🤔 Are you interested in learning how to grow your agency or business?
🚁 How about a bunch of tips about agency growth strategies and growing your personal brand?
👇 In this video and transcript, Dan is being interviewed by Dylan Hey for the Agency Insider podcast and he will be answering a lot of questions related to agency growth and personal branding
DYLAN HEY: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode of the Agency Insider podcast by the team at Premier Republic. It’s Dylan Hey here. I’m super excited today to be joined by Mr. Dan Knowlton.
DYLAN HEY: Now, Dan has been speaking a lot on the social media stage. I saw him at Social Media Marketing World this year. Some of you guys would have seen that video interview that we did. And Dan is also one of the founders of a really exciting digital marketing agency as well. So, Dan, thanks for joining us today. I really appreciate it.
DAN KNOWLTON: Thank’s for having me!
DYLAN HEY: No worries. Maybe you could just let people know a little bit about yourself and your agency real quick, before we dive straight into today’s topic.
DAN KNOWLTON: Sure. So, my name’s Dan Knowlton. I run a digital and social media marketing agency called KPS Digital Marketing with my brother Lloyd. We’re based in the southeast of the UK in a place called Kent. We work with a number of different brands, organizations, to help them generate more leads, sales, from their online marketing.
DAN KNOWLTON: Mainly kind of focused around video and social. And we do that as a standalone service, where companies can outsource that to us. And we also do a number of different training sessions, masterclasses, strategy development, the whole shebang.
DYLAN HEY: Awesome. Yeah, and I’ve seen some of the projects you guys have been working on have been really, really cool. And I know, as I said in the intro, you’ve done a lot of speaking at events like Social Media Marketing World and stuff like that, too.
DYLAN HEY: So, I thought, today, we could talk about, and share some tips with everybody around agency growth strategies, I guess. I know when we had a conversation a few months back, you shared with us that there isn’t like one silver bullet for growing your agency or growing your business, and there’s not just one real quick tip, which is cool.
DYLAN HEY:I think that’s really good advice, because a lot of the time people are looking for that one small change they can implement that’s going to really help them. And yeah, sometimes there are small things. But really, it’s the consistency of lots of small actions that push that forward, right?
DYLAN HEY: So, today, I thought maybe we could expand on that a little bit more. Because I know when we spoke at Social Media Marketing World, there were three or four ideas that you were sharing with me about what you’re doing right now to push your agency forward and stuff like that.
DYLAN HEY: I know just before we started recording, we were talking about the growth trajectory for you and your business. I know you’re moving into a new office fairly soon, and you’ve seen some really great growth over the last couple of years since we’ve known each other. What do you attribute that growth to, first of all? Why do you think you guys have been able to bring on the exciting customers that you have and get to the point where you are today?
DAN KNOWLTON: Yeah, really good question. I think something that ties it all in together, really … And after our conversation, I thought about this a lot, because I didn’t give a definitive answer as to what you can actually do. And something that I’ve been speaking at recently … events about a lot as well, is personal branding. Because when we look at … You know, prior to this in our previous interview, I said that you need to do a number of different things consistently to build an agency and build that trust to generate those bigger clients.
DAN KNOWLTON: And Something else that’s been key to that is patience as well. I know that patience is kind of a common thing to talk about. But just for us, probably only in the last year and a half, we’ve really been working with much bigger, more credible clients. It’s taken that slog of work the years before to work with smaller businesses to build that experience up to get to where we are.
DYLAN HEY: Yeah. That’s really interesting, because I know, as you said everyone is … A lot of people are using the patience term a lot right now. I haven’t been watching much Gary V for the last six or 12 months.
DYLAN HEY: And then like the last week, I’ve seen a few of his videos come up and I’m back into the whole, like, “Okay. Just be patient,” All this kind of stuff.
DYLAN HEY: But I think you and your brother Lloyd are perfect examples of … Like, you guys have been with the personal branding, like with the video content that you do. With the blog content, your stuff on Twitter, everything like this, you’ve been slogging away at that for a long time. Right?
DYLAN HEY: Like I know … I think, when we first came into contact, it was when I was working at Leadfeeder, which was like two years ago almost. And it was because of the content that I’d seen you churning out and putting out there, and that was how we initially found you.
DYLAN HEY: So, it’s really interesting that you say that. I think the personal branding element … For me and my agency, like we’re only a year in, so we haven’t been around for as long as you guys … but just in that year, I’ve been able to see some level of what people would class as success, right?
DAN KNOWLTON: Yeah, definitely.
DYLAN HEY: Solely been down to the personal grounds. Like we haven’t … we don’t have an agency website just yet. That’s something we’re working right now, which we ready in a few weeks.
DYLAN HEY: Only now are we starting to take those more … I guess like serious agency steps the way that I looked at them. Right. And building out the agency brand itself. Everything to now has been off the back of my personal brand, and I think that helps so much.
DYLAN HEY: Even when you’re like going onto a potential call, or a call with a potential new client, right? If they’ve seen something valuable that you’ve written and that you’ve shared. And all of that overtime really starts to build up.
