Tuesday, May 21, 2024

What a Modern Marketing Agency Looks Like

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Brands are looking for disruptors and bold thinkers with new ways of conducting business and providing value. What are these new approaches? And if we’re leading a more traditional agency, how and what should we be considering changing into a modern agency? 

That’s what Troy Sandidge is here to help us with in episode 5 of Social Pulse Podcast, hosted by Mike Allton, Agorapulse’s head of Strategic Partnerships. You can catch the whole episode below or read on for a summary of it.

Troy Sandidge is the strategy hacker, a renowned growth marketing strategist, global speaker, award winning podcaster, and author. With a career spanning over 15 years, he has developed a reputation for creating sustainable, scalable, and profitable strategies that drive significant business growth, generating over a 175 million in client revenue and successfully launching over 35 brands worldwide. Troy’s expertise in integrating psychology, sociology, and behavior science with demand generation, go-to-market initiatives, and brand development has resulted in transformative growth pathways for a wide range of brands.

Mike: Let’s start off by letting everybody know more about what you do. I wanted to talk about Season Three Media (S3M). Your agency has got a really cool mission. I’d like you to share that and tell us more about what you’re doing with the agency and who you help.

Creating a Collective

Troy: Season Three Media was born through one of the events that I got to co-host with my co-founder, Christina Kaye. And our thought process was: We don’t want to necessarily make an agency, but we thought, “How about we make a collective?” So it gives you the semblance of an agency, but it’s better, more transformative.

Our goal is, “How do we make businesses more money, more awareness, more brand resonance, while being more inclusive and doing in a more equitable way?” with DEIBA, diversity, equity, inclusion, belongingness, and accessibility as the nucleus for that plateau. And on addition to that, how do we lean into more human-centric practices?

It’s one thing to make money. It’s another thing to make money that makes you feel good on the inside. It makes a ripple effect on the outside to expand the impact of people who probably, for the most part, have not been acknowledged and have not been considered as buyers.

And so we have been challenging brands—whether big or small enterprises, event organizers, whether they’re trying to cultivate events or launching marketing campaigns.

Do these campaigns, events, and initiatives represent the humans that you’re trying to serve? Are you leaving people out? We’re all trying to create new MVPs and launch new products and all these different things. What if I told you all we have to do to make more money is just open the lens just a little bit wider for more people to see themselves reflected through these campaigns and constant initiatives to then give you your buying dollars?

And that’s what we’re trying to do with S3M.

Mike: I’ve got to reel it back in and talk about it because you basically said, “We don’t really think of ourselves as an agency. We think of ourselves as a collective.” Now if you’re a sci-fi geek like me, you’re immediately thinking about the Borg collective. It’s not that. Tell us what it is.

What do you mean by collective? Why is that, and how do you think agencies are evolving today?

Troy: I’ve been doing a lot of brainstorming and talking with a lot of people. And, believe it or not, for those who are agencies, you’ll understand. For those who are building agencies, you’ll understand. For those who aren’t at agencies, you’ll probably understand the most. Sometimes, when we hear the word agency, it could trigger us as a consumer or as a partner. If you’re a big brand, yikes, but let’s be real.

Everyone has had a bad agency experience, a bad agency story, and, all of a sudden, that is the premise for every other agency you ever work with. We think you’re nickel and diming us. We have this relationship of “Can you do this faster, or are you just trying to make more money per hour or per project or per retainer?” Like, we don’t want to feel trapped, and so we want to eliminate that simply by the verbiage that we’re choosing.

Now some people might say, “Well, yeah, you’ve just changed the word from ages to collective, but you’re running the same thing.” No.

On the contrary, I built five of them. We’re really trying to be different, and different is OK. You don’t grow without change. And so we’re trying to change how we’re being perceived in order to be a more inclusive space for people to actually trust us, not only with their money, but with their vision and ideas to hopefully work together. So a collective is what we’re trying to pitch is we’re assembling groups. We’re not trying to be the be-all.

