Joel Black Sold His First Agency And Is Now Applying Proven Tactics to Grow And Scale L7 Creative. They launched a L7 Advertising for smaller businesses that want to get more business but aren’t big enough to engage L7 Creative. He wants the clients of L7 Advertising to graduate into being clients of L7 Creative.
Check them out here: https://www.l7creative.com/
Here’s the video interview:
Here’s the full transcript:
Ryan Shank: All right guys. Welcome back to another episode of growing your agency. I’m your host Ryan shank today. Super excited to be joined. Joel Black, l seven creative Joel. How’s it going?
Joel Black: Oh, great. Yeah, thanks for having me, Ryan. Appreciate it.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, um, talk, talk to us about your role at, uh, at l seven creative. From my understanding, uh, you had another agency before this and you sort of like, you know, got brought into to help them grow, grow the business. I’m curious to hear your story and, uh, and what you did, um, in, in your previous role and then how you, you know, kind of parlayed that into a, into your current role.
Joel Black: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, out of college I started a, um, soft cheese. Back then it was just the graphic design agency, uh, printing, you know, designing flyers for real estate agent and cup, um, pretty much on the Atlanta region. You know, I would design flyers, print them out, go stick them around those little boxes for the real estate agents. And, uh, that was, that was going great. And then, you know, the, uh, the 2007, 2008 hit, uh, the whole real estate and mortgage industry got crushed. Um, I kind of got crushed with that. And from there I had to figure out, hey, you know, things are kind of going digital. Nobody’s printing, nobody’s always valuing creative like they used to. Yeah. Everyone was trying to go online. So, um, you know, we had to adapt, we had to learn web, we had to learn social media media, we had to learn content creation, um, you know, all of the other things that came out of that.
Joel Black: And we kind of morphed into this full service digital agency and Atlanta and, uh, kept growing, brought on marketing automation, made partnerships with all kinds of software providers, uh, kept growing our client base. And, uh, there was, uh, a bigger company out of Florida that was coming into the Atlanta area and they were kind of looking for a, a strong agency presence in Atlanta and, uh, kind of approached us. And, um, as if we were interested in being acquired and we kind of looked at everything and it all made sense and, uh, so kind of stepped out of that role, stepped out of that company and um, started looking for the next thing, you know, another company that I could walk in the door and help grow with all the experience I had, um, with the agency in Atlanta. And I found that one of the great places of southern California, you know, sunny and 72 every day.
Joel Black: And um, the Bat oh seven. Yeah. Where are you guys at in California? Uh, San Diego, San Diego, southern California. Uh, weather’s awesome. Um, you know, people are really great out here. Yeah. Um, you know, found l seven and it’ll line everything that I’ve been doing in the full service digital agency. Um, and I thought that I could walk in the door and make a difference and that’s, you know, that’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. Have you found that you were able to apply a lot of the learnings from, you know, the previous agency, um, to l seven or, you know, and the reason I asked that, I guess the alternative would be that, you know, things are changing so fast. A lot of the tactics tools used or have evolved, um, or, or has it been kind of a, a pretty seamless transition into applying the same playbook?
Joel Black: It’s really, it was really great because we’ve combined our playbook look, see now they, they were really great at, you know, half of the things and I was really great at half of the things and it was so awesome to put two agency owners together, uh, you know, for one common goal and kind of Mesh those playbooks and, um, mess the software. You know, what’s, why we, we’ve, we’ve got the build up. Well, let me just experience a Tom, the CEO and I, uh, kind of got to build off of each other’s strengths and experiences, kinda create this one strong presence and um, you know, have everybody going in the same direction here. So it’s been really awesome. And how big are you guys today in terms of number of employees are around 15 people. 15 people. Yeah. And is that mainly, you know, sales account managers or is that people that are doing copywriting and design and kind of like fulfilling creatives?
