Struggling to find the right marketing agency? Behdad Jamshidi, Founder of CJAM Marketing, shares his secrets to vetting and matching businesses with agency partners they can trust. After losing 25% of his business overnight in the recession, Behdad rebuilt by focusing on lead generation and brand building. He explains how he creates a constant stream of high-quality content across platforms and nurtures authentic relationships. Key takeaways include only partnering with agencies operating for 5+ years, mapping customer journeys, and joining exclusive communities. With insights on standing out online, bouncing back after setbacks and building a personal brand, this episode is essential listening for service providers and agency-seekers alike. Discover how to find reliable collaborators so you can focus on what matters most - delighting clients.
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The UnNoticed Entrepreneur is hosted & produced by Jim James.
Jim James (00:02.432)
Hello, welcome to this episode of The Unnoticed Entrepreneur with me, Jim Jameson. This is the show where I ask entrepreneurs like you to share stories about what works for them, what challenges they're overcoming and what solutions they found to getting noticed. Today we're going to The Hague in Holland and we're going to talk to Behdad Jamshidi who has a company as a really sort of a marketing select.
For those of you that have tried to find an agency, you know how hard it is to find the right one. And I ran my own agency for 25 years. I know that from the client side, it's a bewildering and sometimes expensive and sometimes frustrating experience. So, but that is gonna explain to us how you can find an agency by using someone like him to help you make those decisions. But also how he as an entrepreneur has managed to.
face recession and losing 25% of his business overnight and rebuilding it to a successful six-figure business. Behdad, welcome to the show.
Behdad Jamshidi (01:06.082)
Thanks for having me on the show.
Jim James (01:08.092)
You're more than welcome because we've got a lot of interesting topics to talk about. Many of us that are running smaller businesses, we need agency partners. We need freelancers because we can't afford the overhead of staff. But if you go online, you find agencies and you don't know if they're telling the truth. You don't know if you're going to be passed from the person you meet to someone else who isn't, who you've met, who's going to do the work, the bait and the switch.
Tell us what do you do and how do you help entrepreneurs make the right decisions about which agencies to hire?
Behdad Jamshidi (01:44.022)
Yeah. So my background, I'm an engineer by trade. I used to do a lot of business consulting back in the day. I used to work for a company called Telus, very similar to Verizon in the US, Vodafone in Europe. And I used to work with businesses anywhere from about 50 to 1,000 type employee range. Talking to C-level executives, IT, understanding what's going on in a business, and then building out roadmaps. And so that's where a lot of my experience came from for business consulting, sales, leadership, and technology.
I took that same skill set and I applied that to marketing. And when I got into the marketing world, I was doing websites, Google Ads, SEO for small businesses. Very quickly, I didn't enjoy doing 80 hour websites on the weekend. I was getting paid way too well as a sales engineer to do that. So I started looking for partners to work with. And as I did that, I noticed two things. Marketing agencies and partners didn't understand business, and business people didn't understand marketing. And so when I put these two people in the same meeting,
You know, they don't speak the same language. Agencies were picking up work that they shouldn't pick up. They might be good at websites, but they're not good at Google Ads or SEO or influencer marketing, but they would still do it. So I thought, what if I was able to be the person that could speak to businesses and then match people with the right marketing partners? So over the course of the last five years, I spoke into 716 different marketing agencies and partners, built it into a vetted list of 90 plus, and my entire job now, or what I do to help businesses, is to connect businesses with the right marketing.
Jim James (03:09.24)
I think that is wonderful because you save people so much time if you've looked at over 700. What's interesting about that statistic for me is that only about 15%, if we're generous, qualify to be in your list of vetted partners. Behdad, what do you look for in an agency to be, if you like, passing through your quality threshold?
