Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Joachim Brouckaert, I’m 24 years old and I started Add Value 1 year ago. Today, Add Value is a growth marketing agency. We’re focused on full-funnel marketing. Performance marketing, building landing pages, websites, funnels, email marketing flows. We do it all!
Currently, we are working with a team of 5 people for our customers and on our growth. But we are once again looking for an extra Growth Marketer! When we talk about turnover, we do an average of 30k per month. This fluctuates, as we sometimes take on larger, shorter projects. On average, we work for 18 active clients per month. Our retention is generally good, but short projects such as an analytics audit or building a website cause this number to fluctuate.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started my marketing career in my higher education after secondary school. I chose to study marketing because it was a general direction and the digital and commercial appealed to me.
My "aha" moment came during my internship, at the end of my studies. I was lucky to do an internship in a digital marketing agency where I laid the foundation of my future career. After my internship, I started there during the summer holidays as a student, and was eventually hired! During that period I also started dropshipping and applied for my VAT number. From then on, I was officially doing a side hustle.
After joining a growth marketing agency, one year later for some time, I started freelancing as a digital marketeer. At the first agency where I did my internship, I noticed that they were mainly concerned about the money, instead of adding value for the customers. That is where the name "Add Value" comes from. This quickly got me interested in trying it out myself.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
how did you design the services that you offered? being a freelancer you only have so much time so I guess you have to focus. -> With the experience, I gained during my regular work at the marketing agencies I worked for, I learned that my strength lay in paid social - Google search campaigns. Therefore, I chose these services to start with.
- What kind of clients did you target? Did you focus on any industry/type of company? -> I didn't choose a niche to start in, because this way I wanted to see what kind of companies suited me best. This has remained the case to this day, although we do like to have clients who see us as a growth partner, rather than an external agency.
As a freelancer, I had enough customers after a while. I soon realized that I wanted to work as an agency, simply because it was more scalable and long-term. Add Value Agency was born! The big difference between freelancing and building an agency is the scope of projects and how clients view you. Bigger companies took me/us more seriously. I also worked more on building scalable processes. As a freelancer, you tend to do your projects ad-hoc, as an agency owner you need to start thinking in scalable processes!
After a few months, I decided to work with a mentor. He offered me mentorship in exchange for 20% of Add Value. We started a new company together and hit the market! I knew that a mentor could make for faster and, above all, calmer/stable growth. I got to know him through LinkedIn. I had found out a while before that I often took advice from people who had no experience at all with what I was doing. My mentor has an agency that runs on a much larger scale, so it seemed logical to me to work with someone who had already gone through all the pitfalls/growth pains I was going to or still have to go through - and successfully so...
Don’t burn out yourself. It is easy to lose yourself in all your enthusiasm. Been there, done that.
Describe the process of launching the business.
In the beginning, I focused very hard on networking, content on LinkedIn, and cold emails. I also recommend everyone to focus on SEO, it will not provide immediate results, but in the long run, it is very important!
I even used Starter Story for outreach - let me show you how I did this:
I searched for companies on Starter Story and looked for their email. Then I uploaded a list of Starter Story companies in Lemlist (email outreach tool) Then I used the following email sequence:
Subject: Your Starter Story Article
I always check Starter Story every once in a while and came across (company name) on Starter Story, and (personalized lines(s))
And (name), I’ve always been the inquisitive type, so as a digital marketer, I naturally took a look into what (company name) was doing on the marketing side of the business.
I run my performance marketing agency here in Belgium, and I would love to show some of the ideas/strategies we use to help businesses just like yours with their digital marketing.
Would love to talk more about this; let me know your thoughts (name) and I’ll send over a more in-depth email showcasing some growth marketing strategies (business name) could benefit from using.
Thank you so much!
Founder @ Add Value Agency
Option 1 (bad Facebook ads)
At face value, looking at your advertisements on Facebook has shown me that your Facebook marketing does not fully represent your mission as a brand with (company name) and that a lot of money is being left on the table. From reading the article and looking more into (company name), I know that your products are far superior to anything else on the market for (niche), yet your competition is a month on month getting an unfair advantage over you simply because they are taking advantage of paid traffic to its full potential.
Option 2 (No Facebook ads)
I noticed you were not running any ads on Facebook and was quite surprised by this. By not leveraging Facebook ads you’re leaving a lot of money on the table and allowing your competitors to gain an unfair advantage over you, even though your products are far superior to anything currently on the market.
I just wanted to bring this to your attention and see if we can help you put a stop to this so that (business name) finally gets the recognition it deserves for being a better quality brand and allows you to recoup the money currently being lost by neglecting Facebook ads.
