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Build a Better Agency Podcast

Scale and grow your agency with better clients, invested employees, and a stronger bottom line, with Drew McLellan.
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Aug 13, 2018

In our industry, storytelling is one of those words that is so overused, it can lose its meaning pretty quickly.

Great stories stick with us. My guest, the co-author of The Storytelling Edge, Joe Lazauskas, understands that good storytelling gives you an edge. In a world where content can be all-but-meaningless pablum, it can also tell a story that moves a customer and makes a connection with them.

As a writer and storyteller myself, I always soak up any time I can spend with someone who’s as passionate about this subject as I am. Joe gets into the brain science of why stories are so powerful – they are a way to understand each other and ourselves better. He takes that knowledge and helps brands tell better stories.

For agencies and our clients, stories are how we build trusted connections with customers. In an era where there is pressure to churn out content, Joe helps us take a step back and understand why story is so important, and the key ingredients and tactics for telling good stories.

Joe Lazauskas is an owner and the director of content strategy at Contently. If you're not familiar with Contently, it is a content strategy practice. It offers a dashboard, but they also help big-brand clients create stories and content for those brands.

Joe was also one of the founding editors of the New York Egotist. After that, he became a tech and marketing journalist for FastCompany, Digit Day, and Forbes, among others. He joined Contently in the early days of their formation and in the beginning, he served as editor in chief.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How the brain engages with story, and how you and your clients can benefit
  • The four elements of good storytelling
  • Why content without a story is missing something
  • Key tactics for good storytelling, and how to apply them in your agency
  • How to help clients have less fear about sharing the gap between what is and what could be in their business
  • Discovering what the customer is interested in, and telling compelling stories around that
  • Educating clients about the power of content that tells a story. It’s not checking off the “wrote a blog post” or “sent out some tweets” box
  • The companies doing storytelling content well, and how you can scale it
  • Implementing editorial boards and newsrooms to get strategic about using content to tell stories

Ways to contact Steve:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Aug 6, 2018

If there is a common pain point for agency owners today -- it’s recruiting and retaining talent. It’s a conversation I am having every day and it’s more difficult than it’s been in quite a while. Unfortunately, I don’t see that trend reversing any time soon. Which means we’d all better improve our ability to keep the good ones that we either have or can attract. It’s starts with hiring the right person for the right reasons.

What are the most effective questions to ask during the interview process? What do you need to know about the candidate? What do they need to know about you, your agency and the culture there?

For my podcast guest Steve Lowisz, it all comes down to purpose. Are you clear on the purpose of the position your hiring for? Are deliverables clearly spelled out in the job description you are posting? It’s critical to discover if the candidate’s purpose actually aligns with your agency’s purpose, and if they do – you’d better have a plan for nurturing that shared passion.

Steve Lowisz is an expert on talent acquisition, talent assessment, personal development, diversity & inclusion, and business performance. He has more than two decades of research and practical business experience allowing him to serve hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals.

As CEO of the Qualigence Group of Companies that he founded in 1999, Steve regularly contributes to Industry events and publications and has been featured in Fortune Magazine, CNN Money, The Detroit Free Press and on Bloomberg Radio.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why job descriptions often don’t provide the right information to get the right candidate for the job
  • How to look at capacity, character, competencies, and culture when interviewing candidates
  • How to discover what is motivating someone’s job search
  • Identifying what a candidate is looking for that they don’t have now
  • The different competencies needed for working on site compared with working remotely
  • How facts, feelings, focus, and fruit can help get you through difficult, honest feedback conversations
  • Numerous strategies for hiring and retaining great talent
  • How to engage on LinkedIn, rather than using it as an “as needed” resume database
  • Why having one-on-one meetings still matter and how to fill them with purpose

Ways to contact Steve:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jul 30, 2018

Business development does not just happen. For most of us as agency owners, sales is one of those things we wish we didn’t have to do.

In this episode of Build A Better Agency, we’re going to really dive into sales. I think the reluctance comes down to a fear of rejection. Because of those fears and insecurities, we don’t prioritize biz dev. We don’t put it on the calendar. We don’t make it a must do.

I think the biggest change we can make, and this is my challenge to you, is to just carve out time to connect with your ideal clients. Maybe it’s one morning a week. But as my guest says, if it’s not on the calendar, you’re not going to do it.

My guest for episode #147 is Michelle Weinstein. Michelle has done it all. She's been on Shark Tank. She has raised over a million dollars for her last company, and she now teaches entrepreneurs how to sell.

At the end of the day, Michelle is a sales strategist. She teaches mission-driven entrepreneurs how to sell without being sleazy.

I think we make sales harder than it needs to be. That’s why I wanted to bring Michelle on to have this conversation. She generously shared some incredible ideas and strategies that you can implement right now.

What if you could make a list of your ideal top-tier clients and actually have the confidence and the plan to demonstrate to them that they’re be losing out by not working with you.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of our discussion. This is a must hear episode if you are looking to enjoy biz dev and ultimately the fruits of that labor in increased profits.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why saving those email and text “thank you’s” and testimonials from clients is so important
  • Why service-based businesses like ours are easier to sell than products
  • How to block out time for business development
  • The most useful tasks to tackle during your biz dev time
  • Why “bumping into” your ideal clients at a trade show can be a truly winning strategy-and how to prep for it
  • How to research and strategize for your pitch
  • Creating and managing a list of your top 20 ideal new clients
  • How to offer a gift that is something of value, without giving away the store or your trade secrets

Ways to contact Michelle Weinstein:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jul 23, 2018

Why do some agencies seem to “get” digital transformation and others struggle to cross that hurdle? Even more puzzling – among the ones who do get it – why are so many of them struggling to make money at it?

These are some of the daunting questions I’m exploring in this episode with my guest Chris Aarons. We all understand that digital transformation is happening. Few understand this as well as he does.

What does it mean for an agency to have digital-first DNA? Chris Aarons’ book Digital Helix explores this idea and I asked him about it when we spoke. Part of this concept is understanding that everything is connected, and a digital asset is never “done” or complete. When we approach our work with that understanding, what we do for and with clients becomes less about putting out emergency fires or checking off the boxes on the latest trend. It becomes about a consistent and constant state of evolution.

Chris believes the larger value we can all offer clients is helping them recognize and embrace that reality and then together, looking out over the horizon and planning for tomorrow’s opportunities rather than focusing on today’s fires.

