Jon Tsourakis is the President and Chief Revenue Officer of Oyova, an application development and marketing agency specializing in integrating marketing and technology to create efficiencies and growth for clients. He also owns the Digital Mastermind Group, a community of digital agency owners and leaders who believe in the power of the mastermind concept to elevate the industry.
Jon is a seasoned leader, strategist, and marketing expert whose entrepreneurial record includes having created two companies that averaged 4X ROI for businesses with branding and marketing models. He is extensively skilled in his industry and shines as a marketing strategist and sales developer.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- [03:38] Jon Tsourakis introduces Oyova and how it creates efficiencies for businesses
- [04:21] Business partnerships and mergers
- [10:38] What is the sales process in a merger?
- [14:07] The evolution of Oyova’s pricing model
- [17:34] Mistakes agencies make that hinder their growth
- [19:45] Oyova’s business model and customer success stories
- [27:54] What are Oyova’s niche markets?
- [31:46] Jon shares Oyova’s hiring strategies
- [40:15] Oyova’s mission and values
In this episode…
Agencies and businesses need to stay relevant and competitive in order to thrive in today’s dynamic marketplace. How can you face market challenges and stand out as competition through your agency’s strategies?
According to Jon Tsourakis, a seasoned marketing strategist and sales developer, hiring a team of experts specializing in custom software, marketing, development, and IT consulting services gives you a competitive edge. Experience and expertise in marketing and technology enable you to streamline your strategies, setting you apart from the competition. Jon shares his journey of building an application development and marketing agency that helps entrepreneurs enhance their businesses.
In this episode of the Inspired Insider Podcast, host Dr. Jeremy Weisz welcomes Jon Tsourakis, President and Chief Revenue Officer of Oyova, to discuss how agencies thrive by integrating marketing and technology. Jon talks about the genesis of Oyova through a merger, the services they offer, growth-hindering mistakes that agencies make, and Oyova’s business and hiring models.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann
- Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz
- Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention by John Ruhlin
- Overdeliver: Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing by Brian Kurtz
- 80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall
- Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
- Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters
- Brandee Johnson on LinkedIn
- “Negotiation Tactics From FBI Agent Christopher Voss, Founder of Black Swan Ltd” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “[Top Giver Series] The Art and Science of Gifting with John Ruhlin Author of Giftology” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “What Inspires Brian Kurtz, VP at Boardroom Inc.?” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Does God Exist? with Perry Marshall, author of Evolution 2.0” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Leading with Passion with Gino Wickman Founder of EOS Worldwide” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “The Two Leadership Traits To Explode Your Business With Mark C. Winters Author and Founder of RocketFuelNow.com” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “Bob Burg: Transform your business and life by being a Go-Giver? [Sales and Revenue – Author]” on the Inspired Insider Podcast
- “If you’re willing to do the work in a business relationship, understanding what your lane is, it can be a really fantastic endeavor.”
- “If it smells bad, it’s gonna be bad. If it smells bad, it’s gonna be bad.”
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The relationships you form through podcasting run deep. Jeremy and John became business partners through podcasting. They have even gone on family vacations and attended weddings of guests who have been on the podcast.
Podcast production has a lot of moving parts and is a big commitment on our end; we only want to work with people who are committed to their business and to cultivating amazing relationships.
Rise25 Cofounders, Dr. Jeremy Weisz and John Corcoran, have been podcasting and advising about podcasting since 2008.
Insider Stories from Top Leaders & Entrepreneurs…
You are listening to Inspired Insider with your host Dr. Jeremy Weisz.
Jeremy Weisz 0:22
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here founder of inspiredinsider.com we’re talking with inspirational entrepreneurs leaders today’s no different I have Jon Tsourakis of Oyova and Jon before I formally introduce you I always like to point out other episodes people should check out of the podcast and I don’t know why this popped into my head today but some great books and authors I’ve had on. I’ve had Chris Voss on from Never Split the Difference he wrote. John Ruhlin one of my favorites Giftology, Brian Kurtz wrote Overdeliver, Perry Marshall, who I was chatting with via email the other day 80/20 Sales and marketing. Gino Wickman wrote Traction and that reminded me because we were talking before we hit record on your big picture, big vision type of person. So Mark Winters and Gino Whitman wrote Rocketfuel for like the integrator visionary and it just sounds like you’re the visionary type. And one of my favorites is Bob Burg, the Go-Giver. Just giving people so I don’t know, Jon, if you have any favorites throughout the years, any business books or books on your list?
