Pasha Irshad from Shape and Scale gives Ricky Pearl a Couple Of Pointers on scaling a brand new marketing agency. The challenges with building and delivering at the same time and getting the right sales channels set up.
What guidance did Pasha receive when he first entered the marketing field, and what guidance would Pasha offer someone just entering the field today?
Pasha developed independence after beginning his marketing career without receiving any instruction. Unlike what Pasha did, Pasha's advice today is to get active in communities and locate a mentor for someone just starting out in the profession.
What are Ricky's six-figure agency's main sources of income, and which one is he developing to perhaps replace it as his main source of income?
Relationships are Ricky's main source of income, and he is putting the brakes on three areas: his website, LinkedIn, cold outbound calls, and word of mouth.
What signs can a business owner or revenue leader look out for in their company that would suggest they should contact Shape and Scale?
A business owner or revenue leader should contact Shape and Scale if they feel like they are devoting all of their time and effort to Google AdWords and aren't standing out from a demand perspective, or if they don't have a complete understanding of what is happening in their organization from a marketing and sales perspective.
What do you do?
Ricky: So we are very lucky today to be talking to Pasha the Co-founder of Shape and Scale, a B2B marketing and communication agency. Pasha welcome to the show.
Pasha: Hey, it's great to be here, Ricky.
Ricky: For the sake of our audience. Explain it like I'm five. What do you do?
Pasha: Yeah. So shape and scale, really orchestrates growth for B2B tech companies. And we do that through three things. things Technology marketing and communication.
Ricky: I can tell you've got communications in your company because it is so rare for a guest to just articulate what they do, so simply and end at a full stop. How did it start?
Pasha: Yeah. Been in the agency world 13 years. So worked at big agencies. Think big consumer brands worked at small startup agencies. Much like the restaurant industry, which I was in prior to that, you've got two paths. You're either an owner or a worker. And me and the other VP there probably seven, eight months ago wanted to be owners.
We both have a unique skillset that we bring for our clients. And I think within that we laid down a path to start out on our own. I had taken some of the learnings I've had from Stinson startups and my own consultancy on the side. And, you know, we put that together. We've been live for about two months and we are making it happen.
So it's great.
What advice were you given when starting in Marketing, and what advice would you give now?
Ricky: Amazing. Now you mentioned being in this industry for a long time. What was some of the advice that you were given when you were starting out that really stuck with you, and now
that you've reached those points in your career, would you give that same advice?
Pasha: So this is funny. I see it as a trick question, but to be honest, when I was starting out, I didn't really get any advice. I went from being a 28 year old bartend. to being right into the hot seat of project management account management. Didn't really have time for a mentor. And in that it made me be very self-reliant.
I taught myself everything and I learned not to rely on anyone. While I'd had pros and cons, it's rewarded me throughout my career. And it's given me the foundation to start and do my own thing.
Ricky: That's tough advice to give to someone. Be the solo pioneer, but at the same time, there is a really important lesson there for people starting out.
Pasha: Yeah, for people starting out, my advice would be not to necessarily do what I did. I would say 2008 a lot different from 2022. I've got friends now in Australia, India across the world. You can find mentors really it's as easy as going into a slack community. I think when I was coming up, it was more of that face to face.
And when you're a fish out of water entering this industry, you're a little bit older. You don't feel as connected. So for somebody starting out, I would say, do the opposite of what I did and get involved in communities, get involved as much as you can, not only to grow your skill set, but to find somebody to give you the advice I didn't get.
What are you proud of right now?
Ricky: You've recently started Shape and Scale. Is there, anything that comes to mind that you're pretty proud of any recent wins?
Pasha: Yeah. Honestly, what we're proudest of is right now, we've got a six figure business and, if it all goes to, can I curse if it all goes to shit tomorrow, I can say I've ran a six figure business. And I'm really proud of that. you know, Four to five months ago.
I had gotten to a place where I was complacent in my career. I think all of us go through that at some point, right? You're making money, you have a title, you start to get complacent. For whatever reason, I kind of shook out of those doldrums and started getting, involved in LinkedIn, posting every day, doing Zooms with people.
Basically just breaking outta my comfort zone. Now some of that was a forcing function of starting your own business, right? No one's gonna market you like you, but those are probably the two things I'm most proud of is stepping out of what was, I think a box I kind of put myself in and creating the business out of scratch.
It feels good.
What are your primary revenue channels?
Ricky: Those are two things that most people don't achieve. So you've built up the six figure agency very quickly. What is your primary revenue channel that's helped you get there and which one are you working on building up to hopefully be your next primary revenue channel?
Pasha: Yeah, this is a really good question. So the first is just relationships. My Co-Founder and I were lucky. Our last agency was basically dealing with B2B SaaS so we have a lot of different relationships, some of VCs, some through the work that we've done and our name is out there a little bit. And while that's good, as everybody knows, it's also bad, right?
Because that's not pipeline with our website launching in probably one or two months, I'd like to start focusing on really three areas. One is the website getting people into that funnel through advertising, little bit of advertising, a little bit of SEO. It's gonna take some time, but I think once those two things get humming in concert, we'll see the return.
