EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Intro  

If you’re running a software development agency, it shouldn’t be too hard to grow. Welcome to Managed Coder Podcast. Tune in every week to find out how to grow your software development agency and help you to solve your day-to-day problems with 20 plus years’ experience running an agency. Please welcome your host, Shahed Islam.

 

Shahed Islam:

Hi, Kait. Welcome.

 

Kait Hill:

Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

 

Shahed Islam:

Thank you. We have known each other for some time, and I’m super excited to have you on our podcast. Introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your agency.

 

Kait Hill:

Okay. I am the Kait Hill. I own Rock City Digital, which is a local digital marketing firm based in Arkansas. We do web design, social media management, and search services for our service-based clients. But we’re really known for our social media services. So when you reached out to talk about social media, I was so excited because that is probably our bread and butter.

 

Shahed Islam:

Yes. I’ve been following you on social media. And I love the way you present your brand out there. So I’ve been talking to a lot of agency owners, and one of the critical questions they ask me and I didn’t know the answer as a CEO or top-level C level executive, how do you manage your agency brand on social media? So maybe you can give us some direction on that? If I am a CEO of a company, and I’m running an agency, how do I manage my personal brand or your agency to the social media platform?

 

Kait Hill:

So, I think everyone can be a little bit different. But one thing I preach at my agency is that for any service that we offer to clients we also have to use them. So for example, if we’re doing SEO for clients, which we do, I want whoever’s doing SEO for clients to also do it for us. And I want to be in that process to see what the client is experiencing. So we’ve done that with social media from the very beginning. So, we have somebody on our team, they manage our social media, and we have meetings with them two times a month, basically, to discuss strategy, see if they need anything from me, or any direction delegation. And then I let them run with it. I’ve been very fortunate to have just an amazing, incredibly creative team on board. And they have been able to knock it out of the park. But some key things that we have found that are extremely important when managing your agency’s brand, is the first thing, do not use stock images if you can avoid it. The more that you can use people’s faces, the more you can use real people within your business to show your personality, the more likely that clients will know, like, and trust you, which is the pillar of marketing. So, putting our faces out there makes the community feel like they really know us, which gets them to trust us. Even if they don’t work with us, we’re going to be referred to their friends because we’ve been in front of them.

 

Shahed Islam:

One of the challenges I have seen with a lot of other agencies who are starting out, usually what happens is in the environment, you start getting work and you just start doing it. And then you realize, oh, I need to start building my brand out there. And I read a lot of articles but people struggle with steps 1, 2, 3. So, if I were starting an agency, let’s say 2022, what are the three pieces of advice you would provide to them? What are steps 1, 2, 3, for any agency to start doing their own marketing? Because we often tend to do marketing for other companies or doing web design but we forget about ourselves, which is really required a few years down the line. 

 

Kait Hill:

So true. I mean, step number one is creating capacity, open capacity for your team. Creating that space for them to be able to spend time on your marketing and holding that space as if it were a paying client. Because it’s easy to say, oh, I have another paying client coming in so I’m not going to focus on my own marketing. But I will tell you from personal experience doing your own marketing helps on so many different levels. First off, you’re more likely to get clients if you’re doing good marketing. Second, it will help you refine your processes to continue to build them and improve them. Especially starting out this is so important as a CEO to be able to see what it’s like to work with your own team to see where you can coach your team and where they need to go. So, creating that open capacity, getting thrown into that process but also guiding your team and teaching them how you want your brand to be presented online. Because you could just hand over the keys and say run with it, which I did do in the beginning. But as our business got more serious and I realized how important it truly is to have a legit amazingly targeted social media strategy, the more I got involved, and the more it helps my team understand our business in general. But one of the unexpected outcomes of us doing social media was bringing our team closer together. Since we don’t use stock images, or photos, or videos, and we do everything organically, our team was put in these situations where we have a marketing day, and everyone comes together, and we get to take fun photos and do fun videos. And it really helps people relax, hang out and get to know each other.

