How Nashville Marketing Systems Uses Grade.us to Win New Agency Business

Andrew McDermottAgency, Case Study, Reputation Management, Review Management, Review MarketingLeave a Comment

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Dean Heasley, founder of Nashville Marketing Systems, a digital marketing agency in Tennessee, needed a consistent way to grow his agency.

Using Grade.us he was able to:

  • Achieve consistent growth using online review management services as a core product
  • Provide a white labeled review management platform to agency clients
  • Present clients with a compelling value add that boosted referrals, success rates and conversions dramatically
  • Provide clients with a value proposition his competitors have, so far, been unable to provide
  • Win a $30 million contract for his client

Heasley generates leads for his agency and his competitors.

Sounds odd?

In reality it's incredibly profitable. Heasley uses the Grade.us platform to (a.) Convert/win new agency business (b.) Generate a consistent stream of referrals for his business and (c.) Turn his competitors into referral partners who are eager to refer new clients to his agency.

All with Grade.us?

How did Heasley accomplish all of this? Does he have an advantage over other agencies in his area?

Absolutely.

The Challenge

"For (search), I do a lot of stuff. I do local directory management, I do ad words, I do backlink acquisition, guest posting. Most of that is invisible to my client. [Review management is] the bright shiny object that I offer to my clients because everything else is invisible."

~Dean Heasley, Founder, Nashville Marketing Systems

Heasley ran into a common agency problem.

Clients weren't all that eager to pay for invisible digital marketing services. High value services like SEO and PPC can be expensive for startups and small businesses. SEO often requires a significant amount of time to gain traction while PPC requires a plethora of ingredients (e.g. landing pages, conversion tracking, mobile optimization, compelling ad copy, retargeting) to achieve optimal results.

At this point, competitors haven't even been factored into the equation yet.

This naturally created a bit of a marketing bind.

Agencies typically compete with a variety of sources, each source placing downward pressure on individual agencies profit margins.

  • Other premium providers who are looking to capture as much of the local market as they can
  • Offshore providers who are willing to do a tremendous amount of work for a minuscule amount of money
  • Nearshore providers who are willing to provide top-quality work for 1/3 the price
  • Low tier providers were looking to capture premium pricing for low quality work
  • Inadequate freelancers, students and pretenders hoping to win an accidental payday

These variables created a complex stew of challenges for:

  • Clients who are typically bombarded by these alternate providers. While many of these providers are legitimate, several behave in an unethical manner, choosing to promise rankings and results from third-party providers like Google.
  • Heasley. He provided a premium results driven option but it was difficult to differentiate himself against a sea of competing options from “agencies” willing to do whatever it took to win. Heasley was fortunate, the majority of his business came through networking and referrals. But it was still difficult to convert/win new agency business.

Heasley needed a competitive advantage. He needed a strong, compelling value proposition to help them attract, convert and win new agency business.

What about existing clients?

With traditional agency services, clients go through a dry spell. A period of time where they're not hearing a whole lot from their agency. The work is being done, the results are coming but there's nothing to show for all of your hard work.

This dry spell creates anxiety.

Clients aren't sure what's going on. Month after month they're asked to wait for results. They're not seeing results but they're asked to continue to pay. They're asked to continue to trust.

Some clients can, most cannot.

These details make it extraordinarily difficult for agencies to attract, convert, win and retain new clients. If you're a digital marketing agency, these problems are all too familiar. In the beginning, Nashville Marketing Systems found themselves in the same position...

Until they selected Grade.us.

The Solution

Heasley and Nashville Marketing Systems turned to Grade.us. His goal was simple, help his clients generate more leads, customers and sales. To accomplish that, Heasley identified a few of the goals his ideal platform would need to meet.

  • Manage reviews on behalf of clients
  • Enable the Nashville Marketing Systems team to request reviews on behalf their clients
  • Provide their agency with a white labeled service that’s invisible to their clients
  • Allow their agency to meet customers where they are whether that’s email, SMS, or social media
  • Create a solution that will supplement local and organic search efforts on behalf of clients
  • Provide supportive, rock solid, on-demand customer support

"Grade.us is one of the least expensive tools that I use for my clients, but [it is] by far the most important to my clients. From an operational standpoint I can say, look, you know, we've got some issues here... Ultimately all the good marketing in the world isn't going to help if you're not serving your clients well."

Heasley also needed communication tools.

He needed a purpose-driven reason to reach out to clients consistently, month after month, year after year.

He explains.

"For most of my clients, we send out emails and they get good reviews and they are happy as can be. Like I said, this is the fun thing for them. So just from that standpoint, it's been super, super beneficial and good for me to maintain contact with my clients.

