Kevin, I'd love to have you explain to our listeners what you and your team are up to a blue glass. So we're a independently owned seeo and content box, an agency in London. So does sixteen of US right now. We have a great small group of clients that we work with, brands like Expedia, for example, river island, UK retailer, and we essentially have a very strong background in Seo. So I've been doing this since two thousand and three. I run the business together with my wife, which is probably a whole different podcast in itself. Yeah, but I think in terms of what we're doing, we're trying to we're not a big funded agency by any means and we try to punch above our weight by potentially, I'd like to say, being a bit smaster with what we're doing and doing...

...great work with players. Yeah, what let's talk about today? Yeah, absolutely, so, Kevin. You know, as we're talking about this idea offline, this idea of, you know, staying lean to focus on great work, you mentioned this idea of retention being growth, and so the fact that you've had, you know, some of your best customers for four years, that being what has given you the foundation to be able to grow. Can you just talk about this idea? What's it actually look like for a retention to be a priority in your agency? Yeah, of course, and I would say every answer I give today is probably been learned by making mistakes. That's right, quay, and then learn from them. And the answer to this one is we definitely went for a phase of we won quite a lot of new business, a agncy. Wise, it's very easy to get excited by new BIS winds and growth. Yeah, and then when you actually look at the real growth, you might be winning along new business, but if you're not retaining that business, you're actually growing in the way that you think you are. And we definitely went through that phase and we had to take a step back and understand where's our profit come from? Where was our revenue come from? And essentially it's as simple as if we have a client that pays us for twelve months to three we have a few clients that are just about to go into the fourth, fifth year of working with us right now, which is great. Those are the ones that will pay you the most money because, yeah, month for years, and the ones where actually it's very short term, focused, project based. Sounds exciting, it's a nice win for the team, etc. When you look beyond that initial buzz, sometimes there's not a lot there, and I would say we certainly focused over the last year or two much more on how do we do a great job for our clients, are existing clients? If we can almost pitch less,...

...win less but retain what we have and when we bring clients in thet a right fit for us, that actually takes us much further forward to flow overall goal and visions then it would do if we're probably busier on day to day better is trying to chase everything that's going so we now were a much smaller base of clients and our aim is to work. We've learn over the long term. Yeah, so when you were making that shift, Kevin So, you said that a used to be you used to have a different, you know, kind of mindset around it. In so you're very focused on new business. What happened that triggered that that change in your mind to say, Hey, we've got a close the back door, so to speak, and stop letting people come out the back door? What did it look like to shift the focus away from new business in and the focus on retention where they're certain things you did to kind of implement that mindset throughout the organization? I would say if I had to pinpoint one thing, and it's definitely easier to say this in hindsight, but right now I would say the big turning point for us was the fine enough values. So we did this as a team exercise. I never wanted it to be I'm going to tell everyone what they should be like. I find that strong way to do it, but actually, if we got the whole team and involved in what today value personally and then collectively, what are the common themes that we want to protect as we grow? And a big one of those values there's be proud of your work, and I think definitely went through a learning curve of we've done a lot of work in the past that we're proud of, but we've also done some stuff that actually we've just got out the door because it's something that we agree to take on and and I think this would have been done easily two years ago, probably a little bit more, maybe closer to three years ago now, and I think that's been a very important value to us, because now we're not churning stuff out, we're doing stuff that is you want to...

...show your family and friends that this is this is something you've done. You put your name on it and it's great work and I would say in terms of communicating that vision or the value across the the company. That's been really key and as certainly as we've grown, having that type of mindset across the team has been really important. And in your role, is CEO, Kevin, that mean kind of going to fewer things that you would have typically gone to generate new business, in spending more of your time collaborating with the team on the quality of the work that was being shipped. Exactly. Yep, and it's it starts with me. I'm the only person that does new business within the agency and if I sell the wrong piece of work, we're set up to fail. And I've done that before. I've even been called out for in the way that actually I'm what I sold. Someone in our team doesn't think that's in line with our values and I've gone back another group with them and I think, actually, that's right, that's not what we should do, and we ended up as ending that piece of work because it wasn't right for us. But a hundred percent it starts with we have to kind of lead from the front and sell the right projects and bring into our clients. In order for that to be be a case, which means we have to pick clients where we're confident we can win. If we don't, we can do a good job. We very honestly say, actually, we don't think Seo is right for you, for example. It's just not. There's not the demand. There right something else from your market and budget, and we might them some suggestions on what to do. But if if we're not picking a bet, we're not confident that we're going to win, then it's very unlikely we're going to be able to do work out of off the back of it. Yeah, that makes sense, Kevin. Another thing we talked about offline said the importance of awards. So for the agency owners, agency leaders listening to this, you recently actually have you were was at the SEO...

