Rob Warner is the founder of Invisible PPC. Invisible PPC works exclusively with agencies to help them grow their business by providing world class PPC fulfillment and related services to allow them to focus on winning, retaining, and upselling clients.
Rob Warner is a numbers man turned marketing geek. Rob walked away from a successful career in business finance to fulfill his ambition to be a professional marketer. He went from learning the fundamentals of Google advertising to now being a member of the Google Partners Executive Council and with a worldwide team managing over $20 billion of advertising spend a year on behalf of the marketing agencies and their clients. Rob started his own agency in 2012, having already acquired a client base with no larger marketing strategy than just word of mouth. With a dislike of selling, the opportunity to white label for a London agency was the foundation on which his agency Invisible PPC was born. Rob currently lives in the UK with his family and when not building his business, you’ll usually find him in a CrossFit gym.
Paul Kortman: So, fill in the missing details from that. Other than cross-fit, what’s your personal life.
Rob Warner: So the missing details at the moment in my life is, well, I generally will be at a CrossFit gym. Don’t let that fool you. I’m not very good. I’m just very determined. I’m in the middle of moving houses right now so I’m doing that thing where I’ve sold a house, and I’m in a rental house while our dream house finishes being built and kind of living out of boxes like a vacation home. It’s kind of not fun.
Paul Kortman: Yeah. Not the ideal vacation then?
Rob Warner: No. It’s not the way I would choose to do things. So if you were to see me outside working right now I’m usually surrounded by cardboard boxes and can’t find anything that I need at any point so it makes life difficult particularly when you’re working as I do, across time zones, and you want to work at home in the evening when everything’s in a box.
Paul Kortman:What is your agency’s top line revenue?
Rob Warner: It’s in the region of $2 million a year.
Paul Kortman: What’s the typical price to work with you (Median or Average)?
Rob Warner: If you look at our customer base, our typical starting point is about $250 a month. So at the bottom end an agency will be spending $250 a month for us for a single small client. At the top end are agencies spending several thousand per client a month because those are big large-budget clients. If you average all that out, because the smaller ones tend to be the most by volume, you’re talking in the region of about $350 a month as an average client fee for us.
Paul Kortman: Describe your staff/team, how many do you have? What are their specialties?
Rob Warner: Currently we have about 25 full time staff. Now we’re 100 percent remote. So we have a house rule here, we have clients all over the world, so we have agency partners that we work with in the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, and so on. Pretty much in the English-speaking world we have clients. And so what we do is, wherever we have clients then we make sure we have staff in that country so that we can provide a service that feels local to them. So my staff are predominantly AdWords nerds because that’s what we do. We do some Facebook, so we have some Facebook skills in there, but predominantly we are talking about a bunch of people who live, breathe, eat, sleep, and drink pay day to campaigns. Out of the 25 that’s bout 18 of them. The rest essentially are our support functions, like our graphic designers, like myself, and our operational project management people
Paul Kortman: Do you work with contractors?
Rob Warner: We work with a couple of contractors. We don’t use contractors for client work because we like to control the relationship, the level of support and we kind of like to keep people on the payroll of client work, because as far as we’re concerned that buys us a level of control that we can’t get from a contractor. But we do use contractors for example to build our I.T. systems, build our infrastructure and in that respect. So I guess our non-client facing services is where we’re more likely to do the contracting. We’e currently go to on staff.
Paul Kortman:How much of your labor costs are contractors?
Rob Warner: It’s about six or seven percent.
Paul Kortman: What’s the average salary of your employees?
Rob Warner: That’s a really good question actually. It varies. Because of the fact we are fully international, we have people paid in US dollars, Aussie dollars, and British pounds. But if you were to say across the board, you are probably talking about $35-40,000 as an average.
Paul Kortman: What is your employee’s percent billable time?
Rob Warner: For those people who are doing client work, which as I said is about 80 percent of our staff, they will typically be working on client work for about 70 percent of their time is billable. We allow 10 percent for meetings and training. And what we also try and do is build in a 20 percent buffer, so that we know that they’ve got a bit of time if they need it. But also if we see somebody hitting towards 100 percent that’s our signal to get the recruitment started and start getting another person in.