That’s how we add incredible value and earn our seat at the client’s table. In this episode we talk about how to make that vision a reality for your agency.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The importance of an exploration mindset in moving you and your clients forward
  • What it means to operate with a digital-first DNA as an agency
  • How to encourage digital-first DNA thinking in your clients
  • How to develop ongoing conversations with clients rather than operating from a one-off proposal framework
  • Why talking with a client’s customers is at least as important as talking with the clients themselves
  • How sales are connective moments – not a journey
  • Why identifying the current problem is not the agency’s primary job
  • How to be relentless about getting better over time
  • When and how organic influencer models can beat the pants off of paid reach
Jul 16, 2018

When you’re busy running an agency, it can be hard to take a step back to see broader trends. What is currently happening and what is on the horizon regarding client relationships? What tactics and deliverables are hot and making agencies money? This is the second part of a discussion I started last month about the we’re tracking at AMI.

One of the best aspects of our work with agency owners from all over the world is that it affords me perspective. In episode 140, Top 2018 Agency Trends Part 1, I talked about trends that were related to money and the changing structures of our teams. And in this episode, I’m going to talk about the trends that I did not have a chance to get to in that episode.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How retail-facing companies are transitioning those skill sets into B2B space
  • Why big consumer brands are decreasing their marketing spend and what it might mean down the road for small to mid-sized agencies
  • The continuing rise of video and how to avoid the urge to over-produce video content
  • Why clients are coming back to integrated agencies after splitting their marketing dollars among smaller agencies focused on narrow tasks
  • What tactics and deliverables are earning agencies solid revenue in 2018
  • The rise of influencer marketing
  • The fascinating ways in which voice is changing search and how to stay on top of the trend
  • The love/hate relationship we all have with chatbots and what that might mean for their future

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today. AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on-site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jul 9, 2018

I’ve always described our work as being called upon to be creative on demand. Whether an agency employee sits in the creative department, codes apps, builds strategy or works on new business – we are all tasked with being fresh thinkers.

Our clients hire us to ask the right questions. We feel the pressure to provide answers or at the very least, to know the next right question.  It’s incredibly satisfying when a prospect or client says, “I’ve never been asked that before.”

My podcast guest Larry Robertson, encourages his clients – and us – to sit with questions – to not look for quick and easy answers. But to recognize that the real insight rarely comes from the first layer of questions. The paradox is that in times of frenetic change, having the right answers are more important than having the quick answers. Organizationally speaking, it’s a matter of life and death.

Larry Robertson is an innovation and strategy advisor. He is the author of two award-winning books: A Deliberate Pause: Entrepreneurship and its Moment in Human Progress, and The Language of Man: Learning to Speak Creativity, honored with a combined 16 awards.

During our conversation, Larry talked about the research he did as he was prepping to write “The Language of Man.” He interviewed recipients of the McArthur “Genius” award to gather their collective wisdom on creativity and staying power in business and life.

Along with being an author, he’s also a columnist for Inc. Magazine and The Creativity Post, and a regular contributor to Fast Company. He also has been featured guest on or in MSNBC, the Chicago Tribune, AdAge, SmartBrief, and in numerous podcasts.

He is a Graduate of Stanford University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and a former Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to help clients recognize their value proposition
  • The five layers of “why” and how it can be a powerful tool for agency
  • How to answer the “so what?” question about what you do and why it’s important
  • The importance of staying curious and open-minded no matter how long your agency has been around
  • Cultivating the Five Habits of the Mind in your agency and weaving it throughout your discovery process
  • What prospects are looking for when picking an agency
  • The two things you can’t do as you implement the Five Habits of the Mind
  • Your role as an agency during the discovery session
  • Larry’s perspective on change and how it affects your agency and clients
  • The three key things you need to do to expand your agency’s brand lifespan to last longer than 15 years
  • The benefits of implementing “play“ as a habit and how it can help you become a better on-demand creative
  • How to encourage better micro-habits as a leader within your agency

Ways to contact Larry Robertson:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jul 2, 2018

We live in the ratings and review economy. While our clients (and I suspect we are guilt of this too inside our agencies) are busy chasing after the new customer, the truth is – if we don’t create an amazing experience for our existing clients – we’re sunk. It’s tough to attract new business when your current customers are giving you mediocre reviews or rushing to social media to share your customer service blunder with their connections.

Never forget that 70% of your net new revenue should come from existing clients. Odds are your clients are in the same boat. In today’s world of commoditization, the experience we create is often our point of difference. And let’s face it – you’re probably not on the front lines with your agency’s clients. Your team is.

That’s why I was eager to speak with my guest Stan Phelps – an expert in customer experience and employee engagement. Among the many things on his plate, Stan runs purplegoldfish.com where he digs deep into these topics in his best-selling book series and on stages across the globe.

I wanted to ask Stan about the links between customer experience, embracing weirdness, employee engagement, and above all – purpose in an organization – how they are all tied to one another; how they are often the difference between surviving (or not) and thriving as a company.

Stan Phelps is an IBM Futurist, TEDx Speaker, and Forbes Contributor. He has spoken at over 250 events on every inhabited continent, in over a dozen countries for Fortune 100 brands such as IBM, Target, ESPN, UPS, GlaxoSmithKline, and Citi.

Prior to focusing on writing and speaking, Stan held leadership positions at IMG, Adidas, and the PGA. He also spent seven years as Chief Solutions Officer at Synergy, an award-winning marketing agency. At Synergy, he helped create larger than life brand experiences for brands such as KFC, M&M’s, Walmart and Starbucks.

Stan received his BS in Marketing and Human Resources from Marist College, a JD/MBA from Villanova University and a certificate for Achieving Breakthrough Service from Harvard Business School. He is a faculty member on ANA’s School of Marketing and also serves as an adjunct instructor at Rutgers Business School.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How exceptional customer experience means current customers will be eager to bring you, new customers
  • What the concept of lagniappe (pronounced, “LAN-yap”) – a tradition in New Orleans – is all about and how you can use it to go that extra mile for your clients
  • The bottom line importance of warmth and competence
  • Making your best clients aware of your full range of services
  • How to embrace weirdness as a business development strategy
  • The 5 things that impact the growth and health of a goldfish – and what that means for your business
  • The correlation between the first 4 months of your business and its overall health to this day
  • How to put purpose at the bullseye of everything you do
  • The law of worthy intentions

Ways to contact Stan Phelps:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jun 25, 2018

Obstacles are a given. We don’t get to waltz through life without facing some tough days, barriers and people who are pretty convinced we’re crazy. As a result – we all have “those days.” Those days of doubt, of worry and of asking ourselves, “what am I doing?” I don’t know about you, but there are days when I wonder how I got on this crazy roller coaster. But then I realize that I stood in line just for a shot at the ride and most days, I love it. Every day we make choices and those choices have consequences.