...and content marketing agency at the year just a few weeks ago even. Can you talk to us about the strategy that you guys have deployed around, you know, the type of awards that you guys are, you know, putting your name in the hat for, so to speak, and how that is benefit of the agency? Yeah, so I think for us, I always, I used to be quite skeptical about words and I think my my now I've judged a few words for the last few years and I would say my view on this has changed completely now I see how much effort goes into not just creating awards but also judging your wards and how how they've done. I think sometimes there can be an unfair flak and perhaps some I was our guilty of this, of it just being whoever buys a table wins and award. Certainly from the industry events I've seen. That is very far from the truth. And yet there's a very detailed process behind that and I would I would say, kind of leading into this, the big shift we had was that we decided we're going to have to focus on rather than putting all other efforts in marketing ourselves as an agency, which we did in the past. That was probably in the phase of actually, we're winning quite a lot new business off the fact that we have a very strong reputation. We're generating lots of leads and then there may have been part of lost perhaps because we're just not delivering the quality that we promised to them. And the big shift for us has been again, be proud of your work. Links in very nicely too. That's the shift being that we focused on how do we deliver quality work, and essentially that means that we're keeping our clients happy because we're delivering a minimum value for them, hopefully exceeding that, and that leads into we were generating strong case studies and then that gives us great award entries. So if...

...we're doing you can't really win a walls unless you're doing great work. Yeah, my yeah, you happy doing the great work first and then once you've got that story to tell, for us to shift has been less about marketing ourselves and getting ourselves known and more about doing fantastic work for our clients, pertaining them and then almost getting them to tell our story for us. So if we can get we have some video testimonials from our clients we've we take them to the ward events, which, again, sounds common sense, but I think we should be celebrating success together with any clients that we're nominated for avods with, and they're a key part of how we're going to grow and attract new business on top of that, because then people will see what we've done for them. So there's there's the strategy. Become Kevin, because I know, I know, I saw recently on Linkedin that you guys had won the the awards that that you recently won. So does the strategy for awareness to those awards just you know, is it to make sure that you're documenting and of the night of the awards, the the recap of the awards to kind of your email list, social or there other things you guys are doing to get awareness for kind of evil words or strategic piece for you guys? I guess what are you doing to ample by the awareness of that the best that you can? We've done the social side for sure. Okay, so I think that's what very well. Just in general, sharing images or videos on social channels generally works quite well to John Attention. That's something we've done. I would say we almost try and flip it the other way. I know we haven't done this yet, but may still do so. But last year when we won an award, we thought about send it out a newsletter and then we realize it just read like look at us, we are amazing and yeah, what did to flip it the other way around, because I know if I would receive that from someone else, I probably wouldn't open that.

I just delete and I think they should do the same. If we sent that to them and what we did the other way around. There's we said this is how we increase the websites organic traffic by a hundred, hundred and fifty percent. We went to what challenge was, we went into the approach. We had to fix that and we then spoke about the results and and what had happened in a educational, useful way for people to read, and then we ended it with a PS. By the way, we wanted to war for this last night as a photo of us all looking happy on stage, and then it's I think that's a much nice approach. But yes, people appreciate the trying to help them and you probably got notice much more for winning an award that, yeah, adn't. And I think the powerful part of what you of what you just said at Kevin, that so many people seem to miss is just not thinking thoughtfully about how the collateral that you're about to put out into the world and in front of People's eyeballs is going to be received by them. We think about ourselves and how we will we want this to be something that people know and I've been finding it a lot in in my linkedin content. So when I get I just got featured in an ebook that somebody put together and it was just trying to think, you know, thoughtfully about how do I talk about this online in a way that will actually make people want to download it, because it's harder and harder to get people to hand over their email address, and so if I don't put together a compelling narrative that really makes them want what's inside of that Ebook, if I just say hey, I got featured in an e book the other day, check out the link, you know, in the first comment, to download it, well, that's you know, that's the easier thing to do, but it's not going to convert into anything. And so I love that you guys were very thoughtful about how do we package what we're trying to...