 

Shahed Islam:

Amazing. Now, I made a similar mistake, which we talked about that if you don’t allocate resources like a client. The problem I see when I ask, even I review a lot of these agencies’ LinkedIn profiles or Facebook profiles, or even Twitter, and I would see three months ago they posted something, and there is no other activity. I mean, going back again, I made the same mistake. And now I have a dedicated team. These are part-time people, you can hire. You can have people from Fiverr or other places. You don’t have to hire everybody full time because we are always going after a client. But do you guys use an outside vendor to get certain things done? Because not everything is possible inside the company, for example, video editing. I outsource video editing. We do not have a content writer before. We hired a content writer to get things done.

 

Kait Hill:

Yeah. We’re fortunate enough to have all of it in-house. But it’s because we offer these services too. To our clients, we offer videography, photography services because that’s how we’re structured. So basically, I took our senior social media person and opened up a client spot for him to work with us.

 

Shahed Islam:

Okay. But in other cases where other agencies cannot afford to do that, is it perfectly fine to hire someone externally just for your project? Because you have to invest all of that. You cannot do it after three years. You have to start from the first year and build your brand. So when a client comes in and sees your LinkedIn page they would see what culture you are representing and that is the kind of brand you have to do. 

 

Kait Hill:

You can totally outsource. My biggest piece of advice there is to try to get original content within your company, and then send it to somebody to edit. That’s totally fine. And definitely preferred versus not doing it. Like being online shows so much credibility these days. And it also helps build your team so much because people that you’re looking for are watching your page. And if you look like you have a fun company to work at they also want to join your team. So it actually really helps with talent acquisition as well.

 

Shahed Islam:

I really like the way you present because I know you. We’ve talked a few times and the way your company is run. When people see your social media presence they can feel that this is how this company is now. I have to admit I know a lot of companies they’re amazing inside. But when you go to their social media page they’re pretty much dull, they’re following stock photography. Now representing culture, how do you make it so real? What would be your advice to other agency owners? I know you talked about the culture, I think, marketing day you have it. But what is going on inside the company? How do you represent it? What advice you can provide to other agency owners?

 

Kait Hill:

Well, I will say to any new agency owner, the most important thing in your agency is your talent. That is number one. So, we do a lot of different things to help talent come together. But it all starts for me with the interview process. When I’m interviewing, I’m essentially looking for the same core values. I don’t care what they’re like outside of work. I do care about the talent they bring. But what I’m really looking for is the same core values. And I’ve been fortunate enough to find people who want the same things out of life but are very, very different. And when you bring people together who are committed to excellent work, who are team players, who are ready to take action, and they actually abide by these core values, and you put them in a room together, it can produce beautiful things. Now, we have to do a lot to make sure that our team is engaged. But investing in our culture, helps it show through with our social media. But part of that, again, is having somebody in house who’s basically in charge of getting our content. So, it’s not me getting the content. It’s somebody they know, they already trust, they’re familiar with, and it makes people a bit more comfortable. But also not making every single piece of content that you do super targeted to your ideal client. We want to make it really fun, light, and social because that’s what social media is all about.

 

Shahed Islam:

That’s really good. One other question comes to my mind when I think about agencies being more towered, they start with one owner, and they will do everything. They just don’t have time to do their own social media. So step two would be they would go ahead and start their own social media. But they get confused with marketing and sales. Because they would do a lot of sales, outbound emails, and even promotions but how are marketing and sales connected, and how does inbound marketing works for your agency?