The collective mindset

If we can be part of your team to help facilitate getting you to where you want to be, that’s where we fit in best. That’s where we fit in the most. And the other thing I would add to that, when we’re trying to lean into a more collective mindset than maybe the tried and true agency mindset model from years past. It’s all about collaboration, not competition. I don’t feel any other agency is a threat. If anything, agencies work with us. We’re going to do experiential marketing. Y’all could do your sales. You can do your pipeline. You can do retainers. 

I always like to think of it like this and especially with this economy happening right now for agencies: Any little bit more of the pie we can get is better than no pie by being prideful and being egotistical. Let’s collaborate!

And so with the premise of a collective is saying, we want to genuinely not just be a partner. It takes both of us to make this happen. As many agency owners know, they put you in a box and they think, “We’re going to pay this money and you’re going to wave a magic wand, be our agency fairy godmother or godfather, and help us get to where we need to be.” No. I still need you to do your part. As a collective, it allows us to mean in the middle of that intersection and hopefully hold everyone accountable. If you do your part and we do our part, we’re going to get to where we need to go.

What Changes Are Happening in the Industry?

Mike: One of the things you talked about initially was that there’s change happening. There’s change happening with your agency. You’re seeing change happen in the industry. 

Tony Robbins talks about how nobody changes anything unless there’s enough pain or pleasure to actually force them to make that change. You’re not going to just say, “I wanna lose weight,” or “I want a new pricing structure unless there is reasoning for it.” So what were some of the reasons? What are some of the key drivers that you’ve seen that are bringing about that change? Either they’re forcing you or they’re inspiring you to change yourself. Maybe you’re seeing that in the industry, because like we said, you’ve been around in this business for a while. You’ve seen some stuff. What’s happening?

Do better or else

Troy: I think now we’re seeing the marketplace is saying, “Do better or else. Period.”

Since if I step back to the year of George Floyd and what that translated for me, that was a trigger, not for me just as a black man, but it was almost a call to arms saying, “We can be better. We can be different with how we collaborate and market to our audience pool.” And diversity isn’t a PR checklist anymore. It’s not something I like to say. People think of it as a Power Rangers assembly. No. That’s not what diversity is about.

It’s about the reflectiveness of culture, of different ideas to create that innovation pathway for people to not only see themselves but align themselves with you. Agencies themselves can no longer hide behind the logos that we put on our website. We have to be one of those logos. We have to be a purpose-driven agency or, in my case, a collective agency, whatever you want to call it. 

Social media as SEO assets

Nevertheless, I think the demand of that and what enterprise brands want to collaborate with big agencies or mid-sized cap agencies, what growing funded startups want to do. They want to create experiences, and that requires us to think differently. We have to think of social media not just as content distribution but as SEO assets now. Because people are getting away from Google. They’re going to look in TikTok. They’re looking at YouTube. They’re looking at Reddit as actual search engines for their problems.

You, as a brand entity or those of you serving for your brand entities, are you creating those experiences and those pathways to do it? And so it’s really forced us to look at the tried and true. The demand is different. We have five generations with buying power. I just did a talk with Brooke Sellas on her show, and I articulated that 3.7 trillion dollars in generational BIPOC buying power is available.

Are agencies aware of this and do they not only embrace DEIBA from a PR standpoint, but are they literally integrating that into how they market and sell, which is the opening of the gates of all this abundance of new money to come into helping your clients, as well as yourself?

I think it’s less about how many more MVPs, how many more products can we offer. Can we just hone in on what we do best and expand those experiences in order not only to make more money but to make a bigger impact at the larger scale?

And does that take a lot of work? Yes. Does it require you to learn a new language? Yes. Does it require you to maybe collaborate with other people, get some strategies and insights to understand your audiences a little bit better and what we can pivot and modify? Yes.

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But either you do those things and you are the next gen moving forward, or you’re slowly gonna see your Q1s, Q2s, Q3s, and Q4s deteriorating. You’re not making as much money. Now you dealt with layoffs, and we don’t want to deal with none of that. We want to be sustainable, but that requires change, and that requires you to adapt to what the demand of the market is saying. The market is screaming, give us innovation. Give us change. Give us unity. Give us diversity.

