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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 of Agency Management Institute.
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Now displaying: August, 2018
Aug 27, 2018

In any trade, mastering the work is just the first of many hurdles. But one of the most daunting for most agency owners is pricing. What is the work worth? Who is my competition, and what if they offer services for less? What is the true value of the work we’re doing and what’s the ROI for our client?

There will always be someone (agency or freelancer) who is willing to do the same work for less. But how does that influence our pricing strategy and should it? This episode is all about the value conversation that leads to identifying a price based on the value you are offering. We’re going to dive into both the theories and principles and how to get over the discomfort of putting these pricing principles into practice.

Blair is an expert in sales, particularly in the creative services industry. He started his career working for a number of Canadian ad agencies and design firms. In 2000, he struck out on his own with a consulting practice named Win Without Pitching. In our conversation, Blair will walk us through a framework developed over decades of learning, trying, failing and perfecting value-based selling for creatives.

Blair is the author of Win Without Pitching Manifesto. He has just written a brand-new book called Pricing Creativity. I have spent some time with it, and the cool thing is, it's not really a book – or more precisely, it’s not only a book. It's more of a training manual – a three-ring binder full of all kinds of tips, tricks, and the psychology of pricing strategy.

This is a meaty episode and I promise – it’s going to give you plenty to think about.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to effectively price your creative work
  • Why a one-page proposal beats a 75-page presentation every time
  • The value of silence in the sales process
  • Moving from vendor to valued expert early in the sales process
  • Making the closing on the sale a “non-event”
  • The four-step framework for mastering the value conversation
  • How to discipline yourself to not offer solutions too early in the process
  • The mindset shift needed to improve selling skills to become a pricing expert
  • Having value conversations with the right decision-makers
  • How to move from agreeing with sales principles to making them standard practice

Ways to contact Blair:

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 20, 2018

Before we dive into today’s topic — I first want to say thank you for your listenership and loyalty! We are downloaded in over 85 countries and I’m grateful for every listener. This solocast is Episode 150 of Build a Better Agency and I’m grateful for your time and the conversations we’ve had over the last three years.

Way back in Episode 35 (in early 2016), we talked about the employee shortage and the challenge the shortage was creating for agencies and agency owners. If anything – things have gotten tougher.

As you know, I see the financials for about 120 AMI agencies a year. I review their P&Ls, balance sheets, ratios, and some other information. And I will tell you that even though agencies may have had a good year financially in 2017 — they didn’t actually get to keep a lot of the money they earned. And the reason why they didn’t is because their employees are taking more and more of that money. This is happening because of scarcity. The truth of it is...scarcity wins. And right now, your employees are in control.

There are fewer good agency employees than there are agency needs and jobs. And I don’t think this is going to change any time soon. I thought it might be helpful if I shared how some agencies are addressing this challenge. I will walk you through some creative benefits employees consider to be brag-worthy, as well as the benefits that scored at the top of our research with over 1,000 agency employees. The truth is, 401k programs and insurance coverage no longer differentiate you from your competitors — they are table stakes.

Here’s the reality — we have to understand what today’s workforce wants and you have to make sure that your culture and your benefits package match those expectations if you want to attract and retain the talent you need to grow your agency.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How to attract and retain quality talent using today’s tools and why you need to build a pipeline for talent in the same way you build a pipeline for new business
  • How long you should reasonably expect your employees to stay with your agency
  • What are some brag-worthy benefits that will get your employees talking about your agency with their fellow professionals
  • How you can provide your employees the opportunity to have flexible work hours or work from home days without losing the valuable in-office collaboration
  • Why your employees will actually take less time off if you provide them with unlimited PTO
  • Why we cannot dismiss the changes in the needs of today’s workforce as just a millennial thing
  • What your employees consider to be the most important thing keeping them in a job – or – how they decide to accept a job they are offered
  • How treating all of your employees fairly does not mean you have to treat them all equally
  • Why just because someone is good at their job does not mean they’re going to be good at supervising other people doing that job
  • What are “boomerang employees” and why you should consider circling back to them

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.”

Resources:

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!

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 Joe:

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!

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