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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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Build a Better Agency Podcast
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Now displaying: 2021
Feb 22, 2021

One of the biggest bottlenecks in many agencies is that the agency owner is the only person who can develop strategies for clients or new business pitches. As you know, this causes a host of problems, not the least of which is then the agency owner can’t focus on doing his/her job. Most owners feel stuck – believing that strategic thinking is not something you can teach. But what if you could?

Adam Pierno has a long resume working with well-known agencies and brands. When his experience on the creative side led to a realization that there was no methodology that could help agencies bake strategic thinking into their business model, he put his research and experience into authoring two books on the subject and now helps agencies looking to enhance their strategic approach.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Adam and I talk about the necessity to expand an agency’s strategic thinking beyond one or two people. We look at specific ways to do this that can empower your entire team to think strategically. We also discuss the errors many agencies make in communicating strategy to clients and prospects and how to leverage strategic thinking as we begin to move beyond the pandemic.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Strategic thinking

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to infuse strategic thinking throughout an agency.
  • Different ways agencies can approach strategy.
  • How to soothe the conflict points that can develop when strategy expands to the who team.
  • Specific ways agencies screw up strategy during a pitch.
  • The need to create a story connection between the strategy and the creative.
  • The place for strategy in pitching.
  • The importance of having a captivating storyteller share the strategy.
  • How to help a team become better strategic thinkers.
  • The need to document the steps of your agency’s strategic thinking.
  • The secret to making clients want to stay with your agency as we begin to move into the next normal after the pandemic.
Feb 15, 2021

Over the last couple of years, many agencies have started reaping the benefits of embedding an account executive in a client’s office. By that I mean someone from the agency team literally has a desk or office in a client’s business for a set amount of time every week. This trend was growing prior to the pandemic and actually held its own during the work from home period of 2020. Now that more agencies and clients have returned to the office, this becomes a very viable option again. In this episode, I want to talk about what this means, how to do it well, and both the risks and value of doing it.

As an agency owner, your brain might jump to several potential problems that make you leery of such an arrangement. Truth be told, there are several benefits for your shop and your client. If done well, this can be a huge win for you.

It takes a bit of a learning curve, as well as putting the ideal employee with the right client. But, when done correctly, you create a really great hook that makes it nearly impossible for a client to consider taking their business anywhere else. In the process, as the agency owner, you cultivate a better, stronger, more connected relationship with the client organization.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why clients love embedded employees
  • How embedded employees guarantee that business’s growth
  • The dark side of embedding employees
  • How to protect yourself from having the employee poached
  • Ways to help your embedded employee stay loyal to the agency
  • The ideal employee to embed in a client’s office
  • The benefits to the agency of having an embedded employee

“Without exception, embedded employees are able to grow that book of business.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“You want an embedded employee to remember where they work and where their loyalties lie.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“An embedded employee should be someone who bleeds the agency’s colors.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“This is an opportunity for you as the agency owner to cultivate a better, stronger, more connected relationship with the business owner or CEO of the client organization.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET“You are setting a really great hook with an embedded employee and it can be a fantastic thing for both the client and the agency.” @DrewMcLellanCLICK TO TWEET

Ways to contact Drew McLellan:

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About the Author: Drew McLellan

For 30+ years, Drew McLellan has been in the advertising industry. He started his career at Y&R, worked in boutique-sized agencies, and then started his own (which he still owns and runs) agency in 1995. Additionally, Drew owns and leads the Agency Management Institute, which advises hundreds of small to mid-sized agencies on how to grow their agency and its profitability through agency owner peer groups, consulting, coaching, workshops, and more.

  • Leading agency owner peer groups
  • Offering workshops for agency 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 over 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 several books, including Sell With Authority (2020) 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.”

Feb 8, 2021

Who is responsible for keeping the agency’s work on time and on budget? That is an oft debated topic among agency owners. At AMI we believe that a specific role (Project Manager, Traffic Manager, etc.) to keep everyone and everything on track is a luxury if you have fewer than 10 employees and by the time you’re at 15-20 employees, it’s usually a necessity if you want to keep your team and clients happy. But who you hire and how they go about implementing a traffic system is a challenge many agency owners struggle with.