The choices we make lead define the life we live. I work hard to come at life from a growth mindset. I know there will be uphill days, but I am going to tackle that hill and figure out how to avoid having to climb it again. My only other option is a limiting mindset.

My guest for this podcast is a person I’ve followed and admired for years and I couldn’t wait to speak with her – in fact we planned a return visit to the podcast not even halfway through this one! Pam Slim digs deep to get to the bottom of those tough questions that keep business owners stuck in place or afraid to step out into the light. Her goal is to find answers that allow us to face and overcome those inevitable challenges, so we can enjoy the ride.

Pam had just embarked on some pretty incredible research on this very subject of overcoming or not overcoming challenges right before we got together. I wanted to get a sneak peek at the findings and Pam delivered! We talked about the power of building a community around you and the power that unleashes as you both get support and support others.

Pam Slim is an award-winning author, speaker, and small business coach. Most of you probably know her from her book, Escape From Cubicle Nation, but there is a lot more to tell.

Pam spent the first 10 years of her solo practice as a consultant to large corporations like HP and Cisco and to worked with thousands of employees, managers, and executives. Then came then Cubicle Nation, the blog which led to the book. Her latest book, Body of Work was released with Penguin Portfolio in 2015. In her hometown of Mesa, AZ, Pam has opened up what she calls a business learning library called K’é, which is a Navajo word meaning “a system of kinship connection.”

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • What kinship has to do with building a business
  • The impact of your attitude toward obstacles
  • Why people gather in ecosystems of shared values and experiences
  • What it means to have a “growth” vs. a “fixed” mindset
  • How to course-correct your business whether you’ve been in it for a year or 30 years
  • Why a great business ecosystem is like the ultimate dinner party
  • What the High Council of Jedi Knights can teach us about sharpening our business outcomes
  • The toll that a lack of shared values will take on you in a business (or any) relationship
  • The results of a major research study on overcoming obstacles
  • The power of a group of people who both have your back and hold you accountable

Ways to contact Pamela Slim:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jun 18, 2018

I hang out with agency owners every day and 95% of them resist proactive business development for as long as they can. Until that big client starts to give “I want to break up” signs, they are happy to rely on referrals and anyone who crosses the threshold as a substitute for a true biz dev program.

Most owners will tell me that they either hate sales or they’re terrible at them. But the reality is – you are all brilliant sales people because you are not a sales person. You are uniquely skilled at having business conversations at a level that no average salesperson can have.

The other excuse some owners will offer is that they are introverts, which means they can’t be good at sales. Again, I disagree. The key to good sales is asking better questions and listening with more intentionality and no one is better at that then someone who is more introverted.

All of this is why I invited Matthew Pollard to be on the show. He’s here to share insights from his work and from his forthcoming book, The Introvert’s Edge. He’s got some really great things to share to get us out of our reluctance about selling and networking.

Can narrowing our niche help us sell better? Matthew thinks so. Should we get beyond describing our work as a functional skill – the same skill everyone in the marketplace has? Matthew knows getting beyond functional skill is a crucial step.

Matthew is the Rapid Growth Guy. He's dedicated to helping small business owners succeed by giving them methods that helped them transform their business from struggling into profitable success stories. He is the founder and executive director of the Small Business Festival, ranked among the top five conferences in the nation by Inc. magazine. He is in the international sales blogger awards hall of fame and has been featured in Entrepreneur, CEO magazine, Fortune, you name it. But what we care about is that he's going to help us be smarter about selling.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to craft a unified message about why people should work with you
  • The difference between your functional skills and the reason people actually work with you
  • The three-step process to rapid growth
  • Why you don’t have to be an extrovert to be excellent at sales
  • Plenty of life hacks for your next networking event
  • How to stand out when your services have been commoditized
  • Why bending yourself to perceived market “needs” will leave you tired and frustrated
  • How niching narrows your market in all the right ways
  • The folly of sharing a bland message in a crowded market – and what to do instead
  • Why a small niche you are excited about is better than a giant market you don’t care about

Ways to contact Matthew/Resources:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jun 11, 2018

I have the good fortune of hanging out with agency owners and their teams every day of the year. We work with over 250 agencies that range from a handful of employees to several hundred team members. While every agency is absolutely unique – there are some common themes and trends that bubble up as we work alongside our agency clients.

Every year I pull together the trends I see time and time so the agencies we serve aren’t surprised by any of them. I’ve categorized them into some big buckets: money, employees, agency structure, clients, tactics, and revenue opportunities.

There were too many trends to pack into one solocast, so I’ll cover half this time and the other half in July.

Here’s the good news – it’s a great time to be in the business. As always, both challenges and opportunity abound. My goal is to help you spot the opportunities so you can maximize them while sidestep the trouble spots.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How agencies fared financially in 2017
  • Why 2017 was a great year for agencies to make money – and where that profit got re-allocated
  • The factors complicating employee hiring and retention
  • Agency structure changes in terms of both department structure and employee life/work models

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today. AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on-site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Jun 4, 2018

Every agency has an internal culture. The only question is – did you build it on purpose. Intentionality. That is the bottom line. If you want to consciously create your team’s functionality and effectiveness, what kind of clients you attract, and where your own focus should be – that takes intentionality. That level of thinking has helped Raman Sehgal build an agency that allows him to work with clients from all over the world and enjoy a staff retention rate of 80%.

Raman Sehgal is the owner of a UK-based marketing agency called Ramarketing, an award-winning, creative, digital and PR agency. They are in the business of helping fast-growing companies in the life science, pharma, and manufacturing sectors get noticed.

Nine years ago, he was working from a desk in his home. His agency has now grown the agency to a staff of over 20 and they working with clients across the UK, the US, and Europe, and still have the very first client that they landed almost a decade ago.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • What it looks like to go from freelancer to running an agency
  • How the job of owner changes over the lifecycle of an agency
  • Why it’s possible to run an agency from a kitchen counter or a big corporate office
  • How most agency owners become accidental business owners
  • How Raman’s agency model compares to how a traditional agency runs
  • How to build a family first, work second culture in your business
  • What it takes to serve clients in multiple markets around the globe
  • The power of being “meaningfully specific” in an agency
  • Raman’s agency billing structure and the difference between billing by the hour for the US compared to the UK
  • Building a fee structure on deliverables
  • The correlation between giving clients a good return and the margin you receive on your work
  • The red flags you can use to vet prospects and make sure they are a good fit for your agency
  • How trying to make a difficult client happy can actually cost you and your staff
  • Best practices to keep your team productive

Ways to contact Raman Sehgal:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

May 28, 2018

Making a profit is the goal of any agency owner. But too often, the way we think about profit actually hurts our agency. The standard equation (sales - expenses = profit) can lead to bad decision-making. We are willing to accept the leftovers (profit) rather than running our business to deliver profit as a key outcome. I’d much rather have you determine the amount of profit that is acceptable to you and then you manage your business to that goal.

