Episode104 – How a Mid-Western Social Media Agency Reached Scale Quickly By Launching New Services In A Crowded Market – Member Case with Beth Trejo

Generating new revenue from existing clients is critical to scaling a boutique professional services firm. This requires developing new services based on the needs of your clients. On this episode, Beth Trejo, CEO and Founder of Chatterkick, takes us on a journey of launching a new service line. Beth shares how she identified the client need, validated the opportunity and launched the new service model.


Greg Alexander [00:00:15] Welcome to the Pro Serv Podcast with Collected 54 podcast for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. For those that are not familiar with us, Collective 54 is the first mastermind community dedicated entirely to helping you grow, scale and maybe someday exit your professional services firm. My name is Greg Alexander. I’m the founder and I’ll be your host today. And on this episode, we’re going to talk about the need to launch additional services when you’re trying to scale your firm. And we’ll discuss why that’s important. And what I hope to accomplish today is to share some things at work, share some things that don’t work, and maybe help you avoid some mistakes when you are brave enough to launch new services. We’ve got a fantastic role model with us, Beth Trejo. She’s a member of Collective 54, has been for a long time, has been on this show before. And it’s great to have her back. And Beth, if you wouldn’t mind, please introduce yourself and your firm to the audience. 

Beth Trejo [00:01:19] Yeah, well, thank you for having me. I always enjoy this conversation. My name is Beth Trejo. I am the CEO and founder of Chatter Kik. We are a social first digital agency. And yeah, we’ve been in business for about ten years and our goal is really to help brands leverage that human connection behind their logos to drive growth and relevancy. 

Greg Alexander [00:01:44] Okay. And what’s a kind of an ideal client for you? Someone that is right in your sweet spot? 

Beth Trejo [00:01:50] Yeah. So the brands that we’re working with now are typically those that are either in B2B professional services or have multiple business units and complexities. Social media isn’t just one thing. It’s so many things these days. And so when brands need a higher level of sophistication or strategy in terms of what they’re doing on social, that’s when chatter comes in. 

Greg Alexander [00:02:13] Okay, fantastic. So the reason why we wanted to have you on this show on this topic is because from what I understand, you recently launched a new service offering, and you learned a lot in that process. And I thought maybe I could maybe facilitate a conversation and and pull your wisdom out of you. So my first question would be regarding this new service is how did you first identify the opportunity for it? 

Beth Trejo [00:02:43] Yeah. So we’ve launched a couple of new service lines this year, and one of them that we can chat about today is really our employer branding, executive social. And so this is something, you know, we’ve been running social media for businesses and even individuals for the last ten years. But what has happened in the space is that it’s become a lot more complicated to run social media. You need someone who can do analytics. You need someone who can do visual creative elements, video editing, engagement writing. It just doesn’t live with one individual anymore. So as we grew, we’ve added more people to surround our clients. And therefore the value that we’re providing our clients have gotten larger. But also, from a business perspective, our costs have gotten a lot larger because now we have to put four people around each account. And so if I was running, let’s say your LinkedIn account, Greg, it would be pretty expensive to have us do that because we have all the people involved. And so one of the big needs that we’ve noticed and we’ve done this a lot in the health care or professional services space where relationships really do drive so much of the business is we saw these individuals, especially executives, are, again, those people that are very like thought of as a leader in real life and an influencer in real life. And they needed somebody to help them keep the consistency and the presence out there on, let’s say, LinkedIn. But they just didn’t really have a lot of places to turn. Their marketing team didn’t want to run it, they didn’t really feel comfortable. And other agencies don’t usually do a lot of the personal brand management that isn’t just a whole bunch of bots on LinkedIn. And so we found kind of that opportunity zone to say not being done currently and we already have the skill sets. Now we just have to reengineer how we do it on our end. So it doesn’t the price doesn’t become a barrier to success. 

Greg Alexander [00:04:46] Okay. And did you spot this because you’re working with your current clients and you recognize this need? Or did you see this opportunity outside of your current clients and kind of the broader marketplace? 