Would love to talk more about this; let me know you
A lesson I would like to share with you:
Only sell things that you can deliver: In our sector, your results will be judged. And that is a good thing! At my regular job, I quickly learned that testing the right expectations with your (new) customers is very important. This ensures that you get the cooperation off to a good start. So, do not start promising things you cannot deliver, in the end, this will only be bad for your reputation as an agency!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
At the beginning of Add Value, I was still doing a lot of freelance work that brought higher fees because it was for several days a week. Because we have a hybrid agency model where we also work as a real marketing partner and not as a classic agency. As a result, we also have clients who were initially looking for a part-time freelancer. Now they have access to us as a whole team, instead of a freelancer. This also ensures that our deal sizes are relatively high. Our ideal client pays us several days a week, and also has a marketing budget + would like to scale up in marketing activities/budget.
Our SEO (blog content) & Facebook and Google ads are currently our biggest sales channels. Furthermore, my organic content on LinkedIn has also been very important for our growth.
Staying top of mind with your leads can be done by regularly replying to LinkedIn posts, making sure they keep seeing your LinkedIn posts, I am a fan of a multi-channel approach. People will first have to trust you before they will buy something from you! So, focusing on building an online presence, I have noticed that leads trust us much faster since we started using a multi-channel approach.
Our SEO results: still a lot of work to do, but we’re working on it!
Organic LinkedIn posts: organic views are a great way to generate awareness for your company. Use the LinkedIn algorithm to boost your growth!
- Share personal stories
- Use a striking angle when writing a LinkedIn post. If you look at my LinkedIn posts, you will notice that I always use a striking opening sentence. This sentence should make people interested in reading on
- As a call to action, ask for people's reactions. LinkedIn's algorithm loves reactions to your post. Because of this, more people see your post and when you provoke a reaction, this results in more reactions. In this way, you trigger a bit of a compound effect. Isn't that nice?
- Don't spam on LinkedIn. It's better to write one good post a month than posting every day but not telling something useful
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At the moment, we’re focusing on client retention by getting great results for our clients.
Profit is one of our north stars. Revenue is important, but we always focus on profitability.
- CAC: we pay around 450 EUROS per signed deal (deal size depends)
- Ad costs: + 1k / Month
- ROAS: Hard to calculate since our deal sizes are different for every client
- Average lifetime value is 1.2 at the moment, we don't lose a lot of clients at the moment. Retention is our main focus
- Monthly Traffic: 700-1000 users / month
- Avg time on site: 1:04 minutes
- Conversion rate: 1% (this is bad, we need to focus on this. These conversions are really good leads, so lead-to-client conversion is pretty good (60%)
- Social media following: Instagram: 663 followers, Facebook: 334 likes. Linkedin: 529 followers
- YoY Growth: 260%
Our short-term goal is to hire 1-2 people. We're also looking for a new office in the city of Antwerp. Our goal for next year is to have a team of 5 people (and me). The next step is to become a real boutique growth marketing agency and focus on SEO/content to attract the big brands.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Customer retention is severely underestimated by many founders. I notice that our customers often bring us more customers when they are satisfied with us! We talk with our customers all the time. This way, we get a lot of feedback. If clients have a problem with the way we work, we will spot that problem very easily and try to fix it immediately.
We are currently also focusing on partnerships with other agencies that perform a different part of marketing. For example, we will soon be working closely with an employer branding agency, where we will be taking care of the experimental growth marketing part when they bring in new customers. Win-win situation!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I like to keep things simple, we don't use a lot of tools because it just doesn't work.
- Asana - project management
- Teamleader - CRM
- Google Data Studio / Databox - Reportings
- Slack - internal / client communication
- Google Analytics / Google Tag Manager - tracking
- Semrush / Google Search Console- SEO
- Hotjar - CRO
- Zapier - Automations
- ActiveCampaign - Email marketing
- Unbounce - Landing pages
- WordPress - Website
- Canva / Adobe - Design
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
To be honest, the biggest game-changer for me has been to start consuming Sam Ovens' content. This guy is a genius when it comes to building businesses.
I’m also a big fan of books, my favorite book is Atomic Habits. This book is simply amazing. A book that also gave me a lot of insight into life was Pijn doet groeien (Pain Makes You Grow) by Omar Souidi, a Belgian lawyer who is completely self-made. A very motivating story!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Of course, I can share some tips that I would have liked to have received 1 year ago... Here they are!
- Focus on the things that matter, income-producing activities.
- Don’t burn out yourself. It is easy to lose yourself in all your enthusiasm. Been there, done that…
- Get yourself an accountant, the best investment you can make when starting out!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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