Paul Kortman: That’s opposite the way most people run. I see a lot of agencies want to keep them at 90 percent and if they’re worried about them dropping below, if they go over a hundred, it’s no big deal.
Rob Warner: Yeah I won’t do that because there is so much new stuff, so many changes, you can’t afford to just have your head down and not be training and not be learning. So we spend time to organize training for our team on an ongoing weekly basis, some of which we do internally, some of which we bring people in for, some of which we buy courses or we work with our colleagues directly at Google for it. But it’s no use to our clients if we’re stuck behind the game. We need to be right in the front line, as up to date as we possibly can. So that comes at a cost.
Paul Kortman: What average markup do you have per hour?
Rob Warner: We work on the basis of, if you’re to take it overall, you’re probably looking at about two and a half times total would be the mark up. But that’s because we spend a lot of time on investment in systems to make them as efficient as we can be.
Paul Kortman: How many clients does your agency have?
Rob Warner: On a monthly recurring basis, over 500.
Paul Kortman: Wow. Which makes sense as the price per client was a lot lower than I expected. What verticals or industries are your clients in?
Rob Warner: So being a white label provider is a double edged sword in that respect. We never know on a given day what any one of our agencies is going to go out and sell. So the first thing often we know about a new client coming on is if we get an onboard form coming that goes, today we’ve got a window washer or a plumber or a dentist or something random that we’ve never even thought of. So we get the broadest variety of clients you can possibly imagine. That said, if we drill down to the detail, we have any one-time, predominantly service-based industries, for example home services. Things like roofers, waterproofers, driveways, all of those kind of home services that you would typically see. We then have I guess the professional services, the lawyers, accountants, those kind of guys and then things like health care practitioners those kinds of things in emergency niches. I would say 80 percent of our clients are lead generation based, so it’s local businesses looking to generate leads for their business rather than e-commerce, which is a much smaller part of the work that we do.
Paul Kortman: What services do you offer for your clients?
Rob Warner: We try and provide everything that an agency needs to be able to sell and service pay-per-clicks. So typically Google Adwords and Bing, but increasingly Facebook. And what we will do is we do everything. So let’s say you have a prospect. With that prospect is an existing AdWords advertiser, we’ll order a recount. If they’re not, we’ll provide forecasts of what they can expect. That’s kind of our pre-sell service. We don’t charge for it but we do it because it helps agencies sell. Then when an agency has a client we take that pretty much cradle to grave. So we will do the on board, we’ll do the account build, we’ll set up things like conversion tracking, so we’re tracking the performance. We’ll implement call tracking where we’ll provide the call tracking platform, the call tracking number, and we’ll implement a report in dashboard. In some cases we’ll provide landing pages, if the agent needs us to build one for them, we’ll get those done as well. So from an agency’s perspective, their number one job is to manage that client relationship. Everything else we do. And sometimes we go front of house and we’ll speak to clients with an agency. Other times they prefer us to stay behind. But wherever they need us to sit, that’s what we can do.
Paul Kortman: Do you charge a special set of fees or is it just the ongoing monthly fee?
Rob Warner: Typically, we have a one-off onboarding fee, usually around 75 percent of the monthly fee and then thereafter it’s just a monthly retainer based on the ad budget.
Paul Kortman: Describe your agency’s ideal client.
Rob Warner: So here’s how to be a great agency partner. We see these kind of guys grow and the reason I’m about to tell you what I do is because agencies who meet these criteria typically grow with our services between 60 and 90 percent per annum. So every year they’re growing at that rate because they’ve got good skills. And those things that we look for in a good agency partner is, first, they generally offer more than AdWords. They’re more than just a PPC agency. Not always but usually. They’ve generally got an established business. They’ve probably been trading a couple of years. They’ve got perhaps one or two or three members of staff, sometimes more. Most importantly they have already got even a small number of clients for AdWords so they know what it feels like to handle that client relationship. And they at least have a basic understanding of the language of paid search. If an agency has those things in place, then we can really help them grow their business very quickly. And that’s what an ideal agency looks like. If you then spin that into an ideal client, an ideal client is a client with a strong offer in their local market, either with a good landing page or one that we built for them with good expectations and that’s where the relationship comes back into it. An agency that can communicate expectations well, and they’re generally the agencies I described a moment ago, will set great expectations during sales that will manage the client relationship really well and that client therefore, because they’ve got good expectations and good relationships, will thrive and grow.