Beth Trejo [00:05:00] You know, we saw it with some of our current clients, specifically the physician group, because, you know, people want to connect with their doctors and their providers. And it was so evident. And even though the price. The point was when we would be like, you know, that doesn’t fit with chatter cake anymore. Like, this doesn’t work. But we still saw those accounts being successful. Both the employees like to work on them as well as the physicians were like, This is all I need. I don’t need to get it overcomplicated. I don’t don’t care about the reports at this point. And so we saw like indications of that. But then from a market perspective, we saw a lot of just people turning to like people are just sick of dealing with logos. They want real people and they’re craving this at the B2C level, which isn’t always the norm. Right? Like you didn’t always need to know who the president of your toothpaste company was, but people are really craving that connection and purpose and vision and values on across the board. So that’s really where we saw, okay, opportunity, we’ve done this before. We knew that it worked, it was profitable, but we just really didn’t define it and put it together into a service line until this year. 

Greg Alexander [00:06:07] Very good. You know, the product world, let’s say a software company, there’s a very well thought out way to experiment with a new product. For example, the minimum viable product, agile, rapid iteration, lean, you know, it’s very well won territory, but it’s not as well-worn in the service space. And sometimes I see members making make a mistake and that is they go and they overengineered this massive solution before they even have a single client for it. And then they take it out to market and all their assumptions get blown up in the first 30 days. And then they’ve got to go through another engineering process. And and I really want to help members that are brave enough to launch new services as part of their scale strategy. Avoid that mistake. So when you were thinking about this particular opportunity, because it’s a wonderful use case, how did you make sure you didn’t over engineer it to start? 

Beth Trejo [00:07:04] Yeah, well, first I made those mistakes so many times in the past how I used to do new service like was I pitch it, I’d make something up that I thought would be a valuable and that we could do. But I wouldn’t do a lot of testing. I would just pitch it, we’d sell it, and then I’d figure it out in the background. Okay, well, that was fine for a while, but that’s exhausting to your team. It can be completely chaotic at times, and it really wasn’t. It didn’t define it in the way that we needed to, to scale it. And so how we did this differently and really the thing that I think I’m the most proud of is that we kind of isolated it. We took it away from our normal work space. We didn’t have it live with our other teams that have done it. And some of us, we kind of let it live in this little incubator with a specific type of team member that could kind of handle a high level strategy as well as like a tactical deployment. So it was just a really good fit of that individual. And then we tested it. We figured out what’s working, what’s not working, what’s costing us, where are we saving money? Where is this going? And we’ve been able to move faster because it were just a handful of us working on that, as opposed to when I used to do it, when I did it wrong, I kind of involved too many people, too many things at once. All knew no definition, no operations. And it just it didn’t feel good, especially in the back end. So that was something that has really been helpful how we did it this time. And we’ve done this for several other new service line deployments this year. 

Greg Alexander [00:08:33] That is really interesting, is having a separate group, the world that I came from in my early career was a technology world product company, and we literally had a launch group and it was a set of product marketing and sales and service people. That’s all they did, was launched, had come out with a new offering and they owned it for like a year or two. And then and then once they got the reference ability and they worked out all the kinks, then it went over to the main group and then they took it over. And then the product roadmap dropped and none. Another new thing, I was in this group, into the launch group, and so it went and it worked extremely well. And it’s really interesting to apply that to a service firm, as you have done. That’s fascinating. Sometimes members are afraid to launch new services because they don’t know how to scope it. And they they pitch it, they get a gig, and they’re all excited because it’s a new revenue source and they end up losing money on it because they underestimated, sometimes dramatically, what it actually takes to deliver the service. So. So how did you did you run a pilot? Did you like how did you figure all that out? 

Beth Trejo [00:09:37] Yeah. I mean, I think those are the type of conversations that you’re that if you give yourself a little more time, which is what again, I would try to go so fast, didn’t want to a missed opportunity. But if you give yourself a little bit more time, you can reiterate on that, you know, and you know, probably took us a year or so to kind of get, okay, this is where we think it’s at least the baseline price, right? Like in the beginning, you’re I’m not trying to like get too big and crazy, but like you don’t want to lose money on something, right? Right. So like, what are the baseline resources that I need to use to do a good job and you know, and then what are the. No one’s that I’m going to have to figure out. Can I re-engineer the process? Can I use new software and tools? Can I put different levels of team members involved in this? Is this an executive role or is this something that I could train and teach someone at an entry level? And so those were kind of the bigger items that we figured it out and it really did about. I thought it was gonna take about six months and it really did take about 8 to 9 months to kind of get some of the kinks worked out from an operations perspective. 