DYLAN HEY: If you were to like start again right now. If you were to like start building your agency, from the beginning, today. Personal branding is such a wide topic. Where would you focus first? I know you guys have seen a lot of success with video content more recently. What would be your kind of like go to-
DAN KNOWLTON: So, first of all, I’d focus on getting good at something before trying to go out there and say, “Hey, I’m a personal brand. I focus on conversion. I focus on accountancy or whatever.” First of all, get good at something to be able to build a personal brand around, and you can build that personal brand whilst you’re still learning and getting better at that thing. But You need to decide what that definitive thing is, so that you can start actually doing it.
DAN KNOWLTON: So, so either learn by doing courses and applying what you’ve learned. Learn by online content, there’s loads of content out there. You know, whatever is you need to do to learn, suck in all of that information, and then apply it, whatever it is, so that you can learn by doing. So that’s the first thing.
DAN KNOWLTON: The second thing, I guess looking back, I wish I would’ve had more of an emphasis on speaking at events early on.
DAN KNOWLTON: I just think … yes, video content and building your brand on social … But just the power of getting good at communicating to other human beings. Because this is where personal brand comes in, is I truly believe that your personal brand is the number one most important thing that can influence your success in life. And that’s the big, kind of sweeping statement.
DAN KNOWLTON: But if you think about however you judge success, if it’s wealth, health, happiness, being the best family member in the world, I had whatever it is. The one thing that ties all that in together, is you need to be good at communicating your ideas to other human beings. You can’t do it alone.
DAN KNOWLTON: If you want to build the biggest company in the world, you need to convince customers and other people to work for you. If you want to be the best family member in the world, you need to convince a partner to have a child with you, whatever. You need to be good at convincing other human beings of your ideas. And your personal brand is the mechanism that communicates those ideas to the outside world.
DAN KNOWLTON: And speaking, for me, has been one of the best ways to learn how to get good at communicating with other human beings. Because you’re put under a lot of pressure to deliver, and this, while scary, but it makes you learn really quickly in how to communicate in an effective way.
DYLAN HEY: Yeah. I think that’s a really interesting point. I don’t do as much speaking as you, but it’s something that I started over the last year or two.
DYLAN HEY: I had a speaking engagement last Friday, and I remember that a year ago, about, I would have been terrified going into that. Whereas now that I’ve had some more of that practice, I’m not as nervous anymore. I still get a bit nervous.
DYLAN HEY: But off the back of the speaking thing. One thing that I found really valuable, aside from the … like teaching other people and sharing value with other people is also a really good way for you to learn how much you actually know, too. Right?
DYLAN HEY: Like if you can stand on the stage in front of a lot of people and share stuff with them, that’s a good test that, okay now I really do know what I’m talking about.
DYLAN HEY: I have found, through speaking … I’m keen to hear your experience about this too. I haven’t necessarily signed a load of clients directly from the speaking. I can think of … in the last like 12 months, maybe one client that I’ve landed as a direct result of, they saw me speak, they were in the room, and we started working with them afterwards.
DYLAN HEY: But where I’ve seen the most benefit is like making sure we have a photo, a photographer or a videographer there, and creating content off the back of this engagement and using that as like a positioning standpoint, right? Is that the similar kind of strategy that you will utilize too?
DAN KNOWLTON: I think that’s definitely a key point, and it’s really important to do that. I’d say it’s important to think of the bigger picture here.
DAN KNOWLTON: So, you have a speaking engagement and and you may not have suddenly had 10 people come up to and say, “I want to work with you.” But if we think of the broader picture of the lifecycle of that customer journey of discovering who you are through seeing you at that speaking engagement. And then over a period of time, I’m sure you understand how a traditional funnel works, they’re going to build that trust with you through different marketing touch points. Through seeing you online, through seeing you speak at other events. through listening to your podcasts, through seeing you collaborate with content, other people.
DAN KNOWLTON: There’s all of these things that come together, and from our experience, because we’ve been doing this for four and a half years now. People that have, who watched me speak when I was rubbish at speaking, at like four years ago, have connected with us on social and has followed that journey.
DAN KNOWLTON: And one of our biggest clients now, we asked the guy, the social media manager who contacted us, how he discovered us. And he said, three and half years ago he saw me speak … or four years ago. And then he’s followed that journey across social, seen the content maybe reproducing. And now, he’s popped up the end as a converted customer who generates … provides some of the biggest revenue for our agency.
DAN KNOWLTON: So I think it’s important to understand that bigger picture of … that speaking is in that kind of awareness stage. And also it can be in the, kind of, trust building stage if you’re good at it, to communicate that you know what you’re talking about.
DAN KNOWLTON: But it’s that long game, ultimately. It’s that long term strategy.
DYLAN HEY: And I think one thing that you said that’s really important too, is … off the back of the speaking, what you do after that. Like you said, he’s then been following your story and your content on social. I think that’s one mistake, that there are so many digital marketing agencies, or social media agencies, that then aren’t active on social themselves, and aren’t doing things that they would do for their clients. And I think that’s like a huge tip in itself, is actually do what you preach about, and you’re going to do for your clients. Because that’s something that I know you guys do.