This is a more effective way to look at the profit equation – one that helps agencies thrive and gives you the ROI you deserve for taking the risk of owning an agency.

Michael Michalowicz founded and sold two multi-million dollar companies. Then in his mid-30’s, he went broke. Starting over again, he was driven to find better ways to grow healthy, strong companies. Among other innovative strategies, Mike created the “Profit First Formula,” a way for small to mid-sized businesses like our agencies to ensure profitability from their very next deposit forward.

Michael is now running his third million dollar venture, is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal, the former MSNBC business make-over expert, a popular keynote speaker on innovative entrepreneurial topics, and is the author of Profit First, Surge, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The two questions Michael asked himself that allowed him to find his calling to become an author
  • Why leaving too much money in your agency leads to bad decisions
  • What it means to run the Profit First system within your agency
  • Basic principles to help your agency get ready to use the Profit First system
  • Why you aren’t limited by a lack of resources
  • The parallel between Pumpkin farmers and business regarding organic growth
  • Key takeaways agency owners can apply to their biz dev strategy using the principle of “growing the strong sprout”
  • Why it’s important to serve the verticals your agency knows well, and that will allow three or four of those legs to support your stool
  • Consequences you may face when you put too much focus on your weakest clients
  • Why entrepreneurs struggle with being profitable
  • A better way to calculate profit for your agency so you can stop using the “Frankenstein Formula”
  • Principles taken from health and fitness industry you can apply to manage your money better and simplify your agency

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

May 21, 2018

No matter what kind of agency you own, where it’s located, or how large it is – there is a truth about your business. You are literally and figuratively on stage every single day. Whether you're on the phone with a client, sitting across the table from a few people, or standing on the stage at a national conference, we are constantly presenting.

We can’t afford to be shy about presenting. I’m not suggesting you do a TED talk but I am suggesting that you can’t afford to shirk away from any stage, big or small. You’ve heard me talk about the value of speaking as a way of creating cornerstone content but today I want to focus on a different aspect of presenting – selling from the stage (whatever that stage may be).

This week’s podcast guest loves to talk to business owners about how to do that bigger and better, and bolder. Dustin Mathews is an author of many best-selling books, and he has shared the stage with athletes, business celebrities, and titans of business. His latest book, "The No BS Guide to Powerful Presentations: How to Sell Anything with Webinars and Online Media Speeches and Seminars" is going to be a book that you are going to not only read but underline and highlight and share with others. That I promise you.

Dustin is known for creating content that drives people to buy products en masse. His companies and private clients have been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Inc magazine. He's literally marketed and filled over 3,000 events and has led 10 online product options. He and his work had generated over $43 million in sales. So he knows how to package and sell value.

As a part of prepping for the work that he's doing today, he did some recent research and has identified a process for creating and selling products and services that he calls the Irresistible Offer Architecture that is so unique that he was able to get recognition by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why it takes practice to get comfortable with public speaking
  • Testing and getting feedback on material before presenting it to a large audience
  • Why it doesn’t matter how qualified you look if you’re able to speak to someone’s pain point
  • Giving a speech that gets people to take the next steps you want them to take
  • How to sell at conferences when you’re told “don’t sell from the stage”
  • Creating excitement about your offer by teasing coming next in your presentation
  • The five elements every presentation should have
  • Giving people value in your speeches before giving them the ask
  • Separating your agency from your competition by giving your processes a name
  • Why you need to showcase case studies in your presentations to show off your expertise
  • The nine elements of the irresistible offer architecture
  • Why you should give people a physical giveaway (book, flash drive, etc.) whenever you can
  • How to overcome your prospects’ objections
  • Reverse engineering your presentations based on what you want to offer at the end
  • Why you have to get good at speaking now

Ways to contact Dustin Mathews:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

May 14, 2018

Branding has always been a cornerstone of my own agency. We've spent a ton of time and effort building brands for clients. We have, like all of you, created what we think of as a proprietary process around brand, and it's a topic that I have a great passion around.

Many of you are either too polite to ask or have point-blank asked me, "Drew, what is the deal with you at Disney." Brand is part of why I love them so much. One of the aspects of Disney that I really admire and connect to the most is that I think they're just about as good as it gets in terms of understanding their brand, building their brand, and evolving their brand over time.

One of the guys in the agency space who I think is really brilliant at branding is an Iowa based agency owner named Nick Westergaard. His new book, Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World, just came out and it is a brilliant blueprint for how to create a memorable, meaningful brand in today's chaotic time and space.

Nick and I talked about are how building a brand has changed in this digital crazy, crowded, distracted time, and what are some of the elements that we as agencies can really spotlight and offer as a huge value to our clients. How do we use brand as an agency offering to stay sticky with our clients rather than a one and done project?

Nick is a strategist, speaker, author, and educator. As Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, he helps build better brands at organizations of all sizes — from small businesses and Fortune 500 companies to President Obama’s Jobs Council. In addition to his new book, Nick is also the author of Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small.

Nick is a sought-after keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events throughout the world. He teaches at the University of Iowa where he sits on the Advisory Council of the Marketing Institute at the Tippie College of Business and the Professional Advisory Board for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is also a mentor at the Iowa Startup Accelerator.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Working with brands in a distracted, digital age
  • How the world changed our views about how we should be looking at branding
  • Why simplicity in branding is more critical than ever
  • How agencies can help their clients understand what storytelling really is and how to help them construct better brand stories
  • Why “Story” is a buzzword and how we can rescue it
  • Why the main character in the story shouldn’t be the brand and why it should be the client’s end user
  • Why making sure employees understand the brand is so important for your agency culture and the work that they do for clients
  • The role agencies play in building brands and moving the brand forward
  • How to provide real value to clients in this era of distraction and rapid change
  • The opportunities agency owners are missing out on during the brand discovery process
  • Why a brand is everything a company does – and why that doesn’t have to be overwhelming
  • Why it’s important for you to plant your flag for your brand
  • How Nick’s book can help agencies work together on their own brand
  • The value of getting outside perspective on your own agency

Ways to contact Nick Westergaard:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

May 7, 2018

If you’ve ever hung out with me for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably heard me say something like “there are no bad clients. But there are bad clients for YOUR agency.” I do believe that there’s an agency out there for every client. But it very well may not be yours. One of the most critical skills an agency owner/leader must develop is the ability to discern if a prospect belongs on your client roster.