Greg Alexander [00:10:42] And then how did you take it to market? I mean, did you go to a happy client and say, I got this new thing? Will you be my guinea pig? Or did you take it out to the broad market? Like, what was the launch plan? 

Beth Trejo [00:10:52] Yeah, so it really relied on strategic partnerships. I think that those in the professional service world, those are so key and to diversify your strategic partnerships in some regards, but that allows you to kind of build this stuff with trusted partners and not do it all alone. And that’s really been really helpful for us. We’re lucky because we kind of have a marketing background, so we have, you know, some of that talent on our team. But regardless, the more you start spending, even if it’s a new service line, the lower that you you have from a profit perspective. So it’s kind of one of those things that we’re we’re going a little bit slower on that. On the other side, we’ve done we launched a new service line this year, which is tic tac scaling. Tic TAC has been really challenging for agencies because it’s so much video content. And so one of the things that I’ve really learned on doing some of this is only sell what you can do. Well, yeah, because if I’m selling, you know, 250 videos a month, like that’s just unreasonable for even clients to approve all that content. So how can we still be successful for them but not maybe overdo it, right? Or like or or not make it so completely out of reach that it’s not a good customer experience. So there’s definitely been a lot of learnings all around this year for chatting. 

Greg Alexander [00:12:14] So you mentioned strategic partnerships. Most of our members are underweighted as it relates to strategic partnerships and it’s a big miss in the context of what we’re talking about today launching this new product. Give me an example of two of a strategic partner. 

Beth Trejo [00:12:32] Well, I mean, I think Collective 54 is a perfect example. But the other thing that I think is so valuable is how can you track the differences of your strategic partners? So is there a software company that every client that you want to have pairs with that software company, is there a, you know, another service provider like in that in the health care space, when we were working with providers, it was like the reimbursement companies, right? Because they needed high reviews across the board for customer satisfaction. And so is there an alignment that you can have with some of those engagement companies from a health care standpoint? So it’s just trying to get creative and not just thinking like, who’s going to get me leads, but whose audiences are already built that I can just add value to. And all of a sudden now I have access to hundreds of opportunities instead of one, two, three, four. That’s a lot more work. 

Greg Alexander [00:13:33] Yeah, a really interesting well thought out approach. You have certainly mastered this and it was a big contribution made today. I’m really looking forward to the Friday Q&A member session. When that comes up. Our members are going to have a lot of questions about this, but we’re running out of time. I appreciate you being here and thanks for contributing. 

Beth Trejo [00:13:52] Yes, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. 

Greg Alexander [00:13:55] All right. So if you’re a founder and leader of a boutique professional services firm and you want to meet great people like Beth, consider joining Collective 54, apply for membership at collective 54 dot.com, but not quite ready to join yet. You just want to educate yourself on this topic and others. Check out Collective 54 Insights. You can find that on the website. You got a podcast, a blog, a book, some benchmarking data, etc. All kinds of interesting things to keep yourself educated. So thanks for listening and I look forward to our next episode.

Episode 50: Are you Losing to “Do Nothing”? – Member Case with Beth Trejo

Beth Trejo, CEO, and Co-Founder of Chatterkick, discusses how to stop losing to a competitor we call “Do Nothing.” Boutique professional services firms lose more deals to “Do Nothing” than any other competitor. If you want to bring on new clients, you will need to defeat this competitor to grow your professional services firm.


Sean Magennis [00:00:17]: Welcome to the Boutique with Collective 54, a podcast for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. Our goal with this show is to help you grow, scale, and exit your firm bigger and faster. I’m Sean Magennis, Collective 54 Advisory Board Member, and your host. 