Jon Tsourakis 1:24
Yeah, I’ve read a lot. It’s funny that you mentioned we have a funny Chris Voss story. Oh, really? Okay. Tell me. So yeah, he contacted us years ago to do some work. This is before my business partner and I merged companies and we read the book. And we were talking at the time and his whole thing is, Never Split the Difference, right? So he was negotiating us down and he will split the difference. And then we didn’t get the deal. You’re practicing this thing, but you’re also preaching it. And it seems like it’s going to be a hindrance for business relationships.
Jeremy Weisz 1:58
Yeah, I like his, what I got off is like tactical empathy, and like, at least seeing the other side of things. But I guess if you’re hostage negotiator, you can’t get half a person back. So I guess I can say that. But that’s a good one. I’ll introduce you, Jon, in a second. This episode also is brought to you by Rise25. At Rise25, we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships, and how do we do that, we actually help you run your podcast, we are a full-service agency just for podcasting. That’s it. We do accountability strategy, the full execution, we call ourselves the magic elves that work in the background, to make sure everything happens for the host to make it easy, and everything’s seamless. So if you’ve thought about podcasting, you should, if you have questions, you can go to rise25.com. For me, the number one thing in my life is relationships, I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way over the past decade to profile the people and companies I most admire, and share with the world what they’re working on. So you can check out rise25.com, or email us at [email protected]. And I’m excited to introduce Jon Tsourakis, he’s co-owner of Oyova, which is a two-time Inc. 5000 award-winning agency and Oyova does a number of things. They do custom software marketing development, IT consulting, and Jon also runs a digital mastermind group of agency owners that want to level up their game. And that can be found at digitalmastermind.com. And Jon, thanks for joining me.
Jon Tsourakis 3:33
Oh, man, thank you for having me, Jeremy.
Jeremy Weisz 3:35
Talk about Oyova a little bit what you do.
Jon Tsourakis 3:38
Yeah, we’re the combination of two companies that merged together. One was a digital marketing agency, the other one was a development side. And we help companies get more attention, whether that’s drive leads awareness to something on the digital marketing front, ever create a really strong hub insofar as building a strong web presence, and so far as whether it’s gonna be an e-commerce or brochure or even something way more complicated. And we also help affect the bottom line by creating systems and integrations and things that create efficiencies in business, business-critical applications.
Jeremy Weisz 4:16
Talk about merging. What was that like?
Jon Tsourakis 4:21
Ah, so my business partner and I have known each other for quite some time we actually met in the mastermind group, though, they now run the digital mastermind we always talked about it was just something that we’d always kind of, you know, have some drinks and mentioned like, oh, yeah, that’d be cool. And then in 2018, the economy was doing so well. We’re like, all right, if we’re gonna do it, now is the time that we’re going to do it. So yeah, we essentially put the plan in place we put it on paper, it seemed like it looked really good. And then we decided to pull the trigger and move forward. And we did, it was great. Like, we had year-over-year growth. And we were able to cross-sell a lot of the clients, which was something that we wanted to do. And we had worked with each other before on a few projects. So it wasn’t completely blind. And yeah, it’s been fantastic.
Jeremy Weisz 5:12
What are some things if someone out there is thinking of merging, they’ve been the same conversations, maybe they have a, someone that’s kind of a close-knit partner, they’ve done work together and collaborated, were there be things that you tell people like, listen, I think you should just stay on your own versus merging.