DAN KNOWLTON: Definitley.
DYLAN HEY: I’m always seeing your stuff everywhere.
DAN KNOWLTON: It’s kind of difficult to bite that bullet, to think that you do have to have that patience. Because yes, they’ve seen you speak and you actually … some times you have to wait around for three or four years before they convert.
DAN KNOWLTON: It’s kind of like, is this actually going to happen? But just having faith in seeing the small steps of progress that made you believe in yourself and think, “You know what, this is gonna work.” And seeing those small, progressive steps to think, “Oh, I landed a bigger client, and they’re more credible. We’ve done a better job.” And kind of keep fighting to learn and improve what you’re doing and kind of keep that guidance as to, “This is the right thing we’re doing.
DYLAN HEY: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s definitely longterm strategy, right? But that’s the stuff that will bring in the best returns from the clients that you work with. The higher value ones, the ones that are better to work with.
DYLAN HEY: If someone’s just starting out and they need to get really, really scrappy and bring on their first client. It might not come from a speaking engagement, but that’s not saying that they shouldn’t be doing that. And I think it is now … I know some people will be nervous about speaking and won’t know where to start, but there are so many easy ways that you can get yourself in front of people initially.
DYLAN HEY: Whether it’s like going through all of the meetup listings in your area, and seeing which small events or on, and messaging them and asking them if you can speak there. That’s one thing that I first did.
DAN KNOWLTON: I think one more thing, just to add to that dilemma, is the whole relationship building piece. So even if you’re not ready to speak now, go to events and start building relationships. Have conversations with people, start to nurture those relationships, especially with people like event organizers, and people at events. And just have that selfless mentality that you’re not there to try and sell them something. You’re there to make friends with people, because if you have that mentality … we had a shift in [inaudible 00:12:16] shift in mentality, from going from thinking I get to try and sell people stuff to, I need to make friends with people and build my network. And that had a huge impact on the clients that we were converting, because we’re actually converting people who we’re already friends with, so that trust was already built.
DYLAN HEY: Yeah. I think collaboration is so important with that kind of stuff too. Right? Because the reason I was … you were speaking at Social Media Marketing World. I wasn’t speaking there, but I want to one day, and that’s why I came out and put together content, interviewing people. It’s fun for me to do, I love speaking to people, I love getting their advice, but it’s also valuable for the people that are going to watch it and use it. And there’s no like pitch from me whilst I’m there.
DYLAN HEY: I’m not making content and pitching to social media.
DYLAN HEY: And saying, “Hey, let me speak.” It’s all about collaboration with different people. And I think that’s something even agency owners that are first starting up, sometimes they’ll get worried about collaborating with other people that they might see as competition and stuff like that.
DYLAN HEY: And I think that’s just a mindset shift that they need.
DAN KNOWLTON: It’s that proactive mentality that you’ve got, that will make you successful, because you’re actively going out there, putting your neck on the line to reach out to people and say, “Hey, let’s create content and things.” A lot of people won’t. Are too scared or too frightened to do that. So it’s important to have that kind of proactive mentality of what could you be doing that other people are probably too shy or too scared or too nervous to do?
DYLAN HEY: I think that’s a really good tip when it comes to any kind of lead generation, or trying to grow your agency business too. Like, of course it is scary sometimes, whether it’s to reach out to someone to speak at an event, to interview someone. Whether it’s sending that cold email, or making that phone call, or going to that event.
DYLAN HEY: But the thing that will help you grow faster, or help you grow faster than others, is through taking those steps that you’re a bit nervous about taking, but actually going through and doing them.
DYLAN HEY: So I think that’s a really valuable and good note to round this up onto. Is ultimately, of course it comes with consistency, but it also comes with taking action. Because if you’re consistently not taking any action and not pushing yourself, then you’re not gonna get anywhere, right? so, I think that’s a really good point to end on.
DYLAN HEY: Dan, thanks for the time today for sharing that advice. If people … like, I know it’s fairly easy to find you, but is there anything or anywhere in particular that people should go if they want to learn a bit more about you and what you guys are up to, what you’re working on?
DAN KNOWLTON: eah, sure. So our website kpsdigitalmarketing.co.uk. But we’re actually running our first Linkedin masterclass, which you should check out. That’s going to be our brand new offices at Kent. I know probably not all the lessons are going to be local, but how you can get there on the link bit.ly/linkedinkent, and you’ll see it there.
DYLAN HEY: Awesome. Cool. Is that to be … so that’s an in person event. Are you going to be recording it and distributing afterwards? Or are you not decided about that yet?
DAN KNOWLTON: e’ve got some plans in the pipeline to do something like that. Potentially some kind of a online course or something, but we’ll see. We’re going to see how it goes.
DYLAN HEY: Awesome. Cool. Well, Dan, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time today.
DAN KNOWLTON: Cheers Dylan. Thanks for having me.
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