I will make the case that boutiques lose more deals to a competitor, we call “Do Nothing” than  any other competitor. I’ll try to prove this theory by interviewing Beth Trejo, the CEO, and co-founder of Chatterkick. Beth educates business leaders on social media tools and gets their digital recruitment, social media, and digital customer service efforts working. You can find Beth at chatterkick.com. Beth, great to see you, and welcome. 

Beth Trejo [00:01:14]: Thank you, I’m excited to be here today. 

Sean Magennis [00:01:16]: Likewise, we’re so excited to have you. So, Beth, our description of the competitor we called “Do Nothing” refers to the project that went away. The prospect did not hire a firm, any firm. They just decided not to move forward with the project. In other words, they decided to do nothing. Has this problem occurred for you in your line of business? 

Beth Trejo [00:01:40]: Yes, and we actually see this a lot. We focus on the social media platforms, and many times these are the first things that people set aside when they’re busy, or they hand their social media keys to an intern, and then the intern goes away. And so it’s one of the most overlooked opportunities that I think a lot of businesses have in multiple categories, not just direct retail. 

Sean Magennis [00:02:03]: Yeah, you know, that’s what we find, too. And so, just following up from there, do you feel that this is a top competitor that boutiques must defeat to grow? And why do you feel that way? 

Beth Trejo [00:02:16]: Yes, I do, and I think the “Do Nothing” competitor really does demonstrate a core value that a lot of the professional services firms have, which is expertise and their advice. And let me give you an example. 

Sean Magennis [00:02:30]: Yes, please. 

Beth Trejo [00:02:31]: One time that we had a particular customer and they were looking to recruit a salesperson, and this “Do Nothing” approach actually cost them millions of dollars. So, what happened was they were in this business. They were a manufacturing company, and their lifetime customer value is really high. So, they were looking to recruit a sales individual that, you know, they were super excited about when they found a candidate. 

This candidate had expertise in the industry, and they were going to take this new product line and really get it off the ground. He’s super excited about this candidate, the business buzz. And they got to the final stage of the interview process, and they offered the candidate position, and the candidate declined. And they were just completely perplexed. They couldn’t figure out what happened. 

And they asked the candidate, and the candidate said that they had multiple offers from this business and their competitor, and they felt like their competitor, the offer they accepted, felt more “modern” than this business. And this business was innovative. It was high technology-driven. It was all of the things. 

Sean Magennis [00:03:51]: Yes. 

Beth Trejo [00:03:51]: But online, they had a website that was old school. 

Sean Magennis [00:03:56]: Yes. 

Beth Trejo [00:03:57]: They had a social media presence that was pretty much nonexistent. And maybe a couple of tweets that were left from Happy Memorial Day a few years ago. And so it really was. They didn’t have a presence, so they didn’t get to tell their story, and their story was formed for them, which was that they weren’t a modern company, and they lost the candidate. 

Sean Magennis [00:04:22]: That is such an extraordinarily good example, and it just showcases the nuances and the importance of having all of these elements defined. And then, you know, there’s this concept of mystery shopping where, you know, I think it’s so critically important for people to mystery shop themselves so they know what candidates you know, think, and feel. Is that something you guys do? 

Beth Trejo [00:04:45]: Yes, we definitely just kind of take a customer journey approach. Can people find basic information about you? Do you have a presence online that is an authentic reflection of who you are?  I don’t think that people are looking for perfection, whether it’s candidates or it is customers. But, they want to feel like they have good information and they want that authenticity. So, stock photos – throw them away. I would rather have a candid picture of your team over lunch than a stock photo of people that don’t look like those who work at the business.

Sean Magennis [00:05:18]: Yeah, that makes total sense. So, OK, defeating this “Do Nothing” competitor. It sounds like it will save founders a ton of time and boost revenue. I’d like to get your thoughts on some of the best practices that we recommend in this area. 

There are four specific things I’ll walk you through, and I’ll have you share your thoughts on each? The first is to be sure you can state the problem you solve for your clients clearly. I often ask a professional services firm  founder what problem they solve for clients. And they typically tell me about their solution. So, what are your thoughts about this? 