Paul Kortman: Describe your agency’s worst client.
Rob Warner: I have to be careful with what I say here just at the risk of offending people, but that said, the worst ones for us are agency partners who believe that by white labeling, they are abdicating all responsibility for the client’s success. It’s no use hiring somebody like us and saying, I’ve got a client. He’s a plumber. Go figure everything out. There needs to be a dialogue there and an understanding. It all starts from that sales process. We find it very difficult to manage with an agency who doesn’t understand the product they’re selling, doesn’t communicate with the client, doesn’t want to communicate with the client and doesn’t want to learn how to get better. We can coach agencies to be better agencies, but we can only coach if they engage with us. And that’s the key thing, somebody who’s willing to engage versus somebody who isn’t.
Paul Kortman: What’s your agency’s worst client on the actual client side?
Rob Warner: So the worst client from our client side, and this is something we try and coach our agencies to avoid, is a client who is desperate. We sometimes get them and they sometimes sneak through though we usually can spot them. But we come across clients who are, more or less, they have a struggling business and they expect AdWords to save their business, and not only save it, they expect it to save them on no money in 10 days. That level of expectation and responsibility is something that we try and avoid because that usually ends up with a bad outcome from everybody. So if a client is in that situation, we urge them to keep the money in the bank and do something else to save the business and not try and think of buying a silver bullet is going to do it all for them because it usually won’t.
Paul Kortman: What’s the worst part of your job? Why?
Rob Warner: I’ve only just figured out I was having an increasing sense of frustration over the last few months and couldn’t figure out what it was and it only clicked with me around three months ago now which is, we’ve now reached a couple of million in revenue. We’re growing relatively quickly. And as a result of that our business now tends to have processes for things. We have projects to get things done. I’m a lousy project manager and I’m a lousy process person. I am a typical entrepreneur. I think very quickly, I act very quickly. And forcing me to do a project, to get something done that I want to do, is proving very painful for me. So my biggest and worst part of my job is having to actually learn and adapt my own behaviors to recognize the fact that it’s no longer a small one-person business. We’ve grown a bit and we have to take that seriously and do things properly. It’s for the best interests of our team and our clients and that kind of drives me crazy.
Paul Kortman: So in short you require your staff to work through processes and projects but you don’t want to do it yourself.
Rob Warner: Yeah, essentially. Our staff are really good because we want to do something so we have a project set up to do it. We want to change a process, we’ve got a process in place for it. You can’t look after several hundred clients without good processes. You can’t just make a change without thinking it through and thinking about the consequences. And there are the things that I struggle with, because I just want to go, here’s a great idea. Let’s do it now. And I’m not allowed to anymore.
Paul Kortman: How do you find good staff?
Rob Warner: Mainly we find staff through referral. We love to find referrals and we recruit fairly regularly. Normally the first question we ask any new recruit is who is the best person you used to work with and are they happy in their role? And so we bring in lots of people who have generally come in through a recommendation of an existing staff member, and that’s our favorite by far. The challenge with that is of course it’s not particularly scalable or predictable. So what we also do is we use job boards and when we use a job board, we will generally pull out a slightly quirky job ad because we’re a remote team, we’re a little bit unusual, we’re a business model that not many people have experienced. And so we put out a quirky Job ad, partly because that will hopefully attract the right kind of personalities, but it also puts off the wrong kind of personalities for us, because working at home and working in an environment can be challenging. Then we put people through a series of tests, and unless somebody passes all those tests, we don’t even generally talk to them. When they’re through all that, then we’ll usually set up a conversation and we’ll move them foRob Warnerard very quickly if we can.
Paul Kortman: How do you staff a project?
Rob Warner: What we tend to do is have teams looking after agencies. So any one agency who partnered with us, because an agency could have 20, 30, 50, 50-plus clients. We have one agency partner who has over a 100 dentists with us for example. So we treat that agency as being a project and we look after them as one regardless of how many individual clients they happen to have with us. We generally work in pairs for most of our agencies. So with each pair there is always a senior person, somebody who is very experienced, been with us a long time. They will do all the strategic work and lead the strategy for the campaign and for the account, and they’ll be working with a junior person who’s being trained up and is generally much newer with us, a junior of experience, and who will be doing some of the turning the handles on the day to day requirements of actually running an Adwords campaign, because there’s lots of things that need doing that are lower experience level tasks, but they still need to be done really well. So those are done by the more junior member of the team and that always means that we’ve got continuity, we’ve got cover and those individuals are learning and growing all the time.