Behdad Jamshidi (03:36.93)
There's a lot of things that I look for. So for example, if you're a business looking for the right marketing agency, I would say number one is to understand, like marketing at a high level and understand what would potentially work for what your goals are, so that when you're looking for agencies, you're looking for the right partners and not being sold SEO just because that's what the agency does. When it comes to my type of stuff, there's a bunch of different red flags that I look for. One is I look for people that have been around for at least five years as an agency.
because that's the amount of time it takes to get processes, systems, values in place, you know, having gone through the rodeo a little bit. So you end up getting more stabilized agencies that really know the type of customers that they can help. And then there's other aspects to it too. I mean, that rule doesn't always apply. Like if you have a new marketing service that comes out, you know, TikTok, it hasn't been around for that long. So agencies aren't going to be around for that long. Some of the other things that I look for when I'm looking for good marketing agencies is where they're at with their growth.
because typically agencies break when they get to about 20 people, and they break again when they get to 50 people. And the reason being, at 20 people, the founder typically has to pull themselves out of the business and get processes and systems in place to get the agency to run. And then at 50, you need to have created such strong values for the next level of scale so that your business can kind of start growing without you. And those processes you created at the 20-person range typically end up breaking when you want to get to the next level of scale. So those are just like two...
very small things that I look for when I'm looking for agencies.
Jim James (05:07.628)
I think you're absolutely right. Having run my own agency, I started my agency back in 1995 in Singapore, dating myself a little bit there. I started again in China in 2006 and then I opened in India too. Every extra person that you bring on needs to be trained and brought into the systems. As you scale that too quickly, and if you don't put in place those values and those systems, the client experience gets actually
Ironically enough, it gets worse and worse, doesn't it? So those are really, really wonderful indicators that you've already chosen there. How does it work? Because a company that's looking for an agency, if they come to you as an agency selector, agency broker, do they give you the brief? I mean, what if they're worried about confidentiality, for example, do they give you the brief or do they give you just some...
sort of limited guidelines, just give us an indication of how the relationship works with you.
Behdad Jamshidi (06:10.878)
Yeah, so for the customer you're saying, when my customers come to me, basically I do a deep dive session in the beginning. So I go through the business and go, okay, tell me where your goals are, where are you trying to head to? What does your competitive landscape look like? Tell me what you're doing currently for marketing and where you're at. I really do want to understand where the business is headed first. And so when I take those notes, then I go to my agency network, which I have contracts with everyone and all the information is confidential between us.
Jim James (06:12.626)
Behdad Jamshidi (06:40.534)
I go, this is what my customer is trying to do. This is where they're headed. This is what they're trying to get to. And this is kind of the budget that we have to work with. Is this a fit? And I get replies back from my agencies, have calls, all that different kind of stuff, and build out a list for businesses to say, these are the people that I think you need to talk to based on the areas that we spoke to on the call. So that's typically how the style works.
Jim James (07:01.792)
Okay, and that I have to ask you from a commercial perspective, you know, companies pay agencies either by the hour or if they're doing media buying and so on, then the agency is getting a margin on the buy. How are people engaging with you commercially?
Behdad Jamshidi (07:16.894)
Yeah, so for me on the front end, so I always have a consulting call right from the beginning with no charge to make sure I can help people. If that ends up working out, I do charge a marketing broker engagement fee. So I charge a thousand dollars upfront and I say, I'm going to go out and find you and build you a list. If you end up hiring people from within my list, because I did my job well, kind of like an HR recruiter, I would get paid a success finder fee, depending on the type of agency that's being hired. And then on the backend as well.
marketing agencies have referral fees. And so I take advantage of the referral fees that marketing agencies already have as a part of their sales quota or part of the budget when they are doing the retainers, for example.
Jim James (07:57.33)
But I can see that's really self-funding because for the client, you saved them so much time and money in engaging the wrong agency. It's a great investment. But with that Jamshidi, you are also an entrepreneur at your own right. Just tell us what you've had to come from, if you like. We talked about Korea, but if you like a challenge or central challenge that you faced as an
through that as a brand.