Beth Trejo [00:05:56]: Yeah, and I really think from our angle, the power of social media really lets you cross multiple operational areas of your business. Yes. The first is it does give you a competitive advantage because if you have a microphone, you can tell your own story. And it’s not just the story that your employees that maybe left in an unfavorable way could tell about you. It’s not the story that your history necessarily defines you. 

But, if you have these channels, they really are a communication channel. And so it can build loyalty, gain a competitive advantage, and help you build real connections. Yes, because I do think that that is the currency of our future. It’s how deep can you connect with your audience? 

Sean Magennis [00:06:41]: You’ve hit the nail on the head. The second thing to do is to determine if the problem you’re solving is pervasive. So to grow your professional services firm, we need lots of sales opportunities. What are your thoughts on this concept? 

Beth Trejo [00:06:55]: So, I think for as it relates to social media, I think and even just creating a digital presence, we really are living in a world of you need that existence online, and you need to make sure that you have proof or validation. 

It’s funny. Testimonials are not as important in terms of the word testimonials. People like the word review because review feels less forced than testimonial. And we want as consumers, again across all categories, to feel like we have control to source information about our businesses and the people that we work with, and we don’t want it dictated to us in, you know, a non-authentic way. 

Sean Magennis [00:07:39]: I like that. So the concept of reviews rather than testimonials that’s very powerful. Number three that we recommend is it’s a problem proving the problem is urgent. So when a founder pitches a prospect, a prospect of determining what he or she, you know, is hearing is worthy of making it on the priority list, what do you think of this idea? 

Beth Trejo [00:08:03]: I think, especially as it relates to the “Do Nothing” competitor, urgency is really important because what can happen is if you’re complacent and you just let your presence exist online, or you’re not actually trying to make it better, your story gets told for you. And people are really busy picking up little pieces of breadcrumbs. 

We see this all the time with reviews and again, especially in professional services industries. They don’t collect and capture reviews as much as maybe retail businesses may. But what happens then is if you get two bad ones and you had zero, now you have two two-star reviews. And you start making that times ten, and all of a sudden, you’re not ahead of that, and it’s a really difficult thing to fix.. 

So, my recommendation from an urgency perspective is you have to get ahead of it because this is our world of people leaving reviews and talking about your business. And so, if you’re not getting ahead of the curve and it is urgent, you’re going to be missing out. 

Sean Magennis [00:09:10]: And it’s a 24-7 all on environment. So having the discipline to look at those to respond, to capture them, to learn from them, I guess, is equally important. 

Beth Trejo [00:09:22]: Hundred percent. 

Sean Magennis [00:09:22]: Yeah. So the fourth recommendation to defeat “Do Nothing” is to confirm that a prospect is willing to pay for the solution. Often founders make the pitch, the prospect says yes, and then they see the price, and then that yes, becomes a no. What are your thoughts on this? 

Beth Trejo [00:09:39]: Yeah, I think there’s a little bit again, especially in the professional services category of the what is the cost of “Do Nothing” right? And this is a pure cost of losing a critical employee or losing your current employees because, you know, the grass looks greener on the other side. 

Yes, the cost of PR mitigation strategies, I can tell you that’s very expensive, very expensive. And we see this example all the time. And I mentioned this on the review side of things. But if there was something said about you, and there was a swarm of people that just really hurt your reputation, you’re going to need not only just an outside person to help navigate that, but your employees are also going to have to spend a lot of time. 

So there are definitely resources internally that you’re probably going to have to put on that. And I’m sure that those all could be calculated into a total cost analysis. 

Sean Magennis [00:10:34]: Yeah, I think that’s an excellent answer and unpacking of that. Beth, this has been fantastic. There are four ideas: state the problem clearly, pursue only pervasive problems, prove the problem is urgent and use a cost justification to increase the prospect’s willingness to pay. These will defeat “Do Nothing”, and they’ll help our audience members grow. 

OK, so this takes us to the end of the episode. Beth, let’s try to help listeners apply this. We end each show with the tool. We do so because this allows the listener to apply the lessons to his or her firm. Our preferred tool is a checklist, and our style of checklist is a yes or no questionnaire. We aim to keep it simple by only asking 10 of these. 