Mike: It was so astute of you to mention George Floyd. Longtime subscribers of my own newsletter will know I’m a historian. And so when I’m looking back at the last 10 or so years, I can see the George Floyd incident, while being a horrible thing in and of itself, was also one of those pivotal moments in history where it brought awareness and just so much more visibility—not just on the issues surrounding that incident, but to your larger point, how each of our businesses are being aware of and embracing diversity and equity and so on. So let’s talk about that from that agency perspective.

DEIBA, just so everyone understands again, means diversity, equity, inclusivity, belonging, and accessibility. I love that. How not to just be diverse, but how to actually bake that into every aspect of our agency’s organization from structure to services to marketing campaigns?

How are some of the ways that you’re approaching that today?

Troy: It’s a learning curve. I say that with love because no one’s just going to snap their fingers, and we’re just going to have it all together. It’s a progressively learning thing because if we learn more, we can do more. Everyone who’s listening or watching, whatever, understand that whether you’re a leader or an owner of an agency, you’re going to be in different areas of what you can do and what you can’t do yet. And I’ll explain what I mean by that in a second. But to go back, to really understand DEIBA and why you should do this, it’s not a matter of what sounds good. 

It’s literally going to be a matter of survival.

The Shifting of Buying Power

Now, as the generations are shifting and buying power, it’s less about legacy. It’s about impacting what you’re doing right now. And as more of us are reflecting on that and caring about that, we have to now join forces and align ourselves to that.

Diversity considerations

So if you were an agency and let’s say, for lack of better terms, you’re in a social economic place where maybe most of your team and who you interact with isn’t as diverse. (And this is not to make anyone feel guilty or feel some type of way.) Oh, well, you are literally in a certain location on this planet, on this nation, the United States, or wherever you are abroad where it may not be as diverse a pool. That doesn’t mean even within that, you can’t be embracing more equitable ways of how you operate with your teams.

And even if we go beyond even ethnicity or race, but even gender personas. Are we making sure our women and individuals, whether they are clients or on our teams, are reflected and heard in the decision-making process? Are we considering them and how we operate? But, ultimately, whether you have the opportunity to be more diverse in how you hire, how you build bridges with clients, or maybe lack thereof, there is this happy medium where we just embrace our teams and consider them. It’s just going to be better all the way around. Now the dance around all of this—and I’ll be very cautious—we do unfortunately still live in a world where there is still prejudice and racism and hatred and lack of understanding and information being sent that isn’t real.

With that said, you have to also do an audit of how much we can do to embrace that change fluently without burning our bridges for maybe other external factors that may not be ready yet. 

Let’s go back to George Floyd. That window of time as a black marketer and speaker was the most uncomfortable time I’ve ever had. Why? Because I was in the most demand I’ve ever been to. Asked to talk on something very near to me that I never associated with or had any tie to directly to business. But because of what has happened, now this is in the forefront. Now this matters. Now this is a reality that most people care about.

How do we make this dance? How do I, Troy, as an agency owner, advise my clients to navigate social media during tough times when certain things are happening? Do we proceed? Do we not?

Even if our audience base is predominantly not of that ethnicity or race that is navigating that certain challenge in this moment, do we acknowledge it? Do we not?

And the balance is this: You have to take inventory of where the psychological mindset is of your audience and your client base.

It does no one good and does no good to the future of embracing DEIBA if you activate it with so much zeal and you’re not using wisdom, data, and psychology to make sure it aligns and you’re doing it in baby steps, that’s going to reap ultimate results. Just like going to the gym. You go to the gym. You lift the heaviest weights consistently hard for two days. You’re out. Versus gradually progressing, it’d be a lot easier. Now people want to just shift gears. It’s not that simple. We are dealing with not just better equitable practices and the outcomes, but in the people we’re serving, the people that we’re helping. And some people aren’t on different levels. So you have to gauge your audience pool and test out and sing, where does this land?