Behdad Jamshidi (08:32.394)
Yeah, that's a great question. So I've been running my business for about five years now. We were chatting earlier where I left my full-time job pretty much about a year ago to move over to running C Jam full-time. Because it got to the point where I was just losing out on opportunities because I was just running to, doing my full-time job as an engineer and running my business as well. And when I did that, I did it in the middle of a recession. That's...
quite nice. So, you know, I left the job in January and come March, things started to hit interest rates started to rise. People who took loans started, started getting hit, you know, different e-commerce businesses didn't plan for people pulling back on spend. And so within a month, I had more attrition in my business than I would have had in a year. And so that hit me pretty hard. And when that hit, it took me about a month to just recover from just the overall, you know, the nervous system being a lot of whack and just trying to keep calm.
and realizing, oh, okay, I didn't lose my entire business. You know, I lost 25%, as you mentioned initially, and we're gonna be okay. And so how do I take what I just went through and make sure that things like this don't happen again? How can I be stronger in the future? And so I started thinking, well, okay, I get a lot of business from referrals. I get a lot of business from other marketing professionals and experts in communities, but referrals you have no control over, right? They come when they come, and it's great when they do come in.
So I started thinking, well, I need to start building out my own funnel. I need to start building up my own brand. And so I started basically from that March, April timeframe, building out my entire email strategy from the flows that kind of come in for when people sign up to my email newsletter, to the templates and strategies that I'm going to use to reach out to customers every single week to just give them information and share information and just be the guy that knows things about marketing and where people should go. And so doing that.
I am now starting to do a lot of the top of funnel stuff, right? Coming onto the different podcasts, I've built my LinkedIn to about 5,000, 6,000 followers, and doing ads starting up soon to kind of play into now this ecosystem where I now kind of control when people come in and it starts becoming more of a numbers game where you can start calculating, I'm hoping, very soon. If I spend this type of money and I've got people to come in, I know how they convert and I know when they come to my calls.
Behdad Jamshidi (10:55.923)
And you can just map out that entire customer journey.
Jim James (10:58.788)
Yeah, that's one of actually customer journeys is something I've been working on with some clients. I do some consulting and it's interesting how few entrepreneurs and business owners have mapped out the journey before people come to the store or the website, but also what happens to them once they leave the store or the website, right, in terms of retention.
Behdad Jamshidi (11:17.504)
Jim James (11:28.468)
to kind of manage your workflow process.
Behdad Jamshidi (11:32.362)
Yeah, that's a great question. So I use a lot of different tools. One is ClickUp. I use that for project management. I also use it for database as well for both my customers and agencies. And then I use Streak CRM, which I really like. So that sits within Gmail. So I don't have to jump out of my email system to basically manage the leads that I'm going through a flow. And that's linked with ClickUp.
And then the other area for, I've been using Bento for email marketing. I just swapped over from Mailer Lite to Bento. Super cool platform. I'm really enjoying it so far. You can build up really interesting customer flows, and they're all in one place. So you don't have to jump from one customer flow type to another customer flow type. You can map it all in one place, and it's been really, really useful. And then outside of that, Trello and a bunch of different assistants and social media managers and marketing directors to kind of bring it all together.
Jim James (12:30.876)
Wow. Your website looks very professional as well, I have to say. Congratulations on that. Well, I can tell you're an engineer because you've built out quite a digital stack there and credit to you. Also, we're introducing names of tools with a few exceptions like Trello, I've heard of, but I haven't heard of those. I always like Streak. That's really a central problem for many entrepreneurs now is navigating this tech stack.
Behdad Jamshidi (12:33.506)
Behdad Jamshidi (12:44.321)
Jim James (13:01.184)
Tell us, you've also been plainly looking at content. Do you wanna just share with us, if you like about your content strategy, because you're talking about top of funnel. What does that look like?
Behdad Jamshidi (13:14.214)
Oh man, if I showed you how I do my content plan, it needs to be kind of shown out. I've been doing a lot. So basically the simplified version of it is every two weeks I spend about, I do 10 posts into Trello. And that's what I use Trello for. I have a whole board and I have different categories in the board of like the type of stuff that I speak about. And then that's shared with my assistant and also with my social media manager.
I put content down, they edit it, they add the pictures to it and they get posted. And then I just engage on LinkedIn and those platforms. Um, and a lot of that stuff feeds into, uh, you know, platforms like Metro cool, uh, which you can schedule your social media posts. Um, on top of that, the kind of next stage is obviously like, as we're doing more and more podcasts, I'm getting a lot of video content, I'm getting a lot of audio content, and so I'm going to snip that up and I'm going to put it across my Instagram and my LinkedIn and my, uh, Tik Tok.