In this instance, if you answered yes to eight or more of these questions, your strategy to defeat “Do Nothing” is working for you. If you want to know too many times, not identifying the problem is likely getting in the way of your attempts to grow. So, Beth has graciously agreed to be our peer example today. Beth, I’ll ask you the yes, no question so we can learn from this example. 

Sean Magennis [00:11:47]: So, number one, can you explain the problem to your family? Do they understand it? 

Beth Trejo [00:11:55]: Yes, social media is relevant in multiple categories and industries. 

Sean Magennis [00:11:59]: Outstanding. Number two, when you explain the problem to your friends, do they understand it? 

Beth Trejo [00:12:06]: Same answer, I don’t think that anybody would argue that social media isn’t baked into all of our lives. 

Sean Magennis [00:12:11]: Number three, does the problem exist in more than one industry? 

Beth Trejo [00:12:17]: It’s a human-to-human  world these days, and we need to make sure that we’re not just living in a B2B or B2C space. 

Sean Magennis [00:12:23]: I love that answer. Number four, does the problem exist in companies of all sizes? 

Beth Trejo [00:12:30]: Absolutely, from a small little retailer to a large manufacturer. 

Sean Magennis [00:12:35]: Yeah, to a one-man band up to, you know, a global multinational. Does the problem exist in many geographies? 

Beth Trejo [00:12:43]: Yes, and I would argue that it connects us to more geographies than we don’t even probably realize we’re connected to. 

Sean Magennis [00:12:49]: Again, completely agree with that. Number six, are clients paying to solve the problem today? 

Beth Trejo [00:12:57]: Yes, they’re either paying with their time, or they’re hiring someone to help them. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:01]: Number seven, have clients been paying to solve the problem for years? 

Beth Trejo [00:13:07]: As long as social media has existed, they realized that it takes a lot of work, and the trickiest part about it is it doesn’t shut off. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:14]: Yep, that’s 100 percent. Number eight, if the client does not solve the problem, are the consequences severe? 

Beth Trejo [00:13:22]: Very much so, we gave that example with that PR crisis or just losing a key candidate. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:26]: Yep. Number nine, is there a trigger event that puts the client into the market for your solution? 

Beth Trejo [00:13:34]: I think if you start a business, you need to have a presence online. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:37]: Yeah, I think that’s a baseline. That’s table stakes today, right? 

Beth Trejo [00:13:41]: Exactly. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:42]: And number ten, when clients have the problem, do they work to get it solved by a certain deadline? 

Beth Trejo [00:13:49]: Yes, and I think from a deadline perspective, it really does kind of come in waves. But, the consistency is half the battle of social media, and it’s more than just posting on the holidays. 

Sean Magennis [00:13:59]: You know, I love that, and that’s such an important lesson for listeners to understand and then to model. I’m assuming that there are great examples out there that people can, you know, fast follow. What are your thoughts on that? 

Beth Trejo [00:14:12]: Oh, there are so many businesses that are doing it right, and they’re upending different categories. These smaller companies are really competing against large behemoth brands just by connection. And that’s the thing that I would encourage your listeners to do. Social media isn’t just about pushing information. It’s about really listening and building true relationships with your audiences and developing a community. 

Sean Magennis [00:14:37]: Beth, thank you. I mean, this has been extraordinary. And again, I would encourage our listeners to reach out to you if they have any needs in this particular area. So, in summary, “Do Nothing” is defeating you at least 50 percent  of the time, whether you know it or not. 

To beat this competitor, be sure to pick a problem to solve that is pervasive, it’s urgent, it’s one that prospects are willing to pay to solve and be sure you can explain it simply. In other words, start with the problem, not the solution. And in the context of social media, make sure that you are very prepared and that you are literally following it 24-7. Big thank you to Beth for sharing these great examples for us today. 

Sean Magennis [00:15:23]: If you enjoyed the show and want to learn more. Pick up a copy of the book “The Boutique: How to Start, Scale and Sell the Professional Services Firm”, written by Collective 54 founder Greg Alexander.

And for more expert support, check out Collective 54, the first mastermind community for founders and leaders of boutique professional services firms. Collective 54 will help you grow, scale and exit your professional services firm bigger and faster. Go to our website to learn more. Thank you for listening.