The easiest way to do this is ask and amplify somebody else who is more equipped to share those insights and see how your audience takes it. One: You’re not directly saying anything, which protects you until you get your win in seeing where everyone is. Two: You’re amplifying someone or a group of individuals more qualified, which is great. You’re sowing the seeds. And three: You’re actually introducing external factors, in other mindsets, and sources of information into the mix to see how well your audience plays with it, how well your clients agree with it or align with it. 

And from those testings, you now can put a pathway forward of and again exercise as an analogy here. How many reps can we do of this? How can we do that? And I think that’s where a lot of agencies or just business in general brands, if you’re representing them, fail because they don’t gauge the artist before they implement. They either go too fast, too hard, too quickly, or they go too slow, and it hurts them either way. We have to find the right engagement of areas of how we’re implementing these things so that way we don’t put the DEIBA in vain, and it sets us back because we’re going to say, “Well, because we did diversity, embraced it, but it could hurt us vs. we did in the right caliber of way, it can actually help us.” That makes complete sense. And I always like to underline that DEIBA starts with diversity but doesn’t end with diversity. To your point, if you’re in that kind of a socioeconomic location where diversity is a really hard challenge for you in terms of hiring.

Mike: Then you could be looking at being more equitable, like you mentioned, either in gender or bring more accessibility or kinds of folks that may or may not look different from the other people that you’re hiring or not. Maybe they wouldn’t have been quite so hireable in a previous generation because of a disability or something along those lines. And I think one of the things that we should talk about on behalf of agencies is how they can help their clientele be more diverse and inclusive and so on in terms of their campaigns.

General advice for agencies who want their clients to be more inclusive/accessible in their marketing

I’m wondering if you’ve been in a situation where you’ve tried to coach or advise clients or maybe you just have some general advice for agencies where they want their client to be more diverse or inclusive or accessible in their marketing. And they’re proposing campaign ideas or trying to pitch these ideas. How do they get that across the board with maybe a client that is not as understanding of the importance of it?

Troy: I align it back to green. When I can align it to the money, a lot of the things.

We all come from different knowledge bases of DEIBA, and sometimes people don’t want to talk about that. I understand the premise, so I’d never shut anything away. I’m an open book, and I’m very eager to listen to everyone individually, equally. 

But when you look at these campaigns, I align it with diversity equals revenue. Inclusivity equals innovation. When I can associate the why to your outcome, they may not even justifiably choose it because of the reason, but now it’s like, “This makes it a little easier for me to have this conversation.” But then I would also interject data. And so if you’re trying to work with the brand and they’re trying to create a new campaign going into the summer season and all these different things, the best way is to find brands who have already paved the way and see how people received it.

Example of an inclusive campaign

There was a campaign that was done recently with someone with Down syndrome, and they did a phenomenal job and made it more modern. And I think people are seeing that. People never thought to include it and do it in that way. But once people see it once, they now know how to interject that in an equitable way but still captures the attention in the heart.

And, again, if you’re a modern-day agency, your job is to move people’s currency to drive real currency. And if the people are reflected in your marketing campaigns, if the people are reflected in your language, in your copy. And, again, you may not be able to hire diversity, but you can still reflect diversity in your marketing, in your initiatives, and even in your tech stack. If you evaluate your entire tech stack, where is it from? How are you using that? And so when you can tie in these psychological manners of where we’re trying to improve into the literal of money, of tactics, of creative, of tech stack, you can integrate a lot of things really quickly and easily more easily, with little or less resistance than if you were to go forefront with it.

Now some people may say, “Well, Troy, I don’t want it that way. I want people to just receive it that way.” Well, I’m telling you I have 32 years of being a black African-American man on this earth. And I’m telling you, you have to do it with grace and understand that everyone is a little bit different and moving the stride a little bit better, a little bit faster, again. Getting a little bit more of that pie is better than no pie or setting us back. When you think of it that way through these lenses, it makes it a little bit easier to interject than the last thing I would say on this to reflect.

