Agency industry veteran Mike Giamprini has decades of experience supporting businesses with their marketing and online presence. In 2019, he planted a stake in the ground, founding two of his very own agencies. Real Local Partners was created to super-serve local small and medium businesses (SMBs). G Partners was built to serve national multi-location brands looking for a presence in local search. In a recent interview, we had the opportunity to sit down with Giamprini to discuss his advice on achieving agency success, acquiring customers, and boosting customer lifetime value. For Giamprini, it’s all about client education, employee retention, and a willingness to keep solutions simple for your clients.
Helping SMBs battle the waves
It can be a rough go for small business owners out there trying to stay afloat. There are countless operational responsibilities—rent that needs to be paid, payroll that needs to be completed, customers who need to be marketed to. Often, they can feel like they’re drowning.
“We like to use the analogy of the sea turtle. Sea turtles, from the moment they're born, struggle to survive. It's a struggle to make it out to the sea, and then the surf pushes them back. It's just obstacle after obstacle after obstacle.
“It’s the same thing with starting a business.The mantra that we live by is to keep it simple. A lot of the time, small businesses overcomplicate things and think that their go-to market strategy has to be really loud and crazy complex. What I've learned over the years is that the simpler, the better, and the quicker,” Giamprini says.
One of Mike’s secret weapons has been to streamline his own operations and marketing in order to do the same for his clients. He’s done this by investing in agency management software that could support him.
“Using Vendasta as a partner fits into that strategy of keeping it simple because it's all done for us. The products are there, the platform’s there. We just have to focus on sales and service, which is what I always wanted to do.
“I never really wanted to create an organization that had to depend on delivery and fulfillment, because that's another complexity. We just want to be a really solid sales and service organization, and using the Vendasta platform makes that a lot easier,” Giamprini says.
Employee retention is key to a scaleable, repeatable sales process
With the challenges of the great resignation still lingering, it’s a difficult time for agencies to hire and hold onto their existing staff. Giamprini relies on some foundational retention tactics to ensure his people are taken care of.
“Everyone's reevaluated whether they want to be an employee and under what circumstances, so regardless of the size of your business, it's difficult to find people,” he explains.
Once you do find great employees, you have to treat them with a ton of respect. You have to compensate them really well. You have to make sure that they share your vision or at least that they can understand your vision so that they can get on board with you every day in trying to do what it is that you believe is the right thing for your customers.
In addition it’s important to build in opportunities for your team to grow professionally and within your agency.
“It's not just hitting quotas and making commissions.”
Earn their trust, solve their problem, then upsell
In an increasingly competitive market, attracting and landing new customers is one of the biggest challenges agencies face.
According to Giamprini, the competition doesn’t always shake out over price. He says it’s more about features, the product itself, and how it’s being positioned to the local business client.
The data backs this up.
According to Consumer Behaviour Expert and Executive Director for the Alberta School of Business - Centre for Cities and Communities Heather Thomson, value-driven consumers reigned supreme up until as recently as 2019. In 2020 there was a shift, and purpose-driven consumers became a much bigger part of the consumer makeup (40 percent). This placed them neck and neck with value-driven (41 percent) consumers. By 2021, purpose-driven consumers pulled into the lead making up 48 percent of the consumer market.
Giamprini recommends honing in on the primary pain point of your ideal customer and placing your eggs in that basket.
“Customers are becoming more knowledgeable now than they were in the past when it comes to online presence. Small businesses know they have to take care of their online presence and reputation. They don't really know how to do it.
“We have spent a lot of time on our go-to-market strategy and our messaging in addressing that pain point for customers, which is essentially, ‘I just don't know where to start.’ We always say, ‘start with us.’ We go in very consciously at a lower cost for the customer so that they can get comfortable,” he explains.
Incentivized compensation helps boost customer lifetime value
When asked about the ways he keeps his operations profitable, Giamprini shares his take on incentivizing great service and high customer lifetime value (LTV).
“I'm very transparent with my team about pricing. They're very conscious of margin because the bigger the margin, the bigger the share for everybody.
“We don't pay commissions. We pay a share of margin, and it seems to resonate well with the sales team because they have a different approach and a different appreciation for the value of a good customer versus a bad customer,” Giamprini says.
Giamprini recounts experiences at other organizations he’s worked for where a commission-based sales structure caused teams to be less invested in the long-term success of the client, as long as they managed to land the initial sale. This ultimately harmed client retention and customer lifetime value.
“We have worked really hard to figure out a way to keep the customer with us for as long as possible and to keep the sales people incentivized to find those customers. It takes time to train a salesperson to be knowledgeable enough to qualify customers and to close them with a vision of keeping them, as opposed to just closing them with a vision of grabbing a commission and moving on to the next one,” Giamprini says.
It’s this customer-first mindset that has allowed Giamprini’s organizations to flourish and to grow his team and revenue sustainably as the years tick on. If you’d like to discover more about the secrets to his success, you can check out the case study here.