Paul Kortman: Do you offer continued training to your staff? What does that look like?
Rob Warner: We train weekly. Typically what will happen is our account management team will have a once a week training session. It can be run a number of different ways. Itt could be as simple as, we’ve seen that a person has brought out a new training program on Google Adwords. Therefore we buy it. We buy just about everything. But if anybody in your audience sells Google Adwords training products, there’s a pretty good chance where a customer could buy everything we can get our hands on. We’re looking for that ne thing that we might have missed. So sometimes the training is, hey, here’s a program we’ve just bought. Go away and use your leisure and feedback to the next session what you learn from it and we share notes and see what lessons we can take away from it as a group. One of our key aims of all our training is that we learn as a collective because we need to raise everybody’s standards, not just an individuals. Thereafter it could be, we work very very closely with our colleagues at Google. We work directly with California, so we speak to them every single week, and they will come and run sessions for us. So we’ll get them on the webinar and they’ll run a training session for us. Other times it can be something that we’re doing internally, where we’ve just changed our own processes and we’re rolling those out to run an internal training session so it’s really varied, it’s really wide, but it allows us to move foRob Warnerard in a way that the training keeps pace with the business.
Paul Kortman: Do you go to any conferences or send staff to conferences, either to speak or to learn?
Rob Warner: We do. So we speak and learn. Last year for example, I spoke at a traffic and conversion summit in San Diego. We’ll be there again this year, we take a booth out there each year because it’s great for our business. We will go to places like GKIC, I know those guys, we do some work with them and we were at one of their recent events. So we get out and wide. We tend to avoid those events got the word search in the title because they tend to be the more nerdy kind of routine stuff and we tend to be at those events where agencies and business owners are engaging.
Paul Kortman: What do you do when a team member/staff fails at a project or their job?
Rob Warner: Thankfully we’ve never had anybody do anything negligent yet. Despite the fact that we’ve been going for five years now, maybe slightly longer, we’ve never had anybody do anything fundamentally negligent. Where we do have problems, then we hold ourselves accountable for it. The very first thing we do is look to see if the individual did not do what they were supposed to do properly or did we not give them the support and put the checks and balances in place to make sure we could’ve spotted it. We’re looking as much for individual failures as we’re looking for system failures, where a better system or a better process would have caught it earlier or sooner. If it is that an individual’s made a mistake on a client account and that happens from time to time, we’ve had things where we’ve genuinely missed something and a client account suffered as a result. We will work with the individual, work our process and pay for the mistake. So if we’ve let an agency down and our client suffers as a consequence, we pick up the bill for that.
Paul Kortman: How do you find good clients?
Rob Warner: So from our perspective our clients are agencies. And so for us we’ve been very blessed in that we have a relatively good reputation, I hope and I believe, around the marketplace, so agencies tend to find us rather than us going out looking for them. But things like speaking events and traffic conversion are the kind of places we go to find good quality agency partners. We also find them from our relationship with Google, at their events. Next week we’ll be in Google New York. I’m spending three days with the guys over there. So that undoubtedly will come back with new agency partners that we can work with. As for agencies finding their clients, it breaks down into any number of ways. With some of them we help provide them with lead generation tools so we have our own software tools we generated. We’ve built that help with lead generation. Some of our agency partners use those tools. Some of them have their own networking methods. It’s whatever suits their business style best but we can provide them with training tools and support. And as I mentioned we provide them with self-support, so if they need help to close client we can give them that.
Paul Kortman: What makes Invisible PPC different from your competitors?
