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I have been in digital marketing since 1997. I became a freelancer and then co-founded an agency. We have built an agency model that provides exceptional ROI-based value to clients and that can grow to 7 figures in less than 3 years. We have been following the model for 8 months and have grown a projected $400,000 turnover for the first 12 months and should hit 7 figures within 24 months.

Our agency was initially UK based and we built it to the point where we could work remotely from anywhere. We moved abroad and currently reside 1500 miles away from our clients in a nice villa in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Gozo, Malta. Not everyone wants to live so far from where they work, but it is good to know the option will be there!

For years, I thought that our marketing agency was a passion project. Helping clients expand their businesses and getting paid for it felt good. I like to read and get through about a book a week, mostly non-fiction books. A lot of the motivating and entrepreneurial material I read painted a different picture. When you did well in your own business you were supposed to feel great! I felt good, but not great.

Why a network of partner agencies?

A trend at the moment is to build a strong personal brand off the back of success you have had. I agree with this in principle. However, I am quite a private person and there were many other digital marketing people that have had a lot more success than I have. It felt daunting, I was not excited about doing it and even the idea of succeeding at becoming a “guru” just didn’t make me feel great.

There was something limiting about becoming a thought leader in the industry. I felt I would end up not really doing much strategizing or implementation and would end up out of touch with clients. I would be getting paid to speak publicly (which scares me) and I would be back to exchanging my time for money – the very thing I had broken free from as an agency co-founder. Also, digital marketing is not my entire life, there was something inauthentic about becoming a digital marketing guru whose heart was not all in the subject I was guru-ing.

I wanted to do something special in the digital marketing space, something different. I didn’t want to just expand what I had or take it into different areas. I didn’t want chains or franchises. Too many administrative headaches, I would just become a manager and I feared that more than becoming a Guru!

I finally figured out what I wanted. I realised what I would have to do in my business to start feeling great about what I was doing. I had to work with entrepreneurs that wanted to build agencies.

I wanted to do something very different to normal methods of expansion. So many methods of getting people inspired and applying successful actions have such a low rate of follow through – less than 5% of attendees apply things they learn at conferences, and so many of those people revert back to past habits after a while. Most people read books with incredible advice in them and don’t do anything different in their lives afterwards, except read the next book full of fantastic advice. Others pay a mentor or coach – I suspect that improvement percentages are higher here but what happens when the coaching or mentoring finishes? I think a lot of people go back to bad habits. A partnership is like a puppy, not just for Christmas, and to be successful requires consistency from both sides. As a partnership we are bound to each other and we are forever responsible to do the best we can for each other and for the agency we build. There is no choice but to work for success. There is no opportunity to stop the session. There is no option to not apply the data from the conference or the book. There is no spoon. Only focus and hard work toward a common goal.

That was the genesis of the agency partner network (APN). Find entrepreneurial people that felt strongly about value generation, people that realised that the best way to pay their bills is to make others more successful. They didn’t have to have a clue about digital marketing, they just had to want to learn and make others successful.

Exit Opportunities

I had another issue. I had so many ideas for projects I had no way of getting them all done if I kept just building our digital agency – all my time would be being spent only with them.

I wanted to ensure that the agency model I would provide to my network partners had a way for them to outgrow their success if they wanted. So we included two forms of exit – a clean exit where the partnership is readied for sale and could be sold at any point the partner wished it and, an “elastic exit” where the partner kept shares and employed and managed a local manager.

Each agency is its own thing

How would it be best to run a partner network? I didn’t want a franchise model where partners paid a percentage to use the brand and an upfront fee irrespective of their performance. I wanted each partner and I to build a unique brand. Something tangible. Something worth something in its own right. I realised each partnership would be its own thing, each partner bringing their unique set of skills, network and experience to the partnership. I am not building one big agency, I am building 120 different agencies. We had to split it. It was the only fair way to do things. 50:50 down the middle for each partnership. This meant each partner had to resonate on this point – we split it down the middle in terms of remunerated benefits and we split it down the middle for the work involved in value generation for clients. It kept things simple and meant that everyone was on the same terms and transparency was possible in the network. It is a good filtration system – if someone demands more than 50:50 for providing 50% of the value then they are not a good fit for the network.

Money

Following the model and combining that with full support I honestly believe it is a 3 year project to 7 figures. So there is a money aspect to it. I don’t push that point too hard as it depends what you want the money for. Some people want financial freedom, others want a fancy car or want to fund other projects. Whatever it is, that’s fine; I suggest you find an overriding purpose behind it that adds value to the world. That will keep your passion up when we get into the grind of building a new agency partnership.

I am passionate about aspiring entrepreneurs making 6 or 7 figures with a full support setup. I have understanding and experience in doing this in a digital agency so that’s how I can provide the opportunity.

Where we stand

I want to make it clear that we are always moving forward. We have several other passion projects that we want to get done in different sectors including digital marketing automation, entrepreneurship, nutrition, authorship, even children’s products. The list gets bigger every day! All massive projects that will need lots of funding in terms of time, money and staff and this is a great way for us to be able to do so.

As more partners are taken on, the best performing partners will have an opportunity to work with others and take over from me. I will move on up when the time is right. I understand that “founding partners” will be coming on board partly as they can work with me directly. But this ethos will change over time and future partners will come on board because they get to work directly with a successful founding partner.

What Now?

I hope all that makes sense and clearly explains my intentions, I know the opportunity page talks about what the goal is. This page was more about how we want to do it.

If you want to do it  get in touch and ask me any more questions you have. From there I’ll ask for a good rundown of what you’ll bring to the partnership – if it’s all good then we’re a go!

Looking forward to hearing from you.