Agency Story: Rich Brooks, flyte new media

Rich Brooks

What’s your name?

Rich Brooks

What does your agency, flyte new media, do?

Web design, SEO, Paid Search, Organic and Paid Social, Branding, Digital Marketing

What were you doing before you started your agency?

Medical sales rep

What inspired you to start your own agency, rather than simply freelancing or working elsewhere?

When I started it wasn’t called an agency. I just wanted to work on the Internet, and starting a web design company seemed like a good approach. I figured I’d have two years (back in 1997) before designers learned to program or programmers learned to design.

What were the HARDEST things about starting your agency?

Back then it was rare for a business to have a website. I had to sell them as much on the business reason to have one as much as I did that I was the person to do it.

What were the BEST things about starting your agency?

The ability to chart my own course. That I got to decide what we were going to do and how we were going to do it.

Does your agency have a “point of difference” (or did it at the beginning)? How has that evolved?

The fact I was building websites was enough of a differentiator when I started. Now it’s more our focus on lead gen, as well as our annual conference.

What’s your staff structure? How many do you have, and what are their positions? How did that evolve?

There’s 10 of us:
Me, Director of Operations, Assistant Project Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Creative Director, Lead Developer, Developer, Paid Search Expert, SEO Expert, Jr. Digital Marketer.
It’s a fairly flat structure.

What have some of your favorite projects been and why?

We recently did a brand overhaul, new website, SEO, and ongoing paid ads for an exam prep company. I loved the fact that they were willing to trust us with their brand, and that all the responsibility fell to us to get it right. So far it’s been a huge success: they love their new logo and colors, the website is effective, and the ads have been crushing previous records.

Any big fat failures you’re willing to share?

Since I’m responsible for new work, any time we don’t get a “good” project it hurts. I always try and follow up to find out why “the other vendor was a better fit”, so that I can improve for next time. Sometimes it’s price, which I don’t worry about (unless everyone is telling me that.) Sometimes it’s that I proposed something that wasn’t a good fit, and I realize I need to do a better job of listening to what they’re saying…and not saying.

What do you wish you knew before you started your agency that might have made things easier at the beginning?

You don’t need to do everything yourself. You can hire employees, contractors, and vendors. You can find masterminds or mentors. You can get coaching. You can find resources like the Small Business Development Centers or SCORE for free and low-cost advice and guidance. You can partner with other companies on projects and to reach new audiences. Nobody does it without help.

What’s your advice for someone starting an agency?

Narrow your focus. Niche down until it hurts. Become known as the go-to person/company for one thing, and when you’ve accomplished that, then consider expanding. Also, the get help bit.

If you weren’t running your agency, what do you think you might be doing instead?

A salesman, like, maybe in a haberdasher, or maybe like a… um, a chapeau shop, or something… you know, like: “Would you… what size do you wear, sir?” and then you answer me.

Rich Brooks @rich
President of flyte new media ( Founder of The Agents of Change conference

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