So I email them once a month and say, 'Hey, send me your list of names and emails and I'll put it in to Grade.us and send out those requests.' And you know, they're always happy to do that because they typically get a good result."

Dean continues...

"I know for my business, it's important for me to have regular contact with my clients and getting the names and email addresses or phone numbers to send out the reviews is a reason for me to do that. Because clients don't just want me to call and say, 'Hey, what's going on?' You know, they need a reason. So this is a good reason to be in touch on a monthly basis.

Secondly, it's important for SEO, so some estimates are as high as that your review velocity can amount for up to 13 percent of your ranking. The ranking algorithm and Google. So for SEO as a whole, it's very important, but for that third party credibility, it's so vital, it's so important to get good positive reviews. So, third party credibility says more than what you say about yourself."

It's a tall order.

Heasley also needed to know if the platform was a fit for his ideal client. He wanted to see if Grade.us could, would deliver results.

"So my ideal client is under $5 million in revenue, two to 10 employees. Not enough really to hire a full time marketing person, but they know they need some help.

I've got an MBA in marketing, so while the tactics that I focus on are primarily digital, if somebody calls me and needs help with getting their head around marketing as a process or marketing as a system, I can help them with that.

My ideal client serves a local area, they have a service based business, so electricians, plumbers, accountants, insurance people, etc."

It's a lot for a single platform to cover.

Would Grade.us be able to handle all of this? To be able to manage the comprehensive requirements of a modern agency?

It was time to put Grade.us to the test.

The Results

Heasley speaks for himself.

"I have a mortgage broker and she is amazing. She really, really cares about her clients. So we started the review thing and I got her list and we mailed it out and a couple of days later she called me almost crying because one of her clients had wrote basically an essay, this big long book about how amazing she was.

And of course it was a five star review and she helped her when nobody else would, nobody would pay attention to her, her credit wasn't great. So I mean, that alone is validating for me.

It's validating for the review process as a whole and for my client. So everybody wins in that scenario."

Almost immediately, review management has made a tremendous difference for his clients. It's providing clients with the visual cues they need. With the mental, emotional and financial lift they need to grow their business. It's producing stellar results, painting Heasley's agency as the hero.

"There was a recent blog post, I think by one of your competitors and they said that CPAS are the least reviewed local business online, across industries.

So of any industry, accountants and CPAs have the lowest quantity of reviews. So I have a CPA who is a client of mine and he called me, I think two months ago, and he said,

'Hey Dean, I picked up a small business that does $30 million dollars a year in revenue, and the reason they called me is because of my reviews. We won, we did it.'

Every month his return on investment for me across the whole SEO suite is probably 5x or 6x."

Heasley's clients continue to achieve incredible results with their review management campaigns. These campaigns produce a plethora of referrals, leads, new clients and sales for his agency.

Here's the best part.

Heasley's review management campaigns produces value for his competitors.

Here's how.

"I've got a guy that does health insurance, that's all he does.

And nobody else in health insurance tries to get reviews and so he's killing it in his area and a lot of his success comes because people call him and say, Hey, I see that you've got 50 five-star reviews. Nobody else has any. So that's why I'm calling you."

Heasley discusses his competitor referrals.

"I network a lot with my competitors here in Nashville, which sounds funny, but in SEO it's not ethical to serve two businesses for the same industry in the same geographic area because we're all trying to get to number one in Google and you know, two things can't occupy the same physical space.

I have a few competitors that I work real closely with, I just texted one this morning because I had an insurance guy call me and I have an insurance guy, so my [competitor] does not. So he's going to get that referral and likewise, I got a home builder from him a couple of weeks ago."

These campaigns produce results for Heasley, his clients and their customers. His clients are focused on serving their customers. Customers trust his clients; Heasley's clients trust him.

It's a win/win/win.

These results have been so definitive, so valuable to everyone involved that Heasley has made it official. He's made online review management and marketing a permanent part of his digital marketing service mix.

"I just try to have conversations with prospects and if they want to be a client that's great. But as far as pitching them, I don't give them a choice anymore.

Reviews are part of the packages that I sell and if they don't want it, that's too bad."

The Grade.us platform delivered results.

As Heasley saw, Grade.us was able to deliver the results he needed for his firm. Nashville Marketing Systems uses the Grade.us platform to Convert/win new agency business. With it he generates a consistent stream of referrals for his business and turn his competitors into referral partners.

Heasley needed a white-labeled solution. A consistent way for Nashville Marketing Systems to attract, convert, win and retain new agency clients. With Grade.us, he achieved that and more.

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