Ben Aston is a self-taught digital project manager with over 15 years experience in the agency world. Realizing how difficult his own learning path was and how few resources exist for those interested in developing these skills, he turned his focus to training others on how to develop the craft of project management.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Ben and I talk about what a project manager does and how this role will help grow your bottom line. We get into the nitty gritty of what makes for successful project management, including defining the skills for an ideal project manager, injecting flexibility into planning, reframing time tracking, and solving the problem of the dreaded “scope creep.”

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Project Manager

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • At what size agency would a project manager make sense
  • What skills creates an ideal project manager
  • Why project management is such a challenge for a majority of agencies
  • How to recognize project management issues
  • The necessity for creative and craft briefs
  • Solving the problem of “scope creep”
  • How to inject flexibility into project planning
  • Defining negative scope
  • How to create effective templates
  • The need to reframe time tracking
  • Best practices for successful project management
Feb 1, 2021

The reality is, we spend so much time thinking and worrying about business development, and in most cases that exuberance is not really matched with the same level of excitement for our existing clients. Which is crazy because we all know that clients get much more profitable the longer we keep them. Despite knowing that – we keep making the same mistakes and jeopardizing our most important client relationships. What if we could avoid those mistakes?

Stacey Singer has a great love of how agencies combine business, creativity, and psychology. She has worked in agencies large and small and now she devotes her expertise to helping agencies build amazing client relationships that really hold up, even when things get rocky.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Stacey and I discuss why paying attention to existing client relationships is even more important than pursuing new clients. She walks through the need to try to imagine your relationship from the client perspective, as well as specific but seemingly small things she has learned that can sometimes damage that relationship.

We also dive into the need for a client satisfaction analysis, as well as why putting the client first doesn’t automatically mean blindly agreeing with whatever they ask for. Sometimes telling the client “no” leads to a stronger relationship.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Client Experience

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Specific ways agencies mess up the client experience
  • The need to see the client experience from the client’s perspective
  • Simple ways agencies undermine trust with clients
  • How to get a response from challenging clients
  • The importance of explaining the implications for actions
  • The error in interpreting client questions as an indication of a lack of trust
  • The need for clear service standards
  • How an exchange program with a client can be incredibly insightful for both sides of the relationship
  • The danger in letting your agency needs seep through to the clients
  • Why being invested in the client beyond just what your agency can offer can lead to more business actually
  • How to tell the client ‘no’ but have it sound like a ‘yes’
Jan 25, 2021

Leadership can feel like a loaded word. We often think about leadership as defining how you run your business but, to me, that refers to how you manage, not how you lead. Leadership is how you show up, and great leadership isn’t just about getting people to do what you want, it’s about inspiring them to WANT to do what you are asking because they are invested, emotionally and otherwise, in your goals and the goals of the agency. In this podcast, we’re going to explore how we can get to be that kind of leader.

As a self-proclaimed “snow globe shaker”, Jeff Nischwitz is on a mission to shake up how we lead and the impact of that leadership. A global speaker and coach, Jeff is all about pushing aside our fears and leading from the heart so we can all be better leaders.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jeff and I talk about the challenges and revelations of agency leadership over the last year during the pandemic. Beyond that we dive into the untapped power of vulnerability, the need for grace, and the biggest fears in modern leadership. We look at the specific skills and tools that leaders will need as we move into the next normal.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Better leadership

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The need for vulnerability in better leadership
  • How fear is driving leadership challenges
  • Why what you tolerate defines your agency
  • The importance of creating a “no waiting zone” in your agency
  • Defining the difference between a good manager and a good leader
  • How the concept of grace is missing from business leadership
  • Why leaders need to invest in the physical and emotional safety of their team
  • Understanding why bad leadership is actually a selfish act
  • The need to reframe your definition of “nice”
Jan 18, 2021

Think about how you build out journey maps or of journey maps you’ve seen if that isn’t something your agency does. They chart out how a potential customer goes from not being aware of the product or service to the point of purchase. Typically, we’re building this journey map to coincide with our work in helping our clients increase their sales. In that way, it makes sense that the map would end at the sale. That’s our job is to get them to that point. But the customer’s experience has really just begun. The real journey begins once you’re in a relationship with the customer and how you nourish and grow the trust and connection with the client moving forward.