Joel Black: Yeah, we have everybody here in house. We’ve got the sales team, we’ve got the project management team. Uh, we’ve got the creative team, we’ve got the web development, the paid search, the, uh, the copywriters. So we have the whole team, even video, we have a whole video arm. Um, so we’ve got everything right here. Uh, and that’s, you know, one of the cool things is that the agency in Atlanta, we did a lot of things, but we didn’t have the video piece. Um, and, uh, that was always one of the pieces that I was missing there. And so I love video, by the way. I, I think it’s so fun. It’s so, you know, everyone’s watching. You know, it’s funny, I’ve been in New York, I saw this homeless guy today laying like on the sidewalk just watching a video on his iPhone, just like, Ugh, just like leg that watching video.
Joel Black: I’m like, everyone’s watching video. Everybody loves video. Um, but yeah, I think, uh, it’s like, I, I believe a couple of years ago had kind of crossed as like the most consumed, you know, medium is on, on, on, uh, on mobile is video now. Ah, yeah, absolutely. And it’s, video is hard, you know, I mean, for me anyway, it’s hard. There’s a lot of people out there that it’s easy for, for me it’s hard. I know. And I preach every day and the agency, we need to be creating more video and then we all get together and say, let’s do a video. And then it’s like we freeze up. So this one of the things that, you know, I’ve always, that we’re always working on as an agency because it’s time consuming, you know, to put a script for everybody, kind of practice, do the production of it and do the post production of it.
Joel Black: Ah, so it’s, you know, it’s tough, but it’s one of those things that makes a difference. Absolutely. Absolutely. So, so I want to kind of dive into sort of the, you know, the operations around, um, you know, acquiring clients all the way through retaining and, you know, expanding and, and getting referrals and stuff. So when you guys, you know, how are you guys acquiring clients today? So let’s really, we use every channel. We put kind of a three 60 holistic view. So, you know, we’re using every channel available. You using social media or using content creation, we’re using SEO. Um, you know, we’re using paid media, we’re using linkedin a lot and we’ll just kind of connecting with the right people that, you know, start conversations. Uh, we’re out, found a networking, getting plugged in to all the local business people. Cheryl, it’s using everything available.
Joel Black: And then what is, uh, you know, what is the hook? I guess? So like, let’s say you kind of like can get to someone. All right, I got your attention. Is it, is it a site audit? Is it, you know, a full, kind of holistic or like what, what I guess is, is the, the, the magnet that kind of gets you to, to deliver something of value to them that kind of would, I guess, you know, push them onto the next stage if you will, in the sales cycle. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, it’s research, you know, if they’re doing paid media, it’s, you know, getting them to let you take a look inside your, like in about another, at Google ads campaign, kind of look at the Google ad, see what’s happening. If they have conversion tracking, if they have Atlanta analytics, it’s going to beacon in looking and kind of seeing what we can do to help, you know, get a better ROI to get a better conversion.
Joel Black: Um, you know, figure out the goals, what they’re looking for and just figuring out how we fit in to help them. Um, if it’s a website, you know, it’s just taking a look at the website, looking at the competitors, you know, if, if they’re searching for one thing and they’re finding your site, what are the next three options look like? And how do you function and coming up with kind of a strategy and a plan. So I would say our hook here is really the strategy. It’s how are we going to do it? And, um, you know, what’s that gonna look like? And so just kind of putting out a plan in front of the person, uh, in front of the prospect in front of the client. Sometimes they’ll take that and they’ll go off and they’ll find someone that’ll do it cheaper. Um, but you know, the people that really appreciate what we’ve done for them, you know, as far as doing the research and, you know, putting out a kind of, a baseline of a strategy, um, those are the ones that we want to work with. And, uh, you know, sometimes it makes all the difference. Yeah. We say that, you know, the ones that go and find it and find it, uh, find a cheaper provider for the planet you put place. It’s like they’re not
Ryan Shank: going to be good clients anyway. Most of the time, you know, they’re going to be time consuming and then most likely a churn. Uh, so, so it’s almost like kind of eliminates that upfront, you know, you almost like, you know, just off by themselves as being like good, longterm, quiet client in the, in the first place. So what’s your pricing model? You know, I know I talked to a lot of agencies, you know, they’ll do attainers percentage of ad spend and combination project base. I’m curious how you guys, how do you guys price?