When you’re looking at how much or how little ad, the audience dictates direction. When you lead it with all the stuff that we’re talking about, you’re always going to see how much you can drive, how much you can push, how much you can integrate at any point in time. And when you lead with that, it allows it to be much easier to receive, easier to operate, and easier to implement.

Financial struggles

Mike: It is hard to be an agency, particularly in today’s economic times financially.

Clients are struggling, and therefore agencies are struggling. I think 2023 was a particularly hard year for agencies, and that speaks a whole lot to what you were just talking about before where in the past, a lot of agency owners and businesses would have thought about DEIBA as a cost to the business. I love how well you illustrated that. Yes. It’s a challenge, but it’s also an actual financial opportunity, if not a moral and a societal opportunity.

What other areas have you seen changed or seen change in the industry that is impacting how modern marketing agency approach is doing business today, whether that’s how they’re structured, the services they offer, or perhaps even the clientele that they work with?

Troy: Oh, it’s definitely people are looking at the microscope now, y’all.

Again, we can’t hide behind the logos anymore. They want to know who’s on the team. Are you reflective? Like, for S3M, we’re a minority-owned, women-led, black-led, Latinx-led organization. We’re very upfront about that. And, again, I don’t want people to perceive or receive this in a way of seeming like we’re trying to collect this and that. No. We’re trying to be very reflective, because we’re saying we’re coming from different walks of life.

And we understand that a lot of the people who choose to be our clients are from different walks of life. And if one aligns with you better than others, know that the others will align behind you, and that’s where the collective comes in. But when we think about that from what agents are doing now, again, it’s all about purpose-driven. 

So who do you have on your board? Who do you collaborate with? Who do you have as guests on your podcast? Who do you have as experiences and collaborative on these things? It not only differentiates you, but it does create opportunities because people care more about that.

If you think about now with a lot of initials, I just saw a new initiative for the SDA that they’ve increased who they partner with from agents. Again, I’ve been through some of these hard times and challenges. Trust me. We need the money.

We need that green in the money for sure. We’re streaming it. And sometimes it’s not always coming from what we think. The government has literally said, “We are initializing more money to give to agencies if you, through your agency, can help us hit our quotas and our numbers to impact social economics for different business structures and things like that.”

And it’s like, “Oh, I didn’t think if I would’ve just acknowledged my agency can do this or we’ve done these things, the government would give us the money to do more of these things.” So that means we don’t have to worry about, “Oh, well, I want to help you with this impact and this cause, but we do need some money.” Well, no. The money is already here. Just do what you do best. And isn’t that the best thing to do with an agency when you know you’ve got a client relationship or a situation where money is covered? Just do your best work and do it faithfully and do it amazingly. And, honestly, that is, like, that is the creme de la creme for us. How do we create those opportunities for us that do lead back to money? 

DEIBA can help with that. And, again, think of DEIBA. I did this whole thing where we’re building this pyramid here of traditional marketing, modern-day marketing, with DEIBA on top of that. Then we go to the tip of the pyramid. I like to call it conscious growth pathways, where you’re meeting brands at the intersection of entertainment, education, experience, and empowerment.

So through those lenses on the way down, you’re not only showcasing what you can do or what the opportunities you can as an agency fulfill. And, again, it doesn’t matter what your actual tangible thing is—whether it’s SEO, social media, paid media, content marketing, event marketing management, acquisition marketing, whatever the case might be, acquisition management—you can still apply these principles into your tangible MVPs within your agency. It doesn’t require you to do anything differently in the process. It’s in the filtering. It’s in the layering. It’s the language that you’re doing, and that can create more people open to having those conversations.

So if you talk about the government (and this is really for the general for the smaller agencies) tap into that government money. Position yourself and how you created campaigns and how you did things from an equitable way. If they tie that back in, that’s awesome, but on the flip side, let’s go outside of the government.