Many of you have been emailing me lately asking me questions about problematic clients. And in some cases — they’re clients you never should’ve taken in the first place. You either haven’t yet developed the processes or the spidey sense to sniff out a bad prospect or even worse, you ignored that spidey sense.

We’ve all seen the money on the table and thought to ourselves, “Okay, I'm going to ignore that nagging feeling in my stomach and I’m going to take that client.” I’ve owned my own agency for 23 years and believe me, I’ve made that expensive mistake more than once. Every time I’ve ignored that little nudge saying, “Don’t do it Drew...don’t do it” — the nudge was right and I was wrong. I regretted taking that client and I’m guessing you’ve had the same experience.

The wrong clients, even if they have buckets of money, can literally kill your agency. A client that is not the right fit for your agency is almost impossible to make happy. So what do we do? We run around scrambling trying to make them happy. We do extra rounds of revisions that we don’t charge them for, and in the end, they’re still not happy.

Now we’re underwater and have lost money. We’ve literally paid for the privilege of serving that client. Or worse — the client berates your employees. They micromanage your team. They call or text 24/7 with no respect for boundaries.

And when you don’t step in to negate the situation because the client is giving you a lot of money, you’re at risk of losing your employees. In today’s tight labor market, your employees don’t have to stick around to work for in that environment.

Everyone thinks about “How do I find clients that make me money?” — but quite honestly, the first thing we should be thinking about is “how do I get rid of the clients that cost me money and how do I avoid them down the road?”

That’s what this episode of Build A Better Agency is all about. How you can find and keep clients who don’t cost you money. You can absolutely do this for your agency. And I’m going to show you how.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How agency profitability begins with attracting the right fit clients
  • How to identify the tangible and intangible things that make a client fit the “sweet spot” of your agency
  • Why you should rank every prospect whether they are knocking on your door, or you’re putting together a prospect list, or you’re getting ready to respond to an RFP
  • Why you should consider creating a “Biz Dev” committee within your agency to decide which prospects are the right fit prospects to pursue
  • How to put the “Sophistication Level Factor” to work inside your biz dev process
  • A specific process and tool you can use to kick-off your agency’s relationship with a new client in the right way — so it feels like a celebration and everyone is on the same page
  • How to provide a new client with the proper orientation of what it is like to work with your agency and the team they will be working with on a daily basis
  • The two key pieces to effective client communication and why staying in touch by email is not the answer
  • How a weekly status update can help your AEs gently nag a client so they stay focused on what they need to be doing and providing to your team
  • Why and how you as the agency owner should be spending time with the top 50 percent of your clients — demonstrating how much you love them and how committed you are to their success

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today.

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

Resources:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Apr 30, 2018

One of the most rewarding aspects of AMI is that we can give agency owners a sense of perspective. Owning and running an agency is lonely and isolated. You make decisions based on what you know and usually you only know your own reality. I love it when I can shine a light on how other agencies are doing something or a best practice or metric that gives owners confidence that you’re on track or even that you’re ahead of the curve.

Hubspot recently completed a survey of over 1,200 marketing agency decision makers and I was invited to comment on some of the findings. After reading the report, I knew the insights were something we needed to explore together on the podcast.

Tim Dearlove is the Growth Marketing Manager at Hubspot, which as you know is a market leading inbound marketing and sales suite of tools that is very agency centric and they invest a huge amount of time and effort to support agencies all over the globe. (Note: And the presenting sponsor of Build A Better Agency)

Some of the findings will touch on themes you live with every day – the fears and frustrations of any agency owner. There are some trends and practices we’ll call to your attention and some opportunities for you to take the lead over your competition.

We’ll also look at how you can stay ahead of your clients – and the importance of ongoing learning not just for you, but for the talent you hire as well.

It’s an episode full of big ideas and targeted actions you can take to make your agency better and your life a bit easier.  

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Retainers/long-term relationships: why they are great for your agency as well as your clients
  • Retainers that allow your agency to provide services on an ongoing basis while keeping control
  • Some of the mistakes agencies make by not clearly defining what the service is and tying the value directly to the offering
  • Going through the process and making sure the decision to work on a retainer basis is thought out and not just tacked on at the end
  • Why the paid discovery process is the ideal way to enter into a retainer agreement (and why it’s not always possible)
  • The three categories a retainer should have to provide value to the client: optimization, insurance, and strategy
  • How to talk to prospects so they understand the value of an ongoing relationship
  • Three great ways to clearly define and price your services
  • Why your clients will test the boundaries of your agreement if you don’t clearly define them
  • The importance of saying “no” and the right and wrong ways to do it
  • Why consistent, clear communication with ongoing clients is a great way to upsell services
  • Building systems and processes for great internal and external communication
  • Why you have to work on your processes in small increments or they will never get done

Ways to contact Tim Dearlove:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Apr 23, 2018

A frustration for many agencies today is that it’s tough to get clients to commit to ongoing retainers. Post recession, clients are drawn to project work as opposed to the longer-term, on-going work that agencies prefer. There are many factors that play into this and some agencies have cracked the code of earning a client’s confidence and being positioned as an on-going partner.

Barry O'Kane has cracked the code. He has over 18 years of experience as a digital agency owner and a web developer. He and his team work in partnership with social impact organizations and creative agencies to solve their toughest challenges. Barry runs a virtual dev shop called endzone.io, and he also teaches web agencies how create recurring revenue for their shop and recurring value for their clients. He really believes that there are internal processes and systems and that agencies need to consider so they get compensated differently and create a whole new value proposition for themselves and their clients.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Retainers/long-term relationships: why they are great for your agency as well as your clients
  • Retainers that allow your agency to provide services in an ongoing basis while keeping control
  • Some of the mistakes agencies make by not clearly defining what the service is and tying the value directly to the offering
  • Going through the process and making sure the decision to work on a retainer basis is thought out and not just tacked on at the end
  • Why the paid discovery process is the ideal way to enter into a retainer agreement (and why it’s not always possible)
  • The three categories a retainer should have to provide value to the client: optimization, insurance, and strategy
  • How to talk to prospects so they understand the value of an ongoing relationship
  • Three great ways to clearly define and price your services
  • Why your clients will test the boundaries of your agreement if you don’t clearly define them
  • The importance of saying “no” and the right and wrong ways to do it
  • Why consistent, clear communication with ongoing clients is a great way to upsell services
  • Building the systems and processes for great internal and external communication
  • Why you have to work on your processes in small increments or they will never get done

Ways to contact Barry O'Kane:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Apr 16, 2018

It started with the cats. Who knew cats were trend setters but when it comes to video they were on board long before we were! One of the biggest trends I’ve seen over the last five years is the proliferation of video. You can’t go anywhere (Online, mass transit, Times Square or your home security system) without seeing a video these days. And these are not the videos of old. When I started in the business, we make gorgeous videos, shot on film and painstakingly edited for days. Today’s videos can certainly be that but more often than not – they’re run and gun videos that are often shot, edited and posted the same day, if not in real time.

