Johnathan Dane on building a $3.6mm/yr (and growing) agency in two years

Johnathan Dane on building a $3.6mm/yr (and growing) agency in two years

Background

Today, on Hubstaff’s Agency Advantage Podcast, I’ve got Johnathan Dane of KlientBoost back for a fun and informative chat.

I last had Johnathan on this podcast back in May of 2016, where he shared the story of how he and his team grew KlientBoost to over $100k/mo in recurring billing in the first year, all while maintaining 60% margins.

If that’s not impressive enough, since then, KlientBoost has tripled to over $300k in recurring billings. They didn’t get here by discovering some new growth. Instead they kept that momentum going by doubling down on what works, namely content marketing.

Today we talk about how Johnathan has built a brand in the competitive PPC space by using content marketing, the insanely ambitious content series his team put out over the holidays and how it is paying off, and how he has handled the growing pains at KlientBoost.

Johnathan has an endless supply of energy, a wealth of knowledge, and knows how to build a successful agency in a hurry, and today he holds nothing back. His last interview was one of the most listened to interviews of this show. He said he wanted to top it this time, and I think we succeeded.

 

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Key Takeaways

The content marketing equation

Johnathan creates his content with one key strategy in mind: anything you can do, I can do better. If a competitor writes a blog post in Johnathan’s field, his response is to write one that’s longer, funnier, more interesting, and then promote it better. This strategy is plain in his company’s recent push to create a 25-part gifographic series. Plenty of companies do infographics, featuring information with static images. Johnathan’s response was to create infographics with animation instead, making something even more eyecatching. As though that wasn’t enough, he also made 25 of them to be released daily before Christmas in partnership with other companies.

Johnathan has other suggestions to help you do better. For another example, take explainer videos. Plenty of companies do whiteboard videos or basic animation to explain a complex topic. Johnathan suggests giving stop-motion video a shot to really make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Growth through partnership

The gifographic series didn’t just help Johnathan’s company stand out from the pack: it also helped him form creative partnerships, which in turn led to even more growth. One of Johnathan’s initial strategies was to partner with companies with an established base, creating content for them in exchange for exposure and a tacit endorsement.

Then, of course, Johnathan decided to kick it up a notch. For his 25-part gifographic series, he didn’t just create 25 pieces of unique, complex content: he also partnered with other companies to promote it. He went to them and said he’d do all the work if they just promoted the project on their website and featured a gifographic on a topic relevant to their interests. He used his first few acceptances to build momentum, moving up to bigger and more influential companies once he had a few small ones as a proof of concept.

This not only provided him more exposure and created serious ROI, but it also created working relationships with a number of different companies who were impressed with his work and recognized that his company was doing something different.

Putting the 25-part gifographic series together

Of course, getting such a large project off the ground wasn’t easy, but Johnathan broke the process down into steps, starting with the hardest part. The first thing they had to do was create a list of potential partners, accounting for the fact that a few would be too busy or uninterested in the project. Cold-contacting a large list of companies might seem intimidating, but Jonathan was direct. He made sure the partner understood the scope of the project, and, more importantly, that they wouldn’t have to do anything except host the finished project.

Once they had 25 partners, the next step was coming up with 25 really good topics that wouldn’t only be interesting and useful but also would appeal to the partners featuring them. After that, they had to write up the content and create the sections of the gifographic, then run everything by the partner in question to make sure they approved.

That sounds like a lot of work for exposure, but Johnathan made sure everything did double duty. The outlining process for the gifographics was just the same as their process for outlining blog posts, so in addition to hosting gifographics on partner websites, Johnathan turned around and had his team turn those gifographic concepts into blog posts to host on their own site or as guest posts, ending up with 50 high-quality content pieces.

Content plans going forward

Johnathan admitted that, initially, his content projects weren’t as well organized as they could be. They jumped from big project to big project, and at the end of each, they had to scramble for the next idea. Now that they’ve had enough success to hire a larger team and take some time to breathe and reflect, they’ve implemented a process to ensure regular content production.

For Johnathan, it starts with his employees. The best way he ever learned anything was from teaching others, so each employee does four blog posts a year, as well as an internal presentation on the content they’ve produced. Again, this work does double duty, since it teaches his team valuable skills in content creation and speaking, but it also makes sure they have a steady pipeline of content ready to go on a pre-scheduled basis.

Johnathan’s team knows what their focus points are, so their main sticking point is volume, making sure their production doesn’t slow down.

 

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Want to learn more?

Johnathan wants to point out that all of the reading in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t act on it. So check out the KlientBoost blog for an example of content marketing done right, but make sure to focus on applying what you’ve learned.

Resources mentioned