There’s a lot of funded startups and NGOs and nonprofits who are awarded funds as long as the agency can impact and employ what they’re doing at the higher level. So another benefit why you want to do DEIBA is because it forces you to be more socially responsible as an agency, which can actually make you money because it positions you in a place different from many that, if I have to pick between three brands to work with me on a ten million dollar campaign for the next six months to drive this impact home, let me look at the one that’s embracing change and reflecting what the modern day audiences will look like even the more.

And what does that require? A little bit of your time? Maybe some coaching? Maybe some training? Modify your language a little bit more? Those small little things stack up to big dollar amounts of opportunity just if you start now. And I’m not saying you have to figure it all out right now. But just in that small little three and a half, it went out just kinda blurred all about, maybe it sparks some ideas of what’s possible by just embracing these things and making these modifications of changes.

Measuring the business impact of your social media

Mike: I want to switch gears a little bit because I want to talk about how you’re doing your agency a little bit. Social media is a big part of what we do, and a big part of what you do. How are you currently measuring that business impact?

Troy: What I’ve been seeing is a change in models of how we sell. And so we know we got the flywheel, we got the pipeline, and we got the funnel. I’ve been challenging a lot of folk recently. We’ve got to start making pathways because we’re missing so many opportunities, so many gems simply, because we’ve designed our sales model to basically debunk somebody from a meeting. Just because they’re not a buyer right away doesn’t mean they can’t be a buyer later.

Understanding buyers, advocates, and elevators

One of the first things I did as the acronym was BAE (buyers, advocates, and elevators) on one of these shows we’ve done in the back of the day, so I’m bringing that back. We’re going in a time warp, y’all. I went in a time warp. And I’ve taken that same thing, added DEIBA on top of it, and how we do our sales model now.

How do we do this? 

With social media specifically, I don’t see it anymore as just a content distribution to garner awareness. It is literally a pipeline to sales and is bigger than what it used to be before. What are we tracking? How are we tracking this? For me, likes and vanity metrics are always indicator lights of we’re moving in the right direction potentially, whether through paid or organic, but they’re not the be-all.

Then you go a little bit higher and the totem pole of seeing more engagement from comments and mentions, which is good. That means it’s external factors that literally have to embrace and engage with us. Either our content is invoking that action, or our body of work has created people submitting their minds to mention or comment on what we do, which is a beautiful thing. It’s a beautiful thing. But there’s other layers to that. So now I want to get to how many conversations we are having that are not sales-related, but it’s about us? That may feel like a weird mental thing. 

I want just how you said earlier, Mike, so beautifully said. People know who I am from the body of work. They have a certain premise of who I am, who I associate with, how I engage with. And from that nucleus, that moment can convert to more opportunities, because if you sow those seeds in enough people, it’s going to transcend social. We all know that social doesn’t stop on the external public layer. It’s those one-on-one conversations, those voice messages that no one sees. It’s the link clicks that drive into the Calendly link conversations that no one sees, the Zoom calls that no one sees that we can now attribute back to that moment. 

And so what we’ve been doing now, again, going back to the conscious growth pathways, is tracking experiences. At this point, everything that we do is a micro experience. Everything. And now it’s like Pokemon, you “gotta catch them all.” We’ve got to capture as many micro experiences that we can that are positive and in alignment with reaffirming and reassuring to our audience, potential buyers, and ICP, that we are here. We can deliver on what we do. 

Sometimes, we can post so much on social media in a micro bubble that we limit ourselves to what’s possibly what’s next. Agorapulse has been known to constantly evolve and expand in its market share of the offers that it provides based on what the demand of the market and needs for agencies and social media people in general. But we know your nucleus has been social. That doesn’t limit your growth and possibility because of that. And we have to take that same helmet and apply it to us as agency owners and not think, “Oh, we’re an SEO-only type of thing.” That’s what we’ve been doing: What’s complementary to what we’re doing? What are our active steps in that?

Going back to our pipeline, how we sell with flywheel, pipeline, funnel are missing things. The pathway, if you look at neuropsychology, and they’re all the different nodes that have to fire in a subset of ways, is the same thing with community and audience engagement. They had to go off in so many different ways. And, eventually, all these different nodes are blowing up, and they’re connecting and driving us back blind to us.

