Q&A: Jack Pires Shares Growth Hacks for Agency Owners

In Wayne, New Jersey, agency owner Jack Pires is making a mark in his part of the world.

Pires established his marketing operation SocialJack Media four years ago with a simple belief: to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) promote their brands online using digital strategies that work.

Local businesses are the bedrock of a strong and stable economy, and for that reason, they need premier digital marketing services on par with those enjoyed by the corporate giants.

Jack Pires

Founder and CEO, SocialJack Media

That simple belief, along with a customer-centric approach, has seen SocialJack Media evolve rapidly from a start-up agency generating less than $200,000 in annual recurring revenue to over $1 million for the first time in 2021. Even more impressive is his 100-percent client retention rate.

One of Pires' business goals is to ensure his agency grows sustainably. For him, this means never compromising on the quality of service for growth. It also means working hard to keep clients and employees amid volatile economic conditions and competitive forces.

It was in that context that Pires spoke at our recent webinar Weatherproof your agency:

Grow during changing market conditions. The webinar drew over 200 registrants, nearly 100 attendees, and dozens of questions.

In this blog, Pires responds to the additional questions he didn’t have a chance to cover at the webinar on topics including scaling, virtual prospecting, hiring, servicing clients, and the mindset of running a successful agency.

Q&A with Jack Pires

What would you say you do differently from other marketing agencies?

I don't really think of what other agencies are doing. We stay on our own path and don't really look too much at the competition.

But one thing that stands out, I think, is that I give; I give a lot of stuff, whether I’m charging for it or building it in as an investment to help the client supercharge their growth.

Another thing is we’re quick. If we get a lead, we're acting on it right away. We're super responsive because speed is the name of the game in every industry right now.  So if I think about our construction clients, if they get a lead and don’t act on it, then they are losing that bid. We have the same mindset.

We also maximize the reporting and show our customers the data.  So when we have clients who have churned from other agencies, my experience is that they were never given the data.

For them to be able to see the data, get weekly reporting, and get notifications about online reviews is a huge win, especially when you can get the client to interact with the dashboard on their own.

They love it, and it gives us insights into what’s working and what’s not. It also helps the relationship become stronger and stickier.

How are you able to retain 100 percent of your clients?

Open communication and being available to them. We make sure they’re getting what they need and understand every facet of our service and reporting. 

Those are the big things, but we also make sure they’re getting tangible results from their marketing spend.

We also work with our clients to pivot. So, if at any given time, you’re having those conversations and your client isn’t seeing the engagement or leads come through, we have a conversation then and there about pivoting. That often gets our customers to feel like we’re a genuine partner.

And if you position yourself as a partner and really want them to grow and give them a little bit more, at least for me, that’s how I’ve been able to keep all our clients.

Where do you get most of your leads from?

My primary source of leads, and where I get really great clients, is still word-of-mouth referrals.

And with referrals, I’d say the biggest thing is you’ve got to ask for a referral. And I didn’t ask up until last year. 

So when I had a quarterly call with a client, I just asked. I said, “We've done a great job so far. Do you know anyone else that could benefit from our services?”

I think that's where we've gotten the bulk of our big clients from other than LinkedIn. But LinkedIn takes a bit longer, especially if they’re larger, as you have to go through the sales cycle from scratch.

How are you thinking about your scaling strategy and what tools or systems are you using to help you grow?

Truthfully, we’re in the scaling phase now and when I think about scaling, it brings me back to the word I hated but have grown to love: patience. It’s all about being patient.

I think there are a lot of young minds, young entrepreneurs, and senior-level executives who just want to get there - they want to reach that growth in the fastest way possible.

I’ve realized that when you're patient and you do things the right way, and you go about your strategy methodically and you’re financially supported as you pursue those endeavors, then you’ll have long-term success.

Do the right thing - don't jeopardize your output, your quality of service, and your response time. Take care of the customer right in front of you, and that will lead to success and that's the approach we're taking.

