Upskill and Chill Recap: Managing an agency during COVID

Managing an agency during COVID and how to help your clients succeed.

We held our fifth educational webinar about what it’s like managing an agency during COVID and how to help your clients succeed. In this session, we heard from these experts in the industry:

Catch the video replay of the entire session at the bottom of this post.

Here are the questions and key takeaways that we learned:

Q1 / Give us a little bit more background on your business and how you’ve been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Monte – Started the business because he saw a hole in the market. Small or medium sized companies did not have access to ad services because they did not have big budgets and were essentially shut out of the market.

David – Focuses on not just digital marketing, social but also SEO, video marketing and PR. Has written several best selling books and eBooks on how to market, with a particular interest and aptitude for video marketing.

Q2/ Did you have to make any changes in order to keep your business running? How about your clients? Have you seen any changes in requests from clients/customers? Have lockdowns or restrictions affected any of your team members that may be in other parts of the world? 

Monte – Lots of tactical changes. Imagery has changed. No images with crowds, content and or stock images that include masks and have a different focus. Clearly people recognize imagery “Pre-COVID-19” and post as well. Putting a clear emphasis on the changes in the world and reflecting that. Produced 3 new pieces of content, pushing both organically and on paid platforms so that I am “eating my own dog food”.

For the pandemic, several clients had to completely close down. They were offices or retail business and were not allowed to remain open, even lawyers. Those folks had to take the time to ‘reimagine’ their business. Several of them decided to double down on advertising to bring the revenue in and others paused and are just now able to start opening their doors again. The key here is to shift gears but not give up on them. They clearly need help and this is their livelihood we’re talking about.

David – Working on content that is timely and relevant now, using SEO and some paid to promote this content. Using this time to create processes and train new sales or outreach people. Also preparing webinar and video series to help local companies recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. Due to the structure of the business, the impact has not been as severe, and is actually scaling UP. Many agencies are already ‘remote’ by nature and so making a transition to ‘totally’ remote was easier than other types of businesses.  Some of the tools needed were already in place.

Q3/ How have your social posts and customer communications changed to reflect your current state of ‘normal’? What feedback are you seeing from your customers?

  • Monte is communicating mainly through email, was able to add email marketing as a service of his business that came out of this, so it’s been an opportunity.
  • Email is Step 1 to managing your comms during the times of COVID.
  • As some clients realize that their competitors are scaling back, they are taking the opportunity to ramp up if they have the budget.
  • Having to move to virtual meetings, zoom and others to meet with clients and stakeholders
  • Paid CPMs and paid CPCs are the lowest we’ve seen in 5/10 years. If you have the money to spend, now’s a good time to get good ROI

Q4/ What tools and software are you using and recommending for your clients? What advice are you giving on how to communicate and even thrive during this time? 

  • Depends on the customers but it’s generally a combination of Mailchimp, aWeber, Constant Contact, even Hubspot. Each customer is different and it depends on what their needs are, what their budget is – free is always a great price when customers are trying to make an impact but struggling to get revenue in the door
  • Looking to partially or fully automate processes for customers as needed – to free up time and remove manual redundancies, while you can. Prepare for and keep a positive mindset that these housekeeping items need to be taken care of now because you’ll be far too busy to worry about them later.
  • Finding from both is that LinkedIn is great for organic reach B2B but doesn’t seem worth it from a cost to benefit ratio. Oftentimes, can find those same audiences on Facebook for 1/3 or cheaper of the price.

Q5/Are there any brands in your space right now that are inspiring you with what they’re posting online, or how they’re handling business? 

  • Wordstream from a guidance and industry standard. They have a multitude of data and put out that data to share and use for strategy with clients
  • LinkedIn as a platform has been a bigger deal during the pandemic. Lot of great content, stats and guides are being produced during this period.

Q6/ What advice do you have for other agencies to foster success during this time? What advice have you given to your clients? 

For clients:

  • Maximize the “free stuff” – even if you can’t pay for ads, there are plenty of places where just ‘showing up’ is enough. Try these:
    • Help a reporter
    • Google My Business
    • Social Channels – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin & even TikTok
    • Business Directories
    • Local Communities – Nextdoor
    • Google Maps Listings
  • Be honest with clients and help them build up. Build infrastructure, websites, e-stores – do all this now. It should have already been part of your plan, but now you don’t have a choice.

For agencies:

  • Any time you can give or help people, it pays dividends for your business. If customers or potential clients need help during this time, now is the time to give. Work with the customer – help people who need help because it’s the right thing to do. Offer your own ability and it’ll reap rewards for you.
  • Reach out to your local community. Provide expertise and insight to those people around you, and just be available as needed.


For Monte: 

Q/ What was the business that got you started in the industry? 

A/Big Frog T-Shirt printing. I found that I needed to get into Google Ads and no agency would touch me for less than $5,000 per month – and I was looking to start out at $5,000 for the YEAR. I used my technical background to just ‘figure it out’. In our first year, we spent $6,000 in Google Ads and had $100,000 in attributable revenue.

Q/What types of products are available for businesses to use, what do you recommend as far as a business starting out or trying to stay afloat?

A/Project Management: Trello, Basecamp

Video for Customer Testimonials, using cell phone editing or promo.com for producing content

Fiverr or Task Rabbit for outsourced help

Q/How do you attract customers in this time? 

A/Start with a 30 minute strategy session. Reach out to local authorities for webinars, share your knowledge. Help people where they are. It plants a seed when it’s time for them to open back up.

Emailing, reaching out by phone or using sales teams. Finding easy problems we can solve that may lead into more. Examples like:

  • Don’t have a Google My Business account, their website needs an SSL, missing a maps listing, not ranking on YouTube other area where they have a niche and *should* be ranking

Use research tools to find out this information or hire someone through Fiverr or other services to do that basic level research and then pass off to a salesperson.

For more information on our panelists, you can find them on the web.

Monte Raynor at Market Screamer:

David Wright, at W3Group Marketing:

Watch the full video here:

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