Co-Founders of Darkroom, Chief Executive Officer, Lucas DiPietrantonio & Chief Creative Officer, Jackson Corey.
This week on the Agency Accelerator podcast, we had the pleasure of hosting the dynamic duo behind Darkroom—CEO, Lucas DiPietrantonio, and Chief Creative Officer, Jackson Corey.
Join us as we discuss their journey of scaling a niche agency that grew from the ground up to over 75 employees in just six years!
Evolution of a Niche
The discussion kicked off with a reflection on Darkroom’s evolution, from its origins as a pure design consultancy to its current status as a growth partner and consultant for B2C businesses.
Lucas and Jackson emphasized their intentional and creative approach to growth marketing, aiming to fill a gap in the market where they perceived a lack of sophistication and taste.
Lucas and Jackson shed light on the process of finding their niche within the growth marketing space.
They discussed the importance of understanding the needs of their clients and offering services that are not only valuable but also justifiably priced.
Building Recurring Revenue Models
We then explored the shift from project-based revenue to recurring revenue models. Lucas and Jackson touched on the necessity of aligning services with customer needs, ensuring that the recurring service is something clients genuinely require on an ongoing basis.
They shared their experience of learning the importance of recurring revenue models through trial and error, making strategic decisions to cut non-recurring service lines.
Crafting a Unique Value Proposition
Discussing the challenges of convincing clients to opt for recurring services, the co-founders highlighted the importance of demonstrating tangible ROI.
They suggested studying successful businesses slightly larger than your target audience, identifying services they pay for, and crafting a unique value proposition that offers better quality and cost efficiency.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Our conversation shifted to the challenges of aligning sales and marketing efforts, especially in a service-based industry where the product is not tangible.
Lucas and Jackson stressed the need for constant evolution in sales and marketing strategies, reflecting the rapidly changing landscape of digital marketing.
They advised maintaining simplicity in messaging while creatively addressing the intricacies of their services.
“…we’re constantly trying to figure out how can we make our services and our messaging more relevant.”
Operational Challenges in Scaling
As the agency scaled, operational challenges came to the forefront. Lucas highlighted the importance of building robust processes and systems for onboarding and internal learning management systems.
Jackson added that being obsessed with systems and automation has been a key factor in Darkroom’s success, ensuring a smooth transition as the team expanded.
Understanding Unit Economics
Unit economics became a pivotal focus, with the co-founders stressing the importance of knowing the cost and revenue associated with each service.
They shared insights into how hiring, management layers, and changes in the executive team affected unit economics. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for making informed decisions in pricing and scaling.
The discussion wrapped up with insights into delegating responsibilities. Jackson emphasized the combination of hiring exceptional talent and leveraging technology.
While they have successfully removed themselves from day-to-day minutiae, both co-founders remain deeply involved in understanding and refining the systems that drive Darkroom’s operations.
Investing in Training and Processes
Jackson and Lucas discuss the importance of training in refining processes and systems within an agency. They emphasize the significance of continuous training, particularly in industries like consultancy, where staying updated on market changes is crucial.
Jackson mentions their internal university initiative that focuses on quarterly training to keep the team up-to-date.
They also touch on the role of a leadership team and the value of weekly meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The conversation delves into the common misconception of not documenting processes and the necessity of building a framework for training and onboarding.
Having a Vision for Your Company
The discussion moves on to the implementation of feedback loops, both within client accounts and internally.
Jackson and Lucas stress the importance of having a vision for the agency that goes beyond immediate client feedback and emphasizes the agency’s unique expertise.
In the latter part, they talk about the initiatives Darkroom is planning for the future. This includes a focus on client services with an emphasis on data science and marketing strategies, creative process improvement, launching an internal university as a commercial product, and developing internal software tools.
As we conclude this recap, the episode serves as a beacon of guidance for digital marketing agency owners and entrepreneurs.
Lucas and Jackson’s journey with Darkroom is a testament to the power of strategic niche exploration, recurring revenue models, and relentless commitment to operational excellence!
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