Um, and the next stage of a lot of this stuff is, I mean, I have blogs going out every single week as well. I'm doing SEO. I'm going to be using that content as well to create videos. And then those videos will also be snipped up and put across. So I'm basically just going to be redistributing and reworking all the stuff that I'm already doing and making sure I get the most value out of it. Um, that people don't typically think about, because once you put up a blog, that's not the end of it. There's so many ways you can amplify that everywhere else.
Jim James (14:34.62)
Yeah, and I can see that you have been in hyperdrive with what every week you're producing blogs. That's amazing. So are you writing these all yourself or have you got tools and people doing that for you?
Behdad Jamshidi (14:51.142)
Three copywriters that are working within C Jam, not using AI and stuff like that yet. Like I played around with it, but it just doesn't get the right tone or voice. And I'm playing around with that to see if that is an opportunity at some point, but it's all, yeah, human written, edited, and then put up.
Jim James (15:11.08)
That's super, super impressive, Behdad So, you know, plainly you're on a mission to rebuild or you've come back stronger after the recession. Is there something that you've tried that has not been as successful as you made a thought and that you can tell us to not do?
Behdad Jamshidi (15:32.614)
Yeah, I mean, this one doesn't really work for me. It does work for other businesses, I'm sure, and it takes time to figure out. But it's really like that cold outreach style of marketing, where you're reaching out on LinkedIn or you're reaching out via email and you're trying to just get people on a call and it becomes a very, for me, a transactional type of approach when it comes to working with different businesses. And I don't like that very much. I like to be more strategic and work with my customers.
So I've tried that model. It didn't really work for me. Pieces of it did work, for example. Like I did play around with LinkedIn where I was like, I'm just going to send one message and I'm going to just say who I am. Here's my values. And I'd love to understand who you are and what your values are. And that's it. Like, I'm not going to send you another message after this. And that was a whole play into kind of like, now people are going to see my content, right? And over time, they start knowing who I am and what I do, and then they start reaching out. So that's more like the long-term game play.
And also, like I always want to say, like, if something doesn't work out, there's always different ways of doing things. Cause I might now start doing cold email and sending my, you know, my lead magnus to people and giving them value so that I can get them into my email funnel now versus trying to get them to jump on my call. And so I haven't totally written them off. They didn't work the first way that I tried them, but now that I got a new tools and new things going, there might be new ways that I test those things out.
Jim James (16:53.62)
Now, one of the things that you have tested out and plainly is working for you is Google reviews. And you've got 57 on your website. And in B2B, it's very hard to get companies to give testimonials. Tell us what's the secret to your success.
Behdad Jamshidi (17:09.866)
So if you look at every one of those Google reviews, they're all paragraph longer reviews, so they're not just like small things. So I worked really hard to make sure my customers are happy and I give them the service that they expect from me. And when I do my job well, I ask customers for reviews. I basically say, Hey, I matched you with the right company and it looks like you're working with the right company. Here's kind of a, could you write me a review? And here's four steps that you can kind of use to write them.
anything else you want to add to it. And so my customers like me, it seems like, so they, they leave me good reviews. And if each one of those honestly makes me so happy, uh, every time I see one, because I, a big aspect of me is doing good work and making sure that people are happy with what I said I was going to do.
Jim James (17:55.872)
I can see that's really, really working here because to get that many people writing and they're all five star, let's face it, right, you're getting sort of a couple of months, which is really, really brilliant. And interesting you've chosen Google reviews rather than FIFO or Trustpilot.
Behdad Jamshidi (18:08.362)
Yeah, I don't, I mean, those platforms, I'm not super big on it. I don't know how long they're going to stick around to, but a lot of those are like paid and you got to push yourself up and those types of things. Like I'd rather just play in the channel of like, this is actual reviews and feedback, uh, and this is why a lot of those marketplaces don't work and why I do what I do is so white glove. Cause everyone says B why don't you just like make your thing a marketplace and just connect people. And, um, there's a big aspect to like personality and expectation setting and educating before making the match. Um,
because that's actually what makes the matches better. It's not the fact that I just have better agencies, it's just I set expectations better before I make introductions. And those platforms, I don't think do that very well.