Rob Warner: You can look at a couple of ways, to be honest Paul. If we look at just a transactional level, first of all. The thing you expect me to say is price, in that we’re relatively cheap and we are. But that’s not what it’s about. We’ve got our fundamental belief which is we do what is right for the client regardless of what it means for us. So we don’t have internal budgets for individual client campaigns and ours. We monitor it, we record it, but we don’t penalize ourselves if we go over budget on something. That’s on us to get the right result for the client. So in that respect when not a typical outsourcing operation. Outsourcing on white labeling often has you know a perception of low quality or being off-short, cheap, and a second rate service. We said that’s not us. We want to be technically the best we can possibly be and be the best communicator we can be. And that meant hiring in-country, so we hire qualified experienced people in-country and we just drilled down on detail and learning. Anybody in our business will tell you that our internal mantra, which I’ve driven home time and time again, is always, do our best, learn some more, do better, and repeat, because that’s how we get better every day. So as far as white label agency goes, we believe we’re the only ones who provide the full range that we do. I don’t know of any other agencies out there taking care of kind of everything on behalf of their agency partners.
Paul Kortman: Why should I use I nvisible PPC over a smaller agency over.
Rob Warner: It’s really interesting actually. And one of the key words there, that makes the difference, is context. And what I mean by that is, if you are a small agency, a lot of supply agencies will add white labeling to their list of services which is really a way of saying I would like a couple more clients and a bit more income. And if you’ve got some I’ll do some work for you. It’s kind of a supplemental thing, not a main income stream for most agencies whereas for us it’s all we do. And so they might build, let’s take a dentist for example. If you white label a small agency, they might have built one or two or three dental campaigns. In our books at any one time we have well over 100 running. So we can tell in half a second whether a dental campaign is built right or not or likely to work and set good outcomes and expectations. Our breadth of experiences is now so wide, that chances are, whatever client you bring to us, we’ve been there, done it and seen how to do it. We’ve been through that. And as a result of that we now know what good looks like. We also know what bad looks like. Very few agencies ever get to that point. One thing we are very blessed with, which has been a sort of addition over the last 12 months, is that Google has this partner network, as you probably well know, and they have badges and partner relationships at different levels. There’s about 40000 partners worldwide. And of those, about 2000 are what they called premier partners, and within that there is a tiny subset, which is less than 1 percent of partners worldwide, who get to work with Google directly at the Mountain View head office in what they call the channel sales team. And from what they tell us, we’re they are only 100 percent white label agency in the world working directly with channel sales at Mountain View. So that gives us a level of support and resource and exposure that most agencies would kill for.
Paul Kortman: Why should I use Invisible PPC versus a larger company like Ogilvy?
Rob Warner: That’s not the kind of people that we work with. Most of our clients are by far the vast majority are small to mid-size agencies so they would never go to a very large agency. So for us it’s not something we ever come across. If somebody needs that level of high corporate, they’re probably better with a high corporate than us.
Paul Kortman: Do you offer a service, price or package that no one else is offering?
Rob Warner: Yeah. Our AdWords services are pretty unique, they’re so comprehensive and so attractively price even if you’re comparing us to, let’s say a Filipino outsourcing shop for example, I’m not thinking of anybody in particular, we’re generally cheaper and offer more comprehensive service with fewer limitations. So comparatively, whichever way we look at what we do it’s generally better value for money than anybody else out there in the market.
Paul Kortman: And the Elevator pitch, you have 30 seconds, you’ve identified me as an ideal client, now convince me… and go!
Rob Warner: Let’s keep this really simple. Our typical agency partners grow their business 60 percent year over year by using our services. If you’d like to grow by 60 percent or more hire us.
Paul Kortman: What do you personally do for fun?
Rob Warner: I like to do two or three things. You’ll usually find me at a Crossfit gym somewhere
Paul Kortman: And you consider that fun?
Rob Warner: In a strange kind of way. It’s fun that hurts. But yeah I love it because the only person I’m competing against is myself. I’m forty four years old at the moment and soon to be 45 and I’m probably fitter and stronger than I’ve been before, and that to me feels like a good thing. So I like that. And to be honest, one of the things that makes it fun for me is, I work with a remote team. So my colleagues are remote. Most of my friends and most of my staff live, in many cases, in a different country, in lots of cases, hundreds of miles away. So my local CrossFit community for me, are my friends, my social life. So they’re a bunch of people I see all the time.
Paul Kortman: Okay, so your social life is a bunch of other meat. That’s kind of scary.