Joel Black: Yes. So we have a few different ways we price, so we have another, I have another, a sister company called l seven advertising and it’s kind of flat rate month, uh, you know, month to month. Um, I wouldn’t say retainer, but it’s a retainer model. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s a flat monthly rate per month and uh, we’re going to do the paid search, uh, the paid social, um, manage the paid channels. And that’s for more of the, uh, the kind of small business client, uh, that [inaudible] based businesses. HVC As control. Yeah, absolutely. Uh, the, the, the, the main company else having creative is, you know, more or less that strategy top down type, you know, we’re going to put together strategy first and then we’re going to do all the thing, all the production work to work the strategy and that’s, you know, a retainer type, um, and monthly retainer or if it’s just a website project or if it’s a branding project or a creative project, then it’s kind of a, you know, project based work. So we kind of hit all the models.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then, um, does it kind of vary based on like, let’s say someone’s spending, you know, 30 k a month in ad spend? Like do you sort of have, uh, do you just kind of, do you have like tiers essentially? Um, or is it still just based on like services provided regardless of spend?
Joel Black: No, I think, you know, Kinda look at that $5,000 a month spend. If it’s under that and we feel like that’s a great l seven advertising client, flat monthly rate, um, because we’re going to get in there and the main goal is use that budget as wisely as possible and get the best results for sure over a $5,000 monthly ad spin than we think we can really help with with strategy, with creative kind of building out campaigns, um, better, more longterm focused. So we kind of use the two companies together, you know, to kind of segment our, um, our prospects and our clients.
Ryan Shank: Got It. And then when, when someone does come on board for, you know, kind of whichever arrangement, what is, you know, what are the delivery, not deliverables necessarily, cause that obviously is based on, you know, whatever, you know, services that they get, but more of like the metrics, you know, are they looking at a total lead count or web leads, calls, you know, total leads and then like a spend and then kind of backs hauling into a cost per lead? Or do you give them the nitty gritty like, you know, cost per click and you know, conversion, you know, a rate on site [inaudible] what is the deliverable I guess to them in terms of KPIs?
Joel Black: Yeah. You know, it’s different for everybody. Yeah. But you know, it all really is kind of the same for everybody. You know, everybody wants to know how much they’re spending and how much they’re making off of that spin. You know, a lot of times we just like to ask clients, you know, what’s if it, let’s say if you’re selling a bottle, you know, what’s the all day number for that for you know, your spend on that bottle. If the bottle is a water bottle, you know, there’s some really cool water bottles out there. One in mind, you know, they’re kind of Bluetooth, um, all the bells and whistles. It’s 80 bucks, you know, if, what’s, what’s the all day number on that bottle. If I could, if I had somebody right now that would pay you 80 80 bucks for that bottle, but you need to pay me $10 to bring you that person, would you do that? And some people will say, oh no, no, I would never do that. I could only spend $5. Well then you know, all right, that’s our goal. We need to bring new people for $5 that we’ll buy that $80 bottle.
Ryan Shank: So you back solve into a target cost per lead kind of before, before really even like running the campaigns just to say like, Hey, what’s our, what’s our target? Or is that more, is that kind of like a little bit further down the road once you started to like see what the results come in at?
Joel Black: No, we figured trying to figure out what the target is right up front. So we build campaigns trying to hit that target. And then once we figured out, well how much traffic do we need to send to the site, what kind of conversion rates are we getting? And then we figured out what the actual is. Then we can start, you know, making database decisions and um, setting expectations with the client that hey, it’s just not going to happen. Where are you going to sell this bottle with a $5 acquisition costs, you know, it’s more like 15 so it’s $15 worth it for you to sell this $80 bottle.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. And uh, how much education are you doing, you know, to the client or with the client in terms of, you know, hey acquisition costs versus like, what’s the true lifetime value? Like if that bottle, you know, is 80 bucks and we bring you a customer, is that really just one customer or do they buy a bottle every two years, you know, or are you kind of doing any of that, uh, with the clients?
Joel Black: Absolutely. He just did that right before I walked in here. Okay. We are just going through that same exercise and, and our dark target was $8. I said, yeah, but what if that person and this burst, this product, they are going to buy a second. So now the $8 just dropped the $4 and come the holidays. They’re probably gonna order this for some of their friends too. So that $8 just kind of dropped to a dollar. So do we really have $8 to get to this client?