 

Kait Hill:

I think it all really funnels together for us. We do a lot of different things, whether it’s me and our salespeople being active on LinkedIn, and showing that we’re in the community, all the way to the free workshops that we put on. So, we put on free workshops every single month, we’re very active and engaged online, we have a beautiful web presence, and we show up in the searches because we’re using our SEO and PPC services. And so anywhere you look when you’re looking for someone like us, we’re trying to be there. And as someone who’s just starting out, let’s say you’re an agency owner, maybe you have a couple of people on your team but you have so much work to do. You always have something to do. I remember those days, I was definitely there too. One thing I would really encourage you right now as a, what is it, December 16, 2021, is to start building your own personal LinkedIn presence. And the best way to do this is to read books that are going to propel you forward in business, whether that’s about culture, leadership, running a business, finance, whatever it is, go ahead and start reading those books and post about your learnings on LinkedIn. Do this before work even starts, maybe 7 am. That’s usually when I do it. And it’s during the time that I have set aside for myself to learn. And just make a quick post and you’ll slowly start to see your brand growing. And we’re really starting to see a shift right now of focusing on whole brands to CEOs. And we’re starting to see that being a major shift. And it’s much easier to do because it’s your own personal voice.

Shahed Islam:

Going back to that topic. And I admire the way you present your company as a CEO. So, I have noticed also that when we do a post on our social media our brand account, we probably would get a few 1000 views. But when I do it, sometimes four or five times more because personal engagement does matter. Now, a lot of CEOs or founders of an agency, either don’t have time, or they don’t know what to post. You already started with that. So what is your advice, how, as a CEO make themselves available to social media? And what are the boundaries we have? What kind of things should we post?

 

Kait Hill:

I think it really just depends on the person. It kind of depends on what you’re into. You want it to be authentic to who you are, you don’t want it to be forced. So for me, I’m personally into self-development, culture, creating a cool team, and doing a cool thing. So, I post about that quite often. And luckily, that resonates with the generation that I’m really trying to reach. So think about who you are, what you’re interested in, what could propel you forward in business without posting. This is going to propel you forward not only with your marketing but as a leader too. So, it’s kind of a double whammy. And that’s why I think I love personal branding so much is if you’re intentional about it, and you pick subjects that are going to propel your business forward then not only are you getting the brand recognition but you’re growing your own soft skills, too. So, make sure that you pick something that’s authentic to you that you can continually learn and grow from. Now, I would say probably two years ago, I would have said, I do not have the time. It’s literally impossible. I’m working all the time. And I totally get that. But one thing that really changed for me was reading a book called the Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, I used to sleep in till probably 6:30, 7. That book has me getting up at 5:30 every single morning, which has created an hour and a half of extra time that I didn’t have before. So by using that hour and a half to work on myself, it has allowed me to start building a personal brand based on the things that I’ve learned during that time.

 

Shahed Islam:

What are some references you can provide or what are the blogs you read for marketing? So, if I’m starting an agency because they will listen to this but they probably want to read further about marketing. Where do you go to read more about marketing and personal brand for your agency?

 

Kait Hill:

So, there are so many resources out there these days. HubSpot is obviously a great one. They’re a giant, and they post so much valuable information. So, that’s a really great spot. But honestly, this is going to sound weird and it’ll probably show my age very well but TikTok. I love TikTok and I love seeing how quickly the marketing world is changing. TikTok has really shown that in an instant marketing can change overnight. TikTok basically pushed Instagram into reels because of the short-form video. So, make sure that you’re testing out all the new social media apps, all the new things that are coming to market, and figuring out how they work because they’ll be setting the stage with how marketing will be going forward.

 

Shahed Islam:

Oh, thank you. Thank you, Kait. What would be a good way to communicate with you? I know you’re very active on all social media. If somebody wants to reach out to you and get some advice, what would be the best medium to contact you?

 

Kait Hill:

The best way would definitely be LinkedIn. If you just type in my name, I usually pop up first because it’s spelled a little weird. Or you can go to rockcitydigital.com and find me there. And all of my social channels are there, too.

 

Shahed Islam:

Thank you, Kait. It’s very wonderful talking to you. And hopefully, we’ll welcome you back again because we have to learn a lot more from you.

 

Kait Hill:

Yes, thank you so much for having me on. It was so fun.

 

Shahed Islam:

Thank you. Take care. Bye-bye.

 

Outro  

Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, and you’d like to help support the podcast, please share it with others. Post about it on social media or leave a rating and review. To catch all the latest from us you can follow us on Twitter at managedcoder or visit our website at managedcoder.com. Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time.