Jon Tsourakis 5:34
Yeah, I think it fits a personality profile, like you have to be. I’ve met some fantastic entrepreneurs that I think hit a ceiling because of their inability to have partners. And you’ll see these businesses, where they’re like, I don’t want a partner. But it depends on how you look at a partnership. For instance, if you take on a loan with a bank, let’s technically they’re giving you their money, that’s a partnership, if you take on any other investors, those are partners. So I think it’s just really wrapping your head around what partnership means, and what your function and their function is going to be in that relationship and try to get it as crystal clear as possible, it’s never going to be completely clear, there’s going to be conflicts that arise. And also look at how you deal with those conflicts. If you’re just going to run and hide and not be straight up about something, it’s probably not going to be the best thing. And I think you should probably stay where you’re at. But if you’re willing to do the work in the relationship, and for the business, understanding what your lane is, I think it can be a really fantastic endeavor.
Jeremy Weisz 6:37
What’s interesting, Jon, about your background is you actually had a partnership that didn’t work out. So I would think you’d be a little bit gun-shy with this one?
Jon Tsourakis 6:42
Yeah, well, I think people or variables, right? There’s lots of people. We’re a variable ourselves, and we’re going on this journey and things are changing. And I rushed into that partnership, I didn’t realize that I think by all accounts, now that person was probably like mentally unstable. Like, the guy would write emails in all caps, and all read and send those to clients. Like, that’s a good idea. So not knowing those things, I think you really got to know that your person that you’re going to work with, and also digging into their personal life, like you need to go out to dinner with your business partner, and then their spouse or their partner, and just really get an understanding if you can talk to other people that are in their life and see like, okay, they’ve had their friends for a long time. Like, if this is somebody that’s, born again, in some new way in there, but you got to really go with your gut. Like if it smells bad, it’s gonna be bad.
Jeremy Weisz 7:47
Yeah, no, totally. It’s like a marriage, essentially. Yeah, it really is. Talk about, you don’t have to talk about details. But like, if someone’s thinking, listen, that sounds like a great idea. I have someone I’m talking to. How did you work out the financial arrangement? Because I’m sure there’s stuff that’s equal, no one has exactly equal revenue or exactly equal clients? How did you think through the financial arrangement of a merger?
Jon Tsourakis 8:13
A dollar for dollar. So we literally went dollar for dollar until like, okay, this is going to make the most sense, because once you get into, like, there’s so many models of valuing companies. And it’s almost like its sales process, right? What it really comes down, everybody can have a different sales process. And you can build logic, like if a company isn’t profitable, you could say, oh, well, the brand value, and then there’s brand equity here, and this is worth this. So there’s a lot of these games, and I think we were able to have a real adult conversation and say, like, okay, this is where we’re at, and it’s pretty even split across the board.
Jeremy Weisz 8:48
You talk to a lot of agency owners as well. What have you seen with valuation? Have you seen it based off certain multiple of EBITA? Have you seen profit? Or have you seen revenue? What have you seen, as far as valuation of agencies?
Jon Tsourakis 9:08
All the above, I think the most, and this is a thing a lot of agencies have a hard time realizing that their evaluation is going to be garbage when they’re under a million dollars, right? Like, you’re not gonna get anything. You can see like, maybe like a one or two times multiple one year, your EBITA, if you’re lucky, three, but the more revenue you have, the bigger your multiples are going to be right. And then if there’s a lot of agencies that are doing roll-ups right now, because they know once they get past that $8 million mark, that they’re now a much more sellable company, and there’s a lot more revenue there. I think, whether it’s going to be EBITA or client, just finding the right buyer, right, because somebody just might want your client list but if you can align your expectations with your goals and their goals, then things tend to work out but man I’ve seen I mean, all kinds of stuff where there’s absolutely no profit, but they’re selling, they’re just gonna go ahead and sell off their client list. And they’re going to do an asset sale rather than a liability sale. But I think the main thing is just educating themselves and really talking to a lot of people before they just jump into something.
Jeremy Weisz 10:17
I know for you, you’re kind of a big vision person. And you think a lot about growth. I love to hear, and through my research, you talk a lot about you like having a process and a sales process, talk about how agencies should think about the sales process.