Rob Warner: I think they might be slightly upset if you call them meatheads, but they may hunt you down. So, hey. If I’m not doing that, which clearly you can’t do all the time, I’m just kind of a film nerd. I love going to the cinema, I’m there all the time, or live music. If I can do any of those things any entertainment like that, I love that sort of stuff.
Paul Kortman: What does your staff or agency do for fun?
Rob Warner: It’s really just so difficult. So here’s the sort of things that we do. So every Friday we have a TGIF call, which is an on-camera call for everybody who can make it. And whilst it’s a bit of work we always try make that silly and entertaining as well. I think next weekend we’re playing an online version of Cards Against Humanity, which if you haven’t seen Cards Against Humanity, it’s a quite terrifying, utterly inappropriate card game to play with work colleagues. But that’s what we’re doing next week.
Paul Kortman: How does the human resources department view this?
Rob Warner: Well when this was first suggested to me I kind of thought that sounds great but very very dangerous for us. So what our agreement was, we’re going to do this, if you show up then you consent to being there and you consent to playing and not being offended. If you choose not to show up, that’s absolutely fine. We don’t mind either way. So we’re doing that. What we also do as well is we generally try and get together at least once a year. So 60 percent of my workforce are in the U.S. So I’m over in the U.S. probably seven to eight times a year. And at least one of those we try to have a staff gathering of some sort. In fact we have one in a couple weeks’ time. We’ll go out and do a social event. We’ve done things like Billy Joel gigs, been to Madison Square Gardens and Broadway shows and we’ll generally go out and try to have a nice time as a team. Generally only do it once a year because it’s quite hard to get people even within the US all in the same place at the same time. It generally involves flights and hotels.
Paul Kortman: Yeah and I’m thinking poor for the people in the U.S. I mean it be awesome to visit Australia or get over and see the sights in London.
Rob Warner: Well we actually have some staff flying over to the meeting in London in a few weeks time. We’re having a family celebration and some of my staff are actually coming over for that in a couple weeks time.
Paul Kortman: How does your agency incorporate fun into client relationships?
Rob Warner: Oh that’s a really good question. That’s a really hard thing for us to do, if you think of our agencies, they’re all over the world so one thing we do is try and send gifts. We’ve never seen anything quite as inappropriate as Cards Against Humanity and we may never go there. But we hang out with our clients. So events like traffic conversion, one of the reasons that we go to them isn’t necessarily to solicit new business, though that’s part of it. It’s to recognize those relationships we already have and we try and take as many people out for food and for drinks. My personal favorite is the Shout Bar in San Diego where the dueling pianos play. If you want to find me having a good time in San Diego, that’s where I’ll be. We try and do those kind of things as often as we can.
Paul Kortman:Tell us a story about the most fun you’ve had working for a client or doing your job?
Rob Warner: I think the most fun we’ve had was when we had a dinner in New York two and a half years ago with one of our really long established smart agency partners. First of all, I asked him to pick a restaurant for us because there’s about 10 of my team and him and his partner and things are social. I said choose somewhere nice but nothing crazy. I ended up with I think a thousand dollar bill from the restaurant just for dinner. So obviously I thanked him profusely for that privilege. Naturally added it onto his next invoice. And then we went to possibly my favorite place in New York, which is the Bathtub Gin Club. Which if you’ve never been there it’s kind of a speakeasy, o you have to go through a hidden door into like a 1930s speakeasy style environment. And we just had an absolute blast of an evening and our clients loved it. We now go masterminding with some of them. I’m going to California in a couple of weeks masterminding with some of them and there was lots of work but there were some good times as well, so we try to engage wherever we possibly can and just have a blast. Why not?
Paul Kortman: What are your goals for your agency? 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
Rob Warner: Well, being a relatively ADHD entrepreneur, the idea of a 10 year goal is something I can’t even comprehend. I would struggle to get to five. So we probably won’t go there. But as far as the immediate short term goes, we typically like to grow 70 to 100 percent a year. That’s what we’ve been doing for the past few years and that remains our goal for this year. But what we’re trying to do and the thing that matters to us most about our growth is that we grow with really good quality. We want to make a difference to the people that we work with. So for us it’s about growing at the right rate for our business, but building the infrastructure of the business so that it’s not just too hard work for everybody all the time, building the good systems, the good processes, so that it’s stable and it can function as a grown-up business, which I guess it is.