Jim James (18:48.368)
Yeah, very, very interesting. And thanks for that insight as well. But as we come to sort of near the end, I'd love for you to share if there's one piece of advice on getting noticed as you've been, you know, coming back from recession and looks like sort of turbocharging your business, and frankly taking quite an engineering approach, which is to be applauded as someone that isn't as organized as you are. If there's one piece of advice about what does work to get people noticed.
Um, with your BGM hat on, what would that be?
Behdad Jamshidi (19:22.318)
The biggest thing for me, there's two things. One is building relationships and building authentic relationships. Not just building relationships because it's for business. A lot of times, I network like crazy, but when I find people that I really like, I go deep. I try to build authentic relationships. I try to keep in touch. And those have been the most valuable things for me because people...
Like when someone trusts you, like they start referring work to you, they come to you for things that they struggle with and vice versa. I can go to them with things that I'm struggling with. And I found some of my best customers and my best mentors from just building really solid relationships. That's one of the big ones. And then the other one would be like, build yourself in different communities. There's a lot of hidden communities where you pay a certain amount of money to get into them and they're either on Slack or within Facebook or those areas and give value. Like
share what you know, share your knowledge, and those can be some very lucrative places to build relationships. I know businesses that have built seven or eight figure businesses through some of these groups.
Jim James (20:25.736)
Well, that's amazing. And those groups being offline groups, presumably like Vistage or entrepreneurs, organisation, those kind of groups.
Behdad Jamshidi (20:32.226)
Yeah, entrepreneur's vistas. There is at one point there was trends, uh, which just closed down recently. Um, there's, there's different hidden ones, a lot of different masterminds, um, that are all popping around. So yeah.
Jim James (20:44.772)
Yeah. Okay. Fascinating. Yeah. And as you say, if you're really in the trust business, then building those relationships as an individual rather than the digital presence sounds really, really important. Behdad Jamshidi, if you want to get hold of you to find out more about you and so many people are looking for agencies to create a variable cost at the moment when budgets are being cut, actually you're in a great position because agencies
thrive in recessions, ironically enough, as big companies look to outsource marketing. How can people find you?
Behdad Jamshidi (21:22.154)
Yeah, the best way is to go to my website. So www.cjammarketing.com. There you can basically fill out the form and reach out to me that way or book a call right on the website. And if you go to the bottom, there's a resource section for questions that you should be asking agencies if you wanna grab that as well. And I'm very active on LinkedIn. So if you look up my name, Behdad Jamshidi, you should be able to find me on LinkedIn and you can also reach out to me there if you have messages.
Jim James (21:50.661)
Thank you so much for joining me from the wonderful Hague in Holland. Thank you so much for joining me today on The Unnoticed Entrepreneurial Sharing Your
Behdad Jamshidi (21:57.154)
Thank you for having me, Jim.
Jim James (21:59.196)
Well, it's great. I ran an agency for 25 years and I've also hired agencies and built a network. And finding a trusted partner is actually one of the hardest things that you can do because actually the agencies are all good at looking good. That is what they do. They're good at making themselves look good. They're not all as good at delivering what they promise. That's not a criticism, but many people are really great at building up a brand for the agency and are so busy finding new clients.
that they put more emphasis on sales than on service of existing clients. So having a service like Behdad's there to help filter and to vet and keep everybody on message and to find only 15% meet his quality threshold is frankly pretty stunning. And maybe there's a business opportunity in helping those other 85% up their game. That's not for me. I've been there, done the agency thing, and I'll leave that to the next generation of entrepreneurs. If you've enjoyed this show, please do follow it.
and leave a review because for me, what you think about the show makes a big difference. It really helps me to understand what we're doing right and also what we could do better and helps the search engines to know that we're a good show for people like you to listen to. Until you join me, Jim James again, I just do encourage you to keep on communicating. Thanks for listening.