Best Practices for Digital Agencies in Uncertain Times | Mattan Danino’s Interview with Steve Pockross

Mattan Danino
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Here’s the full interview Mattan Danino gave to Verblio’s CEO Steve Pockross. Mattan was included among several other marketing professionals in ‘A series of conversations with agency experts‘, where they share their thoughts and advice on how to face and overcome uncertain times like the ones we’re living during the Coronavirus pandemic. If you’re an agency or even a business owner you will definitely find Mattan’s words useful and interesting! We also want to thank Steve for the opportunity of sharing our knowledge with those who need it the most.

Watch the video of the interview here:

Read the full interview here:

Hi Mattan, thank you so much for joining us. Would you mind introducing yourself?

Sure thing. Mattan, Danino, founder and CEO here at WEBITMD, our Digital Marketing and sales agency based in Los Angeles and we have offices in Dallas and New York City. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your agency?

Sure! We serve clients across multiple verticals; mostly in the small-medium sector to the 20 million dollars in revenue. What we do is we focus on the full-funnel, what we call “the Growth Stack”, from driving traffic up top (traditionally SEO, paid media, content development) through the more traditional inbound marketing or nurturing and automation piece: creating assets, email marketing, job campaigns, etc. And then finally the bottom of the funnel is sales enablement and really helping mostly B2B organizations, but helping businesses sell better through our sales services and educating them if you will on how to sell better. 

What are you seeing as changes to your business, changes to your clients’ business in the current time? We should probably say, it is April 6th as of this interview and how do you see changes?

Definitely, it is dynamic! We hope not to get additional emails of people either wanting to cut back or suspend entirely. I would say for the most part (from) other agencies, partners I’ve spoken to… it’s something that is almost not anticipated, (but) to be expected. Depending on the industry in the vertical of course some (were) more impacted than others. We’re finding the most immediate hit on paid media budgets. It’s the first thing people feel they can turn the lever and switch that off, stop some bleeding and we’re seeing that not across the board, but in clients where their industries are definitely more impacted.

You know, it depends how everyone is spread and I’ve heard from other agencies that are highly focused in hospitality or in food and beverage and so and of course, they’re getting it pretty bad. But if your agency spreads across different verticals, I would say it’s to be expected to see somehow a loss. I’m hearing anywhere between 10 and 30 percent, I’ve heard as much as 50 percent for some (which sounds pretty bad). We’re more right in the middle of that. We’re seeing about a 25 percent impact on our business.

Am I rightly hearing that it’s mostly about dropping aspects of their budget as opposed to dropping the entire relationship?

Yes, the smaller end of the small medium-sized businesses, the smaller businesses, they definitely view us as an agency as an extension of their team, and it is a big part of their monthly budget if you will. So we’ve had definitely some clients that say “you know what, for the month of April” (especially after they saw some updated warnings here to the end of April as we’re all working from home) “let’s suspend things and let’s reconvene May 1st”.  So full suspension.

Where we’ve had some kind of partial suspension or cancellations – I mean on the paid media side and the clients do see value – we continue to educate them on the value of continuing with the marketing, the content development. That’s when we can lower but we definitely recommend not to suspend that entirely.

Love to hear what you’re doing to manage your business, your agency, differently during this time, and the way you recommend to your clients, too.

Yes, so… we’ve been proactive. We’re definitely opening up conversations with clients before they come to us. Let’s all avoid this elephant in the room (which is this virus) impacting everyone. And I would say before, with clients, I’d have conversations with them. They obviously hired you initially to help grow their business. So sit on the same side of the table and speak to them about “how can we approach this together?”

Is it about lowering our engagement? Sure, maybe it is. But at the same time, what could we be doing differently to be proactive so that when we come out of this thing, which we will all come out of it, and it’ll only strengthen the relationship and of course hopefully they can reap some benefits out of somewhat of a down period that we’re all living right now. Let’s get some work done here, in April! 

What kind of work are you recommending they get done? Alluded to paid media.

As on the direct traffic-driving type tactics, their volume is down. At the same time, we’re seeing opportunities though in volumes down, so are costs. So they can get more value for that same kind of traffic that they would drive. I’m talking specifically on the paid side. They get more value out of it.

Now, of course, are people looking to engage and close deals and so on tomorrow morning? maybe not. But I would say don’t turn off the faucet completely and then focus on things that, if you have a traditional kind of B2B business or have long sales cycles working with clients, you begin working on all those nurturing type things that you’re gonna need.