Ryan Shank: Yup, Yup. Totally. I, uh, I see it happen. I know a lot of times, especially with like dental clients, like dental companies, you know, it’s like they’ll, you know, they’ll think of like, you know, at first, hey, you know, visits like 200 bucks, you know, so I can’t, I can only pay, you know, 40 whatever it is, right at 40 for a client. But it’s like, no, no, no, no. That’s like a first time visit, you know, dental, like LTV of a, you know, dental customer is actually like, you know, 10 years or something like that. Um, and same thing with like even recurring, you know, subscription businesses or, or recurring visits like a pool. Right? Like a lot of times people will, we’ll get someone, you know, that coming out to their house to like clean their pool, but then it’s becomes like a recurring thing, you know? So I think, uh, yeah, the education pieces, um, it feels like it’s really important and I’m always curious, you know, like what everyone’s kind of, uh, relationship is with their clients and how do you, you know, like educate them on that. Yeah.
Joel Black: Especially in that, that a dental kind of example, because you lose all the people that that dental client is, that client is going to tell about that customer. So they’re going to tell their friends down the street, Hey, you need to go use my dentist. Yeah. They’re going to say, oh, you know, people at school, what’s in the STI you use? The kids are going to tell other people. And so that one person, yeah, they’re not going to come just that one time. They may come 10 years, which is maybe 20 times and then they’re also going to tell 20 of their friends that might come 20 times. Yeah. So you just lose all of that in any kind of analytics and it becomes just education to the client and them trusting you.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, exactly. I feel like the, uh, kind of like the attribution for, for referral, you know, in, in kind of this like offline, um, it is still like difficult to, difficult to predict to do. You almost have to like model it out and say like, we know with the, you know, x percentage of certainty that you know, you’re going to get, you know, these kind of like these drips that come from the original source. Um, which could be, look, you could bring someone like that in from, you know, Google ads and then you’re gonna want to still attribute all of the referrals back to ultimately back to the Google ad spend. Um, so when you’re reporting to your clients, what kind of tools are you using? Are you, you know, sending them a Google sheet? What do you do, you know, do you have it going into a reporting platform like, you know, Ninja cat or you know, any, any of those? What does that look?
Joel Black: Yeah, we’re mostly, we’re trying to automate everything through a Google data studio. So, you know, we’re kind of cross platform data into one kind of report that’s easy. Understand and then, uh, just we automate that to go out every week to clients just so they’re looking at it. They can bring up questions on a weekly basis and we’re not waiting, you know, like to the end of the month and have some bad number that all of a sudden now everyone’s, yeah. Not Happy about, you’d rather have micro not happy as on a weekly basis.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, exactly. Instead of a, a massive blindside, uh, at, at the end where it’s like all hands on deck. What, what are you plugging into your Google data studio, uh, report? Like what kind of metrics and like what kind of are you plugging in?
Joel Black: Yeah, so this is, you know, we do a lot of ads, Google ads being, uh, Facebook, uh, Instagram, linkedin. So we’re just pulling it in, you know, what are we spending, we have our targets and we kind of outline as at the top of the report and I’m kind of pulling in our, our spend, um, the traffic, the conversions, the cost per lead and kind of matching all those up to pull in like calls and then like web forms. Do you guys use live chats on landing pages and pull those in? Yeah, some live chat. Um, but yeah, live chat, phone calls, uh, form fills, um, you know, for doing a video type, you know, youtube campaign or something, kind of just video views, things like that. Yup. Um, that, that’s also, and then, and then, so you, and then two, what’s the cadence of the reporting to the clients?
Joel Black: You said it was, it was monthly, but you try to have like a lot of like touch points they send out like recurring or do you have like a monthly meeting set up but then still send out weekly reports? Yeah, we send out weekly reports. We’re trying to at least touch base every week. Cause you, it’s, it’s expensive and it’s hard to get a new client. So we want to keep the ones that we have. So we’re working really hard to make sure they’re happy and, uh, you know, if anything’s going wrong, we want to know as soon as possible. So, you know, we can make adjustments and fix that. Yup. What’s the cost, uh, what does it cost you to acquire a new client? I would probably estimate it at around $1,500 to acquire 50,000 new clients. And then what is the minimum, do you guys have a minimum, uh, or do you publish, uh, the minimum retainer, minimum monthly fee to work with you guys?