...say, but in a way that brings the most amount of value and, as a result, people actually engage with it. So I love that you share that. It's not about us, it's all. It's about that exactly there. Wardens is the same. It's not about us and what we've done, it's about the judge and what they're looking for in terms of assessing quality work. So yeah, yeah, so the more we can make it about I mean we do contact marketing. We should be good at this, but the more that we understand the audience that we're targeting and conframe things in a way that they would like to consume, the these everyone's life is. I love it. I love it. So the last thing we're going to talk about Kevin. You you said that you guys have made a shift in your budget and how you guys allocate your dollars from from marketing to focusing on talent. Can you talk to us about your mindset around that? Yeah, so last year we were talking about growth targets and how do weve been the agency, etc. Typical year. In the end, there's always challenges and actually, in order to grow in the way that we wanted to, that we felt was the right way. It's not necessarily about size of team, revenues etc. It was more about how do we do outstanding work, and we if we were doing that, the confident that the numbers will take care of themselves in the long term. And then that led us to thinking about, rather than trying to get in front of everyone that could be a potential client, what if we just did better and better work for our clients? So, again, just in my view and innovations is typically continuous improvement and to do that we have to invest in the team. So we've spent a lot of time and effort in our recruitment process to bring in the right people for our team, and my wife's pay heavily involved in making sure that we have a very quite a slick operation in terms of making sure we have the best...

...candidates. And then we're we're choosing the best people for those given roles and then it's about investing in their careers, so trying to train people. So we ended up shifting our budget from marketing into how do we train everyone, not in how do we make them better on it. There's some flexibility over what they choose in terms of training, but ultimately it's if it helps and progress from a kind of professional perspective and improves their skill sets, then we'll do it. And I'd say twelve months on, we're very happy with results. I think everyone in our team has grown since they've joined us and over the last twilve months. And Yeah, that's the the big positive. I love it. So, Kevin, this has been fantastic content. I really appreciate you sharing this with us today. I want our listeners to know our guests on a different level. So I ask you this question to close us out. What would you say is is the legacy that you want to leave. So when you ask this question in advance, as trying to think about the right answer, and then I just thought of another answer that I've given to another question previously, which was around what makes me proudest in my job, and that isn't the stuff that you would think. So yes, it's great to win new big clients. Yes, as an excitement over winning awards, but when you think about what truly matters, I've always looked back with immense pride around the people that we've brought into our team and whether they some have stayed with us, some of left and gone out swhere. But looking back over say five and ten years, the people that have been part of this journey, and I'd like to think I've contributed in one way or another towards helping them on their way. Have there some people that have really gone on to great things, and for me that's the proudest thing if I can...

...give them an opportunity. Many of them haven't done Seo or digital marketing at all and till this point and they've gone on to have very good careers in that in their field, and I think when it comes to legacy, actually that's a that's kind of the area I'd rather be remembered for. It. Can We build the future digital marketers? We're bringing in lots of great young talent and if we can help them develop and again, whether that's with us or further down the line with another company, into being a digital marks in leaders of tomorrow, that's that's the thing that would make me think, wow, we're really doing something. I value it. Yeah, I love that. To Kevin, if somebody listening to this once and stay connected with you, they want to learn more about blue glass, what's the best way for them to go about doing that? I'll say I'm pretty active on Linkedin these days. So yeah, linkedin's a good channel for that. Twitter also say kept giving on to turn just Kevin Gibbons to look me up on Linkedin or otherwise just contact me through the Blue Glosstel Kady K website and it goes straight to me anyway. So who are if anyone has any questions, I'm always happy to get that to people who love it. So that's a blue glasscode at UK correct. Yeah, wonderful, awesome, Kevin. Will thank you so much for your time today. This has been incredible, so I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot. Like quise, to ensure that you never miss an episode of the betob growth show, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. This guarantees that every episode will get delivered directly to your device. If you'd like to connect with B tob executives from all over the world, make sure to join our private facebook community. There are some incredible conversations happening inside this group. To Join, visit be toob growth showcom FB. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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