Paul Kortman: What have the last 6 months looked like?
Rob Warner: I think at the moment I would say that we’re on a steady growth period. We typically grow 5 percent a month, sometimes slightly more than that, sometimes slightly less than that, but generally the range of 5 percent a month is our growth rate and has been for the last 12 months. We’ve deliberately left it at that rate and allowed that to happen organically. That’s kind of our natural rhythm that happens whether we try to do anything or not. So for us that’s great because we don’t have to work particularly hard to achieve that. While that’s happening, we’re building infrastructure, we’re building processes, we’re building bigger things that allow us to do, for example, turn some page traffic on and really start hitting the accelerator when we’re ready for that, probably in a couple of months time.
Paul Kortman: So you’re going to turn page traffic on for yourself?
Rob Warner: Yeah, we already do a little. But our view is that it’s time to grow seriously. So we’ll be turning on a lot more than we currently do.
Paul Kortman:43: What does your new client pipeline look like?
Rob Warner: Our new client pipeline is really strong. We typically get anything in the region of up to 30 agencies a week approach us to be their PPC fulfillment partner. So for us that’s fabulous, because that’s 30 agencies a week who are finding us without us having to try to make that happen. And at the moment of those, we then see generally of those 30, 80 percent will engage with us and about half of them will be bringing on clients within three months. We try and find ways to not be a one size fits all, so we’re trying to make sure that if you are a small agency getting started, we point you at the right resources for that. Your uptick to getting your first live client and paying those earnings yourself is generally longer than a midsize client, for whom it might be about sales strategy, and we help those guys get over the line. For the bigger guys who are already established kind of client base, it’s about us taking that workload off their plate and getting them moved up, so they can focus on going out and scaling. And so depending on where they are, that’s generally what we do to get up to speed with the right resources at the right time to get them moving.
Paul Kortman: How long does it take for a potential client to become a client?
Rob Warner: It can be as little as days. Often the two reasons people bring us accounts if they’ve already got that client, is number one, they’re struggling to make it work and the clients are upset with them. So that bring it to us to make the problem go away and stop a client shouting at them. Number two, they recognize the fact that they’re growing and they want to scale and they want to offload the work. In both those instances, we’re generally running accounts for them within a week. So within a week we could be up and running. If it’s something where they’re in a sales process, it’s usually longer and it depends on how long their sales cycle is. But again, a sales cycle can be as short as seven days.
Paul Kortman: Tell us some shame or gossip in the market space of PPC or agency marketing.
Rob Warner: So let me give you what I think is the biggest shame. And I apologize, I may go into rant mode. I will try not to. But my biggest frustration, and I see it time and time again, and unfortunately gurus are selling training programs and people are buying them and they’re doing this, and it’s usually a Facebook post that starts like this: Hey guys, I’ve just won a chiropractor as a client. I’ve just signed them up and taken my retainer. Anybody know how to do fulfillment for chiropractors so I can get them some leads? And it’s this kind of fake it till you make it mentality, which we’ve all got to start somewhere and I 100 percent get that we have to learn. But we don’t learn by guessing with other people’s money when we don’t know what we’re doing. And that seems to be not only something that people do, but something that’s being taught as a legitimate strategy. And I personally think you do your learning on your own dollar, not on somebody else’s. That’s not fair. That’s their money. Even if you are working for free, you are still spending their ad budget. That’s still real money that really leaves their bank account. And I could go into a Facebook group now and find you in a marketing group 10 posts that start like that. And it just makes me want to cry.
Paul Kortman: I’ve met people who sometimes reach out to me and say, hey, so what should I do now? That’s a little late buddy.
Rob Warner: Yeah. You kind of sold it. Any answer other than ‘give them their money back and let them hire somebody who does know what they’re doing’ is probably a bad answer as far as I’m concerned.
Paul Kortman: What are the biggest challenges to working with your agency?
Rob Warner: Really simple. The thing that we have the biggest challenge with is onboarding a new client. Now it sounds crazy, because we do it several times a day, but onboarding a new client is the hardest thing anybody will do with us for the first time they do it. Simply because we’re going to ask loads of questions that we need to know the answers to to make their client campaign a success. So for those agencies that have done a great sales job, have asked the right questions, have either used our training or their own resources, but have done a good job of selling and getting good quality information from a client, they don’t have a problem. However, many don’t do that, and so onboarding can be a very painful, time consuming process
Paul Kortman: I imagine that the agency has to go back to the ultimate client multiple times to ask follow up questions?