The second one is obviously just posting every day to LinkedIn being involved in communities, call it dark social, call it, whatever you like. That's the second one. The third one is probably a little bit due to the connections I've made over the last three to four months, but there is an element of cold outbound that I think could work for what I'm doing, especially just from a technographic perspective.
When you merge all those three things together, along with our, word of mouth, that's really what I'm looking. Looking to press the accelerator on. I would also just say how I got to know you is really through the sales community and, marketers, there's this assumption that maybe you don't need to know sales, but I can tell you, if you go into business for yourself, you better have a good sense of how to sell, cuz you're not only selling yourself, but you're selling your business.
And so I gotta thank you because I've learned. a lot from, not just you, but some of the other folks in this community that's helped me a lot and I save things, I read them. And so trying to grow that piece of the skillset.
What used to work that doesn't work any more?
Ricky: Those are three strong channels and pretty classic. And it seems like you're definitely drinking some of your own Kool-Aid. Now tell me what is something that, that used to work when you were starting out? That just doesn't work anymore?
Pasha: Yeah, I would say content syndication used to be part of the playbook that we would run. Probably two reasons for that. One, most CMOs I worked with needed the MQL number and in order to hit that. Sometimes we wouldn't have the runway to take it. You know, three, four months need a thousand MQLs. We would go to a vendor, get them.
Everyone's happy. I think today you're seeing probably two things happening one there's the talk of demand gen moving away from an MQL model. And so that's one, I'd say the other one is just more alignment between marketing sales and support has led to actual revenue teams where some aren't even operating from the MQL playbook.
Right? So, you know, you used to deliver content syndicated leads. They would go directly to the sales team. The sales team would call them and they'd be like, what the fuck is this? Right? There wouldn't be, there would be nothing there. They looked at, they maybe looked at a white paper in their email. So not only would I piss off the sales team.
But I'd have to start from the drawing board. That's not gonna cut it today.
What fictional character would you employ to do your job?
Ricky: Similar in outbound those tactics that helped you get that high volume, is becoming much harder. You need these more sophisticated models. Now, if you were to employ any fictional character, any genre to do your job better than you could do, who would it be?
Pasha: Marty Byrd from Ozark. This is an easy one. There's so many reasons, but I think all sales and marketing professionals know this is a very very high pressure industry. And so having somebody that can think on their feet and stay calm in situations where might otherwise not be, is something that you could swap me out with him.
And I just know he would get the job done. Right. Staying calm, getting the job done no matter what. So that was an easy one for me.
Ricky: I'm picturing all of this marketing and sales chaos going on around you. And you're just this calm cool-headed collected person, able to still, apply all of your intellect and faculties whilst everyone else is losing their heads.
Pasha: There's nobody, I think that could do it better.
Ricky: Is there a saying that goes with that, be more Marty
Pasha: Yeah. I think I had a LinkedIn post that said be like Marty. And it's something I kind of repeat to myself because clients aren't always gonna be happy. And I think when you're in the hot seat, there's two ways it can go, you can start getting combative. And I would assume this is the same thing on a sales call.
Right? If you approach a situation with calm. Don't get into the back and forth. You're usually gonna find a good resolution. If you lose your cool, it starts to go tit for tat and that's just not gonna cut it
What is one problem you are having right now that you would love someone else to solve for you?
Ricky: a hundred percent now. What is that one problem that you're currently having, that you would just absolutely love someone else to solve for you?
Pasha: Yeah, I would say my processes and systems. Building that while flying the airplane can be problematic. I could just have somebody come in, download my brain, put the systems into place, along with the frameworks while I'm able to just manage clients. That would make my life a thousand times easier.
And I think that would go for any business owner. They always say cobbler shoes, and I've, I've been feeling that a lot lately
When should someone call Shape and Scale?
Ricky: We'll get someone on to solve that for you what is the symptom that a business owner or a revenue leader or a marketing leader should see within their business? Recognize that symptom as a sign of, I need to call Shape and Scale now.
Pasha: Yeah, I'd say it's two things. If you feel like you don't have a complete picture of what's going on in your organization from not only a marketing and sales perspective, but a revenue perspective, that's really where we're aligned to help to come in and look at your sales and marketing process.
Look at the technology that underpins that and solve that problem for you. The other problem is if you feel like you are spending all your time and energy into Google AdWords, and basically playing with all the other competitors in a very crowded sea and not standing out from a demand perspective that is the other symptom.
And those two areas is really where we Excel.
Ricky: Well, If anyone listening to this, if that resonates with you, give Pasha a call
Pasha, it's been fantastic having you on. I'm watching closely because the way you've built this, agency so quickly is something to be admired. I particularly appreciate how you are bringing that big picture to revenue around both marketing communications and how that eventually fits in with your technology, which feeds your revenue, operations is something that is pretty unique in the industry. I'm excited just watching it develop within Shape and Scale.
Pasha: I appreciate that. And obviously a big shout out to my Co-founder Suzanne Block without her, this would definitely not be here. So, you know, I couldn't imagine doing it by myself.
Ricky: I'd , love to have her on sometime she might be saying. I just wish I did this myself.
Pasha: it's quite possible.
Ricky: I'm sure not you're indispensable.
Pasha: No, I appreciate that. It's been a lot of fun. I appreciate you having me on.
Ricky: Great chatting to you.