We can capture those experiences using social as an activator, as an igniter of that spark that drives to the email campaigns, that drives to the podcast, that drives to the blog, or that drives to the in person, digital, or live events.

Again, an agent has such a hard time quantifying those experiences because they seem costly. And if it’s not a direct relationship to money back to us right away, we think it’s null and void. We’ve been screaming for more events. We’ve been screaming for more experiences, less maybe digital, more physical, or more immersive, or more interactive than we could before. 

And so that’s the challenge that agencies need to embrace now. We create experiences. The experiences will drive more people currency. The people currency will drive more real currency and will not only make money, but will be sustainable and then put us in a high position to scale on the basis of our community being advocates for us to scale.

Micro Experiences

Mike: Love it. I know you guys are digging everything Troy’s saying. And those of you who are wondering, we’re referencing some past interviews where he was on our Social Pulse Weekly show. Those are on YouTube. I’ll put them in the show notes. So if you want more Troy, I’m going to give you more Troy. 

One of the things that I love that you were just talking about was that importance of these micro experiences, these individual conversations, that are frankly hard for us as human beings to comprehend the impact that we’re having over time when you and I might talk once, exchange a couple Facebook comments, and then a couple months later, have another exchange on X, and then a couple months later, it’s on LinkedIn.

It’s often not possible for us to grasp the impact and frequency because there are so many things else going on in our mind. We can only handle a hundred and twenty eight bits in a moment. But I’ll tell you one of the fun things that I’m seeing today is that with this prevalence of AI and this explosion of tools that can leverage large language models that can look at all that data, it’s going to be easy and easier for us as marketers to be able to see all these points and understand the impact that they’re having. 

One of the things I loved about Google Plus—not to date myself here—is this feature called Ripples. And with Ripples, you could see when you posted and other people engaged and shared that post, and then whoever saw it as a response. It would all be mapped out for you, so it was just like throwing a rock in a pond. You can see that initial Ripple that you created as a circle and then all the other little circles that might happen as a result of that.

We’re going to start to get into that a little bit more now, I think, with these new tools that are going to show us those kinds of ripples and impacts over time across multiple channels. We’ve talked about some tools already in this show. What other tools are you using in your agency that you could share with the folks?

A word about AI

Troy: Before I talk about that, I do want to add another minute on what you said about the problem with AI. 

I’ve been talking about smart marketing protocols (SMPs for short). And that is taking those best practices, AI methodology technologies, with human-centric undertones, to optimize your resources. One thing I’ve been telling a lot of people, who maybe have resistance to AI, that the same exact premise of resistance was at the dot com boom. People complained, “Are you meaning to tell me I’m going to push out a website when I can just look at the newspaper? I can look at the radio? TV? Are you kidding me? Then dot com?” Whoo. Same thing with Instagram in 2012. They said, “That’s just for teenagers. It’s not going to trend. It’s not going to transcend. It’s not going to take off.” Now you would be a recluse if you don’t have an Instagram account today.

And then, again, early 2020 when TikTok was doing its thing, again, that same premise happened, and now here we are. And now we’re looking at AI in the same way. 

Let’s not think of AI as a replacement or resistance. Let’s think of how this tool can empower us. For those who don’t know, I actually pulled up some numbers, and I will share this link with Mike as well. We can conduct some research. 51% of marketers and agents say they don’t have enough budget. 39% say they don’t have enough personnel, and 34% say they don’t have enough time. So budget, personnel, and time are the reasons many agencies are not flourishing. Again, we’re going back to the fundamental basis. But the future, which is now, many believe that investing in AI will decrease operation cost. Now that’s 95%, who believe that it will help produce better team productivity and impact while also managing and then being more open minded of mental awareness and lack of burnout rates with agency owners and their teams. And 92% believe that AI tools can reduce time on tasks, which we all know if we just embrace those things, then you always have to do. 