Rob Warner: Yeah, that’s it. And we don’t want that to happen, the agency doesn’t want that to happen, and we try and make it as easy for that not to happen as possible. And unfortunately I think short of turning up to our client sales meeting sometimes and actually handling the meeting and asking the questions ourselves, we do have days where you kind of bang your head against the wall and go, I do not know what more we can do to help our agencies get this right. Please don’t mistake them, some of them are brilliant. Many of them are brilliant. There are a few who have some challenges and some opportunities to improve their client onboarding.
Paul Kortman: What are the biggest professional mistakes you have personally made?
Rob Warner: For me it’s this one moment that stands out, which is the moment where I nearly bankrupted my family and made us homeless. As far as it goes that’s kind of a bad moment. I set up a business when I first left finance, I set up a business with a software platform we’re developing. And my wife said one thing before I started, I am happy to support her decision. I appreciate the fact you’re giving up the nice company car and the bonuses and all that. I understand you’ve got to do what you do. Just promise me one thing we won’t lose the house. And I literally had to sit my family down two years later and say, bad news, that thing you said not to do, in about six weeks time it might happen unless I can find a way to turn it round. My bad. Sorry. But we turned it around. And here is a strange thing that happened to me. Up until that point, where I had my wife and two daughters on the sofa having that conversation just as I described it, I was in denial. I refused to admit just how bad things were and it was only to the point where I could not pay anybody anything because I had no money and we were trying to buy groceries and things were not going through. I knew I had to come clean. And from the moment that I had that conversation and gave my self permission to say, you’ve screwed up spectacularly, you need to fix this, everything changed. Within six months, we turned it round and we’re just in the middle of buying our dream house. So it was the starting point of everything that’s good that has happened since.
Paul Kortman: Nice. So you did end up selling their house instead of giving it to the bank?
Rob Warner: Exactly. We sold it because we found a much nicer one now and not because we’ve had to, which is the way I always hope to leave a house.
Paul Kortman: What is the biggest mistake your agency has been involved in?
Rob Warner: In our early days we were a growing agency and we were learning how to do things. And one thing we didn’t do with one particular account was, they wanted a short term budget adjustment and we increased their budget from spending about seven thousand dollars a month at a time when they wanted to increase it to $12000 for a short period over peak season. And so we did. And then we forgot to turn it back down again. And we didn’t have the checks and balances in place at the time to know that we’d forgotten until they were about $3000 to spending that they weren’t expecting, hadn’t budgeted for, and their credit card was going crazy. Not our finest hour. And I put my hand in my pocket and it cost me $3000 to fix it.
Paul Kortman: Well I do have to admit, I have been involved in a much worse PPC over spend of 20 grand. Let’s just say I was not monitoring my staff as well as I thought I was.
Rob Warner: And it’s horrible, it’s just a heart stopping moment when that happens and everything you want the ground to swallow you. But when we took the view that every time an agency gives us a client they’re coming to trust us with their reputation and if we screw up then it’s on us to fix it. And the only thing we could do which didn’t make it acceptable but at least my the pain away was to pay for it. It still sucks but you learn pretty quickly. Every day is a school day, even if you don’t like the lesson.
Paul Kortman: What service or specific aspect of what you do does not help your client’s bottom line?
Rob Warner: Yeah, this happens to us fairly regularly, actually, and despite our best efforts for it not to happen, we fairly regularly take money from our agency partners to do something for their clients which is fundamentally dumb. And it’s not the agency’s fault. It’s a client issue, where the client believes that they need to be number one in AdWords for a particular key word, usually some branded related things, it’s usually guys, it’s usually competition, and it’s usually some kind of ego trip where they feel they need to beat out a local competitor. Even when we have data to prove, time after time, that it is costing them money, there are several occasions where we have to knowingly and deliberately, with their blessing, waste a client’s money to make their ego feel better. It pains us every time. We still have to do it.
Paul Kortman: Where can people go to learn more about you and invisible PPC?
Rob Warner: InvisiblePPC.com is the best place to find us.