To think any agency can avoid getting proficient at video is a fool’s folly these days and I don’t want ignorance, fear or the “I hate the way I look on video” worry to keep you from evolving your agency’s skills in this area. You simply can’t afford not to be good at video, not to understand how to leverage video and most important – how to create videos for yourself and your clients in a cost effective, profitable way.

That is why I invited George B. Thomas onto the Build A Better Agency podcast. This guy gets video and has a passion around it that is infectious.

George has an interesting past – he’s a recovering youth pastor, a former pub bouncer, but no matter what his title was, he's always been about helping people at different points in their journey. Now he is the Resident Nerd at the Sales Lion, an inbound and content marketing agency helping businesses become rock stars in their markets.

George believes that video is the next step of the inbound marketing evolution. He loves helping businesses wrap their heads around video. As he is quick to tell you – he’s a branding guru, a video marketing ninja, and an inbound Jedi. A little peek into George right there!

When he's not running video workshops or speaking around the world, he's hanging out with his family enjoying the beautiful world that is North Carolina. What I love about George is that he's got an energy and a passion for this, which you will feel in this episode, but he also brings the goods in terms of expertise and he's going to get down to the really needy gritty of telling us not only what to do, but how to do it.

I want you to listen to this conversation through parallel tracks. First, I want you to listen to it while thinking, “how can video help our clients grow their business and improve their customer’s experience?”

But the other lens I want you to be using is, “how do I use video better for the agency and our biz dev efforts?” Some of you are already swimming in these waters but many of you are not. Time to get to it!

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why George believes that getting great at video is the difference between having a successful agency and closing your doors
  • The difference between creative, big budget video that dominated agencies of the past and the much cheaper, revenue-driving videos of today
  • Making quick, easy videos that answer the questions your sales people get the most
  • How to sell clients on making these quick videos
  • The kind of equipment you need to own to make video for yourself and your clients that looks great
  • Everything you need to know to pick the right editing software
  • The skills needed to be great behind the camera and in the editing room
  • The kinds of videos your agency should be producing
  • Why every person in your agency needs a video of themselves in their email signature
  • The danger of being too salesy in your videos
  • How to become more comfortable on camera
  • Why you don’t have to be afraid of live video
  • Misassumptions agencies and other businesses make about video that consumers don’t make
  • Matching the right video to the right platform/audience

Ways to contact George Thomas:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Apr 9, 2018

When I think about this episode, it’s all about voice but not just in the way that you might first assume.

Stephen Woessner and I taught a workshop together in January called Creating Content that Creates Revenue. One of the big themes from that workshop was the idea that most agencies really haven’t defined their distinct point of view. I did a whole solocast on that that really does a deep dive on the topic. But it’s really all about finding your agency’s unique voice and weaving that through all of your content, your website, your new business decks, and your agency’s work.

The second way you can see the theme of voice in this podcast is in the idea of using content as the Trojan Horse of sales, as my guest Stephen coined the phrase. When you give your prospective client a voice through your cornerstone content (podcast, book, video series, blog, etc.) by putting the spotlight on them as a guest or subject matter expert, you can leverage that invitation to create a relationship with them that they’d never welcome if you were just trying to sell them something. Giving them exposure and a voice is the door opener that actually gets them to be interested in you and how you work.

I believe this is one of the most effective and least exploited sales techniques in our space and the agencies who master it will be several steps ahead of their competitors. It completely changes the landscape of the relationship you have with prospects.

Finally, we explore the idea of voice from a channel perspective. Voice controlled devices are becoming very mainstream and there are some huge opportunities for agencies in that space. We explore some of the possibilities as we wrap up the episode.

As you can see – this is an episode that is packed with content and thought ticklers. I can't wait to hear your reaction.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  1. Why success is not only about creating great content but it’s also about creating content that creates revenue for your agency either in the form of sponsorships, new clients, or other opportunities.
  2. How your agency can create your own Trojan Horse of Sales to open doors with your Nano 25 prospects, have a different kind of conversation than what most agencies are having with prospects, and all without your prospect ever feeling like they were a prospect.
  3. How to spotlight the wisdom and insights you collect from your Nano 25 and share that knowledge with your audience – and what happens when you do.
  4. A specific script you can use for a phone call with your Nano 25 to move the business development process forward.
  5. Why it’s important to plant your flag in firm ground using a channel agnostic content strategy.
  6. How monetizing your content extends much further than just attracting new clients sponsorships, speaking engagements, or books.
  7. How “Voice” has become a fast-tracking trend that will be a cultural norm within a year or two.
  8. How strategy and content creation for voice controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home represent opportunities for agencies to jump in and help clients make sense of it all.
  9. How to restructure website content pages to make them more voice search friendly.
  10. Why the agencies that understand how to produce content around their point-of-view that then becomes the search result for voice activated search are going to have a huge advantage over competitors.

Ways to contact Stephen Woessner:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Apr 2, 2018

A lot of agency owners say to me, “Drew, I know you’re running your own agency and I know you’re running AMI. I know you've got some other things on the side like real estate. How in the world do you get it all done and how do you keep yourself organized, on track, and on-time?” So for today’s solocast, I want to talk about how you can get more out of your day.

I know that I may give the impression of being able to get it all done – but I never do. Let me be very clear about that. I don’t. I don’t want to say to you that my “To Do” list is ever empty because it’s not. But it’s manageable and I keep everything moving forward like I need to.

Like many of you, I have spent years trying to crack the nut of my own productivity. I’ve tested tools, tried tricks and heaped hacks into my day. Over the years, I’ve developed a reliable system for managing my world and my day so the most important things get done every day.

And that’s what I’d like to share with you in this solocast. It is my own blend of habits, tools and disciplines that allow me to consistently get all of the important things within AMI, my own agency and the rest of my business dealings done while still being able to take time away to relax and be with family and friends.