For us, we’re thankfully in every vertical and from here, it’s time to really evaluate which markets we want to pursue, which are financially beneficial for us, create the action plans and be aggressive about tapping into those markets. 

It’s just so so important to have the strategies and then you know execute on.

What's the first hire that you would recommend as you grow your agency?

My first hire is my senior marketing/communications strategist and business development manager, Michelle.

She came from a public relations and strategy background, so I invested in having another thinker and someone who is really personable.

The reason I took that approach is that, in the marketing and PR world, you really get to know how large companies operate, and that's just been a really big advantage for us and how we position ourselves.

So I went for higher-tier talent and invested there.

Webinar Replay

Which Vendasta products did you find to be the most resourceful for yourself, and which ones for your customers?

If you’re still handling the bulk of the work, such as social media management, writing copy, and designing websites, we’ve now offloaded that to the Vendasta Marketing Services team, which provides outsourcing services under your own agency’s brand, and they do a great job.

I also re-sell solutions including the Local Business Online Toolkit, Social Marketing, Reputation Management, Listings Management, and Customer Voice, and we provide those to clients and we can help them set up templates, too.

Depending on the size of the client, we have different approaches for digital ad campaigns. For example, if it’s a large-scale client, we’ll go with a larger digital ad campaign spend using the Vendasta team. 

We always try and tap into the client’s website and bring them into the ecosystem. So if it’s a WordPress website, I’ll factor that into the cost and we’ll connect all the codes so that we can bring in some really good data and reporting.

What’s really important is that my agency still handles all the strategy, so we’ll have that open communication with our clients and create a really strong brief based on their needs and goals.

So even though we hand off some of the work to Vendasta, we’re always in control of the themes, topics, design, and messaging because we know our clients best. I really give them everything they need and proof the content when it comes back to make sure I’m happy with it before my client sees it.

We are currently approaching 50,000 members in our global business directory. Recently, we joined Vendasta and are in the process of understanding how to present their solutions. As a force of one, I need help monitoring my members on a recurring income basis, while giving them what they need. I feel that Vendasta is a great first step, but I have hit a wall and need help. Any ideas?

Well, what do they need? Do they need strategic support? Do they need websites? Listings? 

I think it's determining what those customers need and then putting together a nice package or bundle that could handle all of that. Then you can just monitor it in your admin dashboard.

The one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t work anymore for long-term growth because there is so much competition. Someone's going to come undercut you. Someone could be more likable than you, so you’ve got to stay sticky with a good proposition.

There are multiple. There's not just one ad campaign that's going to do it for you if you're looking to have a sustainable business model, so it's the same kind of approach.

I've been personally handling the social media postings for my clients (images, copy, landing pages, etc). It's becoming a lot of work, but I'm struggling with outsourcing this part of it. How has your experience been in handing this off to Vendasta and making sure that the quality you expect is there on a consistent basis?

Yes, that’s the hard part and that's why I like to have the creative, especially for social, because it's dynamic. There are multiple platforms, and clients really want to see themselves on these platforms, even though it may not reap the rewards right away, especially if they’re not spending a good chunk of change with you.

But to offset that, you need to understand the type of client and what they want. If they just need an image and strong copy, and you just need to be relevant, then going with the creative team at Vendasta will cost you $90 or $100 for two posts or whatever the case might be. You build a package that way for social if it's very basic, but then you should have tiers.

So if clients are looking for 5–12 pieces of content, including videos, photos of their team and their job sites, or whatever the case, then you have to build out more expensive packages, but you also need that support.

You need the creatives behind you. You need to be nimble enough to visit clients, get the footage, and edit it to make sure it matches your content strategy and your content calendar.

For me, right now, that’s what I dealt with in year three of running my agency: managing the content and scheduling it. 

And I still to some degree review everything before it goes out, but that's where hiring a virtual assistant or bringing in interns or junior-level team members can help offset that and handle that type of work for you.