No. You don’t. No. You don’t. Put in the work to build the infrastructure. You’d be surprised how much it will save you time.

Now segueing that forward, one of the tools that we’re using now, we’re using Notion. We’re integrating more of that into that system because it just allows us to creatively create more things and connect more things. So Notion’s in our tech stack. Zapier’s in our tech stack to talk to things and make everyone all inclusive. And then, obviously, we’re using HubSpot as a HubSpot partner as well. And with that, they’re even going more strides in how they integrate AI and things like that. But you have to do your research and make sure what makes sense for you. I always like to say start off small. And, again, let’s make this simple. If you’re using Grammarly, you’re using AI. We can go back in time. If you remember the clip from Microsoft Word, there’s some AI component in there. Now, again, AI is a wide area. Just how marketing is, you got generative AI, and you got pragmatic AI.

Sometimes people don’t know the difference between the two and how that integrates with everything else. Yeah. Your agency may want to create its own generative AI model to take all information that you’ve ever done. And if we do a common search, that takes a long time. That is not an easy feat to do. But we can integrate AI and maybe a simple knowledge base of content media that we’ve done on a website for easier fluid search to understand what their nuances are to pull up here’s something that we’ve done to reflect. That may save a lot of time and cut a lot of time in the process of life cycle to convert for sales and money and opportunities. 

And so bringing it on home, again, artificial intelligence is not bad. It is a way for us to actually maximize our time, reduce our budgets, and output our productivity in a way that’s aligned to us. Now how extensive or how impactful that is, yes, it depends on how much you have to be willing to invest in that to build that if you don’t have it or the time, okay, to learn it. But take it slow. Do it slowly and integrate it. And, again, collaboration, y’all. There’s a lot of folk who have built these things. They don’t mind sharing the tea. So don’t think we have to do it ourselves. We can collaborate and get it all together.

Mike: Couldn’t agree more. I’m glad you went down that rabbit hole of AI because it’s obviously all the rage right now, but it is more than a buzzword. It is this revolutionary moment in history. I was just writing down notes because this is something I need to write about a bit more. Not only to think about my own thoughts, but to share it with folks because they do need to understand it’s not going away. It’s not necessarily going to replace your job, but it is going to make your jobs a whole lot easier if you do it the right way. 

Like at Agorapulse, we recognize that we’re creating a lot of assets right now, particularly now, that are designed to both market the company and be useful tools for our sales team. This podcast is a great example. If my sales team is talking to someone and they’re expressing the kinds of challenges that we’re talking about in this episode, we want our AIs to be able to share this just for the client’s or the prospect’s own edification to help them out. And, yeah, you could put all that in a spreadsheet. But how are they going to find this in a spreadsheet? They’re not. But if they could use a system where they could just ask the AI, it would spit this out or a case study or whatever it is that we’ve fed in there. And those are the kinds of tools that, to your point, people are creating these things every single day. I subscribe to a couple of newsletters, and every day they’re giving me lists of brand new tools that are leveraging AI to accomplish exactly these kinds of tasks. 

So be open to that. Be aware of it.  

In Conclusion

For folks who want to know more about you and want to tap your wisdom for their agency or for their event, where can they go to learn more and connect with you?

Troy: Yeah. If you’re looking for someone to spice up your event marketing or be an emcee or host or speaker or whatever you need, check out Season Three Media’s website. We also offer fractional services and even audits from marketing sales and even DEIBA. 

If you need help activating those initiatives within your marketing or sales or operational team overall, we can help guide you or facilitate that with you or even with your clients as a third party support mechanism. 

As for me, if y’all been around for a minute, y’all know again, I’ve been a baby on here, and y’all watched me grow up and matured and flourish and still on @FindTroy everywhere on the Internet. If you want to connect with me, I have a podcast, iDigress.FM, and a new podcast coming out.

 

What a Modern Agency Looks Like | Social Pulse Podcast, Ep. 5What a Modern Agency Looks Like | Social Pulse Podcast, Ep. 5

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