It’s possible and it can happen for you, too. I am going to share all of the tools I use, my daily habits, and what I think is my secret weapon for how I move through my day to make it all work.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How I use a task list management tool or electronic “To Do” list to keep myself on track
  • Why I break my to do list into “buckets” so they are easy to manage and less daunting
  • How I use my “secret weapon” to prioritize all my buckets and identify my the three things that absolutely must get done the next day
  • Why I think it is important for me to own and manage my own calendar
  • How I take control by chunking my calendar into time blocks that give me the space I need to get all of the daily priorities done
  • How a simple tool like an orange traffic cone could be a game changer for you and everyone on your team
  • Why I am a huge fan of taking time out and being absent from the office
  • My travel routine for how I set up my hotel room, how I unpack everything to stay organized, and the stuff I keep with me at all times
  • My thought process for deciding if I should keep a task on my list or delegate it to someone on my team
  • My biggest time saving tip
  • How I knit all of this together into a system that keeps me on track and on time

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today. AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Producing the weekly Build A Better Agency podcast
  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE Bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Mar 26, 2018

A healthy agency, on average, loses about 10-15% of their AGI every year through client attrition. That means that just to stay even, you have to sell. If you want to grow – you have to sell. If you want more money to give raises, bonuses or take a little for yourself – you have to sell.

Unfortunately, 95% of agency owners hate to sell. You hire sales people so you don't have to do it. Sadly – they rarely pay for themselves. If you have one that does, do what you have to do to keep them! But in most agencies, the best salesperson is the owner. You can have very different conversations with prospects than anyone else in your shop and based on the research we’ve done with CMOs – those are the conversations that move them through your sales funnel.

That’s why this topic is so vital. You can’t get or keep any momentum in your agency if you’re afraid of sales. Which is why I invited Anthony Iannarino onto the show. He’s a highly respected international speaker, bestselling author, entrepreneur, and sales leader. He specializes in complex B2B sales, which is the world that we are all living in. He’s also a founder and managing partner of two closely-held, family-owned businesses in the staffing industry, and he leads both entities in strategic planning while growing sales.

Anthony is best known for his work on The Sales Blog, which has helped him gain recognition as a top thought leader in sales strategy. He’s also designed what he calls the Level 4 Value Creation and Building Consensus methodologies that help sales organizations achieve transformational, breakthrough results.

A well-known author, Anthony recently released "The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the Ten Commitments That Drive Sales," and man, is that book brilliant. A few years ago he wrote "The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need." I highly recommend them both.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why most entrepreneurs go into sales with the wrong mindset that makes selling an unpleasant experience
  • Why the sales process isn’t linear and how to shift the conversation with a prospect based on where they are in the process
  • The Ten Commitments: the agreements that you need from your prospects along the sale’s path in order for a sale to happen
  • How giving a prospect the price too early can blow the sale
  • Why it’s so important to slow down and build trust
  • Talking to people with genuine interest in them and what they need
  • Consistently providing a ton of value to your prospects so that you stay top-of-mind when something changes in their business and they have a need
  • Why getting to the point where you get to have a conversation with a prospect is the most difficult part of sales (and how to actually reach that point)
  • Why you should never let a prospect sit alone with a proposal and the specific language you should use so that it doesn’t happen

Ways to contact Anthony Iannarino:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Mar 19, 2018

The truth is that our world as agency owners is in constant flux. Think back to the Mad Men days when we didn’t charge clients anything for creative or strategy. We lived and died off media commissions. That wasn’t hundreds of years ago, that was just a few decades ago. So it’s no big shock that our industry is, yet again, undergoing a transformation.

We’ve seen it coming for a while and for many of you, this may be something you’ve already been thinking about or experimenting with inside your shop.

Most agencies have been playing footsie with content. Your shop may be the exception but for most agencies, they’re good at creating content in volume but we’ve been too focused on getting done and not the true strategy underneath. It’s time for us (for both ourselves and our clients) to get serious about what thought leadership means, owning a distinct point of view/position and leveraging that point of view to generate revenue.

That’s why I was excited to have Robert Rose on the podcast. Robert’s most recent book that he published in September with colleague Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute is called "Killing Marketing” and it’s going to really stretch your mind in terms of what is possible and what’s coming next for us as agency folks.

Robert Rose is the Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of the Content Advisory which is a consulting and advisory group of the Content Marketing Institute. As a strategist, Robert has worked with over 500 companies including global brands like Capital One, Dell, Ernst & Young, HP, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He's the author of three books including "Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing," a book about how marketing is shifting. It was called "a treatise and a call-to-arms for marketers to lead business innovation in the 21st Century."  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The rapid changes in the agency business and why those changes are coming more fast and furious than ever before
  • Why agencies need to make a big investment if they want to survive (and why so often they just splash around in the water until it’s too late)
  • Using content marketing to build an audience for your clients based on their specific needs
  • How to use your engaged audience to find more people like them with Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube’s lookalike audiences
  • Why you can’t expect clients to want to work with you if you don’t invest in your own marketing
  • Why Robert believes that your agency blog isn’t usually the best place to host your content (and where you should write instead)
  • Getting back on track when you find yourself falling into the trap of creating generalist content
  • Building client trust by helping them transform into something new
  • Why agencies have always been good at creating stuff for clients but why strategy and measurement need to be our new norm
  • How to start working with a C-Suite level person when your current client contact is not as high up
  • Why a media centric agency is the best kind of agency to build today (and how to retrofit your agency to become a media centric agency)

Ways to contact Robert Rose:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Mar 12, 2018

Agencies are in an all-out talent war these days. New business is coming faster and easier. Your clients had a good year and so did you. But if you’re like many agency owners, you’re actually considering shutting down the biz dev spigot because you can’t find and keep the staff to service the new growth. When you see it in writing, it’s ridiculous, right? But if you’re struggling with staffing, you’re not alone. Agencies like yours are the training ground for other agencies, clients building an in-house department and corporations who are going to pay a premium for your best talent.

We have to find ways to attract and keep key hires or we’re going to be on a treadmill forever. We can talk culture, we can talk creative benefits like sabbaticals, and we can even talk about assessments that identify people who are born to work in an agency. As compelling as all of that is, it’s tough to compete with money.

That’s what intrigued me about Kevin Monaghan and his strategies to help protect, incentivize, and compensate minority owners and key employees. Kevin and his team at Intuitive Compensation Group work with businesses to create compensation packages that keep your people in place, feeling rewarded and valued.

Today, Kevin speaks all over the country and helps business owners, partnerships, business brokers (buyers & sellers), and key employees align their goals with workable compensation models that incentivize over time without running into some of the roadblocks of giving away equity or being stuck with a minority stake in a company where you can’t control dividend distribution.