Jon Tsourakis 10:38
Yeah, first off, I think it’s worth stating that if you don’t think you have a process, you still have a process. It’s probably just a subpar process. But I think really defining what your processes and mine is continually evolving, optimizing and shaping. But I think it’s really important to understand why somebody is going to work with you, right? So if your niche focused, if you’re just starting out, right, and the best thing to do is niche focus, the reason being, because that helps build trust based on you having experience or a breadth of case studies in a specific area. And at the end of the day, the sales process needs to be really built about trust, ours is very transparent. There’s a lot of agencies that do value-based pricing, which is also known as discriminatory pricing, right? So for instance, I saw a lot of it early in my career being in some healthcare marketing, where depending on which watch the guy was wearing when they were selling eyeglasses, or hearing aids or any of these other things, that’s what they would charge. Oh, yeah, I mean, that was the Rolex. All right, we can sell these things for like eight grand, right, especially in the hearing aid space.
Jeremy Weisz 11:46
Value-based pricing sounds a lot better than discriminatory pricing.
Jon Tsourakis 11:50
It does, doesn’t it, and that’s what it is. You will discriminate based on the car they drive and somebody that’s been in bed sales have been like that a lot of the shady car sales, a lot of the shady businesses that people hate have value-based pricing or discriminating pricing. So ours is we’re hour based. And a lot of people say like, oh, you can’t scale that way. You can a lot of agencies have the problem with value-based pricing is the scalability and the things, you can really lose your ass in some areas, you got to be careful, especially as you grow. That being said, we create a clear picture, meaning we show a spreadsheet like hey, literally, this is where all the time is going. This is what you’re paying this is what our hourly rate is, they get an idea of essentially, our margin, our cost, and wherever things that are related to their project. That’s our process. And we discovered that by really looking at ourselves and the people that we like to talk to. So I think we have a fantastic process. But I think the main thing is figure out what’s really going to work and connect, there is no point in the conversation that somebody can’t say to us, like, hey, how about this where we’re not able to answer that immediately. And that’s the worst thing in the sales process, where somebody doesn’t doubt what it is that you’re pricing. Because they can say, hey, I think your hourly rates too high, we could say, oh, yeah, we have all of our workers are here in the States, and you’re more than welcome to go overseas. But this is where we’re at. So we’re just really, really clear about that. And then I don’t agree with just sending a proposal to somebody, I think that’s another thing that agencies just do willy-nilly. So tell them what their prices, show them how you came to that number, get them to agree that they’re going to move forward in some capacity and then send the proposal later. They’re essentially buying that proposal. We don’t do proposal those for free. That’s a horrible business.
Jeremy Weisz 13:49
Talk about the evolution of pricing, because you mentioned, this is what you have now you have a well-oiled machine with a process. I imagine when you started off, it’s a work in progress. What did it start off as and talk about the evolution to what you just talked about?
Jon Tsourakis 14:07
Oh, man, so like, going all the way back? Like when I first started my agency and like, yeah, recession? Yeah, exactly. I think we were at like, $50 an hour, and nobody was buying anything. So we just had to just do whatever we could everything from logos to fixing people’s emails, systems and whatnot. So yeah, we were like $50 an hour. And then I tried value-based pricing. And that’s what I realized it didn’t work because just trying to control the scope, trying to control all these other things. You have to work harder to do that. And I think it puts you at conflict with your partner and the company you’re working with, and then went back to hourly and hourly is much easier for the business to calculate. Everybody says well, we don’t track time. It’s like well, that’s great, let’s grand whatever. I don’t know what world that is. But you know what your employees are tracking their time because they’re only going to be doing something for a certain amount of time and God bless them. I don’t blame them. So, went back to tracking time and move it up to $75 an hour, and then realized, like, we can’t pay people more unless we raise our rates. And that’s essentially what is dictated us raising our rates every single time now we’ve just recently instituted annual, I think it’s like 4% increase, we increase all of our prices 4% every year, and we work with other agencies too. So when they have to sell our services, we chop into our margin to do that we offer a lower hourly rate. And I mean, I can go into details. I mean, outside of retainer, we’re at 160 an hour, like when it’s an agency wants to work with us. So we go down to like, 135, if it’s a really big deal, and we can work something out, we’ll even go lower. So yeah, I’m happy to be transparent about that.