You always somewhat kick the can down the road with some of those things. Get it done now in April. This is a great time to take a step back, revisit your marketing collateral, revisit an asset that needs an update. Now’s the time to double down on content in my opinion. Even if you don’t publish it until everyone’s back at work, to get it done now. You have some time to sit around and do and do it.

best practices for digital agencies

Are you changing your strategy for doing content, or are you focusing on the marketing basics you’re gonna need all the time and not doing something that’s come more topical and short term?

Both. I think we’re really focusing on the educational piece of content, which always brings in lots of people to the top of the funnel. But I think, again, the volume is gonna be up with people searching for solutions for their business. And I think that’s a great angle that agencies can take which is just as people come out of this, especially us folks in digital or in this full-funnel marketing and sales engagement, they’re gonna be looking for alternatives to what they were doing.

How can you get more out of your now smaller team? how do you take budgets that you were spending before on trade shows and conferences and so on and delegate that and towards digital? I mean, I’m already seeing some people talking about that. I think that’s gonna generate business for all of us.

Any examples that come to mind of companies that you think are really getting right now, or that are using marketing in ways that you’re finding you’d like to emulate?

I haven’t seen full-funnel type approach just yet, meaning people who are doing really good with email through nurturing. I feel like at this point everyone’s putting out these like empathetic emails as if “we’re here for you” and “we’re the brand”. A lot of big brands are changing up logos and overall marketing messaging to be in line with the current situation.

I think that’s a thoughtful thing, I don’t know if that generates revenue but I do think that what we’re gonna find is as we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, that now all the sudden you’re gonna see brands and agencies starting to double down on some of their messaging that says “all right, now that we see that this is coming to somewhat of an end here, people can get back to a version of normal, let’s get going! and here’s what you should be doing for your business”. I think that that’s around the corner if I were to hold.

I hope so. I really like that message. So if I’m getting this right, your guidance is everyone’s thinking about the top-level message right now, and you’re thinking about the messaging at every level of the funnel. And the sooner you get to that you can get a head start

Yes. I mean, I’d say that’s accurate and I’m also thinking of the way of presenting our engagements instead of traditionally showing somebody from the top down. So driving traffic, awareness, then through marketing and through the sale. I think it’s nice to also flip that on its head and talk from the bottom up.

People always want to talk about sales and how to close more deals. Shouldn’t we be doing a larger (amount of) content? Marketing engagement? On May 1st maybe not, but should we talk about how to get more out of our opportunities that we had back in February or a few that trickled in during March in April? so I think focusing on sales and starting out with that is something that everyone’s gonna want to chat about come hopefully May first and start mid May.

That is really flipping out of the head from every marketing conversation we’ve had for years! it’s really interesting. What are you doing to keep yourself entertained while locked indoors, or anything new that you’ve got?

It feels like everyone is like the new shaft for wine (laughs). I actually suggest focusing some time on personal development, take care of your business. I’m reading more, trying to stay in shape, cherishing some personal time with family that you can’t see… I mean that’s something that we all just get caught up within our kind of day-to-day. And for me… people really being kind of starting to go crazy with being indoors.

I haven’t necessarily felt the same. I enjoy being home but I think staying kind of grounded and weathering this storm. I believe that the light at the end of the tunnel is going to be prosperous for all of us, especially on the digital side. I think that we’re going to see the results of that as people start to realize what they need to be doing the rest of the year, in order to place them catch up here for these few months.

One thing I’ve learned through all these discussions is the best agencies coaches are just unbelievably optimistic.

Yeah, I think that’s important. As an agency, you have to be able to be somewhat nimble with the way that you operate. We all have staff and we have certain types of expenses that are fixed in offices and otherwise. But at the same time, see where you can adjust as well so that you can weather the storm.

There will be some that cannot (do that). That’s okay too and as the nature of things that could change kind of the dynamic and the marketplace. That’s fine, but be in a position where you can get through this period.

If I were you as an agency I would definitely be thinking about already the optimistic view, what will come after this whole situation and what you should be doing now that could generate business 30 or 60 days from now.

Anything else that you want to share with the audience before I let you get back to all the craziness?

The piece that I mentioned before around the empathetic side… just not avoiding the client conversation. Hoping that some clients won’t be impacted is great, but facing the reality that all of us are impacted is probably more realistic. I don’t think you should sit around and wait for this thing to pass. Do something.

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