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.