Which digital advertising offering from Vendasta Marketplace works best for you and for your clients?

We re-sell the Local Business Online Toolkit to every client.

The website team is really great. They have design frameworks that are modern and, as long as you take the time to review their drafts and concepts, and if you have your own assets for clients, then that’s even better.

They’ve also gotten quicker—a few years ago, it would take about 30 days to create a website, but now they’re under 14 days. So to have a website that’s ready to go in two weeks gives you a competitive advantage.

The ads team has been fantastic—every ad we’ve run has been successful. I also really like the local ads system for our higher-spending clients. That service is now at a price point where it’s advantageous to offer to even hyperlocal clients.

One example that comes to mind is a campaign we’ve been running for a salon for around 16 months and they’re now opening another location, so it proves that advertising works when done right.

And if you need to outsource design work, then the graphics team is really great at handling the branding piece, so things like business cards and logos.

What is the sweet spot to charge for full-service social media management monthly?

It depends—we’re in multiple states, so it's a little bit different per state and per market.

On average, for social, we make about 12 posts, so 12 pieces of content per month, and that’s about a $3,000 retainer package for that alone.

But we also build in other services into that price point, such as the Express or Pro versions of Reputation Management, so they're getting extra value at that base price.

You can also break it down by post as long as you understand your margins and what your copywriter or graphic person might take per post. If you shop around, some agencies are charging only $300 for two posts a week, which is low, but the quality isn’t always there,

We started at around $500 a month for just social at the beginning but have increased that into the thousands. I always try adding more services and giving them more so they can see that the reporting is stronger. Then they’re happier, and it snowballs into selling more services.

How many Snapshot Reports do you send per month?

You’re allotted a certain number of Snapshot Reports for free and we really like using these from a sales perspective because it’s an icebreaker.

It provides an opportunity for us to lead the conversation and show them what we can offer. It helps us position ourselves by providing a roadmap of how to get from where they are now to where they want to be.

So if they came to us for social or for a website, but we’re able to point out they need other things to compete in their market, we’ll be able to have that conversation, create our proposal, and get all those things factored in. It helps us close a little bit faster.

Overall, we’re sending about 8–10 Snapshot Reports a month.

About Jack Pires

Vendasta’s “Weatherproof your agency” initiative, which Pires participated in, is designed to help agencies deliver through the downpour. Innovate your digital offerings and sales playbooks to become the trusted local expert for your clients.

 

  • Watch a replay of Pires’s presentation here.
  • Connect with him on LinkedIn.
  • Learn more about Vendasta solutions here.

Jack Pires

Jack Pires is the CEO and owner at Social Jack Media. Jack founded the agency with the belief that local businesses are the bedrock of a strong and stable economy, and for that reason, they need premier digital marketing services on par with those enjoyed by the corporate giants.

Through Social Jack Media, Jack is making accessible to small and medium sized businesses world-class digital marketing that is powered by a technology platform that works synergistically with the best bred marketing vendors and experts in the field. At the agency, he has assembled a formidable team of creatives, strategists and business development professionals that consistently surpass clients’ expectations, and are responsible for the agency’s stellar reputation and client acquisition rate –mainly through word-of-mouth referrals.

Before founding Social Jack Media, Jack served as COO and Executive Director for several hospitality brands.

When he’s not unleashing his imaginative force at Social Jack Media, Jack spends time with his family, wife and daughters, Savannah and Laeiylah in Wayne, NJ.

About the Author

Vishal Teckchandani is a Content Marketing Specialist at Vendasta. A newcomer to Canada, he spent the last 14 years of his career in Australia as a financial services reporter and TV host. He has written extensively about how technology companies are transforming business processes and lives, and interviewed the CEOs of global banking, payments, SAAS, and cloud storage providers including Afterpay, ELMO Software, Macquarie Group, National Australia Bank, NextDC, and Zip Co. When he’s not creating content, Vishal loves to cook, explore Saskatchewan with his family, and volunteer for his community.

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