The opportunity for our agencies is to help our clients beyond the initial sale. What if our agency also engaged in helping clients build stronger, more resilient relationships with their customers? That’s some very profitable work for us and a lasting value for our clients.

As a certified customer experience professional, Jeannie Walters is an expert on this exact topic. An educator and consultant that comes from the agency world, she has a real passion for improving customer experiences and she’s here to share some insights that will help you serve your clients even better.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Jeannie and I dive into the changes in customer relations that were inspired by the pandemic and how companies were forced to evolve in order to survive. We also talk about how the entire supply chain process has come front and center, as well as the continuing need to be innovative, even though the stakes aren’t as high as they were during the pandemic.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Customer experience

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to get your clients to think bigger
  • The need for a customer experience mission in your agency
  • Ways to improve journey mapping
  • The difference between the buyer’s journey and the customer’s journey
  • Why communication is key to the customer experience
  • The way the customer experience differs in a B2B environment versus a B2C environment
  • How to get your whole agency on the same page regarding the expectations of the customer experience
  • How to use a customer experience success statement to measure what is being done right
  • The important of including the billing process in the review of your customer journey
  • How to spot and utilize “micro-moments” to create surprises that delight customers
Jan 11, 2021

As we celebrate the most anticipated New Year’s Day in any of our lifetimes, we also find ourselves planning, goal settings, and making resolutions for the new year. Whenever I ask an agency owner what goals they’ve set for their shop, without exception, the first goal (and often the only goal) they can come up with is a revenue goal. I absolutely want you to set revenue goals for this year but you shouldn’t limit your thinking to that one metric. There are other growth goals that are as important, if not more so, than what your gross revenue is for the year.

One of the fallacies that plagues agencies is that the only way to have a successful year is to get bigger (gross billings) but that’s a short-sighted and incorrect notion. There are many ways you can build and expand your agency that have nothing to do with your revenue. And depending on your agency – several of them could be even more fruitful and put more money in your pocket.

In this solocast episode of Build A Better Agency, I’m going to walk you through ten metrics worthy of consideration as you think about your agency’s growth. I’m not suggesting you try to tackle them all, but two or three might be the right number to consider as you plan your way to a good dose of growth for 2021.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Growth goals for 2021

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Reasonable expectations for AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) growth goals in 2021
  • The right way to think about growing your team
  • How to think about client growth in a different way
  • How certain employees block growth
  • The power of focused goals
  • The growth potential in specialization
  • How a gorilla client impacts your ability to grow
  • Taking care of the clients who got you this far
  • The powerful satisfaction metric that can impede or fuel growth
  • Why you need to take some time to think about your life goals, and not just your agency goals, and an AMI mini course to get you started
Jan 4, 2021

As marketers we understand the power and influence of a brand. We know that every buying decision we make is based on emotion. This helps explain why some brands garner a cult-like fan base. They understand the power of their emotional triggers. As agencies, we should be brilliant at discerning and leveraging a brand’s specific emotional triggers. But sometimes it’s difficult to help a client see the value in what can appear a bit ethereal. But what if there was a tool to help you validate what you know about your clients’ (or your) brand?

Today’s guest has turned the science of emotion into a tangible tool. Brian Gregory comes from a long publishing and advertising background. He has studied the core emotional triggers that lead to a specific brand’s buying decisions and is using this insight to help agencies and their clients build a better business and ROI.

In this episode of Build a Better Agency, Brian and I discuss the principles of emotion-based buying, including examples of how it has been used successfully by well-known brands. We also talk about the formula that all good marketing follows, what the big brands fear small businesses will figure out, and why it’s important to have an emotional emphasis in all your marketing communication.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

emotional triggers

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The science of emotion buying marketing
  • An introduction to Admanity, an online tool that defines which of the primal emotions can be best utilized by your clients and your agency
  • How to use the knowledge of emotion buying triggers to increase sales
  • How advertising follows a formula
  • The importance of understanding how emotions are related when it comes to marketing communication
  • How businesses and agencies get advertising wrong
  • What the big brands fear small businesses will figure out
  • Why this is the perfect time for small-to-midsize agencies and brands to embrace the power of emotion buying
  • How an agency can use emotion buying concepts to sell a client on a new campaign
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