Interestingly, while taking a break from the business sector early in his career, Kevin briefly worked as a writer’s assistant for two of NBC’s top comedies, “The Office” and “Parks & Recreation.”  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why giving equity to employees can be a dangerous situation
  • Cash value life insurance is a way to fund a golden handcuff plan that ensures you get money back if the employee leaves (the employee can’t touch this money for a certain amount of time passes)
  • Putting money behind compensation promises so that both the business owner and the employee knows what they’re walking away from if they decide to part ways
  • Different ways to structure cash value life insurance policies so that the burden of tax falls to the agency, the employee, or a combination of the two (and examples of times where each of these would be appropriate)
  • How to use these cash value life insurance policies to set up your agency to be sold when you’re ready to retire
  • Figuring out what matters to the seller and the buyer when heading into an agency sale
  • What happens when an agency owner sticks around after selling the agency
  • The right and wrong ways to compensate young employees that you want to keep but you know aren’t even close to being ready for any agency ownership
  • What benefits young employees really want
  • Why it doesn’t hurt to start planning for your retirement / selling of your agency early

Ways to contact Kevin Monaghan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Mar 5, 2018

I don’t believe in life/work balance. When I was a kid, my “work dad” would come home from the bank in his three-piece suit and he’d go upstairs and my “home dad” would come downstairs in jeans, looking for his martini and the download of our day while my mom cooked dinner.

Sounds very Leave it to Beaver, doesn’t it? It really was. My dad didn’t have a computer or a cell phone. I can remember the only time the office called him at home – the bank building was on fire. But other than that – there was complete separation of work and home life.

We do not have that luxury. At best, we can strive for life/work blend. Our personal lives will seep into the work day and our work will seep into our personal time. But for many agency owners, what that translates to is that you are always on and always working.

That’s not only unhealthy for you but it’s unhealthy for your business. You simply can’t grow your agency if you have to do everything that’s mission critical.

That’s the conversation I wanted to have with Scott Beebe who is a strategist, teacher, and business coach for My Business On Purpose. He is also the host of the Business on Purpose podcast.

Scott is all about about liberating small business owners from the chaos of working in their business and helping them get their lives back by being really clear about what their business is about, what they want to get out of the business, where they have unique opportunities to contribute to the business, and where they need to get out of the way.

His background includes direct and B2B sales, designing and implementing organizational strategy, training and development, marketing and fundraising, along with teaching and speaking.  

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The two biggest non-negotiables for agencies today
  • The value in building out a detailed company vision and reinforcing it regularly in team meetings
  • Understanding what clients you should and should not work with based on your company vision
  • Your mission statement: a portable, 15-word version of your vision story
  • Why you need to have 3-5 core values that are unique to you (hint: not table stables like respect, responsibility, excellence, etc.)
  • Scott’s spreadsheet for figuring out what tasks you can keep as the agency owner and which ones you should delegate
  • How to document processes so everyone is on the same page and can wear multiple hats
  • Using team meetings to stay on top of the week’s work and why you should end every team meeting with training
  • How to delegate to people who may not be your direct reports without throwing your agency into chaos and confusion
  • The four steps to achieving business freedom
  • Reinvesting your time into things that matter once you’ve delegated tasks away and have significant free time

Ways to contact Scott Beebe:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Feb 26, 2018

Have you ever walked around Times Square? I was in New York City last week, and if you’ve ever been here before, you know it’s crazy. With all the lights, the billboards, the chaos, the signage, and the people dancing and handing out flyers – it’s just sensory overload.

The eight blocks or so radius that makes up Times Square is a study in advertising and in messaging, sort of both from an old school and new school perspective.

It made me think about one of the realities in both life in general but certainly in our life in the marketing and agency business, and that is that there is no such thing as a constant. Even the most constant of constants, like out-of-home advertising, keep changing and evolving over time. The truth of the matter is, for all of us, no matter what channel we display our message on, no matter where we are talking about the work we do and the kind of clients we serve, the channel is changing.

So if you’ve got a robust Facebook page for your agency, that’s awesome, but you know that in five years, it’s going to be something different. If you are writing incredible blog content, or you’re producing a podcast, whatever it may be, there may be remnants of what we’re doing today around in five years, but the odds are that it’s going to look different, just like these outdoor boards here on Broadway look very different than they did back in the ’40s and the ’50s.

The other thing I noticed was I was watching the messaging for the plays and the restaurants and the souvenir shops, all of them, they all look and sound the same. We all face that problem too. I think one of the biggest challenges for agencies is how do you not look like everybody else? How do you differentiate yourself? We’re great at doing this for clients, but when it comes to doing it for ourselves, we really, really struggle.

This was actually a big part of the conversation that we had in the Creating Content That Creates Revenue Workshop back in January. We started day one by talking about how the reality for all of us is that the channels keep changing and so our presence in a channel isn’t enough to differentiate us. We have to have something that makes us stand out.

We talked a lot about having a unique point of view and about really understanding what your agency was all about. Where do you plant that flag? How do you plant that flag in firm ground so that, no matter what changes, that belief is rock solid? It needs to be so firmly anchored in the ground that you know it’s not going to be blown away by whatever fad or change is coming down the pike.

And that’s what we’re going to talk about today. For agencies, we all have to be able to define that for our prospects and clients. Why us? Why us over somebody else?

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Staying on top of the ever-changing channels for distributing our messages
  • The struggle agencies face in differentiating themselves
  • Planting the flag of your unique POV so firmly that you don’t feel tempted to change away from what’s important to you when a new fad comes around
  • Why you can’t afford to compete on price or proximity
  • Your unique POV: what you know to be true that you talk to clients about all the time
  • Figuring out what your best, most profitable clients have in common, even if it’s not an industry (and it often isn’t!)
  • Why you should have three different niches
  • How your unique POV combined with your niche industry knowledge makes you look and sound different from your competitors
  • Building your website to show off your POV
  • Infusing your POV into every piece of content you create
  • A litmus test for figuring out if you’ve defined your POV
  • How your POV attracts the right prospects and repels the wrong ones

Drew McLellan is the CEO at Agency Management Institute. He has also owned and operated his own agency since 1995 and is still actively running the agency today. Drew’s unique vantage point as being both an agency owner and working with 250+ small- to mid-size agencies throughout the year gives him a unique perspective on running an agency today.

AMI works with agency owners by:

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for owners and their leadership teams
  • Offering AE bootcamps
  • Conducting individual agency owner coaching
  • Doing on-site consulting
  • Offering online courses in agency new business and account service

Because he works with those 250+ agencies every year — Drew has the unique opportunity to see the patterns and the habits (both good and bad) that happen over and over again. He has also written two books and been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal called his blog “One of 10 blogs every entrepreneur should read.”

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

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