Joel Black: Now, you know, on our, uh, we have some cool plans for the l seven advertising for small business and it kind of starts at, you know, if they just come on and a like ad what Google ads with us, for example, that we just have a flat rate of 800 bucks a month. Got It. But we want to do is we kind of tear this to where, um, they bring on more channels and it kind of builds out. We start offerings, some CRMs and things like that. So the more channels we can get in to fill the top of that funnel and then plugging the CRM to do some marketing automation and email marketing, things like that, we always see that there’s a better result at the end. And are using hubspot for CRM and email automation? No, we are using SharpSpring chartering SharpSpring is a lot more economical for clients. Um, I’ve been a partner with them for, for years. I mean the platform was just, seemed like it was barely online when I started working with them and now they’ve really grown and have some really cool stuff going on and used that for CRM and email. Uh, yeah. Uh, email marketing and marketing automation and CRM. Awesome. Um, what is, uh, just kind of wrapping it up, what is a
Ryan Shank: [inaudible]
Ryan Shank: how many, how many clients I guess, are you guys, you know, do you work with at one time in, is your goal to just kind of, like you said, kind of grow into these clients or you look into, you know, I just talked to someone actually that hired a hundred people at their agencies. They’re sort of this like mass kind of volume agency, but you know, it sounds like you guys are a little bit more, you want to go deeper with your clients instead of the high volume play. But just curious, you know, like, you know, how do you guys expand? Are you looking to kind of grow by adding like massive amounts of clients or do you want to kind of like work and go like super, super deep with the existing clients?
Joel Black: Yeah, so our goals, so [inaudible] creative, the big, the full service. So we work with a lot of big brands to some great strategy and have a great production team execute everything. Yup. L seven advertising. A lot of a lot of small businesses can’t afford that big agency experience, totally recreated l seven advertising. We get them in and we have an affordable, you know, monthly plan to start generating business for them using paid channels and CRM and everything. Our goal is the grow those and to bigger companies and then move them into graduate to outside and creative and move over nail seven creative where we are talking about, you know, longer term things and more strategy and um, you know, how it really helping them grow into a much larger companies. So that’s the goal. Love it. So it’s sort of like a feeder program,
Ryan Shank: Graham. They kind of takes them, hey, you know, you can start here and then boom, we’re going to get you to a point where you can move into, you know, a larger scope of services. Yeah, absolutely. All right, awesome. Final question. I ask everyone, what is your morning routine?
Joel Black: I have morning routine. I get up, I get up early. Well actually, you know, and I moved to California, a three hours difference now. So I was getting up at four in the morning. So, you know, I get up, um, head to the gym and do some orange theory, get, get the blood flow and um, and I get into work early before anybody else and I just try to first get through email and knock out anything that’s important and then kind of, um, get a little plan to start the morning off. And then we kick off with a strategy meeting every morning. Um, just the stand up meeting that’s 15 minutes, Ms. Long, set a timer, everybody gets it out there and uh, and after that we break and we kind of go on our um, go on our offices or can I go on our secondary meetings and kind of get the day kicked off. But that’s it, you know, I start with, start with the gym because it’s gotta get things going. Gotta get things going. Is this strategy meeting all hands or is that just like your, your executive team? No, that’s everybody. We just go into the middle. I’ve got a big open workspace. We’ve just got to all stand in a circle. Yeah. Got Anything that’s important that’s got to get out that day. We just get it out and, um, get everybody headed in the right direction. Love it. Love it. Chill. Black l seven created.
Ryan Shank: Thank you so much for, for joining us today. Yeah, Ryan, thanks a lot. Appreciate it. Absolutely. We’re going to have the link to your, to your website and all of your socials in the show description and a, and then we’ll, we’ll publish it on our blog and push it out. But thank you so much and uh, we’